Tom Rinaldi, one of Napa Valley's most knowledgeable and experienced winemakers, will leave his position as Duckhorn Vineyards' executive winemaker on July 1 to take over Chalone Wine Group's upcoming Napa Valley brand.
In February, Chalone purchased Hewitt Vineyard, comprising 57 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Rutherford appellation, for $14.5 million. Rinaldi will make a single-vineyard wine with those grapes, along with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and Carneros fruit purchased from grower Andy Beckstoffer. Chalone Wine Group plans to build a winemaking facility for the as-yet-unnamed luxury brand.
Rinaldi has been with Duckhorn since the St. Helena winery's first vintage, in 1978. Under his guidance, Duckhorn became a trendsetting producer of Napa Valley Merlot and an excellent Cabernet estate.
Chalone CEO Tom Selfridge pursued Rinaldi for six months before he accepted the position. "I'm particularly pleased that Tom will be at the helm when the first grapes come in from Andy Beckstoffer and the Hewitt property," said Selfridge.
"I wasn't convinced until I saw the Hewitt property," said Rinaldi. "That's a jewel of a site, and it's a great opportunity. I have heartfelt sadness about leaving Duckhorn, but I'm leaving at a time when they're relatively self-sufficient, and it's time to take on a new challenge."
Remaining with Duckhorn are winemakers Mark Beringer, who oversees the Duckhorn and Decoy brands; Tony Biagi, who produces Paraduxx; and Bruce Regalia, who is in charge of the company's Goldeneye Pinot Noir, from Mendocino, and its King Eider vermouth.
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