Robert Lawrence Balzer (June 25, 1912 – December 2, 2011) has been called the first serious wine journalist in the United States. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa. At the age of 24, he was put in charge of the wine department of his family’s grocery/gourmet market in Los Angeles, California. Because he knew nothing about wine, he quickly educated himself on the subject. Balzer soon championed quality California wines and stocked his shelves with the best American wines available. He promoted wine in his customer newsletter and was asked by Will Rogers, Jr. to write a regular wine column in his local newspaper in 1937.