Houston wine professional Joseph Kemble needs our help

It’s with a heavy heart that I share the following: Joseph Kemble, one of Houston’s leading wine professionals, is dying and he needs our help.

Late last week, a friend of Jospeh’s created the “Help for Joseph” GoFundMe.

“For those of you who may not be aware,” she writes, “Joseph Kemble has a terminal illness and has been given only 6 months to live. Due to this prognosis, he has not been able to work for many months. He is unemployed with no income, nor insurance whatsoever. He has also lost his life insurance. After Harvey flooded his home, he was forced to find alternate housing for over a year, which put quite a strain on his savings. In the last 6 months, he was forced to use what savings her had left for medical care. He has been the sole caregiver for his mom, Francis, who still resides with him. He has medical cost that are mounting as well as living expenses that will go uncovered. This has left him in a frightening place, possibly facing the loss of everything he has when he should be able to live out his life in peace doing things he loves and spending time with close friends and family.”

Read her complete post here.

Many of my colleagues in the Italian wine trade know Joseph from both sides of the Atlantic.

As the Italian buyer for one of the best retail chains in the U.S., he introduced wine lovers in this country to hundreds of wines they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

(See my 2012 profile of Joseph for the Houston Press.)

Joseph is a true pioneer of Italian wine in Texas. And the popularity of Italian wine is owed in great part to his vision and his passion for his work.

But he is also what we call in Jewish a mensch.

He’s a people lover and an animal lover. A generous soul who shared his love of Texas and Italy with gusto, he’s also a gourmet and a bon vivant. He’s a traveler and a tirelessly curious student of Italian food and wine and culture.

I’ll never forget rolling into a fancy guided Chianti Classico tasting here in Houston last year when I ran into Joseph. He wasn’t interested in expounding on this single-vineyard designate or that rare bottling reserved for the elite among us.

No, he put his arm around me and gave me a hug.

“Jeremy, I read about your dog dying on your blog,” he said with the tenderness only a man like Joseph can summon so gracefully. “I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am, man.”

Please click here to give to the GoFundMe. Thank you. And please share this post so we can help the campaign reach its goal.

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