Andrew Martin Adams, 70, died on Dec. 16, 2013. Marty, as everyone knew him, was a loving and loyal husband and father, good friend and astute business executive who specialized in wine and gourmet foods. He died peacefully surrounded by family at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center after a seven-year fight against the cancer Multiple Myeloma.
Marty brought an intense focus to everything he pursued and enjoyed striking up conversations with everyone he met. He loved hiking along the Lost Coast, Big Sur and the hills surrounding Sonoma. He studied history and enjoyed visiting Revolutionary War and Civil War sites. Wherever he went, he collected exquisite crystal wine and spirit decanters from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Marty was born in upstate New York to Helen and Andrew Adams. He graduated from Marquette University where he met Maureen, his wife of 47 years. After serving as a special agent and interrogation specialist in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, Marty worked in marketing and sales at corporations such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson.
During a routine meeting of junior executives in 1975, Marty walked out and turned his back on the corporate world. He took a sales position at a wine shop in Chicago and turned his passion for wine into a profession by working up to the post of general manager. Following his success there, Marty assumed the role of president and CEO at McCormick Distilling Company in Weston, Mo. He also served on the board of the Kansas City Museum and was active in Young Presidents Organization.
Marty’s knack for “restructuring” companies caught the attention of Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma. In 1985, the family-owned winery decided to hire a whiskey man from Missouri to revitalize the company. From Sebastiani, Marty went on to Kendall-Jackson, and then to Kunde Estate Winery where he oversaw the construction of the Kunde family’s winery on Highway 12. During this time he was on the board of directors for the USF Business School where he mentored young entrepreneurs. In 1994, Marty struck out on his own founding the company Great Estates. He traveled the world finding new wines, spirits and beers to develop and import to the United States.
Following the sale of his company, Marty accepted an offer to become chief operating officer in North America for the caviar importer Petrossian Paris. He split his time between New York and Sonoma helping to build the U.S. presence of Petrossian and enjoying the city he loved. Then, while watching from a Manhattan rooftop as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 unfolded, Marty decided it was time to come back to California where he became involved in the cheese business with Sonoma Foods and Dairy Food USA.
By then, however, Marty had already begun his fight with cancer as he had received his diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma in 2006. Marty battled the disease with his custom tenacity, supported by UCSF’s excellent oncology staff under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Martin who helped him remain active through his final months.
As he transitioned into retirement, Marty enjoyed sitting on his patio at home in Sonoma with his clumber spaniel, Winslow. Marty never really fully retired though and continued consulting companies in the United States and Europe. Enjoying a slower pace of life, he took time to meet close friends for regular breakfasts and reconnected with other friends over the phone or via Skype. He completed the volunteer training for CASA and was asked to be on their board of directors. He traveled with Maureen, spent time with his grandchildren, and enjoyed family reunions in North Carolina and at Dewey Lake in Michigan.