Wine Tasting

(Photo - Elle Hughes on Unsplash)

Regardless if it was famed Greek philosopher Plato or some obscure writer in 1600s England writing Proverbs who coined the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” it is just as applicable in the 21st century as it was back then.

Specifically, during a fall evening in late 2016, longtime local Livermore resident Barbara Maroney created the concept that would eventually become the CorkBoss. Over four years later, in January 2021, Barbara was notified the United States Patent Office had awarded and will be issuing a utility patent for her new waiter’s corkscrew invention.

On Feb. 9, 2021 patent # US 10,913,644 B2 was awarded. The single best innovation to a corkscrew in over 30 years, as evidenced by a new 20-year patent being issued.  

After a stellar, more than 25-year career with Marriott International and becoming a Quarter Century Club member, Barbara had opened thousands of bottles of wine and strongly believed there was a better, easier and faster way for Sommeliers, bartenders, waiters, and the average wine connoisseur alike to open a bottle of wine. Helping people with hand and arm strength issues was a high priority, and leverage was the key.

Instead of utilizing the centuries-old method of stressing the wrist by repeatedly twisting to open a bottle of wine, Barbara’s invention would use a retractable roto-handle that transfers the torque from the wrist to the arm and shoulder. This new sleek adaptation improves the speed and ease for opening wine and is physically less demanding. Utilizing leverage as a change in motion innovation creating an ergonomically more appealing process.  

With this patent award, Barbara elevates herself to rarified air and joins a very elite group of female inventors in United States history. Unfortunately, there is much work to be done for our society in this area.

According to a major study in February 2019 prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported “through the mid-1980s, women comprised less than 5% of all patent inventors. The women inventor rate only reached 10% in 2000. And in 2016, more than a decade and a half later, only 12% of patent inventors were women. In addition, just slightly more than 10% of all patents issued in United States history are held by women.”

Although this dramatic under representation of female inventors was not known by Barbara at the time of her effort, she has led and mentored hundreds of young Livermore girls over 30-year leadership roles in both the 4-H Valley Vista Club and Girl Scouts troops. This effort in developing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related product should be an inspiration for all young people to dream big and maybe one day they too could be a patent holder.  

In parallel with the wine opener, Barbara went back to school and completed the introductory course (level 1) and certified sommelier (level 2) accreditation from the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas. In addition, she was very excited to graduate from Las Positas College Viticulture and Winery Technology Program led by Faculty and Program Director David Everett and supported by Occasio Winery founder John Kinney.

After a couple of years and having a great time in David’s program, she completed her associate of science in enology. It adds to her other associate of arts degrees in general studies and business.

In addition, Barbara is proudly a founding member of the Alameda County Fair Wine Competition held annually and has supported that effort for over 30 years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara could be found staying busy working a couple of days a week at Campo di Bocci in Livermore (and it is there her idea came into focus), where she loved the interaction with the customers and associates set in a warm inviting family environment.  

With a target U.S. market in the tens of millions, with everything from professionals in the adult beverage trades like wineries, bars and restaurants, to the average wine connoisseur it was essential for the success for the product to have an industry leader as a partner in the effort. Fortunately, Northern California based Franmara, Inc. was selected and will be responsible for the sales, manufacturing, and distribution of the CorkBoss.

Since 1970, Franmara, Inc. has manufactured and served as a master distributor of corkscrews, barware, wine and cheese accessories, and much more. Several decades ago, Franmara moved and is situated in its own state-of-the art, solar-powered, headquarters building in Salinas, California. Franmara does not sell directly to the public. Its products are available through food service distributors, advertising specialty dealers, wineries, wine distributors, wine and liquor stores, gourmet shops, mail order catalog houses and other wholesalers and retailers. Any company interested in joining the Franmara network can go to www.franmara.com for more information. For updates and information on how to purchase the product from a retailer you can go to www.thecorkboss.com.    

As she travels the country promoting this exciting invention, Barbara is absolutely committed to letting the world know the CorkBoss was imagined and developed in the middle of one of a great legacy American Viticultural Area (AVA) wine region in the United States - Livermore, California. With a robust, vibrant and enthusiastic Livermore Valley Wine Country Association, this product is expected to be a big hit locally as it is a natural fit for the viticulturalist vibe of Livermore and will be launched nationwide from Linda and Mike Allen’s First Street Wine Company, located at 2211 First St., in Livermore, on June 5, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Visit www.wineco.com for the latest information.