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Duckhorn's Top Winemaker Leaves for New Chalone Brand

Daniel Sogg
Posted: June 7, 2000

Tom Rinaldi, one of Napa Valley's most knowledgeable and experienced winemakers, will leave his position as Duckhorn Vineyards' executive winemaker on July 1 to take over Chalone Wine Group's upcoming Napa Valley brand.

In February, Chalone purchased Hewitt Vineyard, comprising 57 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Rutherford appellation, for $14.5 million. Rinaldi will make a single-vineyard wine with those grapes, along with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and Carneros fruit purchased from grower Andy Beckstoffer. Chalone Wine Group plans to build a winemaking facility for the as-yet-unnamed luxury brand.

Rinaldi has been with Duckhorn since the St. Helena winery's first vintage, in 1978. Under his guidance, Duckhorn became a trendsetting producer of Napa Valley Merlot and an excellent Cabernet estate.

Chalone CEO Tom Selfridge pursued Rinaldi for six months before he accepted the position. "I'm particularly pleased that Tom will be at the helm when the first grapes come in from Andy Beckstoffer and the Hewitt property," said Selfridge.

"I wasn't convinced until I saw the Hewitt property," said Rinaldi. "That's a jewel of a site, and it's a great opportunity. I have heartfelt sadness about leaving Duckhorn, but I'm leaving at a time when they're relatively self-sufficient, and it's time to take on a new challenge."

Remaining with Duckhorn are winemakers Mark Beringer, who oversees the Duckhorn and Decoy brands; Tony Biagi, who produces Paraduxx; and Bruce Regalia, who is in charge of the company's Goldeneye Pinot Noir, from Mendocino, and its King Eider vermouth.

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Check out recent ratings of Duckhorn, Decoy and Paraduxx wines.

Read recent news about Chalone Wine Group:

  • March 28, 2000
    Chalone Buys Napa Valley's Jade Mountain Winery

  • March 1, 2000
    Chalone Purchases Second Cabernet Vineyard in Napa Valley

  • Feb. 1, 2000
    Chalone Gets Serious About Napa Valley Cabernet

  • Jan. 27, 2000
    Chalone Wine Group Debuts All-Red Sagelands Brand

    Read recent news about Duckhorn Vineyards

  • Aug. 28, 1999
    California's Duckhorn Vineyards Plans Tasting Room

  • Nov. 25, 1998
    Duckhorn Pushes the Envelope on Napa Land Values

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