Sunday, August 16, 2015

By John M. Olney
July 22, 2011
Part Two of a Three Part Series for, :

The Concept of a “Hall of Fame” and the Overlooked Greats

Regarding the Nominees. A Hall of Fame (HOF) needs to be designed to
1. Recognize those individuals and entities who, after examination of conclusive evidence, have contributed to one or more of these measurement factors:

- A significant skill above that of the average person in that trade/profession

- Design and development of a processing methodology that becomes routinely adopted by the industry

- Equipment product that significantly improves the overall quality of the end result of the subject industry

2. Recognize multiple recipients’ who as a team contributed to the industry one or more of the aforementioned measurement factors. An example would be a winery owner who supplied all capital backing necessary for his/her winery to produce a quality wine although those owners were not necessarily involved in the daily operation of the wine production. The initial years of founder Jesse Jackson of Konicti Winery and his winemaker Jed Steele producing the award winning Chardonnay that launched K-J on its fantastic growth. Jackson has been inducted into the CVHOF but the man, Steele, who actually was responsible for its production has not been inducted. Another example is only half o the team that most in the trade credit with the development of the sun degree days table has been inducted when both should have gone in at the same time..

Regarding the Electoral College of a HOF. The HOF has to have a comprehensive understanding of the background and experience levels of those associated to the subject industry of the HOF who would be voting upon the nominees. One must avoid establishing a voting body consisting of a great number of individuals whose age, historical knowledge of the wine industry and experience level preclude them from comparing “old timers” to their contemporizes so they vote for the “known entity” thereby bypassing some of the most important contributors to the American Wine Industry or a smaller segment of it like say the State of California.

1. A HOF needs to be based on a solid foundation recognizing those throughout the history of the subject industry of that HOF.

2. The HOF must include all of the various aspects of that industry. In the case of wine, it must include recognition of individuals and groups from the planting and management of the vineyard, to the winemaker & winery owner, public relations & marketing divisions, wine writer/critic & historian, to the distributor & retailer, all of which make it an industry.

2. The HOF needs to have the ways and means to verify the “credentials” of the names submitted for possible nomination for election to, and induction, in such HOF

3. It is essential that the organizational body of a HOF design and prepare unbiased, accurate and complete biography sheets on each candidate for the voting body to review and consider in their individual selection process.

This latter point is where I believe the creators of the CVHOF make their most crucial misjudgment. They believe that they must use short statement abstracts of no more than about three sentences because they believe that the electoral college members would not take the time to read a full biographic background on each of the 30 plus nominees the CAHOF normally proposes on its ballot each year. This abstract or biographical write-up is what I consider the most crucial criteria in order to have a valid HOF of the most worthy inductees and not just a bunch of inductees decided by “popular vote.”

When the HOF organizations selects individuals to be part of the electoral college, that prospective voter needed to be aware that he will be reading biographical statements that may require his/her time in order to understand the true value of that nominees contributions relative to that of another candidate. If the candidate of the electoral college does not feel he/she can commit to such time then they should be forthright and upfront and decline to become part of the voting body.

( CVHOF has been in existence now for four (4) years and has inducted 33 individuals. You can review its history at the web site shown above. Many of these individuals are important contributors to the California Wine Industry but they are certainly not more important than many other individuals, who in my opinion, made much greater significant contribution to the industry and should already be inducted into the CVHOF.

I do not understand how such giants as the following - some of whom have been nominated at least once and some more - are not inducted.

I know of at least one other writer who appears to think along similar lines to me and it is Dan Berger, who published in February 25, 2011, in his article, ““Not in the Vintners Hall of Fame — but they should be,” for the Napa Register the following paragraphs in quotation and italics. Dan Berger’s mentioning of Petri reminded me of the list of large wine operations shown below.

Big Five U.S.A. Winemakers as of the 1952-53 timeframe (listed by capacity in gallons)

1 - Roma - 30 million

2 - California Wine Association (CWA) - 29.65 million

3 - Italian Swiss Colony (ISC) - 26 million

4 - Wine Growers’ Guild - 22 million

5 - Petri - 20 million
“Louis Petri" One of the most important people in the history of the wine industry, Petri, president of powerful Allied Grape Growers, was the dominant force in American wine following World War II — a marketing force, innovator, and the man who changed the way wine was shipped to market.” By Dan Berger

Let me give you an example of the magnitude of his accomplishments with just the comments listing below

Petri’s purchase of ISC moved him to the largest producer in the USA. Nobody from any of these five companies (Except as a member of a subsidiary winery) has yet been elected to the CVHOF, yet Gallo Brothers are in! Robert Mondavi is in! How can that be a true HOF? Let me add a little to the Petri legend. Petri was so forward thinking that he modified a tanker ship renaming it the “Petri.” He was shipping by sea his wine to the East Coast cheaper than anyone else at the time using all the other transportation methods.

Allied Grape Growers was the sister company of United Vintners, the marketing firm, also headed by Petri, that eventually absorbed the great Napa-based Inglenook Estate created by Gustave Niebaum and then taken to new fame under his great grand nephew, John Daniel. His firm also maneuvered the Napa Valley-based Beaulieu Vineyard estate created under Georges de Latour and its famed winemaker Andrè Tchelistcheff, into the Allied/Vintners domain. All four of these gentlemen are inducted in the CVHOF but Louis Petri is not? What Petri accomplished during his lifetime in the American Wine Industry is, in this writer’s opinion, well deserving of being inducted into the CVHOF.

Berger goes on to mention other greats in the earlier history of the California Wine Industry.

“Eugene Hilgard, the 19th-century botanist and visionary who paved the way for grapes to be planted in Livermore Valley and numerous other locations where he theorized great wine could result.” By Dan Berger

“Byron and Alice Nightingale of Cresta Blanca and later Beringer? The two jointly invented a complex process to make world-class dessert wine. Myron, chief wine maker at Beringer, was one of the most respected wine makers until his death in 1988.” By Dan Berger

I would both agree with and add to Mr. Berger’s list the following candidates.

Percy Morgan
He who essentially designed and then managed the giant California Wine Association (CWA) and lead it to become a completely vertical integrated wine producer. It once owned and/or controlled over 80% of the wine produced in California from 1894 to 1920 At that time CWA was also the largest wine company in the world. It included all seven of the great San Francisco based wine brokers and merchants of the times and the Napa Valley Wine Company. By 1900, the majority of the state's wineries had joined the CWA, including Stag's Leap Cellars, Greystone Cellars at St. Helena, the Italian Swiss Colony, Cucamonga Vineyards, Glen Ellen Vineyards and more. At its peak, 52 wineries were members of the CWA. It was totally vertically integrated because it controlled all aspects of winemaking from the planting of the grapes, to production, bottling, marketing and shipment of its wine. Some of those who were the directors and/or shareholders in the winery operations owned/controlled by the CWA have already been inducted into the CVHOF, but why not Percy Morgan?

Kohler and Frohling
The most likely beginning point for wine production, distribution and marketing of California wine can be attributed to Charles Kohler and John Frohling of San Francisco. They originally operated out of the Los Angles area in the year 1853. By 1856, Kohler & Frohling were exporting bulk wine from their large Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City wine warehouses to European, South American, Asian, and Pacific Rim countries. At the high point of their operation they owned wine production facilities in Los Angeles, Sonoma County, and the Central Valley.

Hamden McIntyre
He completed conceptual design of several wineries during the 1870s to 1890s that still stand today as monuments of the early Napa Valley Wine Industry. They are:

The great stone structures

Inglenook (Now owned by movie mogul Francis Ford Coppola)

Chateau Montelena (now owned by the Barretts family)

Far Niente (Now of Nichol and Nichol ownership)

Bourn and Wise (nicknamed “Greystone”) was the largest stone winery in the world. (Became best known under the ownership of Christian Brothers 1945-1996 and now occupied by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and home of the California Vintners Hall of Fame.)

Ewer and Atkinson (Now the inner-core of Beaulieu Vineyards winery complex)

The giant wood structures

Eschol (Now home of Trefethen winery)

Christian Pugh Adamson, (Now home to Frog’s Leap)

He also was a significant contributor to the Leland Stanford giant winery, Vina, located in Tehema County.

It should also be remembered that although Gustave Niebaum (inducted into the CVHOF) was well read on the subject of vineyard management and winery operations, he did not do the work. It was Hamden McIntyre who was vineyard and winery manager.

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