PeggyFleming¬†was in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., at a luncheon for breast cancersurvivors on Sept. 11, 2001. With all commercial aircraft grounded, the 1968Olympic figure skating champion was stranded for five days in a hotel, 2,500miles from her Los Gatos, Calif., home. Working out in the hotel gym got oldfast. "I was on the verge of taking a Greyhound across the country,"says Fleming, now 59. But fate, in the form of an aviophobic NFL commentatorwith a well-known luxury bus, intervened.
Fleming and JohnMadden both worked for ABC Sports at the time, and when her agent learned thathe'd be departing the next day from New York City for his home in Livermore,Calif., a plan was hatched. The Maddencruiser detoured to Wilkes-Barre to pickup Fleming, and the two had 52 hours to get to know each other. She mentionedthat she and her husband, Greg Jenkins, a retired dermatologist, had planted650 chardonnay vines in 1999 on an acre near their home. Madden replied that hehad his own 100 acres of grapes. Three years later Fleming Jenkins Vineyards& Winery bottled its first commercial vintage, a Syrah using grapes fromthe Madden Ranch.
Last year Flemingand Jenkins, who work in the vineyard along with three staffers, produced 2,000cases of wine, from the $50-per-bottle Choreography Cabernet (aromas of cherryand leather with a touch of mint) to the $17 San Francisco Bay Syrah Rosé(peach and honeydew with a hint of cinnamon). Closest to Fleming's heart,though, is the $20 Victories Rosé, also fermented from Madden's grapes."It's pink and it's beautiful and I love it and John loves it," saysFleming. Best of all, the profits from this wine go toward charities thatsupport research into and awareness of breast cancer, of which Fleming is anine-year¬†survivor.
On the lastSaturday in May, Fleming trotted out the rosé to complement the cream chickenwith artichokes and tarragon she was serving to relatives. Tables were set upin her vineyard, near the swings that dangle from oak trees. She and Greg werecelebrating the high school graduation of the younger of their two sons."It'll be an empty nest," says Fleming. "But it's not really goingto be empty. We've gone on from kids to grapes."
July 1, 2007
Fleming's color was gold in France in '68; her California Syrah runs tored--with hints of John Madden.