I got word over the weekend that our Board Treasurer, Bruce Walker had died suddenly. He was 64 years old and is survived by his brother, Glenn. He had lived in San Rafael since college, but in the last year or so had moved to Sonoma with his loveable dogs. Bruce was Treasurer of ZAP for many years, as well as past President, having served on the Board since 2005.
Bruce first became enthusiastic about wine in 1975 when he moved to Sonoma County to attend Sonoma State University. That’s when my husband, Dave first met him—they went back a long way. In the mid-1990s, he attended UC Davis, Viticulture and Enology, where he received formal winemaking training and, in 1997 Bruce co-founded Starry Night Winery.
In addition to his position at Starry Night, for three years Bruce was a consulting Managing Director to Kovacs Nimrod Winery in Eger, Hungary. For those who traveled with ZAP to Hungary in 2018 and had the pleasure of meeting Nimrod, it was Bruce who made that visit possible.
Bruce loved being a winery owner and was devoted to ZAP. But, before he was a winery owner, Bruce was a finance guy. He was the self-appointed “curmudgeon” on the Board because he was not afraid to speak truth to unrealistic budgets. Bruce had a big heart and was invaluable help. I learned a lot from him. Bruce also served as a winery host for several ZAP cruises and was passionate about ZAP spreading our message through our national tour program.
There are many moving parts behind the scenes to running ZAP. The organization has been incredibly fortunate to have recruited the talents of individuals from many walks of life and Bruce was one of those who truly made a difference. Over the past few days, I’ve heard from a number of Board members:
“Bruce was a good friend from when we met on the ZAP Mexico Cruise. We had many good times on the SF Bay cruise that he put together for years for the ZAP Winemakers’ Dinner Auction. He was always a great help on the ZAP Board of Directors, and helped so much through both my terms as President. Mostly I will miss his dry sense of humor.” Duane Dappen
“This is very sad news. Bruce was a great contributor to ZAP and lover of Zinfandel. I very much enjoyed and appreciated working together with Bruce on the financial part of ZAP. His hard work and insights were critical during the time I was President of the Board.” Mark Vernon
“What a bright, talented, giving man, and he certainly was a ‘rock solid’, graciously focused member of the Board and a great Treasurer!” Jeannie Graham
“Bruce was passionate about Zinfandel and running a tight ship. He was also very firm regarding financial responsibility and frugality, values that are harder to find this day and age, but which are vital to a winery’s success over time, including the time we’re in right now! I enjoyed working with Bruce on the finance committee and on the Board. He was our ‘steady rock’.” Randle Johnson
Bruce was not only respected by his fellow Board members, but these comments are also a tribute to his generosity. I feel incredibly fortunate to have called Bruce my friend. He went too soon and we will miss him.