Appetizers
June 10, 2008
David Berkley Stepping Aside

After a nearly 24-year run, David and Diania Berkley are selling their David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods at the Pavilions shopping complex in Sacramento.

Though Berkley confirmed by email that he and his wife are "stepping aside from the day to day operations" of the small and perpetually crowded shop, he wasn't immediately available to discuss details of the transaction.

R&M Gourmet Foods LLC, a joint venture involving Ray Matteson, a longtime customer of the store, and Greg Rhategan, a specialty food and wine purveyor from the East Coast, are taking over. They will retain the store's name and concept, said Berkley.

Over the years, the store became celebrated for its selection of choice international wines, its lineup of chocolates, condiments and other specialty foods, its collection of cheeses and other deli items, and its modern menu of globally inspired dishes. Long before today's commercial emphasis on locally grown seasonal produce, Berkley was rounding up cherries, peaches, asparagus and the like from growers close to Sacramento.

Berkley had been a wine merchant with Corti Brothers for about 12 years when he left in late 1984 with plans to open his own shop the next spring at the Pavilions, then under construction along Fair Oaks Boulevard east of Howe Avenue.

During the presidential administration of Ronald Reagan, Berkley became the unpaid and unofficial but active wine adviser to the White House, delighting in selecting California wines with themes appropriate to honor the guest of honor at state dinners, such as as Prince Charles of England and French President Francois Mitterrand.

In thanking customers for their patronage, Berkley said: We have cultivated special relationships with our customers who have joined us along with our staff in an epicurean journey...It is our wish that the community will continue to enjoy our tradition of elevating a shopping trip to a memorable experience."

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