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This Year's Candidates for the Vintners Hall of Fame

Many of you had a lot of things to say a couple of months ago when I wrote a post entitled Who Should Be in the Vintners Hall of Fame? It was great to see such a passionate tide of enthusiasm for inducting various winemakers and historical wine personalities.

Those of us that make up the nominating committee talked a lot about many of the names suggested, and about many of the names that weren't suggested, and after much debate and voting, we've come up with the names for this years ballot.

That ballot has been mailed out to the wine writers in the Culinary Institute of America's database and the voting has begun.

The full details on who is on the ballot and some wise words about those who perhaps didn't get on the ballot have been published by my colleague Blake Gray on his fine blog The Gray Market Report. Those of you who felt strongly about the ballot are welcome to offer your thoughts and criticisms on this year's candidates.

And if you are a professional wine writer and you haven't received a ballot, you should definitely let Blake know.

See this year's candidates for election into the Vintners Hall of Fame on The Gray Market Report.

Comments (8)

Lynn Alley wrote:
08.28.10 at 6:27 AM

Blake, how can I make a suggestion to the nominating committee for next year? Presumably it is too late to nominate F.T. Bioletti, the University's first professor of viticulture and first department head, for this year, but I'd love to see him nominated and feel he is a much more suitable candidate than Eugene Hilgard. As a wine writer and historian, I have some knowledge of the role Bioletti played in the development of the program at UCD as it exists today and would love to nominate him.

lynn Alley wrote:
08.28.10 at 6:28 AM

Ooops....sorry Alder.....meant Alder and was thinking of Blake!

Richard Leland wrote:
08.30.10 at 10:17 AM

It’s kind of amusing to see Fred Franzia’s name on the ballot. Just to be clear; is this the same Fred Franzia who was banned by the courts from working in the wine business after he was caught selling wine labeled Zinfandel that didn’t have a drop of Zinfandel in the bottle? The guy who repeatedly sold wine (until he was stopped by the courts) with labels that said “Napa“, “Rutherford”, etc. despite the fact that there wasn’t any Napa Valley wine in the bottle? I’m confused - is this the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Shame?

08.30.10 at 9:27 PM

The learned Mr. Leland makes a good point. Despite King Freddy of Franzia's enormous financial success and marketing acumen, it is hard to see that he has, on balance, done enough to be on the ballot, let alone in the VHF.

I am not a fan of letting Pete Rose into the Baseball HoF, but I would rather see the guy who got more base hits than anyone in the history of baseball into his HoF than Franzia in the VHF.

Blake's blog suggests that low vote-getters are often dropped out. I would be surprised if King Freddy survives this round.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
08.30.10 at 9:29 PM


Please send Blake a note about specifically why Bioletti is better than Hilgard and that will do the trick.


Another way of looking at Franzia is the guy who introduces more Americans to wine in any given year than just about any other. Franzia has a checkered past to be sure, but his impact on California wine has been net positive, no matter how much he raises the blood pressure of the Napa Valley Vintners, etc.

Thanks for the comments. A

Bill McIver wrote:
09.06.10 at 4:23 PM

I say hats off to Felonious Freddie. Sure, blessing the harvest with Carignane and calling it Zin deserved him legal censure. But, if purity of character was a Hall of Fame virtue, you surely would have to remove Ernest & Julio. Richard's right and Freddie's standing up to Napa elitists alone should put him in the Hall.

Mel Knox wrote:
09.07.10 at 12:08 PM

I was completely amazed to see the nominating committee ignore many of my suggestions. This has never happened before.

Fred Franzia has introduced people to wine?? Can this be demonstrated by anybody who doesn't work for Mr I Can make carignane into Zinfandel?? Or has he introduced people to cheap wine with a cork?? Isn't his forte bottling jug wine in 750s and putting a cork in there?? To me, his best work is an addendum to what Gallo has done.

If we divide up nominees by region:
Sonoma/Lake/Mendo: Sangiacomo, Jed Steele, Joel P,
South of SF: Josh and Richard..Josh lives around the corner from me, so I want to see him in.
Napa: Nils, Randy, and Bob T.

Central valley: Andy Q and fred felon.

Academic: Vince Petrucci, Vern S and C Sullivan

Political: John de Luca

Writer: RMP Jr.

I was surprised not to see one of the following: Helen Turley, Dave Ramey, Jim Clendenen, Ric Forman, Chuck Ortman, a winemaker from Carneros, Ed Selyem and B Williams, Peter Mondavi (is he in already?), Steve Kistler and Tom Jordan.

In the deceased group, I thought we might see either Martin Ray or Joe Swan. Martin's problem to me is that he alienated a lot of people and kept a lot of secrets whereas Joe shared his wisdom with so many.

And why wasn't I nominated? The whole thing must be rigged.

11.18.14 at 9:44 AM

You are so awesome! I do not think I have read anything like this before.
So good to find another person with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.

This website is one thing that is required on the
web, someone with some originality!

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