California Wine Industry

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Over the past four decades ROHO scholars have interviewed nearly two-hundred winemakers, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, marketers, shop owners, educators, researchers, industry leaders, organizational officials, and writers that have helped spark the intellectual development of a Bay Area food and wine identity in the latter half of the twentieth century. These “Cultural Terroir” pioneers helped implement a Bay area “Food Revolution” and subsequently exported their ideas and products to the national and global community. By utilizing oral history methodologies ROHO has recorded and preserved historical information on foodways and California viticulture that previously only existed in the memories of industry persons. Interviews concentrate on defining how individual and regional “identity” has emanated from and been influenced by political, economic, religious, ethnic, racial, and gender struggles in a multicultural region, nation and developing global community.

Check out audio excerpts from our SoundCloud channel. To help support additional interviews in this series, please consider a donation to ROHO.

Featured California Wine Industry Oral History Transcripts
Photo of John De Luca with Robert Mondavi
John De Luca with Robert Mondavi

John De Luca, Ph.D.
President and CEO of the Wine Institute, 1975-2003, Executive Vice Chairman of the Wine Institute, 2003-2008, 2007, 706 pp.

View John's remarks at the acceptance of his oral history transcript.

Ernest Gallo frontis photo Ernest Gallo
Ernest Gallo, The E. and J. Gallo Winery, 1995, 168 pp.

Miljenko Grgich
A Croatian-American Winemaker in the Napa Valley, 1992, 60 pp.

“Mike” Grgich studied viticulture and enology at the University of Zagreb and in 1954, in the midst of unrest in Yugoslavia , migrated westward to Napa via Germany and Canada . Over a nine year period he worked at Christian Brothers and Robert Mondavi wineries. He then moved to Chateau Montelena winery where his reputation soared when his acclaimed Chardonnay placed well against French wines in the now famous 1976 “The Judgement of Paris.” In 1977 he established the Grgich Hills Cellar.

photo of heitz cellar

Joseph E. Heitz
Creating a Winery in the Napa Valley,
1986, 89 pp.

Joseph E. Heitz left an Illinois farm upbringing for a routine evening job in the Italian Swiss Colony winery in Fresno during World War II. While studying at UC Davis he worked part time jobs in San Joaquin wineries and Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford. He was instrumental in setting up the enology program at Fresno State University and later purchased a small winery that he slowly built into Heitz Cellars.

Robert Mondavi
Creativity in the Wine Industry, 1985, 107 pp.

Robert Mondavi began his wine interests during Prohibition when he helped his father Caesare ship grapes around the country for home wine making. As Prohibition ended Mondavi finished college and began working for Sunny St. Helena Winery and Charles Krug which his father had purchased in 1943. In 1966 after leaving the family business his establish his Robert Mondavi Winery based in Oakville.

image of Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps
Joseph Phelps Vineyards: Classic Wines and Rhone Varietals, 1996, 82 pp.

Joseph Phelps was born in Missouri and raised in rural Colorado and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in construction management. After service in the Navy he started a California office of the family Hensel Phelps Construction Company. The company won a contract to build the Chateau Souverain Winery and in 1973 he purchased 600 acres of grapes on the Silverado Trail. By 1989 Phelps became one of the state’s first “Rhone Rangers.”

Warren Winiarski

Warren Winiarski
Creating Classic Wines in the Napa Valley, 1994, 93 pp.

Warren Winiarski was born in the Polish neighborhoods of Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in Maryland and earned a master’s degree by studying at the University of Chicago and the University of Florence in Italy. He then lectured at the University of Chicago and moved to Napa as the assistant winemaker at Souverain Cellars. In 1966 he moved to the Robert Mondavi winery and by 1970, with the help of an investment group, purchased Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. In the 1976 “The Judgment of Paris” his Cabernet bested French Cabernets in a blind tasting. Audio excerpts of Warren Winiarski Speaking about the Paris Tasting of 1976: Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3

Additional California Wine Industry Oral History Transcripts

Leon D. Adams (1905-1995)
Revitalizing the California Wine Industry, 1974, 154 pp.

Leon D. Adams (1905-1995)
California Wine Industry Affairs: Recollections and Opinions, 1990, 52 pp.

Maynard A. Amerine (1911-1998)
The University of California and the State's Wine Industry, 1971, 142 pp.

Maynard A. Amerine
Wine Bibliographies and Taste Perception Studies, 1988, 91 pp.

Richard L. Arrowood (b.1945)
Sonoma County Winemaking: Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, 1996, 140 pp.

W. Andrew Beckstoffer (b. 1939)
Premium California Vineyardist, Entrepreneur, 1960s to 2000s, 200 pp.

Philo Biane (b. 1909)
Wine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit Industries, Inc., 1972, 100 pp.

William Bonetti (b. 1925)
A Life of Winemaking at Wineries of Gallo, Schenley, Charles Krug, Chateau Souverain, and Sonoma-Cutrer, 1998, 116 pp

Albert Brounstein (b. 1920)
Diamond Creek Vineyards: The Significance of Terroior in the Vineyard, 2000, 82 pp.

David Bruce (b. 1931)
The David Bruce Winery: Experimentation, Dedication, and Success, 1999, 57 pp.

Charles A. Carpy (1927-1996)
Viticulture and Enology at Freemark Abbey, 1994, 61 pp.

John B. Cella (1918-1998)
The Cella Family in the California Wine Industry, 1986, 75 pp.

Arthur A. Ciocca
Insights Into the Wine Industry From A Marketing Perspective, 2000, 79 pp.

Charles Crawford (b. 1918)
Recollections of a Career with the Gallo Winery and the Development of the California Wine Industry, 1942-1989, 1990, 121 pp.

Burke H. Critchfield (1888-1970), Carl F. Wente (1889-1971), and Andrew G. Fredricks (1890-1976), The California Wine Industry During the Depression, 1972, 79 pp.

William V. Cruess (1886-1968)
A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology, 1967, 122 pp.

Jack Davies (1923-1999) and Jamie Peterman Davies (b. 1934)

Rebuilding Schramsberg: The Creation of a California Champagne House, 1990, 131 pp.

Doug L. Davis
History of Sebastiani Vinyards, 1955 - Present, 2000, 168 pp.

William A. Dieppe (1923-1988)
Almaden is My Life, 1985, 101 pp.

Paul Draper (b. 1936)
History and Philosophy of Winemaking at Ridge Vineyards: 1970s-1990s, 1994, 77 pp.

Daniel J. Duckhorn (b. 1936) and Margaret S. Duckhorn (b. 1939)
Mostly Merlot: The History of Duckhorn Vineyards, 1996, 136 pp.

Merry Edwards
Meredith Vineyard Estate, 2008, 70 pp.

David Ficklin (b. 1918), Jean (b. 1920), Peter (b. 1953), and Steve (b. 1944)
Making California Port Wine: Ficklin Vineyards from 1948 to 1992, 1992, 106 pp. makingcaliportwine00fickrich

Brooks Firestone (b. 1936)
Firestone Vineyard: A Santa Ynez Valley Pioneer, 1996, 64 pp.

Catherine Firestone
Firestone Vineyard and Carey Cellars, Santa Barbara, California, 2007, 17 pp.

Richard W. Forman (b. 1944)
Launching Bordeaux-style wines in the Napa Valley, 2000, 149 pp.

Louis J. Foppiano (1910-2012)
A Century of Agriculture and Winemaking in Sonoma County, 1896-1996, 1996, 94 pp.

Alfred Fromm (1905-1998)
Marketing California Wine and Brandy, 1984, 55 pp.
Wines, Music, and Lifelong Education, 1988.

Louis B. Gomberg (1907-1993)
Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry, 1935-1990, 1990, 88 pp.

William H. Hill (b. 1942)
Vineyard Development and the William Hill Winery, 1970s-1990s, 1998, 79 pp.

Agustin Huneeus (b. 1933)
A World View of the Wine Industry, 1996, 77 pp.

Hayley Firestone Jessup
Firestone Vineyards, Santa Barbara County, 2007, 23 pp.

Maynard A. Joslyn (1904-1984)
A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry, 1974, 151 pp.

Amandus N. Kasimatis (b.1921)
A Career in California Viticulture, 1988, 54 pp.

Morris Katz (b. 1923)
Paul Masson Winery Operations and Management, 1944-1988, 1990, 75 pp.

Legh F. Knowles Jr. (1919-1997)
Beaulieu Vineyards from Family to Corporate Ownership, 1990, 106 pp.

Lamborn Family Vineyards
Brian Lamborn, 2004, 26 pp.
Michael Lamborn, 2004, 24 pp.
Terry Lamborn, 2004, 20 pp.

Horace O. Lanza (1881-1983), and Harry Baccigaluppi (b. 1901)
California Grape Products and Other Wine Enterprises, 1971, 150 pp.

Zelma R. Long (b. 1943)
The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its Second Century, 1992, 103 pp.

Richard Maher (b. 1933)
California Winery Management and Marketing, 1992, 76 pp.

Louis M. Martini (1887-1974) and Louis P. Martini (1918-1998)
Wine Making in the Napa Valley, 1973, 94 pp.

Louis P. Martini (1918-1998)
A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry, 1984, 126 pp.

Eleanor McCrea (1907-1991)
Stony Hill Vineyards: The Creation of a Napa Valley Estate Winery, 1990, 64 pp.

Justin Meyer (b. 1938)
Justin Meyer and Silver Oak Cellar: Focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000, 103 pp.

Otto E. Meyer (1903-1994)
California Premium Wines and Brandy, 1973, 71 pp.

Norbert C. Mirassou (1914-1992) and Edmund A. (1918-1996)

The Evolution of a Santa Clara Valley Winery, 1986, 144 pp.

Peter Mondavi (b. 1914)
Advances in Technology and Production at Charles Krug Winery, 1946-1988, 1990, 66 pp.

Michael Moone (b. 1940)
Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World, Inc., 1990, 132 pp.

Geraldine Mosby
Mosby Winery - Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, 2007, 27 pp.

Myron S. Nightingale
Making Wine in California, 1944-1987, 1988, 85 pp.

Harold P. Olmo (b. 1909)
Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties, 1976, 183 pp.

Pam Maines Ostendorf
Director of the Santa Barbara Vintner's Association, 2007, 29 pp.

Cornelius Ough (b. 1925)
Researches of an Enologist, University of California, Davis, 1950-1990, 1990, 66 pp.

John A. Parducci (b. 1918)
Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County, California, 1992, 108 pp.

Antonio Perelli-Minetti (1882-1976)
A Life in Wine Making, 1975, 174 pp.

Louis A. Petri (1912-1980)
The Petri Family in the Wine Industry, 1971, 67 pp.

Jefferson E. Peyser (1899-1989)
The Law and the California Wine Industry, 1974, 71 pp.

Lucius Powers (1901-1978)
The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry, 1974, 54 pp.

Victor Repetto (1894-1972) and Sydney J. Block
Perspectives on California Wines: A Career in the Wine Industry in New York and California; and Selling California Wines in New Orleans, 1976, 65 pp.

Edmund A. Rossi (1888-1974)
Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry, 1971, 103 pp.

Edmund A. Rossi Jr. (1924-1996)
Italian Swiss Colony, 1949-1989: Recollections of a Third-Generation California Winemaker, 1990, 148 pp.

Edward G. Sbragia
Winemaster at Beringer Vineyards, 2002, 197 pp.

Arpaxat Setrakian (1885-1974)
A. Setrakian, a Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape Industry, 1977, 107 pp.

Elie Skofis (b. 1918)
California Wine and Brandy Maker, 1988, 137 pp.

David S. Stare (b. 1939)
Fumé Blanc and Meritage Wines in Sonoma County: Dry Creek Vineyard's Pioneer Winemaking, 1996, 83 pp.

Rodney S. Strong (b. 1927)
Rodney Strong Vineyards: Creative Winemaking and Winery Management in Sonoma County, 1994, 100 pp.

Lane Tanner
Santa Barbara, California Winemaker-Pinot Noir with a Woman's Touch, 2007, 29 pp.

Andre Tchelistcheff (1901-1994)
Grapes, Wine, and Ecology, 1983, 246 pp.

Brother Timothy
(b. 1910)
The Christian Brothers as Wine Makers, 1974, 159 pp.

Eugene Trefethen
Kaiser Industries, Trefethen Vineyards, the University of California, and Mills College, 1926- 1997.  1997, 189 pp.

Janet and John Trefethen

Trefethen Vineyards, 1968-1998, 126 pp.

Louis (Bob) Trinchero (b. 1936)
California Zinfandels, a Success Story, 1992, 144 pp.

Charles F. Wagner (b. 1912) and Charles J. Wagner (b. 1951)
Caymus Vineyards: A Father-Son Team Producing Distinctive Wines, 1994, 111 pp.

Mike Weiss (b. 1936)
Wine Writer, 2007, 47 pp.

Ernest A. Wente (1890-1981)
Wine Making in the Livermore Valley, 1971, 97 pp.

Jean Wente (b. 1926), Carolyn (b. 1955), Philip (b. 1952), and Eric (b. 1951)
The Wente Family and the California Wine Industry, 1992, 194 pp.

Albert J. Winkler
Viticultural Research at UC Davis (1921-1971), 1973, 144 pp.

Frank M. Woods (b. 1933)
Founding Clos du Bois Winery: A Marketing Approach, 1998, 115 pp.

John H. Wright (b. 1933)
Domaine Chandon: The First French-owned California Sparkling Wine Cellar, includes an interview with Edmond Maudière, 1992, 151 pp.


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