Richard Ward, champion of the Carneros wine region and co-founder of Saintsbury Winery, passed away on 27 May at the age of 67, following a long battle with cancer.
Born in North Carolina, Ward studied structural engineering at Tufts University. He then decided to move to California, where he gained a degree in oenology from UC Davis.
It was there, during a brewing class, that Ward met his future business partner David Graves. The pair soon discovered a shared passion for Burgundy, though at that time very little Pinot Noir or Chardonnay was planted in California.
They were convinced that Pinot could thrive even in Napa, and in 1981 they founded their own winery in Carneros — which they named for scholar and oenophile George Saintsbury, author of the iconic Notes on a Cellarbook.
Determined to succeed, they implemented Burgundian practices in their Pinot and Chardonnay vineyards, adapting them where necessary to the differing climate and pioneering the use of single-vineyard bottling. Two years later, Carneros was officially recognised as an AVA (American Viticultural Area).
Ward is survived by his wife and two children, who are planning a memorial in his honour this summer.