One of the California wine industry's valuable allies, Napa County Farm Advisor Ed Weber, died suddenly while on a bike ride near Yountville, Calif., on Dec. 31. He was 51. Though he seldom made it into the limelight, Weber, who had vast expertise with wine and grapes, had a substantial impact on the region, working diligently behind the scenes on behalf of Napa's winemakers and growers.
Weber was highly respected among wine writers and grapegrowers alike, who relied upon him to translate into plain English the latest information on anything related to growing grapes. Along with sharing his knowledge of winegrape production and rootstocks, he kept on top of potential threats to Napa's vineyards such as phylloxera, Pierce's disease, glassy-winged sharpshooters, vine mealybugs and other pests, informing growers of the latest developments and findings on prevention and control.
"Ed made himself a valuable part of the fabric of the Napa Valley," said longtime Napa grower Andy Beckstoffer, owner of Beckstoffer Vineyards. "He was always available."
Weber started his career as a viticulturist for Joseph Phelps in the early 1980s. In 1988, he accepted a job with the University of California Cooperative Extension as viticulture farm advisor for Napa County. Later he became county director, holding that position until his death.
Sonoma County Farm Advisor Rhonda Smith, who worked closely with Weber for many years, said, "People wanted to work with him and had an enormous amount of respect for him. When he saw an issue of concern to the Napa Valley industry, he jumped in. His follow-through was remarkable."
Weber is survived by his wife, Anne Jungerman, and their three sons. A public memorial service will be held at Beaulieu Vineyards on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Owen, Grady and Reid Weber College Fund through the Trancas St. branch of Washington Mutual Bank.
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