(Russian: Андрей Челищев,
America's most influential post-Prohibition
winemaker. Tchelistcheff is most
notable for his contributions toward defining the style of California's best wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.
"dean of American winemakers", industry giants such as Robert Mondavi
and Louis Martini considered
him their mentor.
Childhood and Education
Born to an
aristocratic family in Moscow, Russia in 1901,
Tchelistcheff's father was Chief Justice of the Russian Imperial
Court. Tchelistcheff studied at the military academy
at Kiev, but returned to his family when they were forced
to flee Moscow due to the Russian Revolution of
From 1918-1921, Tchelistcheff fought with the
in the Russian Civil War
. In 1921, he was left
for dead on a Crimean battlefield after his unit was machine-gunned
during a snowstorm. He eventually recovered and was reunited with
his family, who fled Russia to Yugoslavia
leaving Russia, Tchelistcheff studied agricultural technology in
Czechoslovakia and then continued his education in France at both the
Institut Pasteur and the Institut National Agronomique, where he
studied oenology, fermentation and microbiology.
Vineyards (BV) founder
and owner Georges de Latour visited France in search of a new
winemaker who had a cosmopolitan and scientific background.
introduced to Tchelistcheff at the French National Agronomy
Institute where Andre was working, along with research he was doing
at the Pasteur
introduction came through the auspices of Leon Bonnet, Emeritus
Professor at University of California,
Berkeley and a BV consultant.
had already received offers from winemakers worldwide, he agreed to
join Beaulieu Vineyard, and arrived in Napa Valley
, California in September, 1938
as BV's vice president and chief winemaker.
Tchelistcheff's impact at BV was immediate and profound: he
concentrated his efforts on defining a style for high-quality
California Cabernet Sauvignon, and created the "Georges de Latour
Private Reserve" label. He introduced new techniques and procedures
to the region, such as aging wine in small French Oak barrels.
mid-1940s, "Private Reserve" was widely recognized as the benchmark
for California Cabernet Sauvignon, and was served at all important
The shift to using small American
oak barrels took place after the US entered WWII, and became an
accepted tradition at BV under Tchelistcheff and his successors
Tchelistcheff provided significant
contributions to the techniques of cold fermentation, vineyard
frost prevention, malolactic
fermentation, and the development of winemaking regions in
Carneros, California, Oregon and Washington.
He remained vice president of Beaulieu Vineyards until his
retirement in 1973. He also operated a private wine laboratory
Helena and consulted to Joseph Heitz, Mike Grgich, Joel Aiken, Jordan, Neibaum/Coppola, Buena Vista Winery, Erath Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle
, and Columbia Crest Winery.
While consulting for Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington,
Tchelistcheff also gave winemaking advice to his nephew, Alex
Golitzin. After four years as an amateur winemaker,
and encouraged by his uncle, Golitzin founded Quilceda Creek Vintners in Snohomish,
Washington, a winery that would eventually achieve three
100-point scores for its Columbia
Valley AVA Cabernet Sauvignon from wine critic Robert Parker.
A man of diminutive stature (4'11"), his quick wit, sharp
intellect, and legendarily refined palate endeared him to three
generations of California winemakers, who affectionately referred
to him as the "Maestro."
- Wine Spectator Distinguished Service Award, 1986.
- Wine Man of the Year, Wine Industry Technical Symposium,
- Reader's Choice Award, The Person Who Has Done the Most to
Advance Wine Quality, Wine Spectator 2000
- COPIA Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004.
- Vintners Hall of Fame (Created by the Culinary Institute of
America), March 2007