Charles M. Bear Dalton was born in Houston, Texas (March 9, 1959). He has lived nearly all his life in the Houston-area where he attended Sharpstown High School and the University of Houston. He is married (to Carol) and has two sons: Chip (born 1989) and John (born 1993).
Since 1977, Bear Dalton has worked in the wine sales and distribution business. Since 1996, he has been the fine wine buyer for Spec’s Liquor Stores, one of the largest wine and spirits retailers in the US with over 100 stores and stocking well over 11,000 wine SKUs. At Spec’s, his responsibilities include wine buying, wine sales and marketing, and wine-related public relations as well as working with customers. He tastes in excess of 9,000 wines each year. He has traveled extensively in the wine country in the US, Europe, South America and Australia and has regular contact with winery owners and winemakers when they travel through Texas. Prior to Spec’s, Dalton worked in the industry in wholesale, national distribution, and in restaurants and retail.
Dalton holds the CSW from the Society of Wine Educators and the Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is certified by the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) as an International Bordeaux Educator. In October 2008, he was honored with the Legend Award at the My Table Houston Culinary Awards.
Dalton has taught, written, and consulted about wine since 1984. He has taught wine classes for the Rice University School of Continuing Studies since 1988 and sporadically for the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston beginning in 2001. He also teaches regularly under the auspices of The Wine School at l’Alliance Française. He writes about wine for Spec’s Update (Spec’s weekly email newsletter) and has been a contributor to My Table and Drinks magazines. He has consulted or taught classes for numerous area businesses including Pappas Restaurants, AIM, Backstreet Café, Continental Airlines, Fulbright & Jaworski, Accenture, Serono, UBS, and Merrill Lynch. Through his classes and writing, thousands of Texans – both consumers and members of the wine trade – have learned more about wine.
Since 1996, Bear Dalton has volunteered with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – a 501c (3) charitable organization benefiting youth and supporting education in Texas. He has served as chairman of the Wine Competition Committee and is also a committeeman on the Grand Entry committee. He serves on the Show’s board of directors. Dalton was instrumental in founding the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Wine Competition and Auction Committee. The highlight of the Wine Competition Committee’s year is the Rodeo Uncorked Roundup & Best Bites Competition – a tasting of the over 150 champion and reserve champion wines from the International Wine Competition with food from over 60 of the Houston area’s top restaurants attended by over 3,500 people each year. Since 2004, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s wine events have netted over 8.5 million dollars to the bottom line of the Show.
In 2007, Dalton was instrumental in starting-up a women’s wine industry social and networking group – WOW – with the charitable aim to support the Houston Area Women’s center. He would love to be a member but notes that he is “plumbed wrong.”
An avid cook, Bear Dalton enjoys entertaining and collects books on wine and food. While he keeps some wine, he is more of a wine drinker than a wine collector. Dalton is a lay leader, lay Eucharistic minister, acolyte warden, and has served on the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. He and his wife Carol own and ride Appaloosas, Quarter Horses, and Paint Horses. He is a member of several riding and western culture organizations.