Maestro

André Tchelistcheff and the Rebirth of Napa Valley

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Pub Date 01 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 01 Jul 2021

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Description

Wine insiders called André Tchelistcheff the “winemaker’s winemaker,” the “wine doctor,” and simply “maestro.” After Prohibition brought Napa Valley and its wine industry to the brink of catastrophe, Tchelistcheff (1901–94) proved essential in its revitalization.

Tchelistcheff’s unique background—a sickly child, a Russian émigré forced from his homeland during the Bolshevik Revolution, a White Army lieutenant who fought in the Crimea, a physical laborer in a Bulgarian coal mine, a Czechoslovakian-trained agronomist, and a French-schooled viticulturist and enologist—prepared him for a remarkable winemaking career. He spent thirty-five years in Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyard and nearly two “post-retirement” decades doing freelance consulting work for more than thirty wineries.

His early struggles forged his principal character traits, which he passed on to an entire generation of winemakers. His students, including some of the most accomplished winemakers of the post-Prohibition period, marveled over their mentor’s sense of authority, profound insight, humble presence, and abundant wisdom.

This inspiring account of Tchelistcheff’s life includes interviews with friends, family, and mentees, which reveal how one man used his passion and knowledge to help save a community on the edge of disaster. In Maestro James O. Gump preserves the memory of a fascinating individual and one of the most influential winemakers of the modern era.
 

Wine insiders called André Tchelistcheff the “winemaker’s winemaker,” the “wine doctor,” and simply “maestro.” After Prohibition brought Napa Valley and its wine industry to the brink of catastrophe...


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Featured Reviews

Wine is one of my favorite things in life, and in my earlier days I worked in the retail/restaurant sector. Andre Tchelistcheff is recognized as one of the pioneers of the new world wine industry and has shaped California wine's today. From his childhood in Russia in 1901 to eventually California where he was the wine maker at BV vineyards and a consultant and mentor to many others, this book details his life. It was a great insiders look about this genius oenophile that helped shape the wine business, as we know it today. Even though it was fascinating, I wish there was less information about the Russian culture which probably could have been covered in less detail. There are thousands of books written on the subject of wine, but this is a must read for all food and wine lovers.

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This is a wonderful biography of the father of Napa Valley, André Tchelistcheff. As a long-time Napa resident and former Hueblein employee, I greatly appreciated this engaging biography of a wonderful man.

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