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Chalone Founder Steps Down; Other California Winemakers on the Move


Tim Fish
Posted: September 5, 2001

One of the founders of Chalone Wine Group, Philip Woodward, is leaving after nearly three decades with the Napa Valley-based company. That's just one of a number of recent personnel changes in the California wine industry, including winemaker changes at St. Supéry, Kendall-Jackson, Rutherford Hill and Far Niente wineries.

Woodward is stepping down as chairman of the board for Chalone Wine Group, a publicly held company that includes California brands such as Acacia, Carmenet, Chalone, Echelon and Edna Valley, as well as Washington's Canoe Ridge. Replacing Woodward is Christophe Salin, president of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), the parent company of Château Lafite Rothschild, which owns a 44 percent stake in Chalone.

The late Richard Graff started Chalone Vineyard in the late 1960s, and Woodward helped him found Chalone Wine Group in 1972. Woodward said he will focus his energies on The Chalone Wine Foundation, a nonprofit organization he started in 1997.

In Napa Valley, St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery -- which is known for Cabernet, Chardonnay and Bordeaux-style blends -- is losing its winemaker. Michael Scholz is taking over the winemaking duties atWattle Creek Winery in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. The estate makes about 10,000 cases a year of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier. The Australian-born Scholz, who has been with St. Supéry for six years, is overseeing the 2001 harvest for both wineries.

At Rutherford Hill Winery in Napa Valley, David Dobson has signed on as winemaker for the red wine program, which includes Cabernet and Merlot, joining Kent Barthman, who oversees the whites.

Dobson had been lead winemaker at Kendall-Jackson Winery's Vinwood Cellars in Sonoma County. Replacing Dobson at Vinwood is his former assistant winemaker, Damian Grindley.

Stephanie Putnam is the new winemaker at Far Niente Winery, which is known for its Cabernet and Chardonnay. She was previously winemaker at another Napa Valley estate, The Hess Collection Winery. Putnam replaces Ashley Heisey, who plans to make wine under her own label.

Greg Allen has been named winemaker for Dolce, Far Niente's late-harvest dessert wine. He was previously assistant winemaker at Dolce.

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