Ralph Cupelli

I got my start in wine drinking my grandfather’s homemade “dago red” at grandma’s large Sunday family dinners featuring her fantastic, homemade Italian pastas, breads, sausages, meats and pastries.  After college, I began a 23 year military career and discovered Very Cold Duck and Sangria with friends while stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado, my first duty assignment.  This is where I met my wife Suzanne.  I greatly impressed her on an early date by opening a bottle a Very Cold Duck and spraying it all over her ceiling and furniture.  She married me anyway but still warns everyone to beware every time I open a bottle of sparkling wine.  

When stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, in the early 1970’s, we discovered German wines.  We attended many wine fests and even helped a German friend harvest his wine and take it to the town press.  In 1989 we moved to Kirksville, Missouri, when I started work first as Professor of Military Science and then Assistant to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs at Truman State University. I learned about Garland Wines from a French professor, knowledge that was a godsend because in 1989 it was hard to find good wines in north Missouri and good German wines anywhere.  As it was hard for a Garland representative to come to Kirksville regularly, in 1997 I called Chuck Madinger and proposed I become his Kirksville sales consultant.  I figured I could pay for my wines through sales and learn a lot about wines too.  After thinking about it for a few months, Chuck decided to give me a try and it has been a great avocation and relationship ever since. 

My wine tastes keep evolving as I try and learn about different wines.  German wines – especially the Mosel -- are still my favorite whites but I supplement them with other whites mainly Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc.  I also like rich reds wines, especially Zinfandels.  The Joseph Swan Mancini Ranch and Ziegler Zinfandels are my favorites.  I also enjoy the Hawley wines and Late Bottle Vintage or Vintage Ports.  Oh to live close to Webster Groves so I could attend more tastings!  I envy the Garland crew who always seem to be tasting new wines when I call.  

Now that I have retired from Truman I plan to go to more wine tastings with the various winemakers that come to Garland Wines and travel to visit wineries around the world.  I will be also spending more time in Minnesota with my two grandchildren, Emma and Isaac.