Before celebrating the new year and ushering in 2008, Wine Spectator's editors would like to remember some of the industry pioneers, winemakers, distributors and all-around champions of wine who died in 2007. This year we said goodbye to iconic vintners in their 90s such as E. & J. Gallo's Ernest Gallo, Château Lafite's Baron Elie de Rothschild and New Zealand pioneer Nikolo Nobilo, as well as accomplished winemakers in the prime of life. Following are some of the noteworthy names the wine industry will miss in 2008.
Lance Baer, the owner-winemaker of Baer Winery in Woodinville, Wash., succumbed to liver failure at age 38. Baer's outstanding Bordeaux-style Columbia Valley reds made him one of Washington's young winemakers to watch.
Lifelong Sonoma grapegrower Gene Cuneo died at age 94. His old-vine Zinfandel vineyard was a favorite among some of Sonoma's most respected Zin makers, including Rodney Strong and Pete Seghesio.
Cartoonist Phil Frank, who created the Elderberries and Farley comic strips, died at age 64. He created the Chateau Dafitte cartoon strip for Wine Spectator, which ran for eight years, ending in 1993.
California icon Ernest Gallo, who founded the E. & J. Gallo empire with his brother Julio in 1933, died at age 97. He is often credited as the father of modern California winemaking and restoring the California wine industry after the repeal of Prohibition.
Cheesemaker Joseph Gallo, who worked with his brothers Ernest and Julio at the family's winery until the 1960s, when he started his own ranch and dairy farm, died at age 87. Joseph Farms eventually became one of California's largest producers of cheese.
Austrian winemaker Alois Kracher died of cancer at the age of 48. His famed sweet wines routinely earned high ratings and he was a tireless supporter of Austrian wines.
Norman de Leuze
Napa pioneer Norman de Leuze died at the age of 75 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. ZD, his Napa winery, was founded in 1969, and he was one of the first to make wine from grapes grown in Carneros.
Charismatic and pioneering fine wine director of Southern Wine and Spirits in Florida, Jimmy Mancbach died of complications from diabetes at age 56. Upon his death, many of his friends in the wine business established the Jimmy Mancbach Memorial Scholarship Fund at his request.
Sonoma-Cutrer assistant winemaker Elliott Millett died at age 43 after a long illness. He joined the winery in 2002 to assist with the launch of its Pinot Noir.
New Zealand table wine pioneer Nikola Nobilo, who led the country's transition from fortified wines to dry vinifera table wines, died at age 94. Nobilo's family had been making wine for more than 300 years when he settled in New Zealand in 1937, soon afterward planting vines in Auckland.
Napa vintner and grapegrower Richard Perry was killed in a car accident in the Sierra Foothills at age 65. The passionate farmer championed Coombsville Cabernet and also sold grapes from his vineyard to Stags' Leap Winery and Dunn Vineyards.
Baron Elie de Rothschild
Château Lafite Rothschild's Baron Elie de Rothschild, who was Baron Eric de Rothschild's predecessor as head of the family winery, died of a heart attack at age 90. A World War II prisoner of war, Rothschild restored the winery's buildings and vineyards in 1946 after they had been taken over by the Nazis during their occupation of France and he was instrumental to the winery's success with the 1947 vintage.
Virginia vintner and direct-shipping champion Juanita Swedenburg died at age 82. The lead plaintiff in Swedenburg v. Kelly, which challenged New York state's laws that banned out-of-state wineries from shipping bottles directly to in-state consumers, Swedenburg's case eventually wound up before the Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in 2005.
Austrian winemaker Erich Salomon succumbed to cancer after a five-year battle at the age of 64. Salomon managed the Salomon Undhof winery, one of the country's leading producers of dry table wines.
Elinor "Nonie" Travers
Mayacamas vintner Nonie Travers died of cancer at age 69. Travers and her husband, Bob, rejuvenated the Mayacamas vineyards and winery in the 1960s and became iconic if low-profile Napa vintners based on the long and outstanding track record of their chewy, ageworthy, mountain-grown Cabernets and flinty Chardonnays.
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