Richard Peterson

Richard Peterson
Richard Peterson

Winemaker & Author of award-winning book “The Winemaker”, Napa, CA

Dr. Peterson began his career as a home winemaker in 1948 in Iowa. After receiving his B.S. degree in Chemical Technology from Iowa State University in 1952 and M.S. degree in Food Technology in 1956 from the University of California, Berkeley, and Ph.D. in Agricultural Chemistry from the University of California, he joined the E. & J. Gallo Winery in New Product Development and Research in 1958. His highest positions held in his ten years at Gallo were Research Director and Assistant Production Manager in charge of winemaking.

From 1968 through 1973 Dr. Peterson replaced Andre Tchelistcheff as Wine Master at Beaulieu Vineyard at Rutherford in Napa Valley. From 1974 through 1986 he was Wine Master and President of The Monterey Vineyard, producing unique wines such as December Harvest Zinfandel, California’s first Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc, Botrytis Pinot Noir, and January Harvest Gamay Beaujolais. From 1986 through 1990, he was Wine Master and President of Atlas Peak Vineyards
(Chairman from April 1989).

At Atlas Peak, Dr. Peterson developed 450 acres of vineyard from virgin, volcanic soil, pioneering California’s largest Sangiovese planting to date. He designed and supervised excavation of California’s most extensive winery storage caves (40,000 sq. ft.), oversaw construction of a 960 acre-foot reservoir, and produced the first three vintages of Atlas Peak wines. Along with several other investors, he purchased the Folie a Deux Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley (sold to Trinchero in 2004). Today, he continues as viticulture and enology consultant for several small, high quality winery operations.

Dr. Peterson has been a professional member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture since 1959, a Director (1973 – 1975), and its President (1977 – 1978). He was a long time director of the Wine Institute, Chairman of WITS, a Supreme Knight in the Universal Order of Knights of the Vine, and a member of most professional wine societies. These include: Les Amis du Vin, International Wine and Food Society, W.I.N.O., Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotiesseurs, Napa Valley Wine Technical Group, Institute of Food Technologists, and a founding member of the American Institute of Wine and Food, AWARE, Society of Wine Educators, and the International Wine Academy.

Dr. Peterson was Napa Valley Wine Library Vice President and Instructor of Wine Appreciation (1968 – 1974). He taught wine appreciation in moderation courses for twelve years at Hartnell College in Salinas, California and has lectured frequently on wine appreciation at the Hotel School at the University of Houston, Texas and elsewhere. He has judged wines professionally in Australia, Portugal, France, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, as well as in most major American competitions. He lectures on Viticulture and Enology at the International Wine Academy.

Dr. Peterson is the author of numerous publications, winery newsletters, research articles in technical journals, magazine columns on winemaking and was America On-Line docent for wine from 1988 through 2004. He holds two patents on improved wine production processing. He designed the steel barrel pallet which is now used by most of California’s wineries and gave the design to the industry (1974) rather than patenting it. As a consultant, he created several new wines, including Lancers Vinho Branco (in Portugal), the J. Wile line of varietal wines, wine coolers and all the original Taylor California Cellars varietal and generic table wines and champagnes.


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