In 1997 Roy Cloud was asked by the Michel-Schlumberger winery to become its buyer for the California winery’s new import line. He accepted, despite the fact that his French was worthless at the time. But his brother spoke well, and so clandestinely he came along on the early travels. They tromped across France and farmers opened their doors to them and a deep, abiding appreciation was gained for the pride the better among these vignerons took in their work.
Previously, Roy had been a manager at MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC, where he worked side by side with Pierre Rovani and had become well acquainted with such importers as Danny Haas, Robert Kacher, Eric Solomon, and Terry Theise. Before he came to know these gentlemen, he was living in New York, earning a MA in writing at the New York University. Before that, he was a carpenter in California. Once upon a time, he caught salmon commercially in Alaska. He grew up in Pittsburgh.
The Michel-Schlumberger banner introduced America to such domaines as Merlin-Cherrier from Sancerre, Marc Tempé from Alsace, Joseph Voillot from Volnay, the Muzard brothers from Santenay, as well as Languedoc’s Château Coupe Roses. In early 2003, Roy purchased the assets of the Michel-Schlumberger import company and formed Vintage ’59. The name changed (to that of his birth year, an iconic vintage in France), but the heart and soul of the company remained focused on artisan domaines that made cutting-edge, regional wines—classic vins des terroirs.
Roy continues to write the back label texts. He still looks for wines with delicious depth of fruit, length, and finesse; he doesn’t like obtrusive oak, over-extraction, or excessive alcohol. And he doesn’t work with fatheads, regardless of how good their wine may be.
He is the author of the memoir To Burgundy and Back Again.