Berkeley wine importer and merchant Kermit Lynch will be awarded the insignia of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French government at a private ceremony next year, Lynch said last week.
Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the award is France’s highest accolade and is given primarily for military achievements, although 10 percent of the awards are now given for cultural accomplishments.
In the world of American food and wine, Lynch joins Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Robert M. Parker, Jr. as recipients of the award. Other Americans to receive the award include Leonard Bernstein, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Gregory Peck and Ronald Reagan.
“Wine is older than politics and religion,” Lynch said in a press release, “and I am grateful to see that respect still exists in spite of certain transitory situations.”
The majority of wines imported and sold by Lynch, who opened Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in 1972, are small-production French wines made by family-owned businesses. Lynch owns a home in Provence and is co-owner of Domaine Les Pallieres winery in Gigondas.