2019: In Memoriam

Remembering the innovators, luminaries, friends and family of the wine industry who died this year

2019: In Memoriam
From left: John Shafer, Jean-Bernard Delmas, Adelle "Boots" Brounstein and Burt Williams (Courtesy of Shafer Vineyards, Francois Poincet/Occit'Media, Deepix Studio, Kent Hanson)
Dec 30, 2019

Before we take our first steps into the new decade, Wine Spectator's editors would like to take a few moments to remember those from the wine industry that passed this year—pioneers, standard-bearers and loved ones, all.

Napa lost some great ones in 2019, including Adelle "Boots" Brounstein, co-founder of Diamond Creek winery, and John Shafer, founder of Shafer Vineyards. Bordeaux likewise mourned the passing of old-guard legend and longtime Haut-Brion winemaker Jean-Bernard Delmas. And we were saddened to learn of the passing of Williams Selyem founding winemaker Burt Williams, whose wines changed the way we look at California Pinot Noir. We'll fondly remember these members of our community that we lost in 2019.

Ned Benedict
Ned Benedict always brought something new to the conversation.

Ned Benedict
A highly regarded and well-liked buyer of Burgundy, Ned Benedict was a fixture in the New York wine scene.


Chris Bilbro
Chris Bilbro made wine with passion for 40 years, and passed that love down to his sons. (Courtesy of the Bilbro family)

Chris Bilbro
Championing lesser-praised old varieties in Sonoma, Marietta Cellars founder Chris Bilbro focused on bold red blends before they were trendy and set an example for his sons—three of whom went on to become winemakers.


Adelle Brounstein
Boots Brounstein spoke to a crowd of 2,000 at the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience in 2016. (Deepix Studio)

Adelle "Boots" Brounstein
Adelle "Boots" Brounstein was the heart and soul of Diamond Creek winery, which pioneered terroir-focused single-vineyard Cabernets in Napa.


Jim Caudill
Jim Caudill was known for his huge network of friends and colleagues in the world of wine. (Courtesy of Treasury Wine Estates)

Jim Caudill
Catapulting the brands he represented through his seemingly endless network of friendships and acquaintances, wine industry PR legend Jim Caudill represented some of California's biggest wine names over the span of three decades.


Jean-Bernard Delmas
Jean-Bernard Delmas was a winemaking visionary who helped modernize Château Haut-Brion. (Francois Poincet/Occit'Media)

Jean-Bernard Delmas
Born at Château Haut-Brion, Jean-Bernard Delmas spent 42 years improving quality at the Bordeaux first-growth, and made outstanding wines at La Mission Haut-Brion and Montrose as well.


Jean Gautreau
Originally a wine merchant, Jean Gautreau purchased Bordeaux's neglected Sociando-Mallet estate in 1969 and revitalized it.


André Lurton
André Lurton believed in promoting Bordeaux's unsung vineyards and regions. (Alain Benoit)

André Lurton
Bordeaux legend and advocate for the region's lesser-esteemed vineyards and terroirs, André Lurton was an ambassador for the region and an innovator.


Michael Lynne
Former president of New Line Cinema production company and New York native Michael Lynne bought Long Island's Bedell Cellars in 2000 and turned it into a local leader in quality and sustainability.


John Shafer
John Shafer believed the Stags Leap District had a special terroir. (Courtesy Shafer Vineyards)

John Shafer
Napa pioneer John Shafer's Hillside Select cult Cabernet helped put the Stags Leap District on the map.


Gianfranco Soldera
Dedicated and outspoken, Gianfranco Soldera was a relentless defender of Brunello, adhering to traditional methods at his Case Basse winery in Tuscany.


Burt Williams
Burt Williams helped put Sonoma Pinot Noir on the wine map. (Kent Hanson)

Burt Williams
Self-taught winemaker Burt Williams co-founded Williams Selyem winery and was instrumental in starting California's love affair with Pinot Noir.

More Best of 2019

See More

Unfiltered Predictions for 2020

Jan 9, 2020

Best Unfiltered Stories of the Decade

Jan 3, 2020

Top Stories of 2019

Dec 30, 2019

Dr. Vinny's Top 15 Questions of the Decade

Dec 27, 2019

Dr. Vinny's Tips for Holiday Entertaining with Wine

Dec 25, 2019

News Best of 2019 Obituaries

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