Thank you Blake Leja, Rachael Ryan, and Aaron Fry for chiming in last week on Gravity Flow!
This week: California History
How did André Tchelistcheff influence California winemaking?
The list of influences from André is extensive. Based on the primitive conditions he found after arriving in 1938, he replaced faulty winery equipment that was leeching metallic flavors in wine, he implemented cold fermentations for white and rosé wines, he stopped oversulfering of wines, stopped adding ice (not dry ice...ice ice) to grapes as they were being crushed, controlled malolactic fermentations in red wine, and added glass enameling to tanks in the days before stainless steel was available.
He also focused on site selection for specific varieties and was the first to plant Pinot and Chardonnay in Carneros and advocated planting Pinot Gris in Oregon and Cab Sauv in Washington. On a tangent, he's responsible for the lion's share of vineyard locations and vine selection in Washington when he consulted there heavily in the 70s.
He introduced a new benchmark for quality in California with BV's Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. He also mentored a great deal of California winemakers that would go on to become giants in their own right (Heitz, Grgich, Mondavi, Martini, amongst others). Additionally, while consulting for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1974, he found that the wines from Cask 23 were particularly beautiful and distinct, thus leading to it being bottled separately, starting the tradition of one of their mainstay upper-echelon offerings.