Albert Winkler

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Albert Winkler

California wine might not have recovered from Prohibition without the University of California, Davis. As head of the school's viticulture and enology department from 1935 to 1957, Albert Winkler laid the foundation for rebirth.

Born in Texas, Winkler obtained his Ph.D. in horticulture at U.C., Berkeley, in 1921 and joined the Davis faculty that same year. After repeal in 1934, Winkler began pushing for improved grapegrowing. His book General Viticulture became an industry bible. His urged growers to plant better vines (during Prohibition, farmers had opted for raisin and table grape varieties). The influential Winkler Scale, developed with Maynard Amerine, was a classification of climate zones by a heat-summation method, which guided vintners to the best grapes to plant depending on how warm or cool their region. Winkler kept pushing until Thompson Seedless and Palomino finally gave way to Cabernet and Chardonnay. He died in 1989.