Kevin Zraly, Technical Director
Then Zraly said, “It is not just Spain, not just California.”
Kevin Zraly: “If you hear of anything else that is going down, please, please, please let me know. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your thinking about me.”
Campo also issued a statement saying he had "resigned" as President of The Wine Academy of Spain, a private company founded by him and members of his family. Campo named his brother-in-law, Rony Bacqué, as President of The Wine Academy of Spain. Campo's wife, Melissa, an American, is also active in the Wine Academy.
As noted earlier, Kevin Zraly's wife, Ana Fabiano, early in 2009 signed a contract with the Rioja Regulatory Council--composed of a coalition of grape growers and wineries--to promote the wines of La Rioja in the United States.
Preface to the letter:
Kevin Zraly, you are a man I have known for more than thirty years and have had a cordial relationship with over that period. You are the man for whom I quit my first job in the wine business because my company refused to keep my word of honor to you when you were Wine Director and Sommelier at Windows on the World.
At your request several years ago I also revised pro bono the chapter on Spanish wines for your book, The Windows on the World Wine Course Book--see the frontespiece for my signature, the "payment" you give as acknowledgment for each expert's contributions to the book.
On October 14, I made two phone calls, one to your cell phone, where I left a message, another to your office, where I left another message with Michelle, the woman who answered the phone.
To date, I have received no answer to any of these attempts to reach you for comment. Therefore, I decided, as a last resort to write on open letter to you in hopes of getting some answers to questions that have been on my mind for more than two months.
After my more than 30 minute phone conversation with you on August 31, two days later (on Sept. 2), before the publication of the Decanter article on Sept. 4, I was threatened with various actions from someone claiming to be Pancho Campo's lawyer in a phone call from Spain, plus he said he was coming to New York the following week and wanted to meet with me to arrive at "an amicable compromise." He also sent an e-mail to the third party address from whence came the e-mail that I forwarded to you from that same e-mail address during the course of our telephone conversation.
The e-mail I sent to you contained a translation of the information about Pancho Campo and the Interpol arrest warrant internet link that I had received from several reliable sources, including journalists, in Europe.
I forwarded only four similar e-mails about the Campo affair from that e-mail address, three to trusted people who were either investigating the affair as journalists or who had contributed information, the fourth to you.
As you may know by now and can certainly check on Jim Budd's site (see above), almost every detail in the e-mail you received, except a couple of more precise dates since confirmed, have proved to be correct and have proved to not be "falsedades" as claimed by Alfonso Martínez, Campo's lawyer, when he called to threaten me on September 2, 2009 at 6:35 p.m. (00:35 Spanish time, a strange hour for a lawyer to be working).
During that phone call, Martínez told me in Spanish that Pancho Campo was "muy, muy, muy enfadado con usted, "very, very, very angry with you." He also said, "We have e-mails with your name on them (he probably did not) that contain many "falsedades" (as I said, most of those claimed to be "false" have been proved true)."
Martínez also warned me, "We don't want to have to go the American Embassy or to the Spanish Embassy with this, nor do we want to get into litigation, but we want you to stop sending those e-mails. I will be in New York next week and I would like to sit down with you and see if we can come to an acuerdo amistoso, (an amicable compromise)."
Indeed, I have it from good sources that Campo, Martínez and others had done something similar to journalists in Spain during the period the Interpol information was emerging. According to these well-regarded sources, threats, veiled attempts at "enducements" and other methods such as pressure from highly placed people were used to try to suppress this story before several publications and blogs published it.
In addition to the "warning" issued to me by Pancho Campo's lawyer, Campo also offered a speaking engagement at another event to an English journalist (Jim Budd) who has reported on the case and he also put out a veiled suggestion of a payment of a preposterous amount to a Spanish journalist.
Now many of the facts are out about the Campo case and most of them are not really disputable. In fact, Campo himself has confirmed to various sources events and dates that have validated most of the material that I had prior to August 31 and those have even been published in multiple publications and on websites throughout the world, although Campo himself has given conflicting information about the dates on which a couple of events occurred and the circumstances, they have not been denied.
I think you can see how the journalists involved in these threats and coercion attempts found them particularly reprehensible. It reminded me of Watergate, where the crimes were less serious than the attempted cover-up by the Nixon White House.
The reason I am writing to you is to inform you that, using input from my own investigations and those of the four other journalists, two Spanish and two English, working on this story, along with blogger Manuel Camblor of laotrabotella.com, I am have been writing some reports of my own, including this report/open letter about the Campo affair, my dealings with you on the phone, the third party e-mail and the subsequent warnings to "an unnamed American journalist who has been investigating the story."
My questions to you are:
1) Did you or your wife, Ana Fabiano, who is doing promotions for Rioja wines in the U.S., provide the third party e-mail I sent you directly to Pancho Campo and, if not, did either of you provide that e-mail to anyone in the CRDO Rioja?
2) Were you, as the Technical Director of WineFutures Rioja 2009, a (former?) partner of Robert Parker in a wine education program, husband of the person recently signed on to promote Rioja wines by the CRDO Rioja, a "straw man," a figurehead standing in for Pancho Campo, as some in La Rioja and elsewhere are strongly suggesting? Was Pancho Campo still pulling the strings for the event behind the scenes? (Since he actually was allowed to appear at WineFuture-Rioja 2009 after being forced to resign as director of the event, it certainly appears that he was still heavily involved in the event despite his "resignations.")
3) And lastly, as an author and sometime wine writer yourself, how do you feel about journalists being threatened by lawyers for passing private e-mails (in strictest confidence) and the reports of journalists being offered "enducements," however veiled, by Pancho Campo and/or members of his retinue?
Given the circumstances surrounding the Pancho Campo story and the political elements and intrigues going on in Spain, I feel that I must ask as a journalist and I think it is only fair that you be given a chance to respond. Your responses will be fairly incorporated into any of my future reports on this situation.
If I may paraphrase my very precise notes on your comments during our telephone conversation (below), Kevin, this whole episode has also made me “pretty disillusioned with the whole (wine) thing,” however, I am “inspired,” because at least a few journalists and quite a few bloggers have chosen to step forward to write about this incredible saga and have refused to be denied our freedom of speech, nor our ability to function as journalists.
Now, after sitting on this information concerning our telephone conversation for more than more than two months, it is my turn to write about it.
Regards, Gerry Dawes
About Gerry Dawes Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.
". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.