Before Mr. Knott developed the idea of a wire lobster trap in 1957, lobstermen were using wooden traps—ones they often spent time repairing. In a 2014 interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Knott says he invented a model “made out of welded wire mesh which is galvanized to protect it from the coating getting scraped off, and it’s plastic coated to prevent the Atlantic Ocean from attacking the steel.” But not everyone believed in this Harvard-educated economist’s vision. “A lot of people laughed. They said, ‘You’re never going to catch a lobster in a wire trap,’ because they’d been using wood for hundreds of years.”

I had the distinct pleasure of working for Mr. Knott at Riverdale Mills Corporation from 1989 through 1993, after which I decided to quit college (I’d been studying electrical engineering). I bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco. With $725 in my pocket and a dream to become a sommelier, I headed west.

I’m often asked how I managed to become the second-youngest Cellarmaster (Kevin Zraly was the youngest) in Windows on the World history at age 25. Or the Wine Director of Le Cirque, one of the world’s most famous restaurants, at age 26. I wasn’t raised in a winemaking family, didn’t have a rich uncle with a château in Bordeaux nor an aunt with a three-star Michelin restaurant in Alsace. What I did have was an early appreciation of wine (I started reading the Wine Spectator in my late teens), a bit of luck, a ‘can-do’ attitude, and a lot of perseverance.

I caught my perseverance from Mr. Knott. At Riverdale Mills, he hung a banner that still reads, “Can’t Is a Word that was Never Used at Riverdale Mills, or Riverdale Mills Wouldn’t Be Here. We Can, We Must, and WE WILL!” I never forgot those words in my 25+ years in the wine business and have reflected on them so many times.

According to the Press Herald, Knott received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maine in 2006. The university recognized his “commitment to the future of the lobster industry, innovative spirit, perseverance and positive leadership, willingness to share his knowledge and ideas, and his outstanding support of UMaine’s Lobster Institute.”

“Jim Knott was a well-respected visionary and an ardent supporter of the lobster industry,” Bob Bayer, executive director of the UMaine Lobster Institute, told local media. “His impact cannot be understated. The technical changes he introduced to lobster fishing in Maine and throughout North America were profoundly significant. He single-handedly changed and bettered the way of life for so many people.”

Speaking of lobster, since this is a wine column, I should mention that one of my favorite white wines (no red wine with shellfish, please!) to pair with it is Condrieu, from the northern Rhone Valley, made from the Viognier grape.

I hope my fellow readers will raise a glass of Condrieu, enjoy some lobster, and toast Mr. Knott, the man who made this all possible. After all, we’re benefiting from Mr. Knott’s creation. His Aquamesh is used to fabricate 85 percent of lobster traps in North America. Hey, I just taught you the “perfect pairing.” How’s that for perseverance!