Ely Callaway, who founded Callaway Vineyard & Winery in Southern California and pioneered Temecula as a grapegrowing region, died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday, July 5, at his home near San Diego. He was 82.
Callaway started his winery in 1969 while president of textile giant Burlington Industries. In 1973, he retired to devote his full time to wine, convinced that the warm and dry climate of Temecula -- situated between Los Angeles and San Diego -- was well-suited for wine grapes.
In 1981, Callaway sold his winery to Hiram Walker for $14 million. Today, it is owned by British wine and spirits giant Allied Domecq.
Callaway used the proceeds of the sale to start Callaway Golf Company, which he eventually built into the world's largest maker of golf clubs. Callaway's best-selling Big Bertha driver helped the company generate $837 million in sales last year.
Son of a textile executive, Ely Callaway was born June 3, 1919, in LaGrange, Ga. He is survived by his three children: Reeves, Lisa and Nicholas Callaway.
A private service is planned in Callaway Gardens, Ga., next week. There will be a memorial service on July 24 at Callaway Golf's headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.
-- Tim Fish