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July 2015 People: Hidden Hero/Barry Collier


It was 1971 when Barry Collier met his future wife, Sue. “I fell in love with an engaged woman,” he says. It took him one and a half years to convince her that he was the one. In 1973, they were married. The newlyweds moved to London a few months later, where Collier worked as a record producer and both of their sons were born. In 1980, the family relocated to Sarasota, Fla., and, in 1984, to Los Angeles, where Collier started Prism Entertainment, a company that produced independent cable premier movies. Its film library was sold to Warner Brothers in 1996
 
By that time, both sons were in college and, “We were wondering what to do,” he says. “Sue always loved to garden and we both loved wine—so we decided to make it.” Not long afterward, they chose Sonoma County as the place to do so. Sue took viticulture classes at SRJC as they searched for properties. In 1996, they found a 100-acre parcel in Dry Creek Valley and made it their permanent home.
 
The property had eight acres of Zinfandel and a 1929 cabin. In 1997, they began adding Petite Sirah, Primitivo, Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit more Zinfandel. Not long afterward, Collier Falls Winery was born. When a good friend, Carolyn Coryelle (who Sue met at SRJC), purchased some property in Cazadero, she asked Sue to help plant a two-acre block of Syrah, and Sue happily complied.
 
It was the perfect scenario—until Sue was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2004. The couple ultimately chose the Forbes Norris ALS Center at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco for treatment. “The initial meeting convinced Sue to be there,” says Collier. “We didn’t know what to expect. Sue wanted to know everything about what would happen.
 
“Forbes Norris embraced that,” he continues. “They provided a roadmap of what to expect so we could plan accordingly, including what we’d need to do to remain in our home. We became friends with the whole staff.”
 
It was 2007 when Sue passed. “Carolyn asked if she could name her Syrah vineyard ‘Sue’s Block,’” says Collier. “I told her yes, but only if I could buy all the fruit.” The first vintage was 2008 Sue’s Block Syrah, Sonoma Coast.
 
“Sue donated her body to Forbes Norris to help with research and treatment of ALS. So I called to donate 100 percent of the Syrah’s proceeds, in perpetuity, to the center,” says Collier. His first gift of $10,000 was presented this past April.
 
“Sue would be a little embarrassed by this attention but proud we’re doing our share to move the needle toward a cure,” says Collier. You can find the Syrah by visiting the winery’s tasting room at Family Wineries in Dry Creek Valley or on its website at www.collierfalls.com.

 

 

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