Toast of the Town

Native Memphian Robert Turner has found a way to bottle his passion.

(page 3 of 3)


A view from the living room into the handsomely-appointed dining room  shows the recently acquired bust of Apollo in the far corner.

The Turners graciously agreed to my returning with a photographer to take pictures for this article and to talk more about their decor and fine furnishings, and at the same time to have Bob reminisce on some surprising aspects of his “pre-wine” career.

The Turners’ master bedroom is on their first floor and walls of windows at the back of the house embrace the light and overlook the terrace and large garden. Shirley’s taste allows a sophisticated mix of antiques and modern pieces, with a strong Asian influence — not surprising in view of her many years spent living on the Pacific Rim. She has used rich, jewel-like colors for her walls, and though some of her furniture came from previous California homes, most of her furnishings were bought in the Memphis area. Neighbor and good friend, interior designer Gail Woods, was a great help in the decorating process, as was her aunt, Shirley Prothro. These two would shop for Shirley Turner — armchair shopping at its best — calling to say excitedly, “We have found something you’d just love!”

Shirley is especially proud of one of her latest acquisitions, a bust of Apollo (she thinks that’s the correct god), which was a gift from Bob purchased from interior designer Warner Moore (see our December 2012 issue). She bought a stunning black-and-gold screen from Tom Fortner and assorted pieces from Amy Howard and Ray & Baudoin and from close friend Lucy Woodson’s Worlds Away. The handsome lanterns came from a special sale at Gump’s, the world-famous San Francisco department store.

So now, back to Bob for a few wild (no pun intended) stories from his first career. In the course of the three-plus decades of his dentistry practice, among other things, he volunteered to work on large animals at Marine World/Africa USA and at the San Francisco Zoo. He worked on a chimpanzee for 20th Century Fox for the 1987 film Project X starring Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt. What’s more, he says he has done dental work including root canals, crowns, and fillings for all manner of large animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, gorillas, sea lions, and snow leopards. Really? Who knew?

If you concur with Robert Louis Stevenson’s quotation (borrowed from Robilio’s website) that “wine is bottled poetry,” then you can keep up-to-date with Bob’s wines at But for now please join me in raising a glass to toast the Turners’ return to Memphis, their “rewiring,” and their continued success in the wine business.  

The spacious downstairs master bedroom is both tailored and inviting.


Anne Cunningham O’Neill is the arts and lifestyle editor of Memphis magazine.


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