This past weekend, Napa Valley's Beaulieu Vineyard celebrated its 100th anniversary with a series of events that honored four industry leaders, showcased the winery's famed Cabernet and raised money for two charitable causes.
The festivities kicked off on Friday at the winery, in Rutherford, with the "Maestro Awards," honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to the wine community in the past 50 years. Named after BV's late winemaker, the legendary AndrH Tchelistcheff, the awards went to Ernest Gallo of E&J Gallo, Robert Mondavi of Robert Mondavi Winery, John DeLuca of the Wine Institute and Marvin Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator.
A daylong tasting encompassed 47 wines, spanning six decades, with the emphasis on BV's flagship, the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The flights started with the 1942 Private Reserve Cabernet and ranged up to the 1999 vintage with newer additions to BV's lineup, such as Pinot Gris and Syrah.
On Saturday, the party moved to San Francisco with a food-and-wine tasting to benefit Share Our Strength's antihunger program. A celebrity grape stomp -- inspired by a classic episode from the television show I Love Lucy-- pitted eight teams against each other to see who could produce the most juice in 10 minutes. The teams included Lucille Ball look-alikes, the cast of the hit musical Stompand members of the NHL San Jose Sharks and NBA Golden State Warriors. The winning team: the BV winemakers.
The evening was capped off with a gala at the Westin St. Francis, featuring dinner created by four top chefs. A live auction of rare BV wines raised $42,000, which the winery will match, to provide migrant-worker housing in Napa Valley.
BV was founded in 1900 by French immigrant Georges de Latour, who imported phylloxera-resistant rootstock from France to revitalize Napa Valley's vineyards, which were devastated by the disease. Though Prohibition later caused most of the area's wineries to shut down in the 1920s, Latour kept BV operating by making sacramental wine.
In 1938, Latour hired AndrH Tchelistcheff, who shaped the style of BV's wines and helped establish Napa Valley's reputation for world-class Cabernet. After Latour died in 1940, his wife, Fernande de Latour, kept the winery going, while Tchelistcheff built the Private Reserve Cabernet from its first vintage in 1936 into one of California's most famous wines.
Today, BV owns nearly 1,200 acres in Napa Valley and Carneros. It is now part of United Distillers & Vintners, whose holdings also include Glen Ellen, Blossom Hill and M.G. Vallejo in California, as well as overseas producers such as Croft and Delaforce in Oporto, Portugal. Director of winemaking Joel Aiken, who has worked for BV since 1982, has added bottlings such as a Bordeaux-style red blend called Tapestry Reserve, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah and Zinfandel.
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