Hans Kobler passed away unexpectedly on December 23 2008. He went the way he always said he wanted to quickly, and before his wife Theresia. His last day, he seemed happy, preparing for Christmas Eve dinner. He had set up the Christmas Tree and supervised his grandsons Tiernan and Morgan in setting up the model trains the day before.
Hans was born October 23, 1926 in Ruethi, from the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. It being the Depression, he had a hard childhood. However, he didn't let that stop him. If anything, it drove him to make a better life for himself and his family. Although he only Finished eighth grade, he took responsibility for educating himself. He was fluent in French, English, German, and spoke some Italian and Spanish. He grew up in the Alps. He remembered horses and carts being common modes of transportation.
In his early teens he used to tend goats and cows. After milking, he would have to pack on his back, cheese and butter down the mountain to the farmers below. When he,was done with that, he would turn around and pack food and supplies back up. This is what was expected of younger people in those days, growing up in the Alps.
He met Theresia Vonarburg in Thun in 1954 where they were both apprentices in her uncle's restaurant. They immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1957 and were married in 1959. In 1960, they moved to San Francisco where they both worked in the restaurant business as waiter and waitress. He worked at Jack's Restaurant for ten, years. He would tell the. story how he served Robert Kennedy two days before he was assassinated.
In 1966, their only son, Norman, was born. Hans realized he didn't want to raise Norman in the city and so in 1972 they moved to Anderson Valley. They bought the old Johnny Pinoli property where they founded Lazy Creek Vineyards, planting Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. He was proud to have had the foresight to plant Pinot Noir even when Robert Mondavi had advised him not to. It was always important to Hans to make a good bottle of wine for a decent price. He was particularly proud of his Gewurztraminer which he made the Alsatian way. It won many awards, including one year, top ten in the world.
While he was trying to establish Lazy Creek Vineyards and simultaneously support his family, he won "Waiter of the Year" in San Francisco at The Blue Fox Restaurant. He ran Lazy Creek Vineyards successfully for 26 years. There came a time when Hans wanted to retire and travel. After selling Lazy Creek Vineyards in 1998, he realized his dream of owning a sailboat. At the age of 74, Hans, together with Theresia, sailed their 36 foot sail boat to the tip of Baja and around to the Gulf of California. They had many adventures there and back. Over the last ten years, Hans was able to travel to Alaska, Costa Rica, Hawaii and Switzerland and places in between. At the time of his death at the age of 82, he had plane tickets to Thailand where he was looking forward to riding an elephant in the jungle.
He was married happily for nearly 50 years. He entertained countless guests and was known for his warm, European, hospitality. Although he was stubborn, he was a true gentleman, and that stubbornness drove him to accomplish his goals. He could never give up winemaking completely, and always had wine in the making in his cellar. He was never one to rest in retirement and kept busy every day. Family was important to Hans.
He is survived by his wife Theresia, his son Norman, daughter-in-law, Colleen, and grandsons Tieman and Morgan.