Friday, November 02, 2007



To: , Rueben Katz, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development, CIA-Greystone, St. Helena, CA, W. Blake Gray, Writer, San Francisco Chronicle,

Info: Charles Henning, Managing Director, CIA-Greystone, St. Helena, CA, Paul Wagner, Owner/President, Balzac Communications, Napa, CA, Alder Yallow, Writer/Blogger Vinography, San Francisco, CA,

From: John Olney, Writer/Blogger, The Wine Country Club, Napa, CA


I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the November 9 committee meeting. As I drove back to Napa I couldn't help but recycle my recollection of the points made by all those in the discussions and I would like to make a few comments which might be considered for future review and possible incorporation.

Historical Nominations
As you know, I am a student of the histories behind wineries. Most of the people who made the initial headway in the development of California wine were located in counties surrounding the Bay Area and within those counties Napa and Sonoma became the areas where the vast majority was producing wine.

In order to recognize the immense contributions of the more recent wine industry greats we must first recognize those who initiated the reasons that others came west to participate in the fantastic growth of this wine industry. At the rate of nominating only two candidates in the “historical” group we would be, in my opinion, over emphasizing the more recent/modern wine industry greats without fairly establishing the basis for why they are so worthy of such honor.
I would therefore ask that we all consider presenting a ballot nomination slate that will result in the selection distributed into six historical and six general inductees. I suggest that we might need as many as three to five years to catch up with those most deserving forefather/mothers who made it all possible for today’s greats to be recognized. After the three to five year period we might consider a ratio of 4-to-6 for a period of time and then finally change to 2-to-6 in the out years.

The reason I believe this would not significantly impact the Induction Dinner timing requirements is that many of the inductees will not require that a family member be present; if one could even be found. There is no real reason why there has to be a great-great-great grandson/daughter there as their lives have moved on into different careers. However, if there is a relation that is today in the wine industry then one could have them present to make comment.

We don't to want select all of the historical characters/businesses right away but we do want to establish a strong historical base where tourists can see why we are where we are today. This is the same philosophy used in other HOF operations. People come to visit and to learn about the past greats they never heard of or knew; that is the one of the major attractions for having a Hall of Fame. Thus, the HOF is a source of educating the wine consuming public.

I am a practical businessman at the same time. It will be important in the long run if the CIA-HOF organization recognizes the contributions of major media resources (i.e., Sunset, Wine Spectator, etc.) that focus on the wine industry of America and most importantly if they feature California. Why? So they will reciprocate by publishing/broadcasting feature articles and stories about the CIA-HOF located at Greystone. That brings tourism and reservation revenues.
I believe it is the obligation of each member of the nominating committee to “defend” his/her nominations. If a committee member does not have the time or inclination to do so then I respectfully suggest that member should resign the seat. This would allow somebody else who deems this to be a very important obligation to those who will ultimately vote on the nominations contained on the final ballot as well as to the wine consuming public who will only attend if we give the inductees a proper review that the consumer can respect.

of the above criteria require publication to the general population unless some crazy investigative reporter and/or PR firm starts demanding to know details of the nomination and selection process. Instead, it is internal SOP known to CIA and the nominating committee members.

I would however consider publishing the divisional line between the “historical” and the “general” periods with something like the following.

I suggest that the date of Repeal of Prohibition (1933) be the division point between “The Historical Wine Industry of California” (those before 1933) and the period to be called “The Renaissance of the Wine Industry of California,” (those after 1933)

Companies & Their Founders
I believe that business entities should be considered for nomination along with the key individuals in those organizations that made the business worthy of HOF acknowledgement. These are the entities and personalities that moved California wine to the forefront. Listed under my nominations in the “Historic” grouping I have the California Wine Association and Professors Husmann & Hilgard, and under “general,” Bob Thompson & Sunset Magazine, which are multi names for one HOF induction position. Other good examples are marketing and distribution companies such as House of Seagram, Daniel Wilson, Kohler & Frohling, wineries like Franzia Brothers, Gundlach-Bundachu, etc. These examples are a combination of talents that produced/moved/wrote about the wine industry and made it what it is today.

Here are my nominations per the meeting of Nov. 9
Historic (2)
California Wine Association-Winehaven
Professors George Husmann and Eugene W. Hilgard
Hamden W. McIntyre
Alfred Loving Tubbs of Chateau Montelena
William Bourn, Jr. of Bourn & Wise Winery

General (6)
Ernest and Julio Gallo
William Heintz
Robert Trinchero of Sutter Home
Myron Nightengale
Louis Petri of United Vintners/Allied Grape Growers
Bob Thompson & Sunset Magazine/Lane Publishing CO.
Leon D. Adams
Francis Mahoney of Carneros Creek Winery
Frank Schoonmaker
Samuel Bronfman, House of Seagram
Dr. Albert J. Winkler

For those of you interested, abstracts for these nominees follows

Bibliography used to develop info:
Wines of America, Leon D. Adams, 2nd Ed., 1978, McGraw Hill
Great Winemakers of America, Robert Benson, 1st Ed., 1977, Capra Press
California Wine, James Laube, 2nd Ed., 1999, Wine Spectator Press
Wine Country - A history of Napa Valley, William F. Heintz, 1st Ed., 1990, Capra Press
Mr. Sam - The Life and Times of Samuel Bronfman, Michael Marrus, 1st Ed. 1991, Viking

Historic (2)
California Wine Association; Percy T. Morgan
and Isaias Hellman, principals. (The busts of both gentlemen would be contained at the CWA assigned location in the Hall.) It was formed in 1894 in San Francisco and at its height before Prohibition was enacted in 1920, it had control of over 60 California wineries thus controlling most of the state’s wine production.

Morgan was the mastermind behind the conceptualization and operation of the CWA and Hellman was the Capitalist who financed it. CWA came about at a time when grape production and bulk wine supplies were causing disastrous economic ramifications in the California wine industry. Morgan and Hellman set about to create a legal monopoly that would stabilize the industry.

During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake the CWA lost over 15 million gallons of stored wine. To avoid any future chance of such a large loss, Morgan ordered the construction of what was then called “the largest winery in the world” on Point Richmond and named it “Winehaven” and can be easily seen when driving east on the Richmond Bridge. It still stands today as a ghost winery.

Professors George Husmann and Eugene W. Hilgard: The men credited with recognizing the ways to understand, control and limit effects of phylloxera. (The busts of both gentlemen would be contained at the same assigned location in the Hall)

Hilgard was the 1st Prof. of Ag. at UC Berkeley who most assuredly was the embodiment of the cause for quality wine production from California. He sensed that California (particularly Napa/Sonoma) could and would match the best made in the world.

Husmann, a transplanted Missourian who started in Carneros and expanded from there. He is considered the original “hawker “of California (particularly Napa/Sonoma) as the best place to make wine in America

Alternates to consider if too many also mention the same above nominees

Hamden W. McIntyre: Designer of some of the greatest still standing wineries of California, including Inglenook (built by Gustave Niebaum and now known as Rubicon and owned by Francis Ford Coppola), Hedgeside (built by Morris Estees near Silverado Resort and now occupied by Del Dotto), Chateau Montelena built by Alfred Loving Tubbs), Ewer & Atkinson (now the inner core of Beaulieu Vineyards), Eschol (built by the Goodman Brothers and now known as Trefethen), Far Niente (Built by Capt. John Benson), and the Vina located in Tehama County (Built by Leland Stanford).

Alfred Loving Tubbs: He created Chateau Montelena /Hillcrest Estate, Calistoga.
Along with his brother Hiram, who lived in Oakland, they were extremely wealthy from their cordage business where they sold rope to all the sailing ship business around the world. With the discovery of gold outside of Sacramento they sold even more rope for use by the miners and tunnel owners. They build their own hotel by Lake Merritt in Oakland including their own electric train system to carry lodgers to and from downtown to their hotel. Hiram was considered the wealthiest man in the East bay Area at the time.

Alfred, meanwhile, came to Napa and built his winery estate which quickly became one of the largest in the county and indeed California. He joined Napa Valley Wine Company, founded by Charles Krug, the Beringers and one M. G. Ritchie and became its President even before his vineyards and winery were in production.

William Bourn, Jr. of Bourn & Wise Winery, builders of the “Greystone” complex in St. Helena. The site has been home to many great winery operations over the history of the Napa Valley wine industry. It is now the site of CIA.

The Bourn’s owned all the water supply to San Francisco County, the Empire Gold Mine (the richest strike) among other prosperous business. His father had previously built a winegrowing business to the south of St. Helena. After his father passed away there came about a period when grape production and bulk wine supplies were causing disastrous economic ramifications in the Napa Valley wine industry.

He and is partner conceived the idea of building a winery in which financially strapped winegrowers could bring their crops to their winery and they would sell them or the wine made from them when prices were acceptable to the winegrower, or Bourn and Wise would go ahead and buy the crop upon delivery and they would sell it later for themselves. They did this with the feeling that they could use their vast staying power wealth to help those in the industry without deep pockets.

The winegrowers were leery of their plans and intentions. Few joined and meanwhile, the California Wine Association was formed which greatly undermined the intent of Bourne and Wise. They struggled and Wise wanted out a year after the start up. Bourne too tired of the politics and two years after building the $2 million dollar (late 1800s dollar), largest stone winery in the world, he sold it off at a great loss. He retained the winery operation south of St. Helena.

General (6)
Ernest and Julio Gallo, the largest wine producer in the USA according to the 2006 list released by Wine Business Monthly. It is the producer of pop wines as well as premium wines to match the full range of palettes of the nation as well indeed in the export of USA wines to foreign countries. Initiators of screw caps, developer of the most advanced quality control laboratories in the wine industry and creators of innovative wine marketing and sales techniques, strategies and promotional campaigns. (The busts of both gentlemen would be contained at the Gallo assigned location in the Hall.)

One must remember that the vast majority of wine made in NV during the late 1930s through 1970s, was made at and by the NV Co-op (Now Hall Winery) consisting of over 230 NV growers who contracted all their wine to E & J Gallo. This was also true of co-ops in other wine producing counties. Contrary to popular belief, the Gallo’s were blending premium and valley juice for years. That just might be why so many people enjoyed it and bought it.

Both the authorized and the unauthorized books about the Gallo Brothers certify their importance to the wine industry of California, the USA and indeed, today even the entire world.

William Heintz: Probably one of the truly great California history writers. His list of published books and newspaper/magazine articles is most impressive. But, he was also the single most dominate researcher & writer sought for the development of the qualifying histories required for the applications of the formation of a new Appellation area. He did the work for most of Napa and other county applications.

Robert Trinchero of Sutter Home: The “accidental creator” of “White Zin,” one of the most popular and best selling wine styles to the American palette. This discovery also started a resurge in the production and consumption of red zinfandel. The Trinchero Family operations have risen to the rank of the 6th largest wine producer in the USA according to the 2006 list released by Wine Business Monthly.

Myron Nightengale: Creator of ‘Premier Seimillon” styles first at Cresta Blanca (Livermore), then Roma (Fresno), followed by Guild Wines (Lodi) and finally at Beringer (Napa Valley)

Louis Petri of United Vintners (Marketing) & Allied Grape Growers (producers). Starting in the early 1940s, Petri commenced buying wineries and in 1953 he acquired Italian Swiss Colony (ISC) in Asti and Fresno as well as some other smaller winery operations. The purchase of ISC pitted him against the Gallo Brothers in a bidding war labeled by the media as “the battle of the giants” that endured over almost a ten year period before Petri won.

He saw more opportunity in selling wine than in just producing it so he organized the Allied Grape Growers co-op. He then sold his wineries to the co-op while maintaining the facilities and marketing rights contracts under United Vintners. Using 12 different labels he was selling almost one of every four bottles of wine consumed in the USA.

He had constructed the wine ship “SS Angelo Petri “ (named after his father) to transport wine from the inland California port of Stockton through the Panama Canal to the East Coast, in the late 1950 into the 1970s.

In the mid 1960s, Petri engineered then the biggest shock wave in the wine industry of California, indeed, all of America, when he managed to purchase the great Gustave Niebaum Inglenook Napa Valley Estate owned and operated by John Daniel, Jr., and started production of both generic and premium wines. It can be said that he was the forerunner of the corporate take over binge of large family-owned winery estates in wine country California that soon followed his innovative marketing-driven purchase.

Bob Thompson & Sunset Magazine: A prolific wine writer with numerous books and articles of his own as well as co-authoring with other noted food and wine writers. He was the driving editorial force behind Lane Publishing Co. and its three multiple editions under the Sunset magazine/periodical series during the 1968 through 1984 timeframe focusing on tourism opportunities in California’s Wine Country.

Alternates to consider if too many also mention the same above nominees

Leon D. Adams: A premiere writer on the history of wine in America with major contributions to elaborating on the production, quality of California wines as well as the beauty of the buildings and setting surrounding the wineries.

Francis Mahoney: A self-educated vintner who was formerly in the wine retailer business in San Francisco, Mahoney (along with investor partners) undertook in 1973 the first winery operation in the Carneros Appellation to be built following Repeal. His passion was Pinot Noir which he was convinced could be produced in this cool region of southern Napa and Sonoma counties. So convinced about the possibilities of Pinot Noir in this climate he embarked on a mission in cooperation with the UC Davis to develop a clone most suited to the area. His study plan included testing approximately 20 some clones.
Today, everybody wants a piece of Carneros and Mahoney should be credited with showing the California wine industry the value of this area as a Pinot Noir producing zone.

Frank Schoonmaker: A wine writer who also became a wine importer following Repeal. His greatest accomplishment is that he is credited with the introduction of varietals labels associated to the grapes used to produce a wine. Names such as Chablis, Burgundy, Sauterne ,Cabernet,, etc. were in use when started marketing his wine labeled with new names to American wine producers such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, etc. He is also credited, therefore with the establishment of a sense of quality- a premium wine- about the wine to be found in such labeled bottles. These names would be of great significance to the wines that would be produced in wine country California in the 1950s and 1960s as wine production slowly started shifting from sweet and bulk wines to premium varietals.

Samuel Bronfman, House of Seagram: Around 1912, Samuel Bronfrom entered the successful family inn keeping business. By 1916 he desired to expand the family operations and even though Prohibitionists were making great strides to stop alcohol production and consumption in Canada, his home country, and the USA, he moved forward to enter the spirits import business. With the coming of the 1st world war, he saw opportunity to move liquor around the prohibitions that had been installed; he used the “medicinal purposes” only clause to circumvent the Canadian law. He was now well on his way to becoming a giant in the industry.
In 1942 Bronfrom saw opportunity abounding in the California wine industry. Along with Franz Sichel and Alfred Fromm he started Fromm and Sichel. Who was there major client? None other than The Christian Brothers, located in Napa. To this was soon added the large and famous Paul Masson operations located near Saratoga which grew into a $100 million a year operation by the mid 1960s. His son would continue to contract marketing and distribution rights for wines in eight different countries including the USA.

Dr. Albert J. Winkler: Professor Maynard Amerine is already inducted into the HOF, but the work for which he was solely credited was actually developed in cooperation with Dr. Winkler. They developed the much used climate regions of California in terms of “degree days” measured as days with a temperature exceeding 50 degrees F.(Suggestion: Place the bust of both gentlemen at the same space area)