Wednesday, November 25, 2009

California Vintner’s Hall of Fame - Class of 2010

The California Vintner’s Hall of Fame (CVHOF) -- click here for abstracts on the inductees --  -- sponsored by and located in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), St. Helena, CA, has announced it’s five inductees for the 4th class -- the Class of 2010.

I am very honored to be a member of the Nominating Committee of eight that prepared the list of candidates for the full CIA Electoral College of wine writers and previous CVHOF inductees to vote upon. The remaining members of the Nominating Committee are:

W. Blake Gray, chaired by noted wine journalist:

Charles Sullivan, well noted wine historian and published author

Jim Gordon, Wines and Vines Publications:

Sara Schneider, Sunset Magazine:

Alder Yarrow, well noted wine blogger at

Darrell Corti, Corti Brothers, Inducted CVHOF in 2008:

Carole Meredith, UC Davis Professor Emerita and Lagier-Meredith Winery, Inducted CVHOF in 2009:

2010 California Vintners Hall of Fame Inductees include the following:

Special “Pioneer” inductee

Leon Adams (1905-1995)
 Leon Adams was a founder of the Wine Institute, a public policy and advocacy group for California wineries.

Books by Mr. Adams:
The Commonsense Book of Wine (1958)
The Commonsense Book of Wine, 2nd Edition (1964)
The Wines of America (1973)
Leon D. Adams’ Commonsense Book of Wine, 3rd Edition, revised and expanded (1975)
The Wines of America, Second Edition, Revised (1978)
Striped Bass Fishing In California and Oregon
The Commonsense Book of Drinking
The Wine Study Course

The Bancroft Library - Regional Oral History Office - California Wine Industry
Leon D. Adams - Revitalizing the California Wine Industry, 1974, 154 pp. Transcription
All Other Inductees
Andy Beckstoffer -
Back in 1968, he began his career in the wine industry when he convinced the Chairman of the Board of Heublein, Inc., headquarter in Conneticuttet to enter the wine business by purchasing a majority interest in United Vintner’s which had previously purchased the former Inglenook Winery of Gustav Neibaum/John Daniel (now know as Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rubicon.”). Shortly after this purchase, and now as a Heublein executive heading up the wine oriented division, he negotiated the purchase of the Beaulieu Vineyards which also dated back to the late 1880s. The purchases of these two old family prestigious wineries sent shock waves throughout the wine world. In 1973, Heublein’s Board of Director’s no longer could support the slow growth, low yield business of wine and began it’s withdrawal from the business.

During the 1968-1973 timeframe, Beckstoffer had become quite well informed in vineyard development and management, and the potential of the industry when held in private versus corporate ownership. He was only 33 when he conceived a financing plan that would allow him to purchase much of the Heublein vineyard property. The finance plan included contracts for the purchase of the grapes. He was off and running on his spectacular career in the California wine industry.

Since that time, Beckstoffer Vineyards has become one of three of the largest privately held vineyard ownership and management services companies in the North Bay wine country. He has been instrumental in organizing and developing agricultural, land and river preservation practices and ordinances in Napa County.

Beckstoffer devised a grape value, or suggested price method, that is tied to the value of the finished wine product. His most recent and ambitious project is the mapping of the history of Napa County vineyards.

In September of this year, I had the privilege of interviewing him for my draft book tentatively titled “The Innovators and Pacesetters of the Modern Napa Valley Wine Industry.” Click here for a synopsis
The Bancroft Library - Regional Oral History Office - California Wine Industry
Andy Beckstoffer - Premium California Vineyardist, Entrepreneur, 1960s to 2000s, 200 pp.
Al Brounstein -
Established Diamond Creek vineyard in 1968, Brounstein's Diamond Creek Vineyards was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon only in the three distinct soil types located on his property. He named each soil type with the names Red Rock Terrace, Gravelly Meadow, and Volcanic Hill. He became one of the first wineries to grow and produce different Cabernet Sauvignons wines designating them as single vineyard products. The 1978 Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was reportedly the first preimum wine carrying a suggested retail price of $100 a bottle. Before the term “Cult Wine“ became popular, he was already respected as such..
The Bancroft Library - Regional Oral History Office - California Wine Industry
Al Brounstein - Diamond Creek Vineyards: The Significance of Terroior in the Vineyard, 2000, 82 pp.
Randall Grahm -
Randall Grahm known for bringing back the good name of Rhone varietials. He, his web site and writings are zany, interesting and outside of the “normal” characterisation of winemakers but wines, and his contributions are very well received.. He is already the recipient of a number of prestigious awards further justifying his nomination and induction into the CVHOF.

Zelma Long -
She  studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis in the late 1960s, She became  chief enologist at Robert Mondavi Winery, while establishing Long Vineyards. Following her stint at Mondavi, she went to Simi Winery as winemaker and CEO. She was one of the first modern day women to perform both the winemaking and business management duties of winery. She has been inducted to the James Beard Hall of Fame (1996) and receiving The James Beard Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year(1997). Zelma and her husband, Phillip Freese, are producing wine (Vilafonte label) in South Africa.

The Bancroft Library - Regional Oral History Office - California Wine Industry  
Zelma Long - The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its Second Century, 1992, 103 pp.