(1937–1998) was one of the pioneers of modern California winemaking
Born on January 20, 1937, he grew up in the San Francisco
suburb of Danville
. He first passion was music, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts
. While at Harvard he restored an entire theater organ in a local Boston
movie theater. After attending Navy OCS, he served on a destroyer in the Pacific earning a commendation as a gunnery officer. His mechanical abilities and love of the subtleties of music and art led him to his real passion and calling; the making of fine wine and sharing the enjoyment of flavors. He and his family purchased Chalone Vineyard
in 1965. In the Judgment of Paris wine competition
, it was ranked third out of ten.
The vineyard grew into the Chalone Wine Group now owned by Diageo
. Graff was one of the first to bring barrel fermentation and aging to the California winemaking industry. He also initiated the practice of malolactic fermentation
of white wines as well as the importation of French oak barrels
into the United States. Graff said "I insist upon the traditional techniques for raising wine which entail minimal handling, so that what comes from the vineyard is carried intact through fermentation
and bottling, into the wine glass."
With his good friends Julia Child
and Robert Mondavi
, he founded the American Institute of Food and Wine.
Richard Graff was killed when his Cessna 182
airplane... Read More