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Robert Michero

Episode 110

A Precocious Kid with Wine & Music

Born at Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, Robert (Bob) Michero was raised in Alhambra and South Pasadena, California, and graduated from South Pasadena High School, California State University of Los Angeles, and attended UCLA’s Anderson School of Business.

Bob is a 45-year+ veteran of the Wine, Spirits, and Food Industry, encompassing the operations and strategic management of Retail, Wholesale-Distribution, Importing and Exporting Compliance, National Sales and Marketing, Winery Operation, and Wine Cellar Design and Acquisition. Over this time, he has lived and worked in France, Italy, New York, and California. Throughout, he has held the positions of Vice President-General Manager of Young’s Market Company of Los Angeles, Managing Director of Maddalena Brands-San Antonio Winery of Los Angeles, Vice President Partner of Dreyfus, Ashby & Company of New York, Co-Owner-Partner of Chocal LLC-Single Origin Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream and most recently as Vice-President-Riboli Wines of San Antonio Winery.

During Bob’s youth and throughout his college and post college years, he was always involved in sports, playing on organized teams in baseball, football and basketball. He is still an avid skier and golfer. Bob learned how to read and play music beginning when he was 6 years old as a student of percussion at Pedrini’s Music in Alhambra, California. This became one of Bob’s major activities as he went on to play for the Alhambra All-City Orchestra in his youth. As he matured, he played percussion with a variety of small orchestras and jazz groups while in college. Music has always been a major part of Bob’s life and coalesced after 50 years when he joined the Pasadena Symphony Association’s (PSA) Board of Directors. For over ten years Bob served as Vice President Finance & Treasurer for the organization and is currently President of their Board of Directors. As the Pasadena Symphony Association heads towards its’ 96th year of operation, besides being the San Gabriel Valley’s major icon for live musical concerts, it is known for the highest quality of musical performances through their Classical Symphony Series at the magnificent Ambassador Auditorium, their Rusnak Summer Pop’s Series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, their wonderful Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra consisting of eight ensembles with over 800 children participants and as being the major teaching organization for the music education program for the Pasadena Unified School District during the Pandemic which serviced over 9,700 students.

Lastly, Bob has been instrumental in raising significant funds for Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital’s Trauma Center for the last 36 years, and has served as the Chair for the Wine, Spirits and Beer Committee of the Huntington Hospital~Parkway Grill Fall Food & Wine Festival during this time.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/robertmichero/

Phone: (626) 793-7172 Ex 10

Mailing Address: 150 So Los Robles, Ste. 140, Pasadena, CA 91101

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Robert Michero Quotes

  • “I wasn’t sure who he was, but I knew he was important. And he said, so what’s your favorite wine? And I told him what it was, and he told me you’re going to become the first wine manager for Young’s market company. And I said, yeah. But my degree is in business and finance. He said, don’t worry about it.”
  • “I became a little Mary for a pack of stations out of Red’s Meadow when I was young. And that got me into the mountains, backpacking, and nature, all of which are very important to me to this day.”
  • Robert was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He has always gravitated back to the SGV despite living in different places.
  • He is the President of the Pasadena Symphony Association, a 95-year-old musical organization considered one of the best midsize orchestras in America and California. 
  • Bob had a unique upbringing in Alhambra and South Pasadena. He and his mother were adopted by a family and lived in a large house with a large family. 
  • Bob’s mother was involved in the performing arts, specifically ballet, and that’s where he got his athleticism and rhythm from.
  • He attended various colleges, including the University of Arizona and UCLA, and pursued executive programs in Economics and Finance. He then segued into a career in the wine and spirits industry and spent time in France. 
  • His passion for music and connections led him to become the President of the Pasadena Symphony Association.

What is your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

I was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. I grew up in Alhambra and then South Pasadena. I have lived in different places because of the businesses I’ve been in outside and within the country. However, I’ve always gravitate back to my home grounds, Pasadena, California.

Pasadena Symphony
 

You’re the president of the Pasadena Symphony Association. What does that entail?

I am responsible to the board of directors for what we do in this organization. It is 95 going on a 96-year-old musical organization. It is an icon within the San Gabriel Valley. We compete with many other musical organizations.

We are regarded as one of the best midsize orchestras in America and California. I report to the board, and they report to me and then to the CEO of the organization, who is an employee that runs all of our operations.
 

What was it like growing up in Alhambra, South Pasadena when you were growing up here?

My mom and I were adopted by a family. My mother was ballet and ended up marrying this American Italian.

He got shipped to Korea, and I never saw him again. When we came back from the East Coast, my mother rented a room in this huge house. It was at 119 North Electric Alhambra, off Main Street.

It was a house owned by a family that had lost their farm in a fire during the Depression, and they settled in Alhambra. There were, like, eight rooms. It was about two acres.

And on this property, they had corn, peaches, fruit trees, rhubarb, a chicken coop in the back, four dogs, and eight cats. It was very unique.

I was three years old when we moved in there, and as a result of that, there were three daughters with husbands with children. And I became the 3rd of the youngest of 7 kids.

So I never knew I was an only child until my mother remarried when I was nine and a half years old.

The guy she married was a paratrooper with 82nd Airborne, and he was a great guy. He was a carpenter, and I ended up pounding nails and learning a little bit about carpentry when we moved out of the house and into our own house in Alhambra.
 

Your mother was in the performing arts then?

The New York ballet recruited her at age fourteen. She ended up doing that at Juilliard, and then as an understudy, and then met my dad before he got shipped off to Korea.

I picked up the natural rhythm and athleticism from my mom, and because I was four, five, and six years old, like many kids, I’d be in the kitchen with Grandma Mimi pounding on pots and pans. And at the age of six, she said, enough of this. If you’re going to be pounding on something, you’re going to learn how to do it correctly. And so she enrolled me at Pedrini’s Music, which is a very famous musical store on Main Street, Alhambra.

Tom Junior became my music teacher, and I’ll never forget what he said to me as I was pounding on the drum. ‘No. No. No. You don’t do it that way. If you’re playing music and percussion, you’re going to learn how to read music.’

So that’s what launched me into music. From there, I spent most of my life in music and sports.
 

Can you talk about when you went to Pedrini and had to study now? Was it all not fun for you?

It was fun because I loved banging on the drums and making noise. But the academic side to it, just like learning how music was more difficult. Because I had a natural rhythm, I had a propensity for percussion, and then you have to understand dynamics. The dynamics are how hard you strike whatever it is to make the sound that you’re going to make.

You look at a score and see what that dynamic is. So you have to learn that. Then you also have to learn tempo from a monochrome, which gives you four, four-time, three-quarter time, half time, whatever. And then, of course, you have to learn the notes because, in percussion with a number of percussion instruments, Maremba or Tiffany, you tune those heads of the Tiffany drums to a particular pitch or key. So, you have to learn that.
 

Where did your path go after high school?

I wasn’t the best student in high school. And our starting 5 all had scholarships one way or the other to college. So I had to take an English class at PCC and get a B or above to go to college. So I did. And my instructor was Doctor Joseph Hall; he was very famous for other reasons.

But Joe found out that I was when I was a kid; I got into backpacking and that avenue through one of my uncles who was a member of the Sierra Club, and I would be climbing up on the roof, playing paratrooper because of my stepdad. And he was related to my stepdad’s family. And he said to my mom, we need to get Bob.

We need to get him outdoors and do some other things. So around 14, I made a trip to Yosemite. And at 15, I was enrolled in a youth mountain climbing group. And that got me into the mountains and doing what I did. I then became a little Mary. A little Mary is someone who would help the cooks on the wagon trains.

I became a little Mary for a pack of stations out of Red’s Meadow when I was young. And that got me into the mountains, backpacking, and nature, all of which are very important to me to this day.

And so that was another avenue of enlightenment for me and excitement. And for years, all of our best friends, my first wife, and I would go backpacking every summer.
 

How did your college career happen?

Well, I went back and forth to different colleges. I did the summer at PCC. I went to the University of Arizona. Then I transferred from Arizona back to Cal. I graduated from Cal State LA and then went to UCLA. And then eventually, I did different executive programs at Anderson at UCLA in Economics And Finance.

During that time, I needed to make money. And because I worked at Thomas Wines And Spirits when I was fifteen, that got me into wine and spirits from dealing with customers and the owner, Thomas Hebert. That led to a friendship and a business association between Tom Evert and Gary Foster, the famous jazz musician.
 

Did you spend a lot of time in France?

I did. I was recruited by Webb Hanson, who is very famous in the lore of the wine and spirits business.

He recognized me because he had come into Thomas Wines And Spirits years before with Patrice Debois, who owned Chateau Sons George in Monton, Santameleon. Webb remembered me and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I said, ‘I was recruited.’

So he said come to my office. And I wasn’t sure who he was, but I knew he was important. And I walked over to his office and sat down. And he said, so what’s your favorite wine? And I told him and asked him what his favorite wine was.

And for the next half an hour, we had a conversation about wine. So Webb Hansen says to me, you’re going to become the 1st wine manager for Young’s market company.

Then basically, he said you need to take the job and move over to the wine department to be at Young’s.

I went back about two days later, and Webb Hanson walked me into Vernon Underwood’s office, which was very intimidating. Mr. Underwood says, ‘I hear Hanson wants you to join the wine division.’

Then Mister Hanson explained to me what I was going to make. And rather than $9 an hour, It was, like, $1800, $2000 a month, a car allowance. I remember looking at it, and he goes, ‘travel and entertainment expenses too.” And I’m going, “wow,” and that’s how it started.
 

How did you get into the Pasadena Symphony?

Well, music, to me, is a variable potential in our life. It’s an art form. And I’ve always said whatever you put on or in your body is very different from just about every other product we purchase or is part of our life. And that’s because it has to do with our senses. What we perceive, how it makes us feel. Wine is something that we taste. It’s a food, like all foods. And we all have unique things that we like and don’t like.

Music is sensual because we see it played and we hear it played. When that happens, it becomes part of us.

Music is a very important aspect of our life. As I went through my career, I always had music there. For example, when I was managing director of San Antonio Winery, We were one of the sponsors for the Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena Pops.

So the tie-in from business and running businesses Eventually led to me being asked to join the board of the Pasadena Symphony.
 

If someone wants to watch a performance, what’s the best way to get information about that?

The best way to go is to go to our website, www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org.

It will have a lot of information about the concerts, details on seats, and parking.
 

Picture of Robert Michero

Robert Michero

The Arroyo Seco with JPL at the headwaters