André Tchelistcheff

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André Tchelistcheff

Napa winemakers called André Tchelistcheff "the doctor" because of his lab coat and scientific approach to winemaking. The nickname fit him well—he brought Napa Valley wine back from the dead.

Born in Russia in 1901, Tchelistcheff traveled and studied winemaking throughout Europe after fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution. When he arrived in California in 1938, the few wineries that had survived Prohibition were producing faulty wines in dirty cellars. As winemaker at Beaulieu Vineyard, Tchelistcheff replaced haphazard techniques with sound methods; his Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour became a benchmark. He also shared his knowledge, establishing a wine lab and hosting seminars. First at BV, where he remained until 1973, and then as a consulting enologist in California, Washington and Oregon, Tchelistcheff mentored myriad winemakers. In 1986, he earned Wine Spectator's Distinguished Service Award. A diminutive figure, he was big in every other way, and his influence has remained widespread even after his death, in 1994.

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