Becky Wasserman-Hone passed away last Friday from a respiratory illness. She was a highly respected and knowledgeable champion of Burgundy’s wines.
Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW echoed the sentiments of many with a post on Instagram; ‘What an amazing and fulfilling life which enriched everybody who knew her, winemakers, wine lovers, critics, importers, normal human beings. She has done so much for all of us, and had plans to do so much more.’
Speaking from personal experience, Decanter’s Burgundy correspondent Charles Curtis MW said: ‘Becky was a formative influence in my own career. As with everyone, she was remarkably generous with her time and insights and very welcoming. Tastings and dinners at her house were immensely informative, but they were also warm and convivial occasions that I will always remember.
‘She was truly adored by all who knew her personally or professionally, and her loss will be mourned across France, the UK, and the United States. In the broader sense, the importance of the firm she founded was paramount to the development of the popularity of Burgundy in the United States’, he continued.
American Becky Wasserman-Hone moved with her husband to a small village near Beaune, Burgundy in 1968. Following a dalliance exporting oak barrels to the US, Wasserman-Hone realised that it was the wine inside that mattered to her.
She set up her company, Le Serbet, in 1979 (today Becky Wasserman & Co) and began selling Burgundy wines in the US with the 1976 vintage.
Wasserman-Hone was a pioneer of consolidated shipping (‘groupage’), working with logistics company JF Hillebrand to enable many low-volume producers to send their goods together in a single container. This gave retailers the option to stock a broad but shallow range of wines, reducing risk while maximising their offering to consumers.
Wasserman-Hone received Decanter’s Hall of Fame award in 2019 in recognition of her tireless work distributing the wines of Burgundy throughout the US, UK, Scandinavia and Russia. It is generally accepted that her work over several decades aided Burgundy’s rise to superpower status in the wine world. Before many of today’s producers in Burgundy were sought-after names, few were able to afford travel in order to promote their wines, and so it fell to people such as Wasserman-Hone to introduce retailers and consumers to their products.
‘No one knows how to talk about Burgundy with so much talent and nobody likes their wines with as much sincerity and deep knowledge as Becky,’ said Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, speaking at the time of the Hall of Fame award.
In 1997, Wasserman-Hone was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole for services to Burgundy, in her promotion of Burgundian wines.
Wasserman is survived by husband Russell Hone and sons Peter and Paul, who will continue the family business from their farmhouse in Bouilland.