News & Publications
Noted Vintner to Speak at St. John’s 218th Commencement
FOR RELEASE: May 3, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
Ninety-nine St. John’s College seniors, having completed their senior essays and defended them in oral examinations, are expected to receive their diplomas at the college’s 218th commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 16, in Annapolis. Twenty-six students in the Annapolis Graduate Institute will receive their master’s degrees.
This year, noted vintner Warren Winiarski (class of 1952) will deliver the commencement address. Winiarski, trustee emeritus, served on the St. John’s College Board of Visitors and Governors for 18 years. Winiarski is the founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, a Napa Valley winery that gained an international reputation during the 1976 tasting held by L’Academie du Vin in Paris; this event put California wines on the world stage. In the blind tasting Winiarski’s 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon bested four top-ranked French entries, and Winiarski entered the ranks of the world’s most respected winemakers.
Winiarski first gained an appreciation for wine in Italy, where he studied political history and theory after graduating from St. John’s College. He finished his graduate work in political science at the University of Chicago. After studying and working at various wineries, including under Lee Stewart, Robert Mondavi, and U.S. viticultural pioneer Philip Wagner, in 1970 Winiarski bought and developed a 44-acre plot of land now known as Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. “At St. John’s we talked about the four classical virtues: truth, beauty, goodness, and unity,” he says. “In wine, these elements are expressed as an understatement.” St. John’s continues to be an important part of his life. “It wouldn’t be the same life without all the things I call on from St. John’s, remembering what people talked about and their arguments, their thoughts and insights.” Winiarski enrolled at St. John’s College after reading Mortimer Adler’s “How to Read aBook.” He remains passionate about the college’s all-required curriculum, based on the seminal works of Western civilization. His favorite authors in the curriculum include Plato, Euclid, Ptolemy, and the Bible. His wife, Barbara (class of 1955), and daughters Kasia (A83) and Julia (SF92) are also alumnae.
The college’s commencement ceremonies are simple and rich with tradition. The college’s longest-serving tutor, Eva Brann, leads a procession of faculty and students to the ceremony on the tree-lined front lawn. The procession is accompanied by the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.” A handful of prizes and honorable mentions are awarded before each student is given a diploma and congratulated by President Christopher B. Nelson.
Graduating seniors come from 30 states and from 1 foreign country, Switzerland. Five of the master’s candidates and 13 of this year’s graduating seniors are Maryland residents. The seniors from Maryland include: Molly Mabel McEnroe Waters, Charles Samuel Salem, and Matthew Robert Kalkavage, all of Annapolis; Christopher Hearse, of Severna Park; Thea Ames Chimento, of Rockville; Allison Michelle Dietz, of Bethesda; Elizabeth Emily Fleming, of Gaithersburg; Gabriel Thomas Luzier, of Brandywine; Macall Yavner Moran, of Lutherville; Michael Andrew Mowery, of University Park; Caleb Thomas Nolen, of Gaithersburg; Drew Alexander Robinson, of Baltimore; and Eugene Samarin, of Cockeysville. The graduate students from Maryland are: Alexander Wesley Brady, Christiana Reed Mollin, and Kyle Craig Stewart, all of Annapolis; Uraynab Said, of Columbia; and Victoria Hester Smith, of Davidsonville.
In case of rain, commencement exercises will take place in Francis Scott Key Auditorium, where admission will be by ticket only and limited to immediate family of the graduates. From 10:15 a.m. to noon, College Avenue will be closed to traffic from St. John’s Street to King George Street; the first block of Prince George Street will be closed as well.