Birthdays in Wine History
26 July 1638 – On this day, Dom Pierre Perignon was born. Perignon was a Benedictine monk credited with the discovery of sparkling win on 4 August 1639. Perignon was charged by his superiors to get rid of bubbles from still wine while in charge of Abbey Hautvillers, only to lead him to the discovery of sparkling wine. Since his discovery, sparkling wine grew in prominence and was no longer considered a defect in winemaking.
14 October 1639 – On this day, Simon van der Stel was born. Van der Stel was the last commander of the Dutch Cape colony. He planted the first vineyards in the region in 1679 and is considered the father of the South African wine industry. His wine became popular in the 19th century, especially in Great Britain, after Great Britain imposed an embargo on French wine.
24 November 1713 – On this day, Father Junipero Serra was born in Majorca, Spain. Father Serra was a missionary of the Franciscan order. His work was not limited to converting people to his religion but also wine production. Father Serra is regarded as the father of California wine. He was the first person to plant grapes in California after settling in San Diego in 1769.
29 April 1759 – John Adlum was born in York, Pennsylvania, on this day. Adlum is considered the father of American viticulture. He was the first to plant the Catawba grapes. Besides, he was also a surveyor and judge. Adlum’s surveyor career allowed him to navigate many states and find the best estates to plant grapes.
14 February 1763– John James Dufour was born on this day. Dufour was a Swiss immigrant who came to America in 1796 and set up the first commercial winery in Lexington, Kentucky. He is the founder of Swiss vineyards in America. Dufour named the first vineyard First Vineyard, which began the wine industry in the United States.
16 January 1783 – Nicholas Longworth was born on this day. He is an influential figure in the history of American wine. Longworth established the first successful commercial winery in Cincinnati, Ohio. He became famous for producing sparkling wine from Catawba grapes he grew in his Ohio River Valley Vineyard.
14 April 1789 – On this day, Tiburcio Tapia was born. Tapia set up the first winery in California and the second oldest winery in the United States. Before venturing into the wine business, Tapia served as a soldier and politician for the Mexican government. Tapia received a land grant from Mexican governor Juan Baptista Alvarado in the present-day Rancho Cucamonga and Upland, where he established his winery. Tapia’s Rancho Cucamonga vineyard grew to be the largest in California until prohibition.
4 May 1794 – On this day, George Calvert Yount was born. Yount is among the pioneers of grape farming and winemaking in Napa Valley. Yountville is named after him. After being given a land grant in Rancho Caymus, he started planting grapes. Yount planted the first grapes in Napa Valley in 1839 and started producing wine in the 1850s.
1797 – John Patchett was born this year in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. Patchett moved to the United States in 1817. He established Napa Valley’s first commercial winery. Patchett planted his first vines in 1854 and started making wine in 1857.
7 February 1802 – James Busby was born in Scotland on this day. Busby was a civil engineer who was given a job as a mineral surveyor in the British Australian colony. On arrival, Busby was offered a “farm manager job at the male Orphan School in Cabramatta.” He planted the first vineyards and became the father of Australian wine. Besides, he also planted vineyards in New Zealand, also becoming new Zealand’s wine industry pioneer.
12 February 1809 – On this day, President Abraham Lincoln was born. President Lincoln was the 16th United States president. He was the first president to purchase and be served Californian wine. His influence contributed to the rise of Napa Valley and Sonoma as leading wine producers in the country.
15 February 1811 – On this day, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was born in San Juan, Argentina. Sarmiento was president of Argentina and has been credited for the rise of the country’s wine industry. Sarmiento made it his mission to develop the country’s wine industry, inviting Michel Aime Pouget, a French soil expert, to bring French vines to the country. One of the varietals he brought from France was Malbec which flourished, becoming of superior quality to France’s. Today, Malbec World Day is held every 17 April to celebrate the day president Sarmiento devoted his efforts to improving Argentina’s wine industry.
30 August 1812 – Agoston Haraszthy was born on this day in Pest, Hungary. Haraszthy’s father was well educated and literate in more than 16 languages. While his father worked as a metallurgist and chemist, he spent most of his life in winemaking. Agoston took after him. His spirited adventure led him to the United States, and he first settled in Wisconsin, developing the first village in Haraszthy town. Haraszthy came to California in 1849 and started planting grapes. He is considered one of the pioneers of wine production in Napa Valley.
20 November 1818 – On this day, Pedro Sainsevain was born in Beguey, France. Pedro Sainsevain had a great impact in the early years of Los Angeles. He is famous for being among the first winemakers to produce sparkling wine in California. Pedro and his brother Jean Louis Sainsevain are known for early winemaking in Los Angeles.
1 March 1823 – Charles Krug was born in Prussia on this day. When he first came to America, he worked as an apprentice for Agoston Haraszthy and John Patchett before setting up his winery in St. Helena. Krug was the first person to establish a commercial winery in California.
1825 – Emile Baxter was born in this year. Emile with Annette Baxter established the Baxter vineyards in Illinois in 1857. The winery was largely successful in receiving medals from the Illinois State Board of Agriculture. Besides, it was one of the wineries that survived prohibition by selling grapes to northern states.
1827 – John Rains was born this year. Rains bought Rancho Cucamonga from Tapia’s daughter and maintained it until 1862 when he was murdered. The murder is one of the mysterious cases that remain unresolved to date. After his murder, several other people related to him were killed. His wife, Maria Merced Rains, felt threatened. As a result, the maintenance of Rancho Cucamonga was ineffective, and it fell for foreclosure.
7 October 1840 – On this day, the first woman winemaker, Hannah Elizabeth Rabbe, was born in New Albany, Indiana. Hannah was married to John Weinberger, an immigrant from Weissenburg. Weinberger arrived in New York in 1848, living in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, before moving to California in 1870, where he set up a winery. Unfortunately, he was shot dead in 1882, and Hannah took over management of the winery, making her the first woman winemaker in Napa Valley. Hannah continued making wine until prohibition forced her to shut down the winery.
31 August 1842 – On this day, Gustave Niebaum was born in Helsinki, Finland. Niebaum was a distinguished sea captain and an influential figure in Alaska. Niebaum was born Gustaf Ferdinand Nybom but changed his name to Gustave Niebaum after building his wealth through the fur trade. Niebaum established the Inglenook winery in Napa Valley’s Rutherford. He was obsessed with Bordeaux wines and wanted to develop his first winery in France. However, his wife objected due to long sea voyages. Niebaum finally settled for Napa Valley, and his winery produced Bordeaux-style wines.
3 October 1842 – On this day, Isaias Hellman was born in Reckendorf, Germany. Hellman was raised in Germany but moved to Los Angeles, United States, in 1859. His achievements include becoming the first Los Angeles banker and the founding father of the University of Southern California. Hellman bought Rancho Cucamonga after it fell into foreclosure and transformed it by selling some of it and attracting investors to invest in its wine production. Under Hellman, Rancho Cucamonga became one of the best until prohibition saw the decline of the wine industry.
26 September 1843 – On this day, Thomas Volney Munson was born in Astoria, Illinois. Munson was an American horticulturist who spent most of his life documenting native American grapes. His work significantly impacted the wine industry beyond the United States. His work helped European vine growers recover from the phylloxera disaster. In addition, he was named Chevalier du Merite Agricole by the French government.
23 March 1844 – On this day, Hermann Jaeger was born in Brugg, Switzerland. Jaeger was a viticulturist who significantly contributed to the Swiss and the world’s wine industry through his research work and publications. In 1864, he moved to the United States and planted his first vineyards 1866. His work greatly influenced the wine industry in the 19th and 20th centuries.
1845 – Prince Lev Golitsyn was born. Prince Golitsyn is the founder of the Russian wine industry. He established the first champagne wine factory in Russia; the factory won a gold medal in the 1889 Paris sparkling wines exhibition.
10 January 1858 – On this day, Jozsef Torley was born in Csantaver, Austria-Hungary. Torley is popularly known for creating the most successful brand of sparkling wine outside of Champagne. Torley’s sparkling wine became popular throughout Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.
3 December 1866 – On this day, Felipe Rutini was born. Rutini was an Italian immigrant and one of the winemaking pioneers in Mendoza, Argentina. He founded the Felipe Rutini Winery, which has continued to produce spectacular wines in Argentina.
21 November 1871 – William Charles Winshaw was born in Kentucky, United States, on this day. In 1899, Winshaw boarded Lieutenant McGuiness’s ship headed to South Africa. Winshaw was expected to use his physical skills to care for 4000 mules being shipped for British soldiers in South Africa. Winshaw went on to pioneer the South African viticultural industry.
18 May 1876 – On this day, Hermann Muller was born in Mannheim, Germany. Muller developed Muller-Thurgau white grape by crossbreeding Riesling and Madeleine Royale grape varietals. Muller-Thurgau is one of the most famous hybrid grapes today. The grape is mainly grown in Germany. Other regions where the grape is grown include the Czech Republic, Slovenia, England, Austria, Northern Italy, Japan, and Hungary.
1887 –Louis Martini was born in this year. Louis is one of the first winemakers in California post-prohibition. Martini, an Italian immigrant from Riviera, Italy, came to America and established the Louis Martini winery in St. Helena on 14 June 1933. He used experiences accrued over more than thirty years to produce different wines which were among the best in Napa Valley.
13 January 1888 – On this day, Friedrich Zweigelt was born. Zweigelt developed the Zweigelt wine grape by combining Saint Laurent and Blaufrankisch grape vines. Zweigelt was a famous Austrian entomologist but had ties to the Nazi regime; this led to controversy for his reputation in Austrian Viticulture. Despite the controversy, Zweigelt is Austria’s most planted red wine grape, producing elegant wines.
13 June 1897 – On this day, Maurice O’Shea was born in North Sydney, Australia. O’Shea was a pioneer and one of the most revered Australian winemakers. His winemaking mastery allowed him to identify quality wines. O’Shea’s blending mastery produces some of the finest table wines with enormous flavor and longevity.
7 December 1901 – On this day, André Tchelistcheff was born in Moscow, Russia. Tchelistcheff is popular in the 20th-century American wine industry. His contribution set the industry to recover from the effects of prohibition. Tchelistcheff is often revered as the ‘dean of American winemakers’ for his contribution and mentorship of other winemakers during the post-prohibition period. Another notable contribution is the transformation of Beaulieu Vineyard into a successful vineyard in Napa Valley. He introduced new wine pressing and aging methods.
1903 – In this year, Henri Martin was born in Chateau Gruaud-Larose, France. Martin was a French politician and mayor of the Saint-Julien-Beychevelle region of Medoc. He became an influential figure in Bordeaux wine, also referred to as “the soul of Medoc.” Martini is responsible for reviving Medoc’s wine industry. He also owned several French vineyards, including Château Gloria and Château Saint-Pierre.
20 August 1905 – On this day, Frank Schoonmaker was born. Schoonmaker was a wine writer. He promoted wine labeling using grape varietals. He also educated many people about wine during his time.
6 August 1907 – On this day, Jules Chauvet was born. Chauvet dedicated his life to making and selling wine. He was a chemist and negociant. Chauvet is often referred to as the godfather of wine. He is the first person to promote natural winemaking in France. Besides, Chauvet was also a profound wine taster.
18 March 1909 – On this day, Ernest Gallo was born in Jackson, California. Gallo was the largest American wine producer. After his parents died, he established the E.&J. Winery using 5900 dollars he borrowed from his mother-in-law. The winery is the largest winemaker in the United States and produces several popular wine brands, including Bartles and Carlo Rossi.
1 July 1911 – On this day, Walter Clore was born in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. Clore is considered the “Father of Washington wine.” He was passionate about planting grapes and horticulture. Clore’s education allowed him to locate the best location for growing European Vitis Vinifera. His work inspired many grape growers in Washington and United States.
18 June 1913 – On this day, Robert Mondavi was born. Mondavi gained acclaim for Napa Valley wine production; his name has become synonymous with Napa Valley wine. Mondavi introduced wine varietals and established the first winery in Napa Valley in 1966. Mondavi supported the creation of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis. Robert Mondavi’s winery continues to produce some of the finest wines from Napa Valley.
11 January 1922 – On this day, Franco Biondi Santi was born in Italy’s Montalcino. He created the Brunello de Montalcino wines following in his father’s footsteps. Biondi Santi was devoted to making wines that could last longer, which is demonstrated in Brunello di Montalcino. Today, these wines continue to be among wines that stay longer after production.
6 February 1922 – On this day, Henri Jayer was born. Jayer is an acclaimed red winemaker from Burgundy. He is accredited for introducing innovative winemaking techniques in Burgundy. His early wines sell for more than 3000 British pounds today. Jayer owned a comparatively smaller vineyard but produced some of the best wines in Burgundy.
13 September 1922 – Eric Arnold was born in the United Kingdom. He is well known for his sports career. Arnold played for Norwich City football club as a left-back before venturing into journalism Arnold became a prolific writer in the wine industry, working as an editor for Wine Spectator and lifestyle editor for Frobes.com.
1 April 1923 – On this day, Miljenko Grgich was born in Desne, Croatia. Grgich is famous for crafting Chardonnay wine that beat the best French wines during the 1976 Judgement of Paris blind tasting. Grgich has been influential in California and United States wine industry. He is passionate about quality wines, and his Grgich Hills Estate has become a premier winery. He has also improved California’s wine production by introducing new techniques, including malolactic fermentation and cold sterilization.
16 August 1924 – On this day, Fess Parker was born. Parker was a renowned American television and film actor. His fame did not end there as he is also a famous winemaker. Parker founded the Fess Parker Winery, which specializes in producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
28 September 1924 – On this day, Jean Frederic Hugel was born in Riquewihr, France. Hugel was a winemaker in Alsace and significantly contributed to the growth of the Alsace wine industry. Hugel contributed to the development of Alsace AOC guidelines which are among the strictest in France.
2 August 1925 – On this day, Margrit Mondavi was born. Margrit was Robert Mondavi’s wife and an organizer of vineyard cultural events at Napa Valley. Margrit and Robert Mondavi founded the Robert Mondavi winery and contributed to the pioneering efforts of California’s wine industry post-prohibition. She is considered an ambassador of America’s wine.
2 May 1927 – On this day, Michael Broadbent was born in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Broadbent is a renowned wine critic; he established the Christie wine auctions in the mid-20th century. He abandoned his architectural career, diving into winemaking in 1952. Broadbent was a passionate writer writing more than 400 columns in Decanter Magazine. Interestingly, he also loved women and gossip, making him good company, especially for long-distance travel.
28 July 1927 – On this day, Kathryn Kennedy was born. She is among the first women to establish a vineyard in California during the post-prohibition winery boom. She is famous for her winery’s Cabernet, “packaged in a distinctive silver label that bears her signature.”
January 1928 – On this month, Warren Winiarski was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is a famous winemaker and grower whose Cabernet Sauvignon won in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Winiarski was inducted into the 11th class of California’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Besides, he is a former proprietor of the Stags Leap Wine Cellars winery.
3 March 1932 – On this day, Lalou Bize-Leroy was born in Paris, France. Bize-Leroy owns Domain Leroy and Domain d’Auvenay wineries in Burgundy. She is considered the most powerful woman in the wine industry. Wines from her wineries are always in high demand due to their limited availability. They also command high prices in the region and beyond.
14 April 1933 – On this day, Georges Duboeuf was born in Creches-sur-Saone, France. Duboeuf was one of the famous wine merchants from France. He is known for popularizing the production of Beaujolais wines. Duboeuf was raised in Maconnais, Burgundy, and became a revered negociant.
1935 – In this year, Ann C. Noble was born. Noble is an emeritus professor at the University of California, Davis, a sensory chemist, and inventor of the Wine Aroma Wheel. While working at the university, she researched chemical and sensory factors that affect flavor perception and acceptance leading to the invention of the Wine Aroma Wheel.
30 October 1935 – On this day, Daniel Rogov was born. Rogov is an Israeli wine critic. He has also authored “Rogov’s Guide to Wine.”
23 March 1936 – On this day, Bernard Magrez was born. Magrez owns several prominent Bordeaux wine estates. He is a renowned wine merchant in the world.
12 April 1936 – On this day, Jean-Claude Vrinat. Vrinat was known for his legendary Taillevent restaurant. Taillevent is regarded by many as the pinnacle of French cuisine; the restaurant was established in 1946 by his father. Vrinat, a wine expert, later devoted his life to the restaurant, managing it for over 30 years. The restaurant has received up to three Michelin stars for its exemplary service, especially its wines.
3 August 1936 – On this day, Donald M. Hess was born. Hess is a Swiss winemaker and owner of several wineries in different countries. He is also an art collector known for his Hess Collection of contemporary art.
11 November 1938 – On this day, Justin Meyer was born. Meyer was a winemaker and monk at the Christian Brothers.
8 February 1939 – On this day, Aubert de Villaine was born in Rennes, France. Villaine is a winemaker and a longtime co-director of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. He owns over 50 acres of vineyards in Burgundy and produces some of the most expensive wines. His family has owned Domaine de la Romanee-Conti since 1911. Villaine took charge in 1974 and has been running until this year when he retired.
1945 – In this year, Zelma Long was born. Long is considered to be among women pioneers in California’s wine industry. She is an enologist, vintner, and the first woman to take a major leadership position in the wine industry. Long founded the American Viticulture and Enology Research Network (AVERN) and American Vineyard Foundation to help research viticulture.
24 December 1947 – On this day, Michel Rolland was born in Libourne, France. Rolland is a famous wine consultant and oenologist. He is based in Bordeaux, France, and his expertise in vineyards and cellars has allowed him to consult for more than ten wine organizations across the world.
1949 – In this year, Carole Meredith was born. She is the first to use DNA typing to differentiate different grape varietals. Meridith is the first American geneticist to discover several grape varietals’ parentage, including Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. After retiring, she and her husband, Steve Lagier, resorted to planting grapes at Napa Valley’s Mount Veeder AVA.
15 June 1952 – Rene Renou was born in Angers, France, on this day. Renou was a French winemaker and leader of the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine until his death on 19 June 2006.
7 March 1957 – On this day, Gerard Basset was born. Basset is regarded as a master sommelier who changed people’s perceptions of wine drinking through his Hotel du Vin chain. Basset was the most successful sommelier of his and previous generations. He was the first sommelier awarded the Decanter – Man of the Year award in 2013. Basset won the highest and most prestigious wine award; he was a sommelier world championship holder.
29 September 1958 – On this day, James Suckling was born. Suckling is a famous American wine critic. He is a former European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator 1968 – In this year, Jeannie Cho Lee was born. Cho Lee is a wine critic and became the first Asian Master of Wine in 2008. She is an influential figure in Hong Kong’s wine market.
10 June 1959 – On this day, Alberto Antonini was born. Antonini is a renowned oenologist and winery consultant for many countries, including Italy, the United States, Chile, Canada, and Argentina.
3 March 1960 – On this day, Marie-Therese Chappaz was born. Chappaz is a Swiss winemaker popularly known for her dessert wines that are organically farmed. She is devoted to creating wines that represent their respective terroirs. In 2015, she was named a “Lady of Wine” and an “icon of Swiss wine.”
13 September 1961 – On this day, Pancho Campo was born in Santiago, Chile. He is a former Master of Wine, event organizer, and former tennis player. After successfully completing all wine certification exams, Campo is the first Chilean to attain the Master of Wine title. Besides, he organizes events, specializing in wine, music, and sports.
24 July 1964 – On this day, Bill Moularadellis was born. His parents emigrated from Greece to Australia, where Moularadellis developed his wine business. He is a winemaker, owner, and managing director of Kingston Estate Wines.
20 May 1965 – On this day, Ted Allen was born in Colombus, Ohio. Allen is a television personality, food and wine expert, and author. He has served as a connoisseur for many television programs, including Queer Eye on Bravo network, Chopped cooking competition series, America’s Best Cook and Best. Ever. Allen has also contributed to various wine magazines.
8 November 1969 – On this day, Eric LeVine was born. LeVine is an American entrepreneur that has been credited with the development of GrapeStories, a wine database software. He is the founder and current CEO of GrapeStories.
5 November 1970 – On this day, Monica Larner was born. Larner is a wine critic and reviewer at The Wine Advocate.
18 March 1972 – On this day, Andreas Larsson was born. Larsson is a Swedish sommelier with incredible wine knowledge and tasting abilities. In 2007, he was elected the world’s best sommelier.
10 October 1976 – On this day, Rudy Kurniawan was born. Kurniawan is a convicted wine counterfeiter. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, he came to the United States in the 1990s and established himself as a collector and distributor of fine wines. Kurniawan became a daring for Los Angeles until he was convicted for selling cheap wine as fine wine. William Koch, a wine investor, testified about being conned for 2.1 million dollars. Kurniawan was deported to Indonesia on 8 April 2021.
1978 – In this year, the first South African black female winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela, was born. Biyela currently runs Aslina wines in South Africa.