Richard Ward


Decanter - - A MONTH IN WINE -

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.

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