Henry G. Lubke IV

[Age 21 ] Former Lutherville resident was studying winemaking and working at a winery in California's Sonoma Valley.

September 29, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Henry George Lubke IV, who was studying winemaking and the culture of grapes in Sonoma Valley, Calif., died in his sleep Sunday at the winery where he was living. The former Lutherville resident was 21.

His mother, Jean Johnson Lubke, said he had a heart condition associated with the aortic valve and that initial tests indicated he died of natural causes.

Born in Daytona Beach, Fla., and raised in Lutherville, he attended Calvert School and was a 2005 graduate of Boys' Latin School, where he played football, ice hockey, lacrosse and golf.

"My husband had been collecting wines since before Henry was born, and as a child he developed a fascination with wine," his mother said. "We were shocked that when everyone in his class wanted to become a stockbroker, he said he wanted to become a vintner."

As a senior project at Boys' Latin, he did an internship at Selsed Vineyards in Lutherville.

"He was a good worker and cared about doing the job right," said Henry M. Wright, the vineyard owner. "He loved grapes and working with them."

Mr. Lubke attended West Virginia University for a year but found he was not being challenged and decided to follow his dream of becoming a winemaker.

He moved to California and took a job as the assistant cellar master at Chateau Felice in Healdsburg, Calif., in the Sonoma Valley. While working at Chateau Felice, he took courses at Santa Rosa Junior College in its viticulture and enology department.

"Henry was like a breath of fresh air from the East," said Barry Rodgers, who owns the winery with his wife, Phyllis. "He was a fast learner and jumped into the business."

He said that Mr. Lubke became part of a team that made the decisions about which wines to blend.

He also said that in the off season, Mr. Lubke worked on construction projects and refurbished an old barn.

"He was good with a hammer and nails," the winery owner said.

Mr. Lubke planned to attend the University of California at Davis and get an undergraduate degree.

Mr. Lubke worked in the vineyard's production of merlot, cabernet franc, sirah and zinfandel, among other varietals.

"He was a very hard worker - he said 90 percent of the wine business is cleaning the vats - and was proud of his ability to pick out the flavors and scents in each of the different wines he was helping to make," his mother said. "He was living his dream of becoming a winemaker."

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at First English Lutheran Church, Charles and 39th streets.

In addition to his mother, survivors include his father, Henry George Lubke III; a sister, Laura Witteman Lubke; and a brother, Chase Louis Lubke, all of Lutherville.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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