Ira Robert Gourvitz died peacefully on Aug. 1, 2023, at the age of 84 after a full and productive life. He was the son of Herman and Freeda Gourvitz and was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on Dec. 3, 1938.
His family moved to Passaic, New Jersey where he attended Passaic High School and was a standout basketball player. Upon graduating high school, he was accepted at the University of Virginia on a basketball scholarship and received his BA in Economics in 1960.
Ira was predeceased by his sister, Deborah Gourvitz. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca "Pepper" Wood; his three children, Ted Gourvitz, Kendra Gilberd, Mara Chase; his two sons-in-law, Peter Gilberd and Doug Chase; his seven grandchildren, Grace Gilberd, Jake Gilberd, William Gilberd, Mela Chase, Gabriella Chase, Jackson Gourvitz, Jordan "JoJo" Gourvitz and his beloved winery dog, Cooper.
After graduation, Ira moved to New York City and began a life-long career in the wine and spirits industry at the Seagram Company, a wise choice for someone who liked to mix business with pleasure. Career moves later took him to Chicago and then San Mateo, California where he and his first wife, Lydia, raised their three children. His children remember him as loving and supportive, along with his laughter and great sense of humor.
In the early 1990's, Ira moved to San Diego, where he met his future wife, Pepper Wood. Together, they started Fallbrook Winery in Fallbrook, California, in 1994. Fallbrook Winery is now an award-winning winery producing a variety of notable red and white wines. Its success is a reflection of Ira's long experience in the business and the dedication of both Ira and Pepper to create the very best. Ira liked to say, "Always drink great wine!" and he followed his own advice!
As much as Ira cared about his business, he cared more for his family and friends. The business was really a means to an end. His friendly outgoing personality and great sense of humor were his hallmark. He had a great sense of timing and was great at reading a room. His death, while sad and somewhat sudden, was almost in character. It was as if he knew his long, frustrating battle with Alzheimer's was finally over.
Ira was a happy, loving and jubilant husband, father, grandfather, golfer, fisherman and wine enthusiast all his life. He was one in a million and will be greatly missed by all those who knew him.