June 25, 1912 in Des Moines, Iowa
Stanford University, B.A. in English (with distinction), 1935
U.S. Army Air Force, pilot and flight instructor, 1941-42
Since the early 1950’s, Robert Lawrence Balzer has studied Buddhism, at one time at a temple in Cambodia where he was ordained as a teaching monk.
Owner of Balzer’s (wine and food retail store) Los Angeles, Calif., and The Tirol (restaurant), Idyllwild, Calif.
1964-1996 - Wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine
1967-70 - Consultant to Paul Masson Vineyards
1991 – Food and Beverage Editor for Les Amis Du Vin Magazine
Photographer for United Press International (UPI), New York Mirror, Flighttime, Wine and Travel/Holiday (Food and Beverage Editor and sole arbiter of the prestigious Distinctive Dining Awards for restaurants in North America)
Balzer wrote his first wine column for the Beverly Hills Citizen newspaper in 1937. He has also contributed articles toSunset magazine, Travel/Holiday, Flightime, Les Amis Du Vin Magazine, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, as well as writing his own newsletter, Robert Lawrence Balzer’s Private Guide to Food & Wine (1970-1984).
Robert Lawrence Balzer has written or contributed to over a dozen books, including California’s Best Wines (1948), Chefs of the West Cook Book (1951), Beyond Conflict (1963), The Pleasures of Wine (1964), Adventures in Wine: Legends, History, Recipes (1969), This Uncommon Heritage: The Paul Masson Story (1970), Discovering Italian Wines (1971), Balzer’s Book of Wines and Spirits (1973), Wines of California (1978), and The Los Angeles Times Book of California Wines (1984). His forthcoming autobiography will be published under the title Face the Tiger.
Teaching about wine, whether in the classroom or on tour, has been one of Robert Lawrence Balzer’s greatest passions. Over the years, winemakers have made regular pilgrimages to speak to his classes, which developed almost cult-like followings among his students. Balzer taught through the following venues:
Balzer was Chairman of Food & Wine for the “Taste of America” invitational feature of the Presidential Inaugurations of Ronald Reagan in 1981 and 1985, and for George H. W. Bush in 1989. He claims a connection to an earlier G.A. Balzer who in 1865 provided the food at Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration.