OWN AN ARCHIVE OF NAPA VALLEY VINTAGE WINE HISTORY. NAPA VALLEY CLASS OF 1972. PLUS Original AP Photo 1972 Newspaper Clipping featuring a young Tom Burgess for the first time as a Napa Winemaker. This sale’s original AP Photo documents the very first national press for Burgess Cellars. My receipt is included in your archive to document chain of ownership. The sale was administered by Kahn’s Fine Wines of Indianapolis. We decanted the historic vintages in 2012 and 2013. Each bottle’s contents were remarkable and very different from the others. The wines varied from extremely dry and dusty to luscious and raisiny like a port. It was always a fun conversation starter, especially when drinking a new vintage of Burgess cabs. I bought a condo where there is no wine cellar or I wouldn’t be parting with this archive. Tom was one of the vintners instrumental in what I call the second Golden Age of Napa Valley winemaking, the first was in the 1880s, but in the early 1970s there was a second wave. Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible” and wine educator and consultant. Tom didn’t come to Napa Valley because it was famous, he was one of the pioneers who made it famous. There are others who also think of the influx of new vintners in 1972 as a critical year for thrusting the Napa Valley into the world spotlight. As Paul Franson wrote in Decanter magazine in 2001, 1972 was the year California winemaking began in earnest. The year when more important wineries were formed than during any other year in the 300 years of winemaking. Two wineries founded in that year, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, changed the course of California winemaking in Steven Spurrier’s famous’Judgment of Paris’ tasting four years later.. It also saw the birth of cult favorites Burgess Cellars, Diamond Creek and Silver Oak, as well as Carneros Creek, Clos du Val and Dry Creek Vineyards. The vineyards on the estate were originally planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel in the 1880s by Italian brothers Carlo and Fulgenzio Rossini. When Tom Burgess acquired the property in 1972, he was able to produce these core wines from the original vineyard plantings. By the 1990s, the focus was only on Cabernet Sauvignon, however, parts of the “1880 Estate Vineyard” have recently been replanted, and the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah were brought back to life. Always enamored by the beauty of Napa Valley, pilot Tom Burgess came to the region in the 1970s to explore the vineyards for sale. He selected the most interesting of the six available: a hillside vineyard on Howell Mountain planted in the 1880s by Swiss-Italian immigrants. Tom Burgess passed away at home on February 3rd. Tom was born in Cuyahoga Falls, OH in September of 1939 to Otis and Phyllis Burgess. Growing up in and around Akron and Cuyahoga Valley National Park made Tom proud of Ohio and America. His father, Otis, was a co-founder of Morse Controls. Tom attended Miami University in Oxford, OH where he majored in Geology and Aeronautics. He joined the Air Force ROTC in college and went on to serve over 5 years. He earned incredible assignments in the Air Force, flying Project Gemini astronauts around in a C-135. He met and became lifelong friends with Neil Armstrong on one of these flights when Neil had to splash down in the South Pacific unplanned, then needed a ride to Honolulu. Tom was the first to pilot a jet-powered aircraft to a number of African airports, and he would transport data tapes for NASA and the DOD from South Africa to Florida. This was amongst the first times these long, oversea routes were taken. When the Vietnam War escalated, Tom was re-assigned to fly C-123s in Southeast Asia. While in the Air Force, he would fly to Travis Air Force Base and rent a car to visit the wine country. After an honorary discharge, he took a job at IBM, where he was quickly recognized and was groomed to fly VIPs, including Tom Watson Jr. Soon thereafter, in San Francisco, Tom met Linda and they married in 1969. His early exposure to wine in Ohio, and then international travel provided him the wisdom and intelligence to make his next move: Tom the Vintner. There were about six wineries for sale at the time, but one stood out. The former Souverain winery with its mountain fruit, heritage of gold and silver medals, and a home to start a family in was choice. The harvest of 1972 was a tough one for Napa, but these brush breakers persevered. During the first harvest, their first child was born too. From wine shops to restaurants, from state to state, he used shoe leather to build his business. In fact, Tom was the first to sell a California wine to a couple of major distributors! His Midwest personality and work ethic served well Burgess Cellars and the Napa Valley region as a whole. Tom recounted being almost kicked out of a few stores in New York and Boston, with the guys behind the counter scoffing and saying California wine was no good. They tried Burgess wines anyway because Tom was a nice guy, and became life-long fans. Tom found himself co-presenting with Julia Child at the Boston Wine Festival. Tom worked early and hard every day, and would relax on warm evenings with a cigar overlooking the Napa Valley from the porch. Tom remained a private pilot and flew hundreds of customers, distributor salespeople, and press up for flights over the Napa Valley. He flew his fully aerobatic Siai Marchetti SF 260C in airshows at the Angwin and Truckee airports. By 1998 Tom started to retire, spending his summers in the south of France, returning for the harvest excitement back at the winery. Tom squeezed in massive amounts of life during his years, only slowing down for the last few. In 2004, after running the winery for 32 years, Tom asked his adult children to come back and work with him. After decades of firsts and brush breaking, Tom enjoyed a long retirement of family lunch rituals, summers in France, and dear friends. The vineyard has been farmed for 130 years and features 40 year-old plantings on a 27 percent slope. For the last twenty years, Burgess Cellars has been farmed has been managed by the second generation of the family. Steven and Jim Burgess continued their father’s tradition of producing age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet and Zinfandel are the flagship varieties, the brand has included Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Chardonnay. My brother Jim and our winemaker Kelly Woods are all so proud of our accomplishments. It’s been such a pleasure being a part of this business but it was time to evolve, Steven Burgess, the winery’s president told. As members of a pioneering Napa Valley family, my brother Jim and I are pleased to now pass on this extraordinary estate that our parents developed fifty years ago to the Lawrence family and Carlton McCoy, Jr. Bill Sorenson was the winemaker for 41 vintages until handing the reins over to Kelly Woods in 2013. Prior to being owned by the Burgess Family, Lee Stewart owned the property starting in 1943, calling it Souverain Winery. Two of Napa’s best-known winemakers, Warren Winiarski, and Mike Grgich, worked at Souverain. Tom Burgess passed away in 2017. Finding out later on that they are the same vineyards and estates as the original sauveron by Lee Stewart further confirmed what could be made on that vineyard. McCoy said Meghan Zobeck, previously with Atelier Melka and Trois Noix, has been hired as winemaker and will lead a conversion to biodynamic farming. “I would have preferred to have stayed on the production side of things, but when your name is on the bottle, you’re on the road, ” he said. He said he’s already consulting while his brother Jim retains the Haymaker Vineyard and his separate vineyard management career. “I’m not going to make wine, ” Steven Burgess said. There’s too many wineries in the Napa. There were two dozen when my parents started – Now there are 500 wineries and 2,000 brands. I’m not going to add to the problem. Burgess also noted that the wine business has changed. “It isn’t the same Napa Valley my father committed himself to in 1972 and it isn’t the same Napa Valley I committed myself to in 1990, ” he said. It’s inevitable that with independent small family wineries, something is going to have to happen. They either have to be part of a group; or of a consolidated marketing effort to be more efficient; or they’re going to have to get bought up if it’s an actual small family business. There’s lots of those. This item is in the category “Collectibles\Bottles & Insulators\Bottles\Modern (1900-Now)\Wine”. The seller is “melywood” and is located in this country: US. This item can be shipped to United States.
- Bottle Type: Wine