Carmen Policy Podcast 54 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

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Doug Shafer and Carmen Policy

Carmen Policy practiced law in Youngstown, Ohio, when his career took an unexpected turn -- he began doing legal work for the San Francisco 49ers in the late 1970s. He eventually became the team’s CEO, earning five Superbowl rings.

Today Policy’s winery, Casa Piena, is a neighbor of Shafer’s and Carmen and Doug enjoy a conversation spanning wine, family, and football.

For more visit: casapiena.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
Hello everyone. Doug Shafer back with you today in another episode of The Taste. Um, I'm very happy today because I've got good friend of mine who I never see enough and, uh, and he's, he's a neighbor. He only lives a half mile away. But, uh, we're delighted to have Carmen Policy here with us today who has a long interesting history. I know some of it but he'll fill us in on the rest. But he's currently a vintner, winemaker here in, uh, the Napa Valley but, uh, it didn't start out there. But, but before we go to the ... where you started out, I'm trying ... I was trying to think this morning where do you and I first meet. Do you ... I can't remember.

Carmen:
Well, we, we first met when I was running the 49ers. And I used to come up here-

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
... to the Napa Valley to kind of regain sanity and, uh, it was my, my Tuscany-light trips I-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... I used to call it.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And, um, we met up here and we've met at the tasting and we also met in the city, uh, at some function.

Doug:
I remember that. I do remember that.

Carmen:
Yeah. And then you've, you've come to a game or two.

Doug:
I've come to a couple of games.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
You were nice enough to invite me down and also, I think at, uh, fundraisers. You know, the Montessoris, the local school fundraisers.

Carmen:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
You ... We're always running ... We're always bidding against each other on the silent auction lots.

Carmen:
Right. And then I'll never forget when I took, um, Karen MacNeil's, uh, long course.

Doug:
Did you take ... Oh. (laughs)

Carmen:
By long course, I mean it was ... It, it covered tasting and then it covered mastering wine or something like that.

Doug:
It's five full days or something like that.

Carmen:
It was five full days plus two days of wine tasting, uh, schooling.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
So it was a seven-day course in effect. Two courses combined into seven days. And we have the ... She said one of the delights you're gonna have is going to Shafer Vineyards and we're gonna have a tasting with, uh, a very charming and knowledgeable gentleman by the name of Doug Shafer.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
I said, "I know that guy."

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
I said, "I don't know if he's that charming but ..." (laughs)

Doug:
No. Well, I had a ... I had a her fooled. No. That-

Carmen:
But it was fun. You-

Doug:
That was, that was great class.

Carmen:
Everybody was very impressed. The wines were superb. Just superb.

Doug:
Yeah. We always had fun doing that. It was super. But, uh, Karen MacNeil was a, uh, is a wine writer, a very successful one and was an educator at the CIA and, uh, taught classes for years and years and years. And, uh, she used to run people all over the valley. So ...

Carmen:
Author of The Wine Bible.

Doug:
Yes. That's a ... She's ... I think there's the second edition, the new one.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
That's a big book.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
But okay. So, we got that figured out. You grew up, Youngstown ... I'm a Chicago boy but Youngstown, Ohio.

Carmen:
Youngstown, Ohio.

Doug:
Tough town?

Carmen:
Very tough town. It was as tough as the steel we used to make.

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
And, uh, it's Northeast Ohio. We, we were like seven miles from the Pennsylvania border. And, uh, Pittsburgh was equidistant from Youngstown a- a- as was Cleveland.

Doug:
Got it.

Carmen:
And, uh-

Doug:
Got it. Who do you root for? (laughs)

Carmen:
That's the qu- That's the question. It wa- A lot of schizophrenia was occurring in Youngstown because we used to call Youngstown the NFL's 38th parallel.

Doug:
Oh.

Carmen:
It was that, that area halfway between those two, uh, teams.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And a lot of the people who even rooted for Cleveland would wind up somehow still rooting for the, for the, uh-

Doug:
(laughs) The Steelers.

Carmen:
... for the Steelers because the Steelers were in the playoffs-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... with, uh, you know, Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll and-

Doug:
And Franco Harris. All those guys.

Carmen:
... all those guys. And then later Franco Harris and so forth. So we, we root for the Browns during the year and then when the playoffs start, we switch over to the Steelers. (laughs)

Doug:
Just jump on that wagon. (laughs) I, I can relate. So, Midwest, grew up, um, lost your parents early.

Carmen:
Very early. Yeah. I, I, um, my mom died when she was 40, uh, 40, 41. And suddenly, you know, went to bed one night and then wake up the night morning with a heart attack.

Doug:
Oh.

Carmen:
And she ... I was nine. And then my dad became very sick very shortly thereafter. So, basically from the time I was nine, uh, I'd say, uh, you know, both of them were gone and ... But thank God, you know, in those days, the, the strongest machines in the world were Italian grandmothers and-

Doug:
And you had one.

Carmen:
They were indestructible. Okay?

Doug:
Yeah. Wow.

Carmen:
And they were ... They, they got up. We have a small business in the family. It was one of those little, um, taverns and, and ... and very minor restaurants but down by the steel mills and the railroads. And, uh, so she would work there every day. You know, it was a family business and the family worked there. That's all.

Doug:
Wow. And you said you were working ... You were probably working there, right?

Carmen:
I am-

Doug:
So you're a kid. You're-

Carmen:
I was tending bars at 16.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
And my last recollection is that wasn't exactly legal even in Ohio.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Even in Youngstown, Ohio that wasn't exactly legal.

Doug:
Yeah. But what great training. Think about that.

Carmen:
It was great training.

Doug:
Think about that training for-

Carmen:
People training.

Doug:
... people training.

Carmen:
And handling situations and, uh, uh, just being responsible so to speak.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And I was paid slave wages. Slave wages.

Doug:
Of course. You're lucky you got paid at all.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
You know, they, they were taking care of you. Well, she sounds like a wonderful woman, your grandmother. How cool is that?

Carmen:
She lost my grandfather.

Doug:
Hm.

Carmen:
And she never wore anything other than black again for the rest of her life.

Doug:
Oh.

Carmen:
Think of that. But I mean that was the way that, you know, that was the way these women, uh, felt about life. You know, you go on. Uh, you have a marriage. Marriage ended-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... tragically because of wh- what occurred, uh, healthwise and, and, uh, then you keep going. And you raise your kids and go to work every day.

Doug:
Was she born in the US or did she came ... She came here. They immigrated?

Carmen:
No. She and my grandmother came from Italy. Both sets of grandparents came from Italy at around the same time on the same ship from Naples. They came from Abruzzi. They made it to Naples. Boarded the ship, not at the same time but the same ship, wound up in the same town in Oh- Northeast, Ohio. Never met each other until they wound up here in O- in, in A- in America-

Doug:
That's sweet.

Carmen:
... and my mother started dating my father. And before that time, their villages in the Abruzzi Region over by the Adriatic Sea-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... wa- was maybe 13 miles apart.

Doug:
Oh. Have you go- I'm sure you've gone back there. Yup? To the home-

Carmen:
Yes. And-

Doug:
Still have relatives back there? Family?

Carmen:
We do. My cousin is the mayor-

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
... of the bustling town of Pietro Bondante.

Doug:
You know, somehow I'm not surprised to hear that at all.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
You know, you should be mayor of Yountville, you know, when I think about it.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
Um, what a cool story. So you're growing up, you're working at the, at the family business. School. Where's, where ... Where's school?

Carmen:
I went to, uh, Youngstown State University. And, you know, you ... It was very inexpensive.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I can live at home. I think my tuition was something like $600 a year.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And, um, uh, I got through college in three years. I applied to law school and got in by the skin of my teeth. I mean you wanna talk about, you know, affirmative action.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I was an affirmative action (laughing) admission to Georgetown Law School.

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
And went to Washington, DC. Never having ... By the way, never having been on the airplane.

Doug:
Oh.

Carmen:
Uh, first airplane trip I ever took in my life was during Thanksgiving break of my first year at law school. And I flew from DC to Youngstown with a stop in Pittsburgh and I threw up. (laughs) So ...

Doug:
Well, of course, you did. Of course, you did.

Carmen:
I mean you're bouncing and this and that and, uh-

Doug:
Oh, yeah.

Carmen:
And ... It was quite an experience.

Doug:
I mean I think about it. And were you guys ... I'm gonna flip back to home from there. Why? Well, the Italian family, you guys obviously there's wine on the table every night.

Carmen:
Oh, it ... I mean-

Doug:
Every day?

Carmen:
I would say that ... I would say certainly every weekend-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
... and some ... depending upon if there were guests coming to dinner. When I say dinner, you know, it's so casual.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Carmen:
Hey, come on. Sit down. Have ...

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
"There's a chair?" "Yeah. There's plenty." You know.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
That kind of thing. Uh, but I'll never forget as long as I live that I used to serve 10:30 High Mass on Sunday. And we would then have the main meal at noon. And during the main meal, they would give us, all the kids ... Uh, when I say kids, seven, eight-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... you know, nine, nine years old. These glasses-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... they'd fill them halfway up with this homemade Italian wine-

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
... and then put water the rest of the way. And you were served wine like the adults with the meal. You didn't think of it really as drinking. It's part of the food element, you know.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
It was wine and it was so natural. Uh, don't let me ramble on you now but-

Doug:
No, no, no, no. This is great.

Carmen:
But the fun thing I remember about winemaking in that, uh, Italian American neighborhood on the East Side of Youngstown was you get all the guys ... Everybody made wine.

Doug:
Everybody is making their own wine.

Carmen:
Everybody makes their own wine.

Doug:
Got it.

Carmen:
And they find the guy with a truck.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
So, they get the guy with the truck ... (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) There's always the guy with the truck.

Carmen:
They get the guy with the truck. And then we only live like, you know, three blocks from down, from the railroad yards and in the center of town and so forth downtown Youngstown. So they go down to the, to the railroad yards and in comes the, the car, the railroad car from the Central Valley out here.

Doug:
California grapes.

Carmen:
California grapes. It was not refrigerated.

Doug:
Oh.

Carmen:
But, but this was November.

Doug:
Okay. So it's cold.

Carmen:
So these are grapes from the Central Valley that Gallo didn't want. All right?

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And so, the point is everybody is buying the same grapes-

Doug:
The same grapes.

Carmen:
... from the-

Doug:
The same, the same-

Carmen:
... the same place.

Doug:
The same railroad car.

Carmen:
The same railroad car. And the guy with the truck knows how many crates he bought this guy buys and he drops them off at his house. And then they start the winemaking process. They have the press and they use the same barrel, 20, 25 years, sometimes more than 25 years year after year after year.

Doug:
That's okay.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
That's, that's called neu- that's called ... That's called-

Carmen:
It's not French- new French oak. (laughs)

Doug:
That's called neutral ... That's called neutral wood and there's nothing wrong with that by golly. (laughs)

Carmen:
And then ... So now this is November.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
You start tasting-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... as Good Friday is approaching because hopefully-

Doug:
April.

Carmen:
... you're going to release for Easter.

Doug:
Release is on Eas- Easter release.

Carmen:
Easter Yeah. Right. And it's, it's bottled in these big gallon jugs with the little hook.

Doug:
Yeah. With the little hook on it. Yeah, yeah.

Carmen:
Yeah. And, uh, there you have it. And everybody thought that they used to make the best wine. I remember some of the old-timers saying, if mis- Forgive my accent, okay?

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
"If Mr. Mondavi, come in and taste my wine, he gonna be thinking it's a miracle." (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) Well, that's funny you bring up Mondavi. This is ... Because we're talking about home winemaking 'cause I have Marc Mondavi in here a few weeks ago. And I didn't know this. The Mondavi family did not start out winemakers. The Mondavi family was shipping ... This is, uh, Marc's, uh, great grandfather, Cesare-

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
... and who's sons were Robert and Peter and they were ... Charles Krug. And they were shipping grapes. They were shipping grapes.

Doug:
And then one year, I forget what year it was, Marc said they had early rains, a lot of raining and it beat the grapes up, and they were, they were looking and going, "This stuff will never make the train trip back to the East Coast." It just won't ... They're, they're just falling apart already. You know, they were still decent but there's no way they were gonna be able to ship it. And so to cover his loses, grand- granddad Cesare Mondavi started making wine. Made bulk wine just to kinda ... And that's, and that's how they got in the wine business because of, of a rainy harvest.

Carmen:
Wow.

Doug:
I could ... I never knew that. It-

Carmen:
I ... I thought you were going in a whole different direction-

Doug:
Uh-uh (negative).

Carmen:
... because I think the Mondavi's at one time drink prohibition.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
Helped put together winemaking kits.

Doug:
Well, I ... I'm sure they probably did.

Carmen:
You know?

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
But I had no idea that it was-

Doug:
Well, I think it was after, um ... I don't think they were making wine before prohibition.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
I think it was after them, too. But, but it was ... But it ... He told the story of this one bad harvest.

Carmen:
Wow.

Doug:
It was like, "Man, if we can't ship this stuff, we're gonna lose all our money. So let's make some wine and at least, you know, recoup something."

Carmen:
But it, it's just amazing. Everybody in the neighborhood made wine.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
And but, but that's what they did in the old country, too.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And, and but I'll never forget that same old barrel.

Doug:
The same barrel, same grape, same grape orchard and everybody's think ... everybody thinks their wine is the best, right?

Carmen:
Yes.

Doug:
(laughs) Bra- Bragging rights. That sounds like Napa Valley today.

Carmen:
And then, you know, you start really getting fancy when you're starting, starting to go out to restaurants. And if you're taking a girl that you kinda like-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... you might even go top-shelf and, you know, you'll, you'll put Blue Nun aside for a moment.

Doug:
Yeah. And top-shelf would be-

Carmen:
And you'll say top-shelf, Lancers.

Carmen:
Lancers in that, uh, pink or salmon-

Doug:
The, the, the, um, ceramic bottle almost, right?

Carmen:
Yeah. Ceramic bottle. And then you can give it to her to take home and use it as a, as a candle holder.

Doug:
Look at you.

Carmen:
Uh, and it was sparkling and chilled, you know.

Doug:
Look at you. You, you had all the moves done, you know.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
Like, it's all coming together now. Oh, good. Um, so Georgetown, first plane ride, East Coast, Washington, DC, you know, compared to Youngstown, eyes wide open.

Carmen:
Oh, it was ... I mean that's a whole different world. It was ... It was a different planet for me. Uh, keep in mind I've never traveled.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
You know, and I, uh ... I'm hard pressed thinking whether I ever left Ohio before I actually went to Georgetown and-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
settled in Washington, DC. So ... And then imagine the young people that I'm going to class with-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... from Ivy League schools, international schools, from a lot of the great schools in, you know, in America whose fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers-

Doug:
All, all went to it.

Carmen:
... were doing all these things and whose, uh, fathers were, you know, famous people. Whether it was with the media or whether it was the government or banking or-

Doug:
What was that like? Did it ... Was it scary? Was it anxiety? You're ... It's just like, this is what I've got to do and I got to figure it out."

Carmen:
Well, you better figure it out.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And you better figure it out pretty quick or you get left behind.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I, I think especially in graduate school, uh, you know, you, you go to professional school whether it's medicine or law or sciences or, or disciplines. Uh, if you don't have it figured out, they go right by you very quickly.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
It really became a matter of saying, "Look, I'm not gonna fight this. I could learn a lot ... from every one of these people." And by the way, I seem to get along with them. We were able to, uh, to work together. We were able to study together. We played together.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
So, it, it ... In the first year, I lived right at the school. They had some dorms for affordable housing-

Doug:
Right. Unders-

Carmen:
... so to speak.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
So I was right there in the middle of everything every day. And, uh so that was an advantage and I think that going to school with, with that group of people that I went to school with caused me to, to grow faster and be better. It's kinda like having Jerry Rice on your football team.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
If, if you're a member of a team with Jerry Rice on the team, you better step it up.

Doug:
You better step it up.

Carmen:
Yeah. You, you-

Doug:
Wow. Well, the fact that you are one of the most personable people I've ever met helped you a lot I'm sure.

Carmen:
Uh, I, I like people. I do like people.

Doug:
It comes from ... I think it comes from bartending at 16. (laughs)

Carmen:
Yeah. Bart- I mean it ... You know, could you imagine what it's like to be a lousy bartender? I mean no one's gonna si- sit, you know, sit at your end of the bar or even come into the bar if you're the only bartender. So-

Doug:
I'll tell you something. Um, I had a stint, a two-year stint. I'm teaching junior high school. And guess what? For winemaker dinners, things like that with a bunch of 40 people, half of them are kind of drunk and you wanna get their attention, nothing beats being a junior high teacher.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
It's the best training I ever had.

Carmen:
I had no idea you were a teacher.

Doug:
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Carmen:
You know, you don't... You don't pass on that image. I mean you-

Doug:
Oh, come on, Carmen.

Carmen:
International playboy maybe but-

Doug:
No. God. Come on. Come one. Listen. I was Mr. Shafer and I was 23 and I had long hair. I was in Tucson, Arizona and-

Carmen:
Oh …

Doug:
I got away with being the cool teacher for a couple of years. And then I, I came back to the wine business.

Doug:
So, um, after Georgetown, did you stay in DC? You came back home? You came back to Youngstown or Cleveland?

Carmen:
I was going to stay in DC but then I had an opportunity to go back to Youngstown and go into a commercial law firm. And I always wanted to do trial work. And they said that I would handle all of their minor commercial trials.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
And I started doing, you know, non-jury stuff and a lot of, uh, various kinds of, you know, smaller commercial matters.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I, I would, I would appear on behalf of creditors in bankruptcy court and present the creditors' claims and so forth. I also did, uh ... You know, things of that nature plus regular corporate work and, and real estate work.

Doug:
But at least you're ... But you were in the courtroom which makes sense for you.

Carmen:
Right.

Doug:
You know, people. Got it.

Carmen:
Then the opportunity came to go into the city prosecutor's office. And it was one of those-

Doug:
Oh, man.

Carmen:
... almost like a, you know, crazy situation where you have three judges, three courts and I'm in one court doing arraignments. I'm in another court trying a misdemeanor case. I'm in another court on a, on a felony preliminary hearing. And then the jury trial is two days away and-

Doug:
You're running around. You got ... I got a picture. There's TV shows like this. You know, you got the briefcase.

Carmen:
(laughs) Yeah.

Doug:
You got, you know, which file. And I'm like, "Oh."

Carmen:
And it was fun.

Doug:
I never knew you did this.

Carmen:
Oh, it was ... First of all, it was a lot of fun. It was action. It was fun.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
You know, I'm working with the cops all the time, the Detective Bureau and, uh, and I had a great relationship with the judges, great relationship with the lawyers. And then it also permitted us at that time to have our own private practice so long as it didn't interfere with your duties at the prosecutor's office and so long as you did not handle any criminal matters - or matters against the state, the county or the city.

Doug:
So you could do like real estate, corporate law, stuff like that.

Carmen:
Right.

Doug:
That's kinda nice.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
So you've got a little back up there.

Carmen:
And I started expanding. And in those days, Doug, unlike today, you didn't have to necessarily become a micro specialist.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
And the big firms weren't killing you with paper the way they do today.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I mean you know you're inundated. When you go up against the large firm-

Doug:
They hurt ... They hurt you.

Carmen:
... they're inundating you with all kinds of discovery and things like that. So, small operation would get choked with something of that nature.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
So that started me in the practice and that started me with trial work and then ultimately I went out on my own and started doing a lot of trial work and, uh, I, I did some criminal stuff that was fascinating and shall we say exciting and-

Doug:
Fair enough. (laughs)

Carmen:
(laughs) When I say criminal stuff, not that I was committing any crimes.

Doug:
Of course not.

Carmen:
I'm talking about defending those who were-

Doug:
No. You-

Carmen:
... accused sometimes unjustly of committing crimes.

Doug:
And I've got a note here that you argued in front of the Supreme Court.

Carmen:
I did.

Doug:
At age 33.

Carmen:
That's correct.

Doug:
Oh, man. What's that like?

Carmen:
Whoa. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
I got to tell you. If you have time for the story.

Doug:
I've got time. I've got all the time in the world.

Carmen:
So, I'm, I'm going to Washington, DC. I, I, I was representing a client in federal court in Cleveland. Filed my motion for suppression of evidence because of an improp- improper wiretap. The trial court agreed with me. Then the government appealed at the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. All ... Unanimously, the three judges unanimously agreed with me. Then the government wanted to try an issue as to whether or not evidence that's ga- that's garnered through these wiretaps that may be tainted by some snafu of a technological nature or of a shall we say an oversight-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... but not tainted in any way by bad faith should still come in against the defendant. And the Supreme Court said, "We're gonna allow ..." what they call certiorari. "We're gonna allow approximately seven cases dealing with these issues to be considered by the court and be dispositive by our ruling and we're gonna allo- we're gonna pick one case to be argued." And they picked-

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
They picked my case.

Doug:
They picked your case.

Carmen:
So, I'm ready to go ... Now, another airplane ride, too-

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
... to Washington, DC.

Doug:
Hopefully the weather was a little calmer.

Carmen:
So I made up my mind. I'm not gonna drink-

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
... for the entire time that I'm actually preparing the argument. And you're permitted by the way. If you're arguing a case before the Supreme Court, you're permitted to go in early and you have access to the Supreme Court Library for so many days before your argument. And then they tell you how you approach-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... where you sit, where you stand, so forth. So I'm on the plane and the young lady says, "What would you like?" And normally, it would have been, you know-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... a decent scotch and water.

Doug:
Yeah. Scotch.

Carmen:
I said, "I'll have milk, please." And so I'm thinking milk maybe will calm me down and so forth-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... and so on. And, uh, I drank the milk. Worse thing I ever did. I had the worst gas I could ever imagine.

Doug:
Oh. (laughs)

Carmen:
I, I was so upset.

Doug:
Oh, no.

Carmen:
I thought to myself-

Doug:
Oh, no.

Carmen:
... this is is gonna really destroy my entire effort.

Doug:
Oh, yeah, yeah.

Carmen:
Got to Georgetown, stayed in Georgetown in Washington.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
Went right to the bar, had a scotch and water-

Doug:
Had a scotch.

Carmen:
... to straighten me up.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And I drank throughout, uh, the rest of the ... you know.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
In the evening hours.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
Drank throughout the rest of the time and everything went fine.

Doug:
Everything went fine.

Carmen:
It was, it was really a stunning experience. And I was, uh, it, it was overwhelming to a degree.

Doug:
I bet it was 'cause-

Carmen:
Especially at that age.

Doug:
Yeah. 33. All right. So, so Youngstown ... All right. So now, we've got ... I need to know because there's this guy, Eddie DeBartolo-

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
... and his family. And, um, for those of you who don't know, a very successful family in Cleveland and Youngstown, construction business. Eddie was a son. The ... His father was also Eddie but Mr. DeBartolo.

Carmen:
Ed, Sr. Yeah.

Doug:
And all right. So somehow you got hooked up with Eddie D. And, um, you know, he went on his way at some point. And so 1977 bought the 49ers, San Francisco 49ers for 17 million. Sounds like a deal. It was. Um, how did you get hooked up with Eddie?

Carmen:
Well, and, and you're right. Um, Mr. DeBartolo, Sr. was an icon. As a matter of fact, the DeBartolo Corporation was the largest shopping center developer in the country during that period of time.

Doug:
I never knew that.

Carmen:
Yeah. The, the largest. And I mean they-

Doug:
In the co- In the, in the country.

Carmen:
In the country.

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
And he was the first to do the regional malls.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
I mean they were, you know, you had the strip centers and so forth. And then he took it to another level. He was the one who did the first, as I understand it, the first major mega, uh, suburban regional mall.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And then that catapulted from there. And, um-

Doug:
God, what a crazy business that must have been.

Carmen:
So, just when I go into my ... You know, I'm in my, my private practice now.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I'm not even connected with the prosecutor's office anymore and I'm in a golf tournament for charity.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And here's this feisty kid.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Just out of Notre Dame and, uh, he was ... He had that smile that you knew you're gonna have fun with this guy, you know.

Doug:
Right, right.

Carmen:
And it's Eddie DeBartolo. And I didn't, know, you know, it was him. I didn't ... I knew ... I've heard of his father-

Doug:
Yeah. But you didn't know him.

Carmen:
... obviously.

Doug:
Right. You didn't know him.

Carmen:
I didn't know anything.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
So we started chumming it up a little bit, had a good time, and saw him again. And then I started picking up that, you know, who he was and who his family is.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And what his father had been doing and was, was about to do, do further. And so, I would say starting around 1970 ... we started palling around together. As a matter of fact, I, I filed a, a mechanics lien against Mr. DeBartolo's mall.

Doug:
Mister ... You mean dad the senior.

Carmen:
Dad's mall in Youngstown-

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
... which caused him to want me to be disbarred.

Doug:
Oh, no.

Carmen:
And Eddie says, "Well, I know this guy. He's a pretty good guy. Let me talk to him." And actually, Eddie helped me settle the case for this contractor I represented who thinks I walked on water after getting money, uh, out of that situation. So, um-

Doug:
So you guys were social friends first not, not business.

Carmen:
Social friends. Then I became his attor- his personal attorney.

Doug:
Okay. Personal attorney. All right. Makes sense.

Carmen:
Then his dad used me for some other matters, some family matters and-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
... and the company even used me for some local matters. And then they buy this team. I'm in a ... I'm in this restaurant in Youngstown, Ohio having gotten back from a trial up in Cleveland.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
He comes in. Eddie comes with his father and Eddie is a nervous wreck like, and he's waving to me to come to the bar. And I come over and says, "How have you been? I haven't seen you?" He says, "Look, I could never say anything to you before. I just bought a football team."

Doug:
But ... So he bought-

Carmen:
I, I said, "You just bought a football team?"

Doug:
Who, who did he bought? He bought the 9ers?

Carmen:
I said ... So, I said-

Doug:
No.

Carmen:
... "I didn't know the Cleveland Browns was for sale."

Doug:
(laughs) That's what I was gonna ask you. Why would-

Carmen:
He says, "I didn't buy the Cleveland Browns. I bought the San Francisco 49ers."

Doug:
Why did he buy ... What ... Fantastic. But still wh- My head is exploding here. Why? He's a, he's a Cleveland guy. He's, he's got to buy Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

Carmen:
He used to go on the trains to the games in Cleveland. Okay?

Doug:
Oh. Right. Why would he buy the 49ers which is-

Carmen:
So, I said, "Why did you buy the 49ers? My God." Keep in mind. Youngstown, Ohio, 1977. San Francisco was like across the world to us.

Doug:
Across the world. Right.

Carmen:
It was like going to Shanghai, you know.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And, uh, I said, "Why did you buy the 49ers." He said, "Because they were for sale."

Doug:
(laughs) I'm sorry. Oh.

Carmen:
So, he bought the 49ers. And then he said-

Doug:
I wanna meet Eddie.

Carmen:
He said, "You are gonna get involved with me." I said, "Whoa, Eddie, you know, I don't know. I don't ... I mean I watch football but what do I know about that business?" He said, "Don't worry. You're gonna be involved with me." So, um-

Doug:
He said it that night, first night.

Carmen:
Yup.

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
So then I wasn't involved the first.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
I would go out for a game or two, you know, something like that as a buddy. And then two ... You know. It was less than two years later, he said in December 1978-

Doug:
'78.

Carmen:
... end of the '78 season, "Clear your schedule. We're going to San Francisco first week of January. I'm tearing the organization apart and there's a guy I wanna hire as my head coach and general manager and I want you there. And you'll do his first contract." And that guy was-

Doug:
Bill Walsh?

Carmen:
Bill Walsh.

Doug:
Bill Walsh. Now, but wait a minute. You've got your own business, your own practice. You got other clients and, you know, but-

Carmen:
How do say no to that? (laughs)

Doug:
I was gonna say that. No, you can't.

Carmen:
You can't-

Doug:
How excit- How exciting?

Carmen:
It was, it was tremendously ... And we're kids. Don't forget. He bought the team when I argued before the Supreme Court.

Doug:
So you're, you're like 33, 34, 35.

Carmen:
I'm 33 or 34. Yeah.

Doug:
Oh, yeah, you're just a kid.

Carmen:
Yeah. (laughs)

Doug:
You're like nothing. And you ... And you're going to California to, to, to retool a professional football team and hire a new GM/coach. (laughs)

Carmen:
Yeah. And it was ... Yeah. It, it, it was, uh ... You talk about being blessed and you talk about being in the right place at the right time with the right people. And, uh-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
That's what it all came down to. So it was ... It's ... It was pretty magical. And then coming to San Francisco-

Doug:
So you ... But ... So your role is to negotiate contacts when you're doing the, the lawyer, the legal deal.

Carmen:
Right.

Doug:
Got it. Okay.

Carmen:
And Walsh would use me whenever there was going to be a real torturous negotiation. And Walsh would always call and say ... He'd say, "Eddie, I need your Youngstown mouthpiece."

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
He says, "He's got to handle this." And I was so impressed that Walsh had that kind of confidence in me. I found out later one of the main reasons he wanted me to do it is he wanted no bad blood existing between the player-

Doug:
Oh. The player.

Carmen:
... and the agent and people who were there in the organization located on site.

Doug:
Really smart. Smart.

Carmen:
Uh, you know, it pays. Every time they wanted to say, it's the Youngstown guy, you know.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
It's not us.

Doug:
Well, so, so you like ... You became ... You know, hatchet man is the wrong word but, um, you're, you're the heavy.

Carmen:
Yes.

Doug:
So you're like the heavy.

Carmen:
Right.

Doug:
So, it's like you run around the organization. It's like, "Oh, here comes Carmen, you know." And no- And nobody likes you which for you and for me would be a killer. Um, or the players-

Carmen:
Well-

Doug:
... or the players' agents.

Carmen:
The players' agents were okay because you know they are agents. They understand.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Carmen:
Uh, the players were, were okay because most of the time, we can get this done. It was, it was the difficult guys that were holdouts that-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... caused the problems and so forth. And I would not do it in such a way as to, you know, abuse or disrespect anybody.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
It was ... I, I was business and I tried to make that clear from the, from, you know, from the very beginning.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And we usually got something and we got it done. I can't think of one situation where we ultimately didn't get the deal done. So once the deal is done and the money comes in, everybody forgets about everything else.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
So it started working out well. And then eventually I started doing more and more and then eventually I was representing the team at the league level.

Doug:
So you're 33, thirty- 35 whatever. It's, uh, '78. So were you still living in the Midwest?

Carmen:
Yes. I would fly out with Eddie.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
Or fly out pri- you know, commercially.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
Uh, preferred flying with Eddie on his plane.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
But, uh, but sometimes I'd have to fly out commercially of course.

Doug:
So how long ... So how many years were you based in Ohio before-

Carmen:
We didn't ... I really didn't move from Ohio. I was there until 1990.

Doug:
Oh, wow.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
So 15 years anyway.

Carmen:
I was there till ni- till '90. No. Uh-

Doug:
Oh, '78.

Carmen:
Say, say-

Doug:
Yeah. 12 years.

Carmen:
Yeah. '79. 11 or 12 years.

Doug:
And at that point, were you - when were you like full-time 49ers or did you still have to-

Carmen:
That's when I truly became full-time. I gave up my practice-

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
... totally. Before that time, I was executive vice president and I was representing the team at the league level. I was basically in charge of the business operations of the team.

Doug:
During those 12 years.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
Wow.

Carmen:
Well, not all 12. It was started in '83.

Doug:
Yeah. Okay.

Carmen:
And then, uh, and then I moved here and became president and CEO of the- of the 49ers.

Doug:
In 1990.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
And it was, it was pretty cool actually.

Doug:
Well, okay. I, I've got to jump in here because - most of you folks out there in radio land, this is radio podcast land, you know, know about the 9ers. But if you don't know, um, my friend here Mr. Policy have five Super Bowl rings. The first one was 1982. These are all with the 9ers. '82, '85, '89 and then '90 and then '94. I mean, whew, five titles in 12 years. Something like that, right?

Carmen:
Two different quarterbacks.

Doug:
Two different quarterbacks.

Carmen:
Two different head coaches. Everything is the same except the owner. Eddie DeBartolo is ... I mean everything is different-

Doug:
Yeah. Different.

Carmen:
... except the owner, Eddie DeBartolo. He, he created a culture based upon this kind of tough, uh, strong steel mill environment-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... that we all grew up in which combined all of those elements of strength with family. And he somehow was able to capture that and almost carry it out here in a bottle and then infuse it into the culture of the 49ers. And, uh, people say today that it was like a family.

Doug:
Well, I think that just as being a fan, you know, the same players stayed with the team for a long time unlike today and other teams are they're changing personnel every other year. It's ... Something was going on there that kept them together.

Carmen:
You know, Dwight Clark just ... Dwight Clark is a, you know-

Doug:
Well, that, that whole story with Dwight and-

Carmen:
... was a famed, uh, receiver for us and ‘the catch’ and the whole thing, you know, with the AL- ALS-

Doug:
ALS.

Carmen:
... destroying him.

Doug:
And he moved up to Montana for his last year or two, and neighbors with Eddie. Eddie is up there. And I read the article. There's a couple of great articles.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
He gathered everybody together.

Carmen:
It was ... It was beautiful to see the way the guys came around.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And then you have guys when they're seeing him, they're buttoning his shirt for him.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
Helped him get dressed. Helped him in and out of the wheelchair. I mean just like you would for, for your brother, you know.

Doug:
I knew. Right. That's family.

Carmen:
And, uh, it, it was pretty moving. And you could see what ... They played for each other and for the organization. And those days are gone.

Doug:
Well-

Carmen:
I don't think they exist today.

Doug:
Well, it was the true idea of team.

Carmen:
It was.

Doug:
And it's not just the players. It's the whole organization.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Way to go, Eddie.

Carmen:
Yeah. He did a ... He did a hell of a job actually.

Doug:
If he ever blows to town and kind of stop, stop by and have a glass of wine, would you let me know?

Carmen:
Oh, absolutely.

Doug:
Or bring him over or something?

Carmen:
Especially if you crack open some of that Shafer Select.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
(laughs) You know what I mean. I know you-

Doug:
I've got a bottle of Lancers I think he'll love.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
No. I would ... You know, I've read so many great things about him. It'd be a treat.

Carmen:
You'd love him, Doug.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah. So, so football, traditional football. Youngstown, Cleveland, 9ers. It's kind of a beer sport, you know? Beer drinker.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
And then all of a sudden, everybody is getting into wine. Montana started making wine, uh, Charles Woodson has got winery. You've got winery. What-

Carmen:
Dick Vermeil.

Doug:
Yeah. Dick Vermeil. Calistoga. What, what's ... What was the shift? What happened here? 'Cause, you know, how ... Well, wine with you forever. But the beer thing, the wine thing.

Carmen:
But, you know, the wine, the wine that I grew up on as a kid, you don't wanna really repeat. Okay? I mean you wouldn't even cook with it, uh, and, uh ... But what happened is when I started coming out there with Eddie and started being associated with the 49ers, the one thing you enjoy amongst other things is besides the beauty of San Francisco and Northern California is the food scene. And again, coming from an Italian family, you know, food is important. And not only eating it but the experience connected to it.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And when you're in San Francisco or Northern California, you get into the food scene, the very, very next immediate step is getting into the wine.

Doug:
Fair enough.

Carmen:
And we started getting into the wine and then I started saying, "I really like this and this is something special and I wanted to learn more about it." I would escape to Napa as I said, when I was out here as often as I could.

Doug:
Okay. Okay.

Carmen:
And, uh, matter of fact, Gail and I, my wife Gail and I after two of the Super Bowls, after the parade-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... in San Francisco, we had a car waiting-

Doug:
Right up to Napa.

Carmen:
... right up to Napa.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Didn't care what the weather was.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
You know, 'cause, you know, you're talking end of January in those days. Uh, didn't care what the weather was. Right up to Napa. And, uh, and, you know, it, it, it became part of our, our life so to speak.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And so, uh ...

Doug:
Well, it's, it's ... Now that you're saying this the, the bells are going off because I remember, you know, Franco Harris came through here one time, you know, was into wine. You know, I've heard through the grapevine LeBron James loves Hillside Select at Goose & Gander. He orders bottles after bottle.

Carmen:
Oh, yeah, LeBron James is a huge-

Doug:
Yeah. Did you ever know a guy named Mark Dominik?

Carmen:
Yes.

Doug:
Um, Tampa Bay.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
He was a scout for the Tampa Bay Bucs and all of a sudden, one day there's a couple of jerseys for me from Tampa Bay Bucs. And I asked my staff up front. He was, "There was this guy. He, he loves our wine and ..." I go, "Who is he?" So, I got his email, emailed him." And he said he was a scout for the Bucs. I said, "Next time, let me know you're coming." And we hit it off. Became a good friend.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
I haven't seen him in a couple of years. But, um, you know, and he had me down with my kids who were playing high school ball at the time as sidelines with Keyshawn Johnson. But a great friendship and then he became GM fo the Bucs for a while.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
He's out of it now but, but at the same time, he was like ... I go, "What's going on?" He goes, "Man, whenever I get to scout out the West Coast, I'm just in Wine Country all the time."

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
So, he's really fun. Um, so I guess it makes sense to people. You know, it's like good food, good wine. It all goes together.

Carmen:
It, it ... I think it does.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And I, I think when you start appreciating those culinary arts, it, it's just automatic. Unless you have something with your system that doesn't permit you to enjoy wine-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... you are gonna fall in love with the wine like you have the food.

Doug:
There you go. You mentioned Gail, your bride-

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
... who's a sweetheart. Tell me. How did you guys meet?

Carmen:
Oh, god.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
I met her basically, um, at a family function that, uh, my, my friend and client had. And then-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
And then more ... Uh, I got to know her even better when we were at a dinner together, um, which my client of course was at with some ... several other people. And, uh, just one of those things, you know-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... where, um, you know, all of a sudden I got moonstruck. And I, I understood that movie with Cher-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... so, uh, so readily, you know. And, um, you know, she was also raised in Youngstown, Ohio. Father was a carpenter, a good carpenter, a good finish carpenter.

Doug:
Got it.

Carmen:
And mother came from Italy and, uh, it was, uh ... She was raised very nicely and, and just it worked out. As a matter of fact, yesterday, the 27th of June was our 27th anniversary.

Doug:
Wow. Congrats.

Carmen:
Oh, thank you.

Doug:
That's great.

Carmen:
Yeah. She is cool. Is really, really-

Doug:
That's way to go.

Carmen:
Yeah. You know, to have someone like that in your life ... To have the life I had-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
... and have someone like that in your life-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... while you're going through it makes it extra special.

Doug:
Congrats.

Carmen:
Thank you.

Doug:
And so you visited Napa as often as you could. And now, when did you make the move? Because you got a beautiful home. You got a 14 acre vineyard right here on State Lane, Yountville and making wine. So, you became a vintner. You're ... How many career ... You got more careers than I do.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
Um, so when did that all happen and how did that come about?

Carmen:
Well, I went back to Cleveland and competed with a wonderful gentleman who was ... who brought me in, Al Lerner, and we were successful out of, out of eight contenders in getting the Cleveland Browns expansion franchise in 1998. This is after Art Modell moved the existing franchise to Baltimore.

Doug:
That's right. He moved it to Baltimore. I forgot about that.

Carmen:
He moved to Baltimore. The league forced him to keep the name, the colors, the trademarks and the history in the vault in Cleveland so that a team moving to Cleveland would then become the Cleveland Browns again.

Doug:
I never knew that.

Carmen:
Yeah. And that's, that's how ... So now-

Doug:
'Cause when did ... When did they move to Baltimore?

Carmen:
They moved to Baltimore in, uh, '90- oh, is it '95 or six?

Doug:
Was that the famous thing they did in the middle of the night? I remember that.

Carmen:
No.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
That was Indianapolis.

Doug:
Ind- Okay. (laughs) Okay.

Carmen:
Yeah. That was, that was when they, um, uh, Bob, um, Irsay-

Doug:
Right. Moved them out in the middle of the night.

Carmen:
... brought in the moving trucks to Baltimore, the Baltimore Colts-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... and moved them out in the middle of the night. Now, Art Modell made it clear he went through hell. I mean they ... He had to move out of Cleveland.

Doug:
Oh, I didn't know that.

Carmen:
Yeah. He was Mr. Cleveland, too. I mean he loved the town and, uh, he had a great reputation there and so forth but he had to move out of, out of town. He could never return.

Doug:
Oh, that's sad.

Carmen:
That's how ... That's how rabid, you know, the-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... the fans are there. So, while I was there, we knew we're gonna be there five years, my partner died.

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
And I sold my interest in the team back to the family and we came ... I wound up there six years instead of five. But prior to leaving, we started coming out here. We thought- we'd thought we'd always live in the city. But we, we wanted a place up here. So I was gonna look for two acres, three acres, you know.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Nice home.

Doug:
I've heard this before. (laughs)

Carmen:
You know, put a few, put a few rows of grapes up.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah. Just ... Yeah.

Carmen:
Just kinda like the old-timers in the neighborhood. Right?

Doug:
Make, make 200 gallons a year. Right.

Carmen:
Right. Like the old-timers in the neighborhood.

Doug:
Same barrel. One barrel. Right.

Carmen:
One barrel. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) Ah.

Carmen:
I might change the barrel every year but, but, uh, then, uh, this friend of Marc Mondavi's and mine, uh, said, "You know, Marc and his family have that piece of ground, a really special piece of ground." It's a vin- It's a ... It's vineyard they had ripped out and they're waiting to replant it 'cause it's gonna be an expensive replant-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... the way they're gonna do it including irrigation and everything and drainage. And he said, "They also like some property up on Howell Mountain. You may want to go take a look at it." So I drive down that dirt road ... and I see this field because they have ripped out all.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
It's ... As you know, when you rip out a vineyard it becomes a fallow field so to speak.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And there's this plot of land with these beautiful views of the Mayacama Mountains. And it's just peaceful and you've got a knoll behind you and it ... I mean I fell in love with it. So then Gail says, "Well, what are we gonna do with all this land?"

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
"You're not gonna go into the wine business, are you?" I says, "Oh, never. No. Of course not. Um, well, maybe we'll do something, you know, like, uh, rough, rough, uh, landscaping or-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
Or we'll plant olive trees-

Doug:
Right. Yeah.

Carmen:
... or something ike that." So, anyway, she liked the site. Our architect, Howard Backen, who lives up here loved it.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.

Carmen:
He wanted us to buy it without even looking at it.

Doug:
(laughs) Howard.

Carmen:
And, uh, so we wind up buying it. Starting to ... Starting to replant now, you know, a significant part of, of the property.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
Uh, Howard starts designing the house and this was the slippery slope to bankruptcy she took me on. (laughs)

Doug:
Oh, man. It's a lot, isn't it?

Carmen:
Now, it's all ... Yeah. But, but now, we have a good grape farmer, Jim Barber of-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... Bar- Barber Vineyards and great ... He did a great job. Our winemaker is superb, Thomas Brown. He's kind of a rock star.

Doug:
Oh, you got ... He is a rock star.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
You got two of the best. Barber is great.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
And he's, he's good old Napa, too, which is great about Barber.

Carmen:
He ... Oh, he's a crusty farmer. Yeah.

Doug:
I should get ... I should get him in here 'cause he's got stories.

Carmen:
Oh, you should get him in here.

Doug:
Yeah. And then, uh, Thomas Brown who's, who's a fantastic winemaker.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
So you got a good team.

Carmen:
So, it's been ... It's ... So I ... My, my different 49er experience, you know, in a sense. Put your team together. If the team is good quality and they work well together, you're gonna accomplish a lot of good stuff.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
And we were truly interested in trying to make the best wine that that, that piece of dirt could provide.

Doug:
It's a good site.

Carmen:
Yeah. It, it's, it's worked out well.

Doug:
By the way, the name of the winery is Casa Piena which means?

Carmen:
It's Italian for full house.

Doug:
It's Italian ... (laughs) It's Italian for full house.

Carmen:
Right. So I have three sons and two daughters, three of a kind and a pair.

Doug:
Three ... (laughs) … three.

Carmen:
Plus the house is always full and we enjoy entertaining. Gail came up with the name because we didn't wanna put Policy on there. So we're driving around, she says, "How do you say full house in Italian?"

Doug:
In Italian.

Carmen:
I says, "I don't know. Casa something." And we called Pino Espinozo who owns Tiramisu Restaurant in Belden Alley in the city.

Doug:
Okay. Yes.

Carmen:
In San Francisco.

Doug:
Yes, yes.

Carmen:
So, we're saying, "How do you say full house in Italian?" "Casa Piena." And she said, "Boy, that sounds beautiful." She want me to call the lawyers right away and say start the trademark work and so forth.

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
I said, "We got to wait." Because Pino is a little rough around the edges. That could mean, you know-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... that could be dialect. I could mean house of bad women or- (laughs)

Doug:
Oh, you wanna ... Yeah, yeah. You wanna check it out.

Carmen:
Or you know what I mean?

Doug:
Yeah. I do know that.

Carmen:
So, we got it cleared up though and the two professors I checked with said, "No. No. That's the clean meaning." And-

Doug:
The clean meaning.

Carmen:
Yeah. That's good.

Doug:
That's pretty funny. Um, we have something in common. I've got a full house, too.

Carmen:
That's right.

Doug:
Three sons and two daughters.

Carmen:
That's right.

Doug:
We should play poker.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
No. I'm not ... I'm not playing poker with you. No way. Um, and so you've got ... You make cabernet. Two cab-

Carmen:
Just cabernet.

Doug:
Just cab. You got two cabs or one?

Carmen:
Two cabs. Uh-

Doug:
One, one is Casa Piena, this cabernet.

Carmen:
Yeah. The second one is called Our Gang.

Doug:
Meaning ... Uh, uh, let me think.

Carmen:
That's the ... That's the grandchildren.

Doug:
The grandchildren.

Carmen:
So the Case Piena is basically, uh, you know, the kids.

Doug:
The kids.

Carmen:
And the Our Gang is the grandchildren. And if you look at the label of Our Gang, you'll see eight vines. Five of the vines are just, you know, plain old brown vines.

Doug:
Right, right.

Carmen:
Three of them have little green leaves and a little pink base and all that. Those are the girls.

Doug:
Five boys, three girls.

Carmen:
Yeah. That's worked out well. And basically, it's, it's not ... Thomas says, "Our juice is so good. I'm going to take the best, put it in Casa Piena but what's left is so good. Let's do a second, a second label." So whatever doesn't go into Casa Piena goes into Our Gang.

Doug:
Nice.

Carmen:
And it's basically half the price.

Doug:
Yeah. Which is great.

Carmen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And so folks can ... Can they visit the winery or you guys ... or it's -?

Carmen:
Well, we have a tasting room at Mending Wall-

Doug:
Tasting room.

Carmen:
... where Thomas is the exclusive winemaker.

Doug:
And where is that? What, what town?

Carmen:
Silverado Trail.

Doug:
Silverado Trail.

Carmen:
Right there on your way to Cal- Calistoga.

Doug:
Into Calistoga.

Carmen:
But it's on the very edge of St. Helena.

Doug:
Got it. So you can taste your wines there.

Carmen:
It's just a bit north of, uh, Deer Park-

Doug:
Okay.

Carmen:
... uh, road.

Doug:
Okay. I know it. And, um, but they could order wine off your website?

Carmen:
This is ... I'm gonna be shameless for a second.

Doug:
I, I want you to be. 'Cause I wa- I need to know this.

Carmen:
www-

Doug:
Yes.

Carmen:
... casapiena.com.

Doug:
Good.

Carmen:
So how's that?

Doug:
So, everyone, if you wanna try some really good cabernet, check it out. It's my neighbor.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
It's good stuff here. Um, how about, uh, you know, with your background and you're so well-known in the football world. Do you get a lot of, uh, football fans trying your wines and contacting you and things like that?

Carmen:
Yes. We've gotten a lot of very, uh, upbeat reactions from people - even people who rooted against us.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Which is interesting, you know. Uh, I enjoy ... I, I have some comments like, "I enjoy drinking your wine a lot more than I used to enjoy watching your team play." You know, things like that.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
But all in good spirit. And, uh, but people have been very receptive. The restaurant, uh, industry here especially in Northern California has been really supportive and, um-

Doug:
Great.

Carmen:
... and very good to deal with in terms of our wine.

Doug:
Well, you are, you are a restaurant fan I know because you, you, you go to ‘em all and you know all the chefs-

Carmen:
Oh, I'm-

Doug:
... and, you know. You love great food.

Carmen:
I'm out all the time. Now, I'm hoping Gail doesn't hear this.

Doug:
(laughs) Well, she might so be careful.

Carmen:
This, this, this broadcast. But as I say, to me, Gail, you know, Gail is on loan to me from heaven. That's how I view it.

Doug:
Okay. I like that.

Carmen:
But she's not really much of a cook. Okay? I gave an interview to The Chronicle one time and they were asking, "Do I enjoy home-cooked meals?" I said, "You have to understand my wife thinks cook is a noun."

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
Yeah. And they printed it. So, uh, so we're out a lot.

Doug:
But you just celebrated your 27th anniversary. So she's, she's fine.

Carmen:
She's great.

Doug:
In fact, I remember 'cause she's actually ... She was so sweet about that. She actually ... We were with you guys one time. You were showing some things at your house and she said-

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
... "Look, at this beautiful kitchen." She goes, "I don't cook much. But it's a beautiful kitchen."

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
I mean she is right there which is great. Which was delightful.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
And it's refreshing.

Carmen:
And she says, "Sometimes I store sweaters in the stove." (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) That's pretty good. Um, I got to ask you one thing just because I'm a fan. Um, favorite Super Bowl. Or is that ... Or is that like asking your favorite kid or your grandkid?

Carmen:
You know-

Doug:
That might be a tough one.

Carmen:
You know, there ... Each Super Bowl had something very momentous connected to it. Like our last Super Bowl, it was very gratifying to me because we were facing the salary cap. We were facing losses to free agency which had now come into the league.

Doug:
Correct.

Carmen:
And it was Steve Young's turn.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And he had been such a good soldier all those years coming here with the understanding he was gonna start and then winding up playing behind Joe Montana-

Doug:
Right.

Carmen:
... for several, for several seasons. And we had to get him to the Super Bowl and he had to win-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... for, for the vindication of his, of his judgment and so forth.

Doug:
Yeah. To make it right.

Carmen:
And he's correct.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And, um, uh, because I, I think that without that Super Bowl, even going into the Hall of Fame on the First Ballot would have made-

Doug:
That's same.

Carmen:
... the kind of im- imprint in his mind and with his spirit, uh, that the Super Bowl made.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
Um, the first one it was like, "Where did this come from?"

Doug:
Oh, man.

Carmen:
I mean ... And you were around. I mean-

Doug:
I was around.

Carmen:
Did anybody expect it? I mean-

Doug:
I was stuck in the, uh ... What's it called? The Hollywood Tunnel?

Carmen:
Mm-mm (negative).

Doug:
Hollywood ... What's the tunnel in the city? Oh, it's on, uh ... Not Hollywood. What street is that? Broadway, the Broadway tunnel.

Carmen:
Oh, San Francisco. Yeah.

Doug:
San Francisco. 'Cause I was dating a gal. We watched it at some friend's house. She was in law school. Um, afterwards we're driving. We were, "Let's go somewhere to have dinner." And ev- You know, the whole city-

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
You weren’t there. You were at the, at the, at the game.

Carmen:
Yeah.

Doug:
The whole city just dumped onto the street.

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
It was a madhouse. And we were stuck in the Broadway Tunnel traffic jam. It actually got scary because of the exhaust from the cars.

Carmen:
Yeah. It would be ... That would be unnerving.

Doug:
It was, it was ... It got a little spooky. It's like we can't breathe. And so, um, we, we finally got out there. But it was a little frightening. You know, the, the mob, the mob heading the streets even in celebration, it can be little frightening. (laughs)

Carmen:
Yeah. Yeah. I, I heard that.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
Some people indicated ... Even in Union Street, some people said, you know-

Doug:
It's so scary. Yeah.

Carmen:
And they weren't quite accustomed to that there.

Doug:
No. So are you totally out of football?

Carmen:
Yes. Now I am.

Doug:
Now you are.

Carmen:
I was doing some consulting work. I was doing some, um ... I got involved with some of the, uh, franchise movements relative to Los Angeles.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carmen:
And, um, I was involved with, um, a few other situations but now just a fan.

Doug:
Good.

Carmen:
And, uh, you know, actually, yelling at the TV now.

Doug:
(laughs)

Carmen:
You know, I'm flipping around checking other, other games-

Doug:
Other games, other games.

Carmen:
... and that kind of thing. Yeah.

Doug:
Great.

Carmen:
Although I'm, I'm, I'm looking forward to seeing Jimmy Garoppolo play this-

Doug:
Boy, I am, too.

Carmen:
... this fall.

Doug:
Boy, what a, what a stamp he made at the end of the year. That was pretty cool.

Carmen:
I'm really hoping, you know, that the, that, that they ... It seems like John Lynch and Shanahan are trying to-

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
... put a team around him.

Doug:
Yeah.

Carmen:
And, uh, so this could be maybe the restart of enjoyable viewing of the 49ers.

Doug:
Good. So then what you have to do is find a really quick, efficient, fast way for us to get from Napa Valley to Santa Clara to watch the games.

Carmen:
Wow. That's not that easy I'll tell you.

Doug:
Okay. It's not ... It's not that easy. Maybe we'll take a boat or- (laughs)

Carmen:
(laughs)

Doug:
All right. Carmen, thanks for coming over here today and taking the time. It's delightful to, um, hear your story 'cause I haven't heard a lot of them. And, um, great to see you again and, um, give my best to Gail.

Carmen:
This was a pleasure. Truly a pleasure. Thank you.

Doug:
Great. Thank you.