Richard Peterson97 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

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Doug Shafer and Richard Peterson

Few people can tell the story of California wine from the 1950s to today with the flair and authenticity of Richard Peterson. Hired by Gallo in 1958, later by legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff at Napa Valley’s Beaulieu Vineyard, and eventually striking out on his own, Peterson lived the highs and lows of American wine during these crucial years. He’s captured it all in his outstanding memoir The Winemaker.

For more visit: richardgpeterson.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
Welcome everybody back to another episode of The Taste, this is Doug Shafer we have a guy in here today who I've been trying to get in for a while, because he's got some wonderful stories, uh, Dick Peterson. Welcome Dick.

Richard:
Thank you, nice to be here.

Doug:
And, uh, as I just told Dick, his daughter Heidi was in here, uh, what, a couple, couple of months ago, we had a great chat and your name came up a few times.

Richard:
I'll bet it did. (laughs)

Doug:
Nothing but good ways, but before we get going, I gotta tell you, about a year ago Dick was her picking up a donation and we, he and I were chatting and he, he hands me this book and he says, "Doug, have you seen my book?" And I said, "No." I said, "Well here's a copy." He signed it for me, I said great, and, uh, it's called The Winemaker.

Richard:
We traded books, as a matter of fact.

Doug:
We did trade, we trade books, thank you, I remember that. And, uh, I took it home, put it by my, um, bedside table and I read that thing in five nights.

Richard:
Great.

Doug:
It was fascinating, and it was ... it basically, it, it's Dick's story, um, autobiography. It tracks the wine business in California from the mid to late '50s all the way through the 2000s, everyone who loves California wine should read that book. It's called The Winemaker by Dick Peterson and it gives you the story of the early days. He pulls no punches, he tells it like it is, and it's a wonderful read, so congratulations.

Richard:
Thank you very much. There are one or two people who don't like it, uh, the ones ... the ones that I wrote certain truths about, about in it.

Doug:
I can understand that, but, uh, from what I know, factually, grew up with the valley, I think you told it ...

Richard:
Very factually.

Doug:
Yes.

Richard:
I took care to be accurate with everything I did. I have boxes of notes as ...

Doug:
Yeah, that came through. What ... just before we get going, what motivated you to write the book? What was the reason?

Richard:
As I said early in the book, it, uh ... I started noticing funny things happening. For example, the, the, uh ... the very first day when I went to work for Gallo in 1958, I had never seen the inside of a big winery before, and here they hired me to ... to get involved making a, a new research department.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And they realized that they weren't very scientific about, uh ... the whole industry wasn't very scientific about making wine, didn't know anything about it because Prohibition had taken that away from, uh, Americans. And, um, so they wanted to put some science into it, so they hired me and hired others, and the very first day, they were showing me around the winery, and I saw grapes being crushed. It was September 1st ... or the first Tuesday in September right after labor day, and, uh ... uh, we got ... we saw grapes being crushed and pressed and, uh, winemakers wearing, uh, white jackets running around here and there and taking samples and tasting and so on ... we got the bottling line and, uh, the bottles, they were using screw caps of course.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And the bottling line was going line the devil and clink, clink, clink the glass, I was very impressed with it, and all of a sudden everything stopped. It just came to halt, and I asked someone, nothing happened, nobody moved, the people on the line just stood there, so I knew it wasn't break time, so I said, "What, what happened, what's wrong?" "Oh no nothing, just a, a label change, don't worry about it." And, and he said it kind of fast, I didn't ...

Doug:
Label-label change?

Richard:
A label change, yeah. So I thought about label change, what could that mean? And, uh, so then I watched. Pretty soon a guy came in with a little cardboard box, went over to the labeller, took the old labels out, put new labels from the new box up there, and then he stuck his hand in the air and waved a circle, around a circle and started the bottling line again. And I thought my gosh, I couldn't believe this, this is a modern winery, back in 1958, but modern then.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And I went over where the bottles were being cased in, uh, put in the cases, and, uh, looked at the new label and the new label said Chablis. Well the old label, and all white wine labels in California in those days were named Sauternes. People today drinking wine probably don't believe that, but it's absolutely true.

Doug:
It is true, right.

Richard:
The, the regular wine ... the three major wineries, uh, Roma was number one, Italian Swiss Colony was number two, Gallo was a, a distant third in size, and somebody had told Ernest Gallo that maybe people are getting tired of ... not the wine, of course, they couldn't get tired of their wine, they thought.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
Although I had said to them when they interviewed me in that I ... yes, I've tasted your wine and I've tasted Roma and I've tasted Italian Swiss, I've tasted one, two, and three. Frankly, they all tasted alike to me, and only when I went to Gallo did I find out the reason is because they were all made of Thompson Seedless, they weren't made from white, white wine grapes at all. They were made from table and raisin grapes because that's what Prohibition had done to the industry and had done to California. It got rid of all the good grapes, uh, in favor or the high-yielding but lousy wine making of Thompson Seedless, and this guy said to Ernest, well, maybe people are getting tired of the Sauternes name, and we ought to try something new. So we pulled out, a name out of a hat here, uh, other reasons in France, let's try this.

So they were bottling some with the Chablis, uh, label, uh, as a trial, and I remember the test market was, uh, Houston, so they bottled, they labeled enough for Houston, and what surprised me was three or four months later, uh, when, uh, I talked to someone and I noticed they were using Chablis again, and how come? Well, it's because the, the sucker caught on. I mean it really is going. They're selling like mad, and what surprised me was the same guy in the sales department, he said, "You know, you'd be surprised at the number of letters we've gotten from people telling us how much better they like the new Chablis than they had ever liked the old Sauternes before," and I all could do is laugh.

Doug:
Because it was the same wine.

Richard:
Exactly.

Doug:
(laughs)

Doug:
I love it.

Richard:
Anyway, when I started seeing things like that I started making mental notes and, uh, pretty soon I had paper notes and I had memos of people that've done something really stupid or something really, really good.

Doug:
So you get them all?

Richard:
I started keeping, and after 20 years I had cardboard boxes and so you asked why did I think of writing this book, well that's why. I just thought there's a lot of funny things, uh, going on in the wine industry that are more fun than ... you couldn't make them up.

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs) You couldn't make them up.

Richard:
They're more fun than fiction anyway, and so I put it together and, uh, it was fun to do.

Doug:
You know I've, I've gotta make a quick comment because I've threatened to do it and I never have and I wish I kept notes, I wish I'd kept notes on every winemaker dinner I've done in the last 30 years, because ...

Richard:
It's not too late to start, Doug.

Doug:
I should, because there's been ... again, there's been ... things have happened, like, you can't make it up and, you know, to put them together.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
I might just call a bunch of my buddies, all of my fellow winemakers and say, "Give me your five, ten best winemaker dinner stories," and put those all together. I should do that.

Richard:
Well, invite them to make it up if they can't remember.

Doug:
Okay. So great story about Gallo, but going back to the beginning, you grew up in Iowa, correct?

Richard:
That's correct, yes.

Doug:
And, and tell me about those years? I was – during the Depression.

Richard:
Well, just outside of Des Moines it was the early '30s, I was born in 1931 and one of the things that I didn't realize at the time, I didn't know it for about 20 years later, is that nobody was my age. I was born at the bottom of the Depression and the birth rate had gone way down.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And so the kids that I grew up with were my age but there weren't many of them. There weren't many of us, and it was ... I don't know, I ... that I was more than 20, that I was close to 30 before I realized that nobody is my age. They're either older ... they're either older or younger than me.

Doug:
I never knew that.

Richard:
And that would explain it.

Doug:
Interesting.

Richard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
So you grew up on a farm?

Richard:
Yes, I grew up on a farm. We, uh, we had a three and a half acre, 3.35 acres out in the country a couple miles east of Des Moines and it was a good thing we did because we kept a solid acre as a garden, and most people don't realize just how much work it takes to, uh, farm an acre of carrots, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, potatoes.

Doug:
Everything.

Richard:
Sweet corn, popcorn, everything you wanted to grow, we grew, and, uh, all during the 1930s when I was a kid, we simply grew most of our own food.

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
I never had a slice of bread from a, a store, uh ... I don't know, I must've been 12 or 13.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
But my mom made all of our own bread and we had, you know, meat and potatoes so we had fried chicken all the time because I could catch chickens, cut their heads off, knew how to clean them and ...

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
I know where all the parts of a chicken you wanna hear about.

Doug:
(laughs) So, so tough time growing up. Brothers and sisters?

Richard:
Yes. Uh, older sister, two years older, younger sister, two years younger, and then, um, uh, Chuck, uh, six years younger.

Doug:
So somewhere early, first exposure to wine? Tell me about that.

Richard:
First exposure to wine was interesting because my dad was a, uh, home winemaker.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Everybody was a home winemaker during Prohibition and shortly after, uh, you know, that, uh, that section of the, um, Prohibition law allowed anybody who wanted to to make up to 200 gallons a year, provided that he didn't sell it. You could make it.

Doug:
For home brew.

Richard:
For home brew, for your family and friends, but you couldn't sell it, and so everybody suddenly became a home winemaker, and, uh, the reason that Thompson Seedless, uh, took over in California in Prohibition was that when people started trying to buy good wine grapes, and there were good wine grapes in California then they'd spoil, they'd never get past Reno on the way east in a train and they'd all spoil, and, um, so they ...

Doug:
So Thompson Seedless could ship better. They, they could hold up.

Richard:
Thompson Seedless at table grade could ship, yeah.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
And they'd uh, they'd make raisins. Uh, there'd be a lot of, uh, grapes on the vine would be raisins, they'd ship those too, and they add, when you add water to raisins, uh, back in Prohibition people didn't care so much about the taste or the looks or the flavor of wine, all they wanted was the alcohol.

Doug:
They wanted the alcohol.

Richard:
I found that a very interesting thing. You would've thought, in fact the people who started Prohibition certainly thought ...

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
... that, we gotta rid of demon alcohol, demon rum, you know this and ... alcohol causes all the problems in the world, we'll just get rid of that son of a gun and have Prohibition. Well they got Prohibition, and they thought life was gonna be wonderful on earth then. What happened is, against all odds, people started worshiping alcohol. Instead of getting rid of it, it became alcohol worship, so that everybody's making their own wine and they're laughing about and it and hahaha, yes, got a lot of alcohol, we make all ...

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And so people went wild over alcohol, and it didn't matter what the wine tasted like, so you could get away with Thompson Seedless. And then when Prohibition was repealed, all there was in the ground were Thompson Seedless vines. There was no Chenin Blanc, no Colombard, not even Zinfandel, you know ...

Doug:
No Zinfandel?

Richard:
Certainly not Cabernet or Chardonnay.

Doug:
Right, of course.

Richard:
None of those.

Doug:
So it was all ... so that's what happened.

Richard:
All table and raisin grapes, and so the wineries that started up, Ernest and Julio Gallo, when they started their winery in 1933 they, they inherited 100 acres or something like that of grapes, and they were, guess what, Thompson Seedless and, uh, fersagos, Alicante, grapes that we wouldn't plant today.

Doug:
Right, when this, that comment ... because I was gonna ask you later about the, the taste in America.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
The wine taste and, you know, drinking whether it's beer or spirits or wine, and one question, because the research I've done is, is right in that area, post-World War ... well, post-Prohibition and World War II and Korean War seem like the, the popular wines were sweet and or dessert wines, desserts being ... dessert wines being maybe four to five higher in alcohol.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
So it was that quest for higher alcohol wine that seems like that's where the trends were in this country with drinking.

Richard:
Yes, exactly.

Doug:
Interesting.

Richard:
And you know, uh, the interesting thing is when I joined Gallo in 1958, it was the same as it had been in Prohibition, 1933 when Prohibition was repealed. Absolutely nothing happened in the next 25 years, and if you think about it, and you're ... you are a wine grower as well as a, a winemaker.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Uh, so you understand this very well, you don't just pull out healthy grape vines, even if they're Thompson Seedless. You don't pull them out, and so, uh, because you can't really afford to, or Ernest and Julio Gallo thought they couldn't afford to.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
So they took the grapes they had and they made wine, they put it in bottles and tried selling it or trying to, and they were very successful because Ernest was an excellent salesman, but they were selling Thompson Seedless labeled, uh, Sauternes, as late as 1958 and 59 and 60.

Doug:
When you showed up, right.

Richard:
Yes, and so nothing really happened. I-I felt like I was very lucky to be born when I was, uh, not just to live through the, the hard times of Prohibition, but, uh, to, to get in on the ground floor of wine, since California had had a good wine industry before Prohibition.

Doug:
Before Prohibition.

Richard:
But Prohibition destroyed it and destroyed it totally. There was just nothing left of it.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
But people didn't care, and so they, uh, the biggest selling wine at Gallo, by Gallo and by other, other, uh, wine companies in 1958, you wouldn't guess, but it was Sauternes.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
I'm sorry, it was not Sauternes, I meant to say ...

Doug:
That's okay, it was ...

Richard:
It was, uh, Sherry. Sherry was the biggest wine. Well, it's 16, 17, 18% alcohol.

Doug:
That's the popular wine, yeah.

Richard:
Um ... and it was fortified, uh, and it was, uh, uh, baked. You know the way you made berry, uh ... baked Sherry in those days, there's no Sherry grape, they had palomino, but palomino was used as a table grade, to make table wine. Well the Spaniards-Spaniards learned a long time ago that palomino's an excellent Sherry grape.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Well, all you do is you take wine, fortify it, sweeten it, of course. That was the story, they, they worshiped alcohol, but they also worshiped sugar, uh, in America in those days, and, um, you, you put it in a tank and you heated the tank to 130 to 140 Fahrenheit and held it for six weeks, or eight weeks, and, uh, you had to get rid of the SO2 first, and so people would occasionally put in a drop or two of peroxide just to get rid of the S02.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Because Sherry, uh, part of the Sherry flavor is oxidation.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And brown color and matterized, uh, uh, thing, and so you made Sherry. Well imagine, that was the best-selling, the biggest selling wine in America, not just in 1933 but also in '58.

Doug:
Well I gotta tell you, this ... you know, I'm, I'm familiar with this story because it, it's in the book.

Richard:
You read it, yeah.

Doug:
It's in the book. And I gotta tell you, the, you know ... who's ... you know I've got the light on reading the book and, you know, my wife's trying to sleep and I ... every, you know, five minutes I'm laughing out loud, and she goes, "What is so funny?" And I said, "You're not gonna believe this."

Richard:
(laughs)

Doug:
You know, you know, you know, Peterson said it again. The, the one thing you said, if you said it once, you said it 15 times in this book, it's ... I love it, it's ... I quote it to everybody: you just can't make good wine out of Thompson Seedless grapes, and ...

Richard:
I tried for years at Gallo.

Doug:
You tried, and, and you're in the lab doing it, and ... but that's all you had to work with.

Richard:
That's it.

Richard:
And people never started caring, uh ... people only started caring in my memory, people started caring what wine tasted like around 1960.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
'59, '60, '61. And it was just about 1958, '57, '58, when Julio Gallo started thinking you know, I believe maybe they aren't just, uh, tired of the Sauternes name, maybe the wine isn't as good as it ought to be. Uh, we don't have any scientists here, we ought to hire some scientists, so they got the idea to start a research department, but, but that isn't why he won. The reason he won was not the people he hired. The reason he won, I think, is that he realized that Thompson Seedless is not any good for making wine, period. That's what he ... he learned.

Doug:
And he did it.

Richard:
Uh, he planted, um ... he took out Thompson Seedless and he planted what he called good wine grapes then.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Well good wine grapes in 1958 meant French Colombard.

Doug:
French Colombard?

Richard:
Uh .. Chenin blanc.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Um ... Petite Sirah occasionally, uh, Ruby cabernet.

Doug:
Yup.

Richard:
Those were the good wine grapes.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And that's what he planted. Now ... there were ... I may be wrong in this, uh, 1958, I, I think I said there's not more than 100 acres, could've been 200 but not more than that in the whole state of California of chardonnay.

Doug:
Right, isn't that wild? Amazing.

Richard:
Couple hundred acres, and, uh, I've been all in Napa or Sonoma, and cabernet, same thing, probably 50, 100 acres total, that's all there was. Pinot noir, I don't know if there was any, but there might've been 20 acres here and there.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
And that's all there was. Well, uh, when you go from drinking Sherry as an everyday drink, uh, you're not gonna wanna jump to chardonnay and to cabernet and petite sirah and so on.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Uh, Sauvignon blanc. You, you won't. You have to go through this medium of, uh, a Chenin blanc, French colombard blend, which actually makes a terrific white wine.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
It's a good white table wine. Not as good, not as good as chardonnay, but they weren't ready for chardonnay, and so Gallo had just exploded in sales. Uh, Roma died because they were owned by a liquor company and liquor companies always ... I think that's a rule I make, uh, liquor companies owning wineries always fail.

Doug:
Really?

Richard:
You can put that in the bank, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Uh, so Roma died because they were not doing ... they, they thought people were, were at ... into wine for the alcohol, and people aren't.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And even weren't then. Italian Swiss died because all they owned was Thompson Seedless, but Julio Gallo got the idea, uh, let's pull out some of the Thompson Seedless, the grapevines are old now and they're ready to be, uh, pulled out, so let's replace them. Let's put a little colombard in, let's put a line Chenin, a little, a little, uh, Ruby cabernet and Barbera, even, they put some of those in, and, uh, they made such good wine that that's when I think I started to notice that people cared what wine tasted like.

Doug:
Interesting, interesting. Um ... I wanna ... I don't wanna leave this because we're gonna get to Gallo, but you've got such a great story, I'm gonna flashback real quickly.

Richard:
Alright.

Doug:
But I've gotta read on quote because this was about the Prohibition, and they either shipped Thompson Seedless grapes to the home winemakers, this is from your book, or they purchased something called a grape brick.

Richard:
Oh yes.

Doug:
Which was, um ... basically pressed skins or ... it was dry, it was packaged dry, and it had a label on it. Correct me if I'm wrong, and the label ... so, so you order this grape brick, it's delivered to your home wherever you are in the, the country, and it's packaged, and the label says, quote: “do not break up five grape bricks with the enclosed yeast pills and add five gallons of water with ten pounds of sugar as this might ferment.”

Richard:
That's right.

Doug:
(laughs) In other words, this is how you make wine. I love that.

Richard:
That was the caution, that was the ...

Doug:
That was the caution.

Richard:
It was not an instruction, it was a caution, do not do this.

Doug:
I love that.

Richard:
And then they gave precisely ... the details.

Doug:
I love that. And then, um ... a quick question: so you started ... I wanna know where your love of chemistry came, because you're ... I think did it come from collecting ice cream wrappers, was that it?

Richard:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
So I wanna hear that story, because that's fascinating to me. And ... the whole chemistry thing.

Richard:
Well, during, uh ... of course we had no money, uh, growing up in the Depression, but we weren't alone, nobody else had any money either.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
So we weren't ... I'm not ... you know, pity me, that wasn't true, we were just all the same, and so any time you could, uh, get something free or get something cheap, you got it, that was what you lived with.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
You made your own food, you grew your own food and so on, and, uh ... uh, the state fair happened every August, and, um ... my dad is the one who told me that, uh, you could, uh, you could save ice cream bags because the ground you walk around the state fair, and there's ice cream wrappers everywhere, all over the ground.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And dad pointed out to me that you could send in the wrappers and, um ... and I picked up a wrapper and it said save these bag for gifts right on it. So I picked them up and, and, um ... uh, you could send a postcard in and they'd give you a little menu, I guess, of what you could order.

Doug:
Right, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And I saw this chemistry set, and boy that looked exciting. The way they, the way they explained it, uh, Chem Craft was the company name.

Doug:
Huh.

Richard:
And you could make all kinds of uh, colored inks, and you could make all kinds of things, funny tasting things that make, uh, make things bubble and, uh, stew and explode and so on. Well that just struck me as good, a good idea.

Doug:
Exploding's good.

Richard:
So, uh ... that's right. And so the trouble with it was what ... you had to, you had to send in a dollar with I think 10 bags or something like that, 10, uh, ice cream wrappers with a dollar. I didn't have a dollar.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
As I remember, I didn't think I would ever have a, a dollar in my whole life probably ... but you could go around that. You could send in 1000 bags and get ...

Doug:
1000?

Richard:
1000.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And get a, um, a free Chem Craft set. So that was easy and my mom took a sugar sack, we had all kinds of sugar sacks and, um, and flour bag sacks.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And she sewed a handle onto it for me so I could wrap it around my shoulder and, and my dad could make anything out of anything. He took a, a broom handle.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Sawed it off smooth, he, uh, drove a, a nail or drilled a whole at an angle, drove a nail down through it so that the nail stuck out at the end, make it easy to pick up ice cream bags.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
I would work around with this broom handle, I'd pick up the ... stab them, you know, I'd stab three or four at a time and the take the thing off, put it in my sugar sack. Well I had 1000 bags ... shoot, I think I had them in a couple of days, three at the most. ... and, uh, we sent it in. I sent it in, and I got my, uh, Chem Craft set.

Doug:
How cool.

Richard:
And I lived in it. I did every, every experiment that they listed, four or five times, probably more. That Chem Craft set kept me busy for the next three or four months or more.

Doug:
It kept you busy, and meanwhile you were making your own ...

Richard:
And I learned how, I learned chemistry and I learned it.

Doug:
You learned chemistry.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
And that's, because you went onto Iowa State?

Richard:
I went to Iowa State, uh ...

Doug:
And studied chemistry, studied chemistry or ... ?

Richard:
Well my intention was to go to chemistry and I started in chemistry, but all the other kids shamed me into going into chem engineering because you can't make any ... quote, you can't make any money in chemistry, unquote.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
And so I switched to chem engineering, but they had a, um ... they had a, a branch of chem engineering called chem technology.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
The only way I could get through college, because I couldn't have ... didn't have any money, um, I had to have a scholarship of some kind, and so, uh, the best one I could find, I searched around for them. The best one I could find was Navy ROTC.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
NROTC.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And, um, so I took the exam and, and, uh ... you had to be in the top 2% of, uh, of the applicants, and, uh, so I lucked out. I guess I did it.

Doug:
You didn't luck out, you did it. Good for you. You nailed you.

Richard:
So I did, and, uh, what it did is it instantly it gave me a college education because it, uh, it guaranteed to pay for my books and tuition.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And pay me $50 a month. Well $50 a month back in 1948 was plenty.

Doug:
That's, that's a lot.

Richard:
To live on, you could get your room and board for $50, easily, and so that's what I did. You had to then go on a summer cruise in the Navy, and I went on the light cruiser Springfield, CL-66 down down to, uh ...

Doug:
That's right, I remember reading that in the book.

Richard:
Down to Panama, and, uh, my first experience there, and we dropped depth charges, we fired five-inch guns and we did a ... all that. And then, the second year we went to a little creek, Virginia for amphibious training in the Marine Corps, because the Marine Corps is part of the navy and they gave us that also. And then, the third year we went down to Pensacola, Florida, the Navy, a Navy Air Station. And that's where I fell in love with flying. And I wanted to become a Navy aviator. I wanted to make carrier landings. And uh, so I, I, uh, when I graduated from Iowa state, uh, they're, they're paying me $50 a month and books and tuition for three years, required that I spent at least three years in the military.

Doug:
And that the service after college?

Richard:
So I went into the Marine Corps and I figured why not? There was no war on anymore.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
But son of a gun, the, the North Koreans attack South Korea over in 1950. And so suddenly there was a Korean War, so I had to go there.

Richard:
And then when I got out of the Marine Corps, the Navy officer who signed all the papers for me to get out, he said, "Now you have a GI bill so you can go to college if you want." I said, "I've already been to college." Well he says "It doesn't matter. You can go back if you want." No, I can't. I said I had Navy ROTC and the government paid my-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Uh, my college education. So I don't feel right about going. "Oh no," he says, "You, uh, you can go back, go to graduate school. You’ll get a lot better, uh, education. You would get a better job, you'll make more money, you'll pay more taxes." So the government thinks that's worth it and it was worth it.

Doug:
That's right.

Richard:
So that's what I did. So I ended up going back to Berkeley for graduate school and a masters in food science because I, uh, I was experienced because I'd made wine at home using following dad's recipe.

Doug:
How are those wine using hose homemade.

Richard:
Oh, I thought there were the best wines in the world. Every, Doug,(laughing) every, every home wine maker you have ever met really honestly believes that the best way that the wine he made as a wine maker would rank with the highest wines in the world. I had up there with the best anybody's ever.

Doug:
I have to agree with you.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Anybody I run into.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
It takes things.

Richard:
They do, They all think that. And I, I had the evidence that mine was good. I only had one bottle explode in the car. Ah, (laughing) my wine must've been real good.(laughing) I was only one bottle exploded. (laughing)

Doug:
That was pretty funny. Um, so Chem Engineering from Cal and then you've got your Ph.D there also, Right?

Richard:
Yes, yes I did. And um I was a biochemist. I spent all my stuff in biochemistry. When I graduated, uh, in filling out the papers, they said, "Well, you have your choice. You can call yourself a comparative biochemist." Comparative Biochemistry was the title that was available.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Or agricultural chemistry. You've taken the courses, you've taken the same courses, so the courses you've taken and everything will allow you to call yourself a biochemist if you want or, and I did spend a lot of time biochemistry and food, a food chemistry courses and um, so I thought, well, I'm planning by this time I wanted to get into wine.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And so I thought, well, comparative biochemistry doesn't sound very good for, for wine, but agricultural chemistry sounds better. So that's what we'll do. So my degree actually says agricultural chemistry on it.

Doug:
And at that time Berkeley's, some people might not know this. At that time Berkeley was, Berkeley was the ag, in the UC University of California system, I believe, correct me if I'm wrong. Berkeley at that time was the AG school.

Richard:
Exactly, Berkeley, a Berkeley was a big campus even then.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Um, and they had a, they had a little, uh, uh, some acreage a closer to Sacramento up at Davis and that was where their, all their farming was done. And so it was a university extension at Davis. There was no university up there, an AG extension. And when I go up there to get grapes or food, uh, Oh, I don't know, white carrots. If I wanted to do research on white carrots or lettuce, a garlic, whatever I did research on, or grapes or wine, I'd, uh, I'd read or not read. I'd check out a university car.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
You can check them out and drive up to Davis, do what you're doing and drive back. And that's what I did. So I did spend quite a bit of time at Davis, but Davis was not at a school on its own.

Doug:
So you get out. You're so right out of get your PHD or out of Cal. You get your first job at Gallo, as you said. It's, I'm Julio was right then, right in 58. That's when he was making that move from Thompson Seedless you know to, to plant and better grapes. So he was basically, they were saying we need to do a quality move here.

Richard:
That's correct.

Doug:
And you were, you're going to be a big part of that.

Richard:
Oh yeah, sure. I was. Yeah. You Bet. They uh, they couldn't actually use Thompson Seedless for example, to make Sherry because they didn't make good sherry.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
It couldn't, it wouldn't make it all. You could bake it for six months and it would just sit there and get dumber and dumber, but never sherry-like.

Doug:
I'm, [inaudible 00:40:43]

Richard:
So one of my first projects they gave me is, learn how, teach us how, we can make sherry out of Thompson Seedless. And of course I tried and tried and tried. I did turn up the chemistry. I did find out the chemistry. All I had to do was, the grape varieties, which has almost no grape varieties. Uh, the grape varieties that had natural ammonia.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Sherrified very quickly. But none of them did a, I didn't have. When I, the way I found, uh, the, uh, the ammonia secret, uh, was um, I started how, "Okay, how are you going to, as a new scientist, how are you going to try to find out how to make sherry out of this grape that you can't do anything else with?"

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And um, so what I did is I started putting things in. I put tartaric acid, more tartaric acid, I put citric and fumaric acid. I put a lactic acid. Anything you can do, put sugars in various sugars, lactose, levulo. I mean every, everything there is a and a. and then I put it in all 22 amino acids that were, that you could find those 22 makeup, all the proteins in the world. Put all those in each one. A separate you know batch, a wine. I'm putting it in the 130 degree oven that we had in the lab. And uh, I wanted to make this sherry overnight. So it didn't, I didn't waste 30 days. I want it. If it didn't work overnight, I didn't, I'd throw it on. (laughing) And so, like, that's not exactly true. I'd let it go three or four days usually.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Anything that showed promise. And the only thing that showed promise, uh, first of all, you had to get rid of the S02. So you wanted to oxidize it slightly. And then, um, uh, some of the amino acid, there were five or six of the 22 amino acids that I tried that had, that were a little bit sherry-like.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Like after four or five days there was something there. And um, why, why? And it took four or five days. And then I realized, well, must, maybe some of the amino acids are breaking down and others are not, some are more stable than others. So the ones that broke down, what would they break down into it? I said, "Well, logically it just look at the formula. If they going to break down that break down into ammonia and CO2, CO2 is going to bubble off. So if they break down. So the first thing I put it, I put ammonia in one, put it in the lab, uh, in the, uh, refrigerator, the lab other than that, we had. Came in the next morning, son of a gun. It was very sheriff. I don't know, and I said, "Oh my gosh, it's ammonia simple." Simple addition. Wasn't legal that ammonia to wine. And then I, uh, did something that I thought was kind of a clever thing. Uh, the two grape varieties that at Gallo would make good sherry one was a grenache.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
A rosé grape, which you wouldn't expect, but it did. If you baked it, it would make pretty good Sherry. And of course Palomino. The, the, uh, the Spanish grape. And ah, if you looked in down to the fine detail, you could find an analysis of very, very small amounts of ammonia in those.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Richard:
None of the other grape varieties that I could find had any analysis for ammonia at all. They simply didn't have it. And I thought, well, that, that bakes, you know that's means ammonia is involved.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And it did. And so, um, we had a guy, a production manager, Charlie Crawford, my boss, he was ah kind of a, he liked to cut corners, I'll say it that way.(laughing) And he said, "Well, Dick let’s, uh, this is the exciting here. Let's say you can make Sherry now out of Thompson Seedless," um, because I could, I mean put ammonia in it, boom. It goes to Sherry when you cook it. And, uh, so let's make 100,000 gallons. I said, "Wait a minute, it's not legal. You know, you got to have approval for this. No, we don't want to get approval. If you get approval, they publish it. The BATF, BATF then was what TTB is today, the government agency. And uh, they'll give us approval all right, because it's not, it's not, it's not harmful. It's okay. It's part of a lot of food. Uh, but, um, they'll publish it and I don't want to let Italian Swiss Colony know about it –

Doug:
Let the competition know.

Richard:
So we want to keep this secret, you know.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
So Dimitri Tchelistcheff, Andre's son who worked at Gallo, he and I came in late one night and we added these bags, (laughing) 50 pound bags of crystal and Ammonium, Ammonium Carbonate.

Doug:
Late one night. You did that?

Richard:
Late one night, did we, did we put it in and we pumped it into a, uh, into a 100,000 gallon tank of Thompson Seedless and they warmed the tank up. And by the time it was warm, it was already sherry. It had sherrified very quickly. And uh, then Charlie had a problem of how to get this approved by Julio.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And so we took samples into taste and Julio turned it down. He said Sherry all right. It's sherrified, but doesn't have any guts to it. He said, "There's no body, there's no, there's no oomph. It just doesn't taste like Sherry oughta taste." And I told him, "Well, you could always at some Colombard and Chenin, you know, you don't make it to make it taste of," No, I want something to use the. I want to be able to use Thompson Seedless" And we arrived at the conclusion that you can't make anything out of Thompson's Seedless. Like Dimitri's joke. It's just about water. (laughing)

Doug:
Oh. So maybe we'll hopefully. Meanwhile they were replanting and pulling out Thompson Seedless.

Richard:
They were.

Doug:
That's what you said earlier.

Richard:
They were a Gallo. Gallo made a big deal of pulling it out, but Italian Swiss Colony knew nothing of this. And Italian Swiss was owned by Allied Grape Growers, a bunch of Thompson growers. They weren't about to get rid of the Thompson grapes. That's all they had. And so a Gallo quickly beat Italian Swiss Colony in the market because Gallo wine suddenly became worth drinking. Italian Swiss was still trying to get by with Thompson Seedless.

Doug:
Well, isn't this fascinating? Because Gallo, you know, it's not that way now. They've done a wonderful job. They make some great, great, great wines right across the board. But for many years, when I first started out, Gallo was everyone kind of pooh-pohoed I'm his stop festers table wine jug wine. It's not good why? But from what you're saying, the credit needs to be given to those two guys, those brothers, for bringing wine quality out of the dark ages, if you will.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
And really do what you tell them.

Richard:
That is certainly true. Julio Gallo deserves the credit. He could remember as a kid that his parents, when they planted their Thompson Seedless, uh, that there were other grapes and uh, and he liked, there was something about them that was better. And Julio had the idea, well, I think we ought to be able to make this better. Maybe we can do better with better grapes.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
So he started by putting in 30 acres or 40 and then 50 and then 100 and 950 and the wines he made out of French Columbard were terrific. And the Chenin were terrific. Blend the two together and it was really terrific.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And uh, that's when he, he pulled out all the stops. By this time Gallo probably had about 10,000 acres of grapes by the 1958.

Doug:
Yeah. So this-

Richard:
They been in good business, yeah they been in business 25 years.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
So they had 10 and 12,000 acres and so they, Julio just did a thousand acres.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Of various and pretty soon 2000 and by about 1960 or 61 we had some good grapes to work with and uh, okay. They weren't chardonnay and they weren't pinot noir, but they were good grapes compared to Thompson Seedless. Italian Swiss Colony a didn't have anything but Thompson Seedless. Didn't even have many red grapes, just those whites. And so they were sitting there losing. And before. Well, Italian Swiss Colony was, was a bigger than Gallo in 1958 by about 1961, Gallo was about even with them in size by 1965 or 60, maybe 66 or 67, Gallo was double the size of Italian Swiss Colony and clearly number one because Roma had died along the way. So Gallo just exploded in growth and I think it was not so much that Ernest was such a good salesman as it was that Julio had put good grapes.

Doug:
With good grapes in the ground.

Richard:
And it wasn't he, his idea was to start a research department with scientists who would, who would put science into their winemaking. And we did that. We certainly did. We did a lot of, we made a lot of big changes. I had kind of a free hand, uh, a Gallo and I, I put a lot of major improvements in their wine making just by bringing you some science, and little bit of common sense into some of what they were doing. So I did a lot of good things there, but I don't deserve the credit for, for their success. The credit to their success, I think was Julio's planting good grapes variety. That's where the quality showed up.

Doug:
I'll give you more credit.(laughing) So I've got to ask you, I've got to ask you something. Hearty Burgundy.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
Is that your baby?

Richard:
Uh, it was no one person. Yes. I, I, I certainly worked on it. No one person can claim credit because we all kind of worked together. Dimitri Tchelistcheff was a big in it. Uh, we, uh, we tried, you see, uh, all of a sudden in 1959 and 1960, we had a few good grapes to use.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And so we had tastings um, every morning about 11.30 and then every evening about 5.00 and we would taste till about 7.00.

Doug:
Man.

Richard:
Usually because we'd work on blends all during the day. And we tried everything. A Petite Sirah was available and we turned out. Petite Sirah was a. well, interestingly to today's winemaker. Petite Sirah was readily available around the central valley.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
But the grape we call Sirah or Shiraz was not available. There was none.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
In fact, Petite Sirah, better grape and my judgment anyway, it makes better wines. Ah, the berries are smaller and I think there's just more pizzazz to it. But the fun that I had in the first two or three years at Gallo was some of the experimental things like the Sherry, but more than that, it was making new wine blends out of these new grape varieties that Julio was turning up with.

Doug:
How fun.

Richard:
And sometimes he'd have only five or six grape vines and we didn't have any acreage, but we still did it. We picked those separately and we'd go out and pick them ourselves and make wine. And some of those were terrific. And uh, we, we figured out ways to put Ruby Cabernet and Barbera together and that was Hearty Burgundy, with a little Petite sirah. And boy, did it make a good grape? I got good wine.

Doug:
Let me tell you, let me tell you how good it was (laughing)

Richard:
Okay.

Doug:
Because when I was Davis I had a bunch of, bunch of buddies and I, we were all skiers.

Richard:
Oh, yeah.

Doug:
So we'd sneak up to Tahoe, you know, as often as we could this is back in the - you know no one ever uses bota bags anymore. I don't understand that. But we always skied with bota bags full of wine.

Richard:
Sure, sure.

Doug:
And uh, we'd stopped the stop at the grocery store and buy a jug of Hearty Burgundy and fill up our bota bags.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
And off we’d go.

Richard:
Oh, that's. You're my kind of guy. (laughing)

Doug:
We could never understand why we were so tired at the end of the day, didn’t make sense.

Richard:
How did the red burgundy took off from day one.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
It, uh, Ernest of course, thought his name of Hearty Burgundy was what did it. We all knew it was the grapes that went into it.

Doug:
What was it like working with those two guys? I mean, there were just, it sounds like they were. Well, they weren't night and day. They each had their own area.

Richard:
They both pretty night-and-day actually. I never heard Ernest compliment anybody. Um, I heard him raise Caine with a lot of people. Uh, I, I suppose I stood out but. He never raised Caine with me. He never raised his voice at me and I think it's because he knew that what was going on in the lab he liked. And so he didn't want to. Anyway, Ernest was difficult from that point of view, but he used to invite me to lunch. I'd go have lunch with them. Uh, so I think that he, I think he liked me or liked what I was doing anyway. Uh, we, we got along just fine, but I never heard him compliment anyone, even me, he didn't compliment, but he, uh, he knew what he wanted and he wanted work out of people and they wanted success out of them. Julio was, he wanted the same thing, but he knew that people were people and uh, Julio had, um, they were already on by the time I got to Gallo in 1958, uh, Julio was already having what was called Paisano parties.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
One of the wines we did, we made at Gallo was Paisano.

Doug:
Paisano?

Richard:
Paisano was 100% Zinfandel, 100% Zinfandel, but it didn't say that anywhere on the label, just Paisano and their announcement was Paisano means friend. And that's what, that's how they advertised it at. But it was 100% Zin and much lighter weight than Hearty Burgundy. A lighter white wine, but pleasant wine. All the little sweet. Even the Hearty Burgundy was a little sweet. And a Julio would have a Paisano parties among the lab people. The winemakers there were probably, um, oh, probably seven or eight winemakers. Ah, then the research department, there were about six or seven of us there and winemakers, we were winemakers there. And then the analytical section who did only analysis um, and he'd invite all these guys. Um there were no women working in the lab at all. Um, so will, it was all a guy thing. And um, about every three months Julio would announce a Paisano party, (laughing) and it would take place right there at the winery. And uh, so we'd all get Hearty Burgundy and, and, uh, whatever white wine was experimental and the uh, uh, golden Muscat that we had made into champagne sparkling wine. And, um, because they, they still didn't have sparkling wine, Gallo didn’t come out with a sparkling wine until around 1965 or so. Uh, so all the wine that we drank at these paisano parties were lab tests we had done that, I had done, and Dimitri has done or somebody. And so we made a lot of friends among there. But we also started to take notes. Who likes this wine, who likes that wine and so on. And it gave us clues to what we ought to come out with it.

Doug:
Interesting.

Richard:
Well, we all showed Earnest and then he would come up with a name for it to a one that was made up was Pink Chablis. Uh, you know, Chablis has never been pink until Gallo came out with that name. Pink Chablis, I don't know who got the name, it was not Ernest, but it was someone who worked for Ernest. Pink Chablis come out with a new product and uh, they put an ordinary pink wine, uh, and it didn't sell.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
It wasn't successful and they brought it back to the lab, “do something about it” and Dimitri and I been-

Doug:
They’d bring back to the lab and do something about it.

Richard:
Well they did, you know, do they, do fix it, fix it. They didn't know what we were going to put some grape variety, something else in it. I had been making sparkling wines with Dimitri all along. And Dimitri went to, uh, move down to Mexico. He left Gallo. And so I was doing all of that and my idea was to carbonate, just simply carbonate it. And I remember Julio saying, "What do you mean pay the champagne tax?" I could tell, he didn't like that idea. I say, "No, I don't mean not at all. I mean just carbonated a little bit."

Doug:
Just a little bit.

Richard:
They had a wine called Ripple, which was carbonated, but you couldn't ever say carbonated. And I thought we got away with something with the BATF people when we call it Ripple, because Ripple kind of implies the carbonation in a way. And it was a little lightly carbonated, but you didn't pay any champagne tax on it because it was below the level.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And uh, so I say do that and so we'll okay do it. Didn't bring us a sample of it. So I did that in the lab, and boy they liked it a lot. We went ahead and bottled some and it exploded and sales of Pink Chablis just took off in the market.

Doug:
Amazing

Richard:
And that's why Ernest never said anything bad to me I think (laughing).

Doug:
You fixed it. They should have called you the fixer.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Um, so when you were there for a long time-

Richard:
10 years actually.

Doug:
10 years. And then all of a sudden there's this guy, Andre Tchelistcheff and-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
There was a, there was a move from Gallo up to the Napa Valley and Andre.

Richard:
Right. Andrea. Andrea was anxious to get married. Dorothy, Andrew was working there and she was sort of the secretary that we all use. She typed all of our stuff and she was the one gal and I'm a, I didn't know it, but Andre was anxious to retire. He was 66.

Doug:
Well he was up here with BV.

Richard:
Yeah he was at BV and Dorothy was, uh, the, uh, the secretary.

Doug:
Secretary.

Richard:
The one secretary that we had and uh, he wanted to uh, retire and a divorce his wife and marry Dorothy.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And Dorothy is going to divorce her husband and do the same thing. Well, he did that and uh, it was a marriage made in heaven I think because they really got along great. I mean, that, that was, it was good for Dorothy. It was good for Andre and they, they just, they was really did the right thing.

Doug:
Many, many years.

Richard:
Oh yeah. Yeah. And uh, uh, so he was anxious to leave in 1957 and ... I knew Andre because my work with Dmitri I, I had become close with Andre for four or five years before I left Gallo.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
He interviewed a lot of people over a couple, a three year period, and, uh ... I was the one he picked, and interestingly, um, he picked me not because I impressed him as being, uh, the best winemaker he interviewed. I don't know what that was, but he didn't ever ask me that. He just assumed since I worked with Dmitri that I knew wine making and Dmitri had told him, you know.

Richard:
Right.

Doug:
We'd been, uh, uh ... what we had done, uh, because I asked Andre, uh, one time, why did you pick me? And he said, "To tell you the truth," he said, "I knew you could make the wine because I ... Dmitri had talked so I knew, I knew you were okay as winemaker. The real reason that I, that you stood out is Madame de Pins," who was the queen, you know she, she, uh considered herself royalty.

Doug:
She was the daughter of George Latour, the founder.

Richard:
Daughter of George de Latour, and ...

Doug:
And she ...

Richard:
After he died and his wife died, um, then ...

Doug:
She was the owner right?

Richard:
Then she was the owner of Beaulieu Vineyard.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Well, uh, she considered herself royalty. And I mean real royalty. There's a, another interesting story there, uh ... a lot of people get rich, but they don't have a title, and they want a title sometimes. Well she wanted a title. Her father had always considered her, our, you know, my little princess and so on. Well, uh ... but she wanted a title. Well they had a property over in Bordeaux, which George de Latour still had because he come from Bordeaux.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And not the, not the Latour the family, a different family. Uh, distant relatives maybe.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Uh, not Chateau Latour, uh, Latour, but his name was Latour, um ... and so they would over there all the time and I suspect, I, I wouldn't ... I couldn't print this in the book because I, I don't have proof of it, but I always suspected that she had her eyes open for somebody with a title.

Doug:
Ah.

Richard:
Well, sure enough she married Count de Pins.

Doug:
There you go.

Richard:
Count de Pins, uh, then when the old one, Count de Pins father, the Marquis, died, then Count de Pins got elevated to Marquis. Well when she married Count de Pin, she became Countess.

Richard:
Ah.

Richard:
Countess de Latour de Pins. Well, uh, so then when, uh ... the father died ...

Doug:
And Andre ...

Richard:
Uh, he was promoted to a Marquis, so that made her Marquise de Pins. So when she hired me at Andre's insistence, she hired me, uh, she was Marquise de Pins, and, uh, that was, that suited her very well she thought, but she was difficult to work with.

Doug:
But the reason Andre hired you was because ...

Richard:
He thought that I, uh, was flexible enough that I wouldn't quit over some little, uh, rickety thing that she would insist on. For example, uh, BV in 1968, the year that I went, was there, the first year that I was there.

Doug:
So '68, okay, '68 you moved up.

Richard:
1968, BV owned the cabernet sauvignon market. There was really nobody close. Ingelnook had, uh, some nice cabernet, but it was a 20th the size of BV, and, uh, BV Private Reserve Cabernet was the cabernet. Uh, Krug had a nice cabernet but wasn't quite in the standards of, of, uh, BV.

Doug:
The BV reserves was ...

Richard:
Louis Martini had nice cabernet, but again, it didn't quite ...

Doug:
Nice cab, but the BV reserve, that was the one, because when we moved ...

Richard:
BV private reserve was it. Okay.

Doug:
Yup, I remember that.

Richard:
I was told very early, uh, I hadn't been there more than a couple of months, uh, to take two barrels of Private Reserve Cabernet, and we were, uh, we were aging the, the 1964, we're just getting ready to take it out of the barrels, getting reading for bottling in 1968.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
We’d age it two years and, uh, maybe it was the '65. Anyway, I had to take two barrels of Private Reserve right out of the barrel racks that we had and, and, uh, dilute with water, half and half so you made four barrels out of it, put in the, um, Acetobacter, uh, uh, starter, vinegar starter, and I had to make four cases, or four barrels worth of, of, uh, vinegar for her, wine vinegar, and she didn't want ordinary wine vinegars or ordinary varieties for wine vinegar.

Doug:
That's ...

Richard:
Which would be the normal thing you'd do. She insisted on Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
Well that's the kinda thing she would require, and Andre thought that I was flexible enough that I would go ahead and do it for her, and I wouldn't get mad and quit. And he said anybody else that was suitable as a winemaker he thought would probably get mad and quit over her doing things like that.

Doug:
And you did it.

Richard:
I did it.

Doug:
You're a good soldier.

Richard:
Well ...

Doug:
Well, but, but that's a heartbreaker, because two full barrels of BV private reserve, that's 40, cases of, 40 cases of wine.

Richard:
Can you imagine what that's worth?

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Oh my gosh.

Richard:
Yeah, yeah.

Richard:
Oh well, you gotta keep the countess, Marquise happy.

Doug:
But she was so proud of her, uh ... she was so proud of her wine vinegar, um, that, uh, she'd have movie stars, you know, and Rock Hudson, he'd come up and say, uh, but lots of movie people um, uh, came up and they'd stay there for a weekend. She was the ... because she was the Marquise.

Doug:
Socialite and, yeah.

Richard:
Marquise, I mean, and she was ... she lived this, this high life, and had these little baby carrots out of the, the, her own little garden there that Hans would, uh, would bring into her and she'd serve these to people and they'd ooh and ah over all this kinda stuff and, that's what movie stars do apparently, and, and so she lived in that movie star life, uh, thing, and, um, uh ... I just accepted her because that's, you know, she's the one who gave me the job, so.

Doug:
Well you got the job but, this ... I'm, I'm telling your story from the book so correct me if I, if I, I get this wrong, but the impression I got, it was very ... well you made it very clear, um, her father gave her the impression that the winery was there to serve, or service her.

Richard:
Yeah, that's correct, uh-huh.

Doug:
And basically the winery was there to provide for her and, and so the money would come ... money would flow from winery to her, but never, ever would money have to flow from her to the winery, thus ...

Richard:
Yeah. I don't-

Doug:
Thus very few improvements, Andre and you were working with just archaic equipment.

Richard:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
And, and ...

Richard:
People have asked me many times, um, Andre got so much praise as being the best winemaker around, and certainly the best one in America.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Did he deserve that? And I always tell them, oh, boy did he ever deserve it.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
He deserved it in spades, and here's why.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Uh, he not only made, made the best cabernet around, the best pinot, the best ... all of, whatever.

Doug:
Right, all of them.

Richard:
Whatever grape he had, he made the best wine better than anybody, but he did it with bailing wire and duct tape. He just, uh ... he didn't have good equipment. When I left Gallo, and Gallo did have good equipment, uh, common grapes but good equipment back then, and, uh, people assumed that BV had the finest equipment and did everything perfectly, but they didn't. Andre had to use, uh, uh, the first time, um, the first crush, the first day of crush in 1968, of course chardonnay was the grape they brought in.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And, uh ... uh, I looked at the crusher and I looked at the, the, uh, little wooden plywood drag conveyors they had and, and ...

Doug:
Wooden conveyors?

Richard:
Yeah, wooden everything. It was just ordinary plywood, and Bill Emmeral was the, the guy that built it all. He's a really good carpenter, he could make anything, but that was his job to build whatever needed to be done and they didn't have any stainless steel there, they had, uh, cast iron and brass, uh, pumps and fittings and so on and so he'd have iron and copper getting into the wine and, and, um, Bill Emmeral, uh, the first, the first crush when they brought the grapes in, um, we'd soak up the wooden conveyors.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Uh, because they'd been dry for a whole year now and they're gonna leak if we don't.

Doug:
They're gonna leak.

Richard:
So we soaked them up, we thought they were ready, but they weren't quite. In this one spot, there was a leak, and so, um, uh, Madame de Pins' daughter, uh, Dagmar and her family, she had four, uh, three daughters and a son, and, um, and, uh, her, her husband came down to see the crush, the first grapes go through.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
And son of a gun, some of this wonderful chardonnay juice that's very expensive, um ... chardonnay was selling for probably $1000 a ton even then back in 1968, because there was so little of it, and, uh, so this chardonnay juice was going out on the ground because the, the wooden conveyors are leaking, and I ... first thing I said when I saw that, when I first, uh, spent time with Andre all summer, the summer before that.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
I told him, you know, when the crush gets here, aren't we gonna put some stainless steel in for some ... for the white grapes? Well he said, "I would love to. I so wanted stainless, I've been preaching, uh, begging, I get down on my hands and knees and beg to Madame de Pins," Marquise de Pins, you called her Madame.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
To give me some money, oh no, she'd say absolutely not, that winery has the function of giving me money. That winery's function, total function, is to keep in the spirit, uh, in the life that I live now.

Doug:
Yes, my lifestyle.

Richard:
Yes, it ... that's what it ... nobody says that I have to give money to it. My father ... she'd shake her finger at me and say, "My father promised me that winery would take care of me." I'm pretty sure that George de Latour, he's a chemical engineer himself, uh, earlier and, uh, when he started that company, I'm pretty sure he did tell her, "You're my little princess and that winery will take care of you."

Doug:
Sure.

Richard:
He didn't mean that she would never have to fix anything, like giving someone a brand new car. Well, you gotta change the oil sometimes.

Doug:
Well, she, she had selective hearing on that. You know, that happens.

Richard:
She did have selective hearing on that. So she, she thought that, uh, that winery would take care of her because he promised me, but she didn't remember if he ever said that well, you will have to take care of it by replacing things and fixing things that ... so that's what happened and, and, uh ... anyway that's why I was hired, Andre said, because, uh ...

Doug:
Well ...

Richard:
Because I wouldn't quit. I wouldn't get mad and quit.

Doug:
Well listen, you know, hats off to Andre, as you said, for being a fantastic winemaker dealing with that type equipment.

Richard:
Yeah, he lived with that on a ...

Doug:
And, and you did too.

Richard:
Yeah, that's true.

Doug:
You did too.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
So did ... when did Andre move ... when were you solo?

Richard:
Well I was solo the first year.

Doug:
At BV, okay.

Richard:
In '59. He, he, uh ...

Doug:
Or '69? '69 ... um.

Richard:
Oh, '69.

Richard:
'69, okay.

Richard:
Yeah, from Gallo.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
'69 and so, uh, '68, we were together all through '68.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Starting with '69, I was there, but then in '69, uh, and ... to make things worse, uh, it was on my birthday, June 5th of 1969, Heublein bought, uh, BV, and I, and I bear a little bit of the guilt of that I think.

Doug:
What year was that? It was right away.

Richard:
'69. One year ... well a year and a half later.

Doug:
So you'd only been there a year?

Richard:
A year and a half, yeah.

Doug:
Okay. And Heublein bought them?

Richard:
Well Heublein bought them, but they kept me ...

Doug:
They kept you on.

Richard:
I mean I still had a job for another four or five years, but, uh, another five vintages, I was winemaker, I was there six vintages.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
But five more after them, but I was fighting them the whole time, um.

Doug:
And tell me about ... tell everyone about Heublein, just background in case they don't know.

Richard:
Well Heublein ...

Doug:
Because they're a big, big corporation out of the east, right?

Richard:
Yeah, big corporation. They were, they were 100% sales.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
They were ... like Ernest in that direction, uh, uh, sales people, not, um, manufacturers. They didn't wanna be ... they'd only do the minimal manufacturing. They bought the Lancers label, for example.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
The Lancers brand, and then they, uh, to make Lancers wine in Portugal, they made a, a joint venture, uh, with the Fonseca company over there.

Doug:
And liquor, liquor was big too, weren't they big ...

Richard:
Smirnoff vodka.

Doug:
Smirnoff, okay.

Richard:
So, so they bought the Lancers label and then they made it and marketed it. They bought the Smirnoff vodka label and they made it and bottled it. So they were, they were big in vodka, and they made a lot more money on vodka than they ever did in any of the wine things, so naturally they had the liquor mentality.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
You know we make our money on booze, so that's where, where our love is, or that's where out heart is, and, uh, they thought, uh, in terms of day-to-day, uh, uh ... the dollars are where the, where the alcohol is.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And they didn't grasp ... they didn't know what BV was when they bought it. They had no idea what they bought when they bought it.

Doug:
Doesn't that just make you shake your head head and go, what ... weren't you, weren't you doing your homework?

Richard:
Well, sure, Stewart Watson, uh, was a very nice person, a very nice guy, a marketer, a salesman, but a very pleasant guy, I liked him a lot, but he didn't have any common sense when it came to ... he, he didn't have idea what he bought when he bought Beaulieu. He thought it was a winery, we got a winery now. You know, he could've bought, uh, uh ... I don't know, pick a little ...

Doug:
Right. Because at the time, we, we moved out in '73, that still ... BV was, uh, you know, the go-to. You know, it was, it was ... the gem of the valley.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Without a doubt.

Richard:
Uh, '73 was, was my last vintage there actually.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Uh, I helped to ... I consulted for Theo Rosenbrand who became winemaker after me, uh, for the next year.

Doug:
I went to high school with one of his kids, yeah.

Richard:
Oh is that right?

Doug:
Yeah, Ron, yeah.

Richard:
Ron, uh-huh.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Ron and Rick.

Doug:
Oh great.

Richard:
They're ... is, is ... Rick died and then, uh ... no, Ron died.

Doug:
Oh Ron died, yeah.

Richard:
Is Rick still around? I guess ...

Doug:
I think he is, yeah, I see him around.

Richard:
He's still, yeah, okay.

Doug:
But, uh ... great family.

Richard:
Great family, oh yeah, loved them all.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Paula was ... Theo they were all ... we ... well okay, that's another story altogether.

Doug:
That's okay.

Richard:
Yeah, I stayed with Heublein a long time. I, I gave him five full years after they, uh, after they bought us, but, um, I could not make them see ... um, I guess the best way I should tell you ... the, the best, uh, the best way to it I guess is just tell exactly what happened. Um, I got a call from, uh, Stewart Watson's, uh, secretary.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Would I meet Mr. Watson at the Oakland airport? He wanted to talk to me, and I said sure, so I went down there and, uh, he was between flights somewhere and came out of his way to, to get that close, and, um ... I walked in the room and son of a gun, my heart just dropped because it not only was Stewart Watson, but it was a guy named Dick Oster.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Dick Oster was a ... I think he came from Pepsi Cola.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
He was the guy they had just hired to become the head of Italian Swiss Colony, and I thought, oh no, I know what they're gonna do. They're gonna want me to start using all these Thompson Seedless grapes that, uh, Italian Swiss Colony has and make wine for them.

Doug:
This is like your recurring nightmare.

Richard:
I can't do that.

Doug:
Do you ... I have to ask you ...

Richard:
It was a nightmare.

Doug:
Do you, do you still have nightmares about Thompson Seedless? I hope not, not, not anymore, Dick, please.

Richard:
Not now, no.

Doug:
Good, thank goodness, okay.

Richard:
No, but when I saw Dick Oster I thought, oh gosh. I just met the guy, I just met him a week or so earlier and, and um, sure enough, that's what he did. He ... uh, Stewart Watson started out very complimentary, wanted to make me ... put me in charge of all of their wine, um, Lancers in Portugal, uh, BV, Inglenook, Italian Swiss Colony, [inaudible 01:19:15], they were working with Gong Cha in Italy, and, uh, they wanted me to oversee all of their wine making, and I said, well, yes, I ... it would be very busy because there's a lot of miles between them.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
But I could do that, and, um ... and, uh, then he pulled the, uh, thing out of a hat and he said, "Well when you can you move to Hartford?"

Doug:
Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut?

Richard:
Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford, Connecticut is where the head office of Heublein was, perhaps still is, I don't know. Um, anyway, I said, "Well why would I do that? Uh, all the wineries are everywhere but Hartford in Connecticut," and I, uh, I have to ... if I do anything good in wine making, it's because I'm at the winery, I smell the tanks every day, I see if there's a problem, I ... boom, I fix it right away.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
That's why the wines are good. If I were, uh, in an office in Hartford, I couldn't do that. "Oh," he said, "you can, you can ... you're flying first class now, you can fly first class anywhere, you'll have an unlimited budget, you can go all the time you want." In other words, move your wife to Hartford, but then I go everywhere else.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
That's crazy.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Richard:
And I, I said I really appreciate it, but you know, I can't do it. Uh, if you really wanna know, uh, the problem with Italian Swiss Colony, it is that they don't have any decent grapes. Oh, we got all the grapes in the world, do you realize why we bought them? They got thousands of tons of – Jesus I know, they're Thompson Seedless. What do you mean? That's the best grape.

Doug:
Oh my gosh.

Richard:
I said, no, no, it's not. After I'd gone through all of this problem with Gallo trying to make something, anything out of it, and, uh, they said, "Well, uh, you can make it, we know you can do it," and I said, "No, I can't, and I don't know anyone who can." It just ... I just don't believe it can be done. I said, "If you hired me ... if I said yes, I took this job, tomorrow I would start immediately going out there and talking to growers at Allied Growers and trying, doing it ... to do my best and convince them to take out their Thompson grapes and replace them with ... I don't care what.

Doug:
Anything.

Richard:
But some wine grape.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And, uh, it would just be ... he said, oh, that would be ... that would be a calamity because we have a partnership with Allied Growers and that we don't wanna make them mad, and I said, "Well, I can't take the job. I just, I can't do it."

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And I knew then I'd have to leave the company. I did stay another year and a half or so.

Doug:
So that's what happens, and then ...

Richard:
That was why I left.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
I mean I would never have left BV, I, I would ... I left Heublein, I didn't leave BV.

Doug:
You left Heublein, right.

Richard:
Um ... but anyway ...

Doug:
Because ... because then they sold ... did they sell BV? No, they sold, um ...

Richard:
They sold themselves. Heublein had to, uh ... had to ... Heublein lost so much money. They paid big bucks for all those Thompson Seedless grapes.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And for Italian Swiss. Italian Swiss pretty much failed, which it was predictable because they, they had not the right grapes, and, um, it cost Heublein so much that they had sell themselves. Heublein had to be sold.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And they sold ... was it Diageo or ...

Doug:
That's right.

Richard:
Somebody picked them up and then they went, uh, another, uh ... they've, they've gone through a couple of sales.

Doug:
A couple levels.

Richard:
So Heublein is no longer the big thing that they once were. They were booming there for a while, but they killed themselves when they, when they bought Italian Swiss.

Doug:
So you moved on and you moved to ... down to Monterey.

Richard:
Monterey. And that was, uh ...

Doug:
Monterey Vineyards.

Richard:
You talk about education, it was worth, uh ... well Monterey had such an unbelievably different climate.

Doug:
Yeah, this is mid '70s, right?

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
'74, right, right.

Richard:
'73, '74. I went down there in '74, it was my first vintage down there, uh, '73 was the last vintage at BV, and, uh ... and I spent, uh, from, from right after the '73 season until next year designing the winery to build down at Monterey.

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
And we got to ... we got enough of it build, uh, built to, uh, crush grapes in '74, which, you know, you can do, and we did.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
The winery wasn't finished by any means, but it was enough ... I got the crusher going and all that.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
The tanks and ... presses and so on, um ... and growers, uh, they were nice people. They were, they were farmers from, um, McFarland, California, down by Bakersfield, and, uh, they'd been farmers their whole lives, they'd grown up there, and their grandfather was ... the name of, the town of McFarland was named for their grandfather, McFarland.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And, uh, when they noticed that nobody's planting any grapes in Monterey, but look at this, according to the textbooks, all the coastal counties, uh, up and down California, they all have the same climates as Napa Valley.

Doug:
Right

Richard:
And so they thought they had a Napa Valley on their hands in Monterey County. Uh, they could have if they had gone farther south in, in Monterey County, but the problem in the, in the north end of Monterey County, um, it's, it opens out in Salinas Valley, uh, right to the ocean. There's no mountains between the oceans and the vineyards. It's flatland all the way to the, the ocean, and so all the, uh, the summertime fog comes in ..

Doug:
It just ...

Richard:
... hugging the ground, and it'll go in down to King City. It'll go in 60 miles, 70 miles.

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
And so what you've got is a climate that is basically colder than anything in Carneros, here.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
All the way 60 miles inland. If they had gone below King City, yeah, they might easily have built a Napa Valley down there because the climate's very similar.

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
King City clear down to Paso Robles, kind of Napa Valley like there. It's, it's, uh, very nice. The soil was okay, and, and all that.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
But unfortunately they thought they had the world by the tail, and so they went out and, uh, organized a bunch of, um, limited partnerships. So they got people with money to put in money and ... and the guy put in, you know, three million dollars or whatever he'd put in.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And they'd say now what kind of ... what kind of wine do you like to drink? Oh, I like cabernet. Well then we're gonna plant cabernet for you.

Doug:
Oh no.

Richard:
And so they planted cabernet, and somebody else, what kind do you like? Well I like petite sirah, so with that, we'll put that in for you. And, uh, somebody else likes chardonnay, they'll put chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

Doug:
Ooh.

Richard:
Well, the only grape out of all of those that is worth anything would be the pinot noir.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Because it's very cold there and it worked.

Doug:
Cold.

Richard:
Reisling is quite good down there, uh, even pinot blanc, the white fruited variant of pinot noir is quite good down there. Um ...

Doug:
But they plant ... they plant a lot of cabernet?

Richard:
They planted a whole bunch of cabernet.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
And okay, um, uh ... then I had an advantage when I was trying to get the winery built to, uh, uh, in time for ... it was a race. I was racing to, to get enough of the winery built to crush.

Doug:
To crush.

Richard:
And the growers, the grapes were, they were rushing to get ripened, but when, uh, September got here, shoot, the grapes were still a little green berries, you know they were just ...

Doug:
Oh man, oh.

Richard:
And then October first, when you'd be crushing here, we always started crushing, uh, cabernet early in October, never in September because early in October at BV.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Today it's different, they crush cabernet in, uh, September now all over the place I think up here.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
It's enough warmer.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
But anyway, down there, um, in October the cabernet wasn't ripening, and so I'm still building, you know.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And so it went ... came to my advantage because I had an easy time getting enough of the winery in order to crush, because they kept wanting to pick, and I said, "No, I can't pick you're, you're 19 bricks, I'm not gonna pick cabernet at 19 bricks.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Get them ripe. So they got back and, and, uh, pray some more I guess or whatever they did.

Doug:
(laughs)

Richard:
However they got grapes ripened.

Doug:
Praying, praying does come in handy once in a while.

Richard:
Yeah, well it didn't work down there.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Uh, except on pinot it did work real well, but, uh, it was a real a real shocker both to me and to everybody else, um ... I knew because I was ... we had our own ... I shared an airplane with the insurance guy ... um ...... I'll think of his name here in a minute, he and I shared a Cessna 182, and so when you, in 1973 when I was considering going down to Monterey and then early in '74 I still lived up here.

Doug:
You lived up here, right.

Richard:
But working down there. Well I could fly down there in an hour.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And we kept the airplane and our, our landing strip was John Trefethen’s driveway.

Doug:
No, no, no, no, no. No.

Richard:
Yes.

Doug:
No, 1974 you're taking off and landing your Cessna on John Trefethen’s driveway.

Richard:
Yeah, he put those trees in there in '75 or '76.

Doug:
That kind of screwed it up I guess then.

Richard:
Well but I didn't care, I was down there then, I had an airplane down there, but ...

Doug:
(laughs) I can't believe you were doing that. Oh, that's fun.

Richard:
Yeah, sure did. Uh, so I'd take off at, uh ... I'd look at John Trefethen’s grapes, his cabernet that were right there and they're nicely ripening.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
In October, ready to pick almost.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
I'd take off, an hour later, I'd land in the, the cabernet grapes down there, and they're still green, they're still berries.

Doug:
Still green.

Richard:
They're not even ripening.

Doug:
Haven't changed color.

Richard:
And so I knew the climate was way off, the calculation was way off. The first cabernet we picked in November, and I didn't like what I was getting. There were vegetal, there were bell pepper.

Richard:
The cabernet just didn't simply ever ripen.

Doug:
So, if you didn't bottle cabs, were you crushing it and making it and then just bulking it out?

Richard:
Down in, uh, Paso Robles, I got grapes from down there.

Doug:
I see.

Richard:
Down where it was warmer and you could make-

Doug:
I see, so you ... Okay, so you just ... So, you made Cabernet but it wasn't, it wasn't from-

Richard:
I made Cabernet, but I made it from down there.

Doug:
Got it.

Richard:
I had a lot of fun in wine making down there because I got to experiment and, uh, is there anything you could do with these green tasting Cabernet wines?

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
It turns out there is.

Doug:
Huh.

Richard:
When the, uh, McFarland failed, as they would fail with, uh, their 10,000 acres of grapes-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Then, uh, the winery of course was bankrupt because they owned most of the winery and, um, so the winery had to find a new owner when they sold us to Coca-Cola Company. Um, Coke came into it-

Doug:
Another, another corporation.

Richard:
Another corporation, yes. Uh, see with, uh ... The McFarland's had made a deal with, Foremost-McKesson-

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Foremost-McKesson had McKesson Spirits.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
They were a large wine and spirits, they said a large wine and spirits distributor.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
In fact, it was a large spirits-

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
And wine, a little wine distributor.

Doug:
A little bit of wine, you're right.

Richard:
Like the others. And, uh, they had, they had failed miserably, uh, uh, because even when we had good wines for them to sell like the Pinot Noir and the-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
They, uh, their idea to sell a lot of wine is cut the price. That's, that's a liquor person talking.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
If, uh, if you've got a bunch of bourbon and you want to sell more of it, well, you cut the price and it sells.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
That's how you do it. That's the difference, or that's one of the differences between spirits and wine. You do, do that to wine and you kill the wine.

Doug:
Exactly.

Richard:
If you cut the price, you kill it.

Doug:
So-

Richard:
Well, anyway, they didn't understand that, so they all failed and, uh, uh, Coca-Cola came out of the woodwork.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Coca-Cola, walked in with their hat in their hand and said,

Richard:
"We don't know a God damn thing about-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"Uh, about wine. Tell us.”

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
"Teach us. Show us what we've got."

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And I told them about the climate and all that, and-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And, uh, so they, they caught on very quickly. They're very, very good marketers but also very common sense people.

Doug:
Nice.

Richard:
And, nobody was more surprised than me when they turned out to be that good because I had my hands full of corporations-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
With, first Heublein and then fire, uh, Walker, Foremost-McKesson, I mean-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
So I thought, "Well, Coke is gonna be worse." Well, in fact, they were infinitely better. Coke was a real good company. They said, "Can you do this?" They didn't say, "Do this." They said, "Can you do this?" Or, "What can we do?" Okay? And I told them that-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Yeah, I had been experimenting and in fact I found that, uh, by putting, uh, as little as three, four, even five percent of these very vegetal Cabernets, by blending that with anything I can buy from Gallo, as long as it's, uh, full bodied and-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And a rich wine and dry, or Bronco, or the Franzia people there-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
At, uh, California Wine, uh, whatever it's called. Uh, the one at Ripon.

Richard:
And I made some pretty darn nice wines, red wine, uh, with only five percent Cabernet. But the, uh, the, um ... It's, it's inaccurate to say that the Cabernet grapes didn't ever ripen, because that's not how ripeness happens. Uh, ripeness happens in grapes he same way it happens in a lot of fruits. You get, uh ... Let's say that, uh, a strawberry for example.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
A strawberry might have 400 different components to the flavor. Well, some of them are gonna ripen early, some of them are gonna ripen later. Cabernet is the same way, I found-

Doug:
Hm.

Richard:
When I went down to Monterey. I found that some of the components of Cabernet flavor appear right away. They'll, they'll show up in October.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Or, or in September, even.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
But all of them don't show up until maybe November or later down there. What you can do, though, is, the way you fix a problem when part of the fla-, part of the flavor is developed and the other part isn't, is you blend it with something where they've all developed.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And so, I did that and I experimented, and I blended with, with Gallo wine, with Bronco wine, and so on, uh, putting a little of this, uh, unripe Cabernet from Monterey in it, and the good nature of the good ones in the Monterey came right out.

Doug:
Came right out.

Richard:
And it, and I made some very, very nice wines-

Doug:
Oh, neat.

Richard:
By blending small amounts of the Monterey wines with large amounts of Central Valley. Okay, got the cheapness from Central Valley and got the quality-

Doug:
Quality from Monterey.

Richard:
From the little five percent. So, it, it worked. And, and I told them it was experimental. I said, "I haven't, I haven't proven this anywhere, but I'll make you some if you want."

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And that's, so I did. I made samples, they took, tested it out with people that, uh, that they thought knew and said, "Well, you know what, Dick? That's gonna work. That, that really is gonna work. We've-

Doug:
Oh, nice. Oh, great.

Richard:
"We want to come out here with a, a program because we paid a lot of money for the Monterey Vineyard, uh, we want to, uh, we've got a new name, we bought the Taylor Wine Company in New York-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"We want to call this Taylor California Cellars." Terrific name. I said, "Okay." "We want you to make some wines, um-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"Make a, make a Chablis, a Burgundy, a Rhine-type or a, a-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"A Riesling type and a, and a, um, a, a Rosé -

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
"Uh, and, uh, we'll start with those four and, um, if you can, if you can guarantee that the wines will sell." I said, "No, I can't do that. You, you're the sales people, I'm not. I'm just a, a guy-"

Doug:
Yeah, I'm just production.

Richard:
That's right. Uh, uh, I'll guarantee they're better. Uh, "Well, does that mean you're gonna, you'll guarantee if we give them to an expert here to taste that he's gonna say they're better." And I said, "No, it doesn't mean that at all."

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
If you put 26 good wine judges in a room, they'll pick it, yes. It'll be better. But one guy, no. I, I can't tell you what one guy's gonna pick. I mean, I won't even pick the same wine two days in a row.

Doug:
Right, right.

Richard:
Never seen a guy who could.

Doug:
No.

Richard:
But, the more people you have in the room, the more sure I am that I can beat the, the, uh, competition and, and I said, "I have to see the competition, though. You've gotta give me samples of the wine you're trying to beat."

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
The wine turned out to be Paul Masson, Almaden, uh, Charles Krug’s lowest one-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And Inglenook. Well, I knew I could beat Inglenook, I knew how it was made.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And Masson didn't impress me much, and Almaden was the lowest of the bunch, it was worse. Almaden and Masson were buying all kinds of Central Wine, uh, Valley Wine and not blending good stuff with it. They thought that, you know, they were-

Doug:
Just bottling it?

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Bottling it and, uh, and trying to make people think that it was a mid-level. It wasn't. It was, it was poor. So I said, "Yeah, I can, I can beat all those." So I got samples in the lab and, and did blind tastings, you know, and-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
I had blends of, of the, uh, the red and the white and rosé and I, uh-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Uh, the Riesling-type, uh, Germanic, and, uh, I had wines that were clearly better. And, uh, "Okay, go." And so, they gave me the go-ahead. So, I made whatever it was that was in 1979.

Doug:
Got it.

Richard:
So, by June of 79, they, uh, they hit the market with Taylor California Cellars. Um, by December they had sold 500,000 cases.

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
They were good salespeople and the wine caught on, it went like mad. And so the next year, I think, they sold, um, 1.2 million cases.

Doug:
Man.

Richard:
And then 3.8, and then 5.4 in the last five, uh, the fifth year was 8.4, so it just went straight up, you know? It was a-

Doug:
And you, you were there, running it?

Richard:
Yeah. I was there the whole time and-

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
Made all those wines.

Doug:
That's a lot of wine.

Richard:
Yeah. But it was mostly Central Valley wine, to which I had added-

Doug:
Some of the five-

Richard:
The five or 10 percent that was necessary-

Doug:
To get it-

Richard:
To really give it pizazz, to make it, uh, make them good.

Doug:
That's a great story.

Richard:
That was my secret of-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
California Cellars, which anybody can know now.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
I mean, I, I don't care. I'm, I'm telling them I, that's, uh, that's what happened. It's exactly what happened. And, um, then one day, the main guy from, uh, Coke came in and sat down and he said, uh, "I have to tell you something. We're gonna sell the company."

Doug:
Oh, man. Again.

Richard:
And I said, "Why?" He said, "Well, you can't make any money." Uh, and I had been critical of Coke all along. I mean, uh, I re-, I liked them a lot-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
I could be open with them, though, and I always, I always said that, "You guys are making obscene profits with, uh, Coca-Cola because you're selling sugar and water and, and a little bit of flavor and-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
"And you're getting big bucks for it. And a little carbonation and you're making obscene profits." Well, they didn't like the sound of that, but they liked me. And so, they allowed me to say that. When he sat down and he said, uh, "We, we can't make any money." And I said, "Well, I've seen the paper. I, I mean, I, I see the records there. I, you're making all kinds of money."

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Taylor California Cellars is very successful. And he said, "I'm gonna put this in terms that you use. I'll put this in your words, not mine. You cannot make obscene profits in these wines, and we want obscene profits."

Doug:
Oh, wow. So, it wasn't about making money, it was about making obscene money.

Richard:
Well-

Doug:
Okay, well ...

Richard:
See, they were comparing the wine with Coke.

Doug:
Uh, with Coke, with the Coke pro-, the profit margin.

Richard:
They were making obscene profits with Coke. They wanted to make-

Doug:
The same profit margin.

Richard:
When they saw that they can only make wine co-, wine profits with Taylor California Cellars, then it didn't seem so good to them anymore because you've gotta work at it-

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
And you make, uh, uh, wine profits, and so that's why they, they didn't like it.

Doug:
It must've been frustrating for you. Because you, you had done it, you did it.

Richard:
It was frustrating, though, but it was, it was, uh, it was worse, almost when they said, "Well, I haven't told you the whole story.”

Doug:
Oh.

Richard:
"We've already sold the company.

Doug:
Oh.

Richard:
"We've already, we've talked to the Seagram people and the Seagram people are gonna buy it." And Seagram, that's Paul Masson, isn't it?

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
Yeah, so, Paul Masson. I said, "Oh, I don't think that's gonna work out very well for Taylor California Cellars."

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
And they said, um, "Well, they're gonna buy it. They want it, they're anxious to buy it, they want you to stay, and, um, and so on." And the owner of, uh, Seagram, came out and, uh, spent a day with him, uh, showing him everything that we had-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And all that, and he was very upbeat and all that. But clearly a, a booze guy, uh, I mean a, a spirits guy.

Doug:
Liquor guy?

Richard:
Oh, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Richard:
And, um, and I told him that, uh, it, it has to be done right, you know? "Oh, we can do it right. We have our Masson handle, people are gonna handle this just fine."

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And I said, "What I really would like to see you do is keep California Cellars separate. Don't mix it with Masson.

Doug:
Masson, yeah.

Richard:
"Keep it separate. Let them compete, uh, and it'll, it'll work out just fine. Have different sales people-"

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"Well, we, we know how to do that. We'll, uh, we'll, we'll handle the marketing, you know?" "Okay."

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
"Sit down, guy, go away." Or something like that.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
So, I did. But, what they did is they, they put everything in Paul Masson's charge. Well, Masson people had learned to hate California Sellers over the previous, uh, four years-

Doug:
Right because you were, you were killing them, yeah.

Richard:
Because they had beaten them, and Mason was getting killed is right. And so, who are they gonna promote? Uh, worse than that, they went around the country, the, uh, the Taylor California Cellars distributors were not the Masson distributors.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
They took it away from the California Cellars, uh, and they put it them-

Doug:
Gave it to those ... Aw.

Richard:
Well, the Masson guy wasn't happy, neither one was happy. The Masson guy wasn't happy because now he's gotta share his shelf space with, uh, the two-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Who's gonna be on the bottom shelf and who's gonna be at eye level?

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
You can know who it was. Masson had already lost the battle, and they weren't, their wines weren't really up to snuff anyway, they were clearly just Central Valley ordinary wines.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
They were trying to get a higher price for them, they, it didn't work.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
They had their better wines on the bottom. They lowered the price of Italian, of, uh, uh-

Doug:
Of Taylor?

Richard:
California Cellars.

Doug:
California Cellars?

Richard:
Kept the Masson up, killing them both.

Doug:
Oh.

Richard:
So, within two years they had killed an 8.4 million case winery. They were down to probably a million cases by-

Doug:
And, were, were you there that whole time that was happening?

Richard:
Yeah, but I was-

Doug:
Oh, man.

Richard:
I was start, I was doing a slow burn. I was out there in the, in the ... I was talking to people out in the-

Doug:
Out in the marketplace.

Richard:
The streets. I went to distributors, I, I talked to sales groups and, and, uh, and they said, "Well, we go where we're told and, and we have to go with the Seagram people and they tell us that, you know, we're marketing this wine here and-"

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
They were lowering the price of California Cellars, really effectively killing it, and they killed their Masson when they raised the price-

Doug:
Wow.

Richard:
Uh, to try to show people that it was a better wine. It wasn't a better wine.

Doug:
Wow. So what-

Richard:
And so, I just left.

Doug:
What did you do? What did you do? You left.

Richard:
Well, yeah.

Doug:
You're out. Okay.

Richard:
Uh, John, um, John Anderson, who had been a, uh, Gallo guy-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
Earlier, John Anderson, uh, called me one time. I hadn't talked to him in 20 years, and, he wanted me to meet him at an airport somewhere, and I did, and, he said, "We have a, a deal here we made with, um, uh ..." He's the chairman of it, and he said it's Whitbread in England.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Uh, it owns 85%. Piero Antinori owns 10%-

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And Christian Bizot from, uh, Bollinger, uh, owns five percent. And, uh, we want to, uh, we bought a piece of land up at Atlas Peak in Napa Valley-

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
And we want you to develop it and develop the vineyard and build a winery and do that.

Doug:
Back to Napa.

Richard:
So, I jumped at the chance, yeah. I did that.

Doug:
And this is in, this is 1986?

Richard:
Uh, 86.

Doug:
86.

Richard:
Uh-huh, yeah.

Doug:
Got it.

Richard:
And so, uh, that got me back to Napa and-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
My wife was thrilled.

Doug:
Good, good.

Richard:
So, um, uh, that worked just fine, and I had a lot of fun in developing the vineyard and getting it going, uh, built some terraces up there, and Piero liked it a lot and, um, then Whitbread, uh, they're beer people. They're not spirits at all, but they're beer.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
They kind of had cold feet. They didn't like staying in it and they just decided they want out.

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
So, they wanted to sell their 85% and they sold it to Allied Lions. So there's yet another booze company. See, the Seagram's ... I've been through all of them. I've been-

Doug:
You know, between Thompson Seedless grapes and the booze cor-, and liquor corporations here, they're just, they're-

Richard:
I'm surprised, I'm looking pretty good at 87.

Doug:
You look great.

Richard:
Right?

Doug:
I mean, I, you look fantastic. I mean, I'm, you are a strong guy. I mean, I tell you- So, Allied came in ...

Richard:
That's my life story, pretty much. Um, Allied Lions, uh, it didn't work out at all because Allied Lions they had owned ... Oh, actually, Terry Clancy is the guy who, uh, had been a friend of mine at Gallo a long time ago and I hadn't seen him in years but, uh, I became his enemy, I didn't know it, when, uh, Taylor California Cellars became successful, because he was a Paul Masson man at that time, he worked for them.

Doug:
Oh.

Richard:
He then went to Allied Lions afterwards. And, uh, so when they bought, as soon as they bought that, they couldn't wait to fire me.

Doug:
Oh, no.

Richard:
And so, he, he, uh, he said-

Doug:
No, Dick, come on. Uh, no.

Richard:
The first thing he did ... I, I mean, I ... We had been friends all along and then, um, uh, he wanted me to meet him in Yountville at a little-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Motel there.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
"Can you tell me what it's about?" "Nope, I'll meet you there." "Okay." So, I walked in and, uh, he said, "We're picking up your, uh, contract." I had a 10 year deal when I left, uh, uh-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
I was 55 and-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
I wanted to be sure that I worked till I was 65, and so they decided to give me a 10 year contract and ... They fiddled around with the contract. It was, it was a little flakey what they did. It was dishonest, actually. He said, "See a, see a lawyer." You know, "You're out of here. See a lawyer."

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
So, I did. You know, I call that good advice in the book, and he gave me good advice. Because I sued him and, and of course won.

Doug:
That's right, you did win.

Richard:
Um, and-

Doug:
I remember that.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Well, good for you.

Richard:
Well, I mean, all the, I had all the evidence on my side-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
So they, uh, they didn't look very good in court and the, the jury, um, the jury actually awarded me 5.6 million dollars.

Doug:
Hm.

Richard:
That's not how much you collect, you know. What you do is, you collect half of it-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And, um, I got a little more than half, actually, because I lived longer, because I got on the retirement I've, I've ... If I had died 10 years ago, I'd have ba-, made about two and a half million, but by living another 10 years I'm up over three now.

Doug:
Good. You just, you know, just keep eating-

Richard:
Still have the retirement, yeah.

Doug:
Keep, keep eating your carrots.

Richard:
But I wasn't in it for the money, I wanted the job, I wanted to continue doing that. So-

Doug:
Well, and, you know, you, you're still going, so after that, you, what you, you purchased Folie à Deux?

Richard:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
In ... Folie à Deux Winery in Saint Helena in the mid-nineties?

Richard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, with George Scofield,

Doug:
Okay.

Richard:
Um, we, uh, we didn't own it all ourselves, we had ... I owned half of it, though, at one time and then we got other shareholders in there and we made a mistake up there, I don't think I have to tell you not to make that mistake.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
I don't think you're going to make the mistake, but what we did is we got too many shareholders and they all wanted to be-

Doug:
Ah.

Richard:
None of them knew anything about wine, but they all thought they did.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
And it was a problem and I could've spent 24 hours a day keeping everybody out of our hair if I had wanted to and I didn't. So, I let them in and I finally decided that we've just gotta sell this place.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
It's the only thing we can do. So, we did. Uh, I was ready to quit anyway on that.

Doug:
I’m with you.

Richard:
So-

Doug:
But you still ... Are you still making, are you still making wine?

Richard:
Oh, yeah, I still-

Doug:
You're still making, uh, uh-

Richard:
And now I have the, the brand Richard G. Peterson brand, uh, Pinot Noir, uh, red Pinot Noir from, uh, Santa Lucia highlands in Monterey County.

Doug:
Oh, fantastic.

Richard:
That same vineyard area where we had Santa Lucia vineyard when I was down there-

Doug:
That's a great area.

Richard:
That's where we're getting the grapes.

Doug:
So you get Pinot from there-

Richard:
It's terrific Pinot.

Doug:
And, uh, where, do you make it down-

Richard:
I must bring you a bottle. I, I, I will do that.

Doug:
Well, I'll, I'll trade you.

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Do you make it down there or bring, bring the grapes up here?

Richard:
Bring it up here. Bring the grapes up here and make them.

Doug:
Nice, good.

Richard:
Uh, in, um, Napa.

Doug:
Good, good, good.

Richard:
And, uh-

Doug:
So, you're still making wine?

Richard:
Aging it in barrels there. Yeah. Uh-huh.

Doug:
Nice.

Richard:
And I make sparkling wine, the same thing.

Doug:
Sparkling-

Richard:
The only thing with sparkling wine, um-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Sparkling wine, I have a, um, I have to do something about the sparkling wine. I really like the sparkling wine, uh, it, for, when it's on the yeast about three years, I just think it's a beautiful sparkler.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
It's a real, nice, pink wine.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
Pinot Noir 100% and, um, uh, the problem is the marketing guy, um, we've talked about this several times, he says it's easier for him to sell at $100 a bottle, uh, the sparkling wine, if I leave it on the yeast seven years, because he wants to compete with Bollinger, the-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
The recently disgorged stuff.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
I don't really like sparkling wine that's been on the yeast seven years.

Doug:
It's a long time.

Richard:
It's not pink anymore, it's kind of a ... Not even orange. Sort of, more of, more of-

Doug:
Well, the flavor changes totally.

Richard:
The flavor's, it's too yeasty. It's, it's-

Doug:
Well, the fruit-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
You, you lose the fruit. I mean-

Richard:
That's exactly, exactly.

Doug:
I think, I think we-

Richard:
You've got it already.

Doug:
You and I-

Richard:
Yeah?

Doug:
We haven't tasted a lot of wines together, but I-

Richard:
Yeah?

Doug:
I sense we're, we're both fruit guys.

Richard:
We, I bet we would taste the same, yeah.

Doug:
We're fruit guys.

Richard:
Yeah, and we do.

Doug:
yeah, I get that.

Richard:
Uh, so, I really like it, um ... In fact, I think I'm gonna surprise you. I'm gonna bring ... I have disgorged some of the 2014 and 2015 now and I'm gonna bring a bottle, uh, sometime when you feel like having a sip of wine in the middle of the day, uh-

Doug:
That's the spot. You know, catch me, catch me on a, catch me on a Friday.

Richard:
All right.

Doug:
Now, before I let you go-

Richard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
I do have to say something, because I think there's a lot of folks that, uh, I hope, that listen to this who are in the business, in production.

Richard:
Yes, yes.

Doug:
And there's something you invented that-

Richard:
Oh.

Doug:
I didn't know about. And all my peers who are in the wine production probably don't know that you invented and came up with the design of the steel tube, the barrel-

Richard:
Yeah, the Peterson Barrel Pallet. Yeah.

Doug:
The Peterson Barrel Pallet.

Richard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Well, no one's ever, I never hear it called the-

Richard:
They don't call it Peterson, no.

Doug:
Because you designed this thing-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
Many years ago, and instead of patenting it, you gave it-

Richard:
Oh, I gave it, I gave it to the industry. Yeah.

Doug:
You gave the design to the wine industry. You didn't make any money off of it?

Richard:
I was a hero that day. Uh, I got a standing ovation, there were about 300 people down at Fresno at the WITS, uh-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
WITS conference, yeah. I, it was, uh ... I, I, I felt like a hero that it was-

Doug:
Well, it was-

Richard:
They, they were really pleased, you know? They liked it and it was free.

Doug:
Well, it was for ... To those of you who don't know, who might not be in wine production, this is the, uh, it's called a barrel, uh, we call it a barrel pallet and it's a steel, uh-

Richard:
Made of steel tubing, square tubing.

Doug:
Steel, skeel, steel, square tubing that basically holds two barrels very securely and they're stackable, so you can take it and stack these things-

Richard:
As high as you want, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Five, six, seven, eight high. Um, they save so much space it's incredible. They're easy to work because you're never having to-

Richard:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Deadlift a barrel, you know, which is for our ... We're all getting older in our backs. And it's just, and it's been around the industry for 20 or 30 years, uh, I think.

Richard:
I did it in ‘75.

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
‘74 is when I did it. The first, the first ones were made in ‘74, and we had them out at the Monterey Vineyard-

Doug:
Yeah.

Richard:
That was where the first barrel, uh, arrived to where ... I got the idea, though, at BV. Um, Andre had built, uh, barrel racks out of, um-

Doug:
Right, I saw, I saw-

Richard:
Four by fours-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
And they were fixed in place. And then OSHA got involved and they wanted me to, when I made new ones, they wanted me to have a minimum of seven feet in the walkways. Seven feet interfered with the design of it, because I could get four barrels high at BV-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
You know, uh, if I did it that way, but seven foot, uh, walkway I, I'd lose a whole row of barrels.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
So I could only stack three high and it wasn't very efficient. It wasn't very efficient anyway-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And I kept thinking, "I've got to get rid of these barrel racks somehow. I've gotta make this automated." Theo Rosenbrand, bless his heart, he, he, uh, his crew, they had to put a tire on the end of the row and then you had to, uh, you had to pump the wine out of the barrels in the rack, then while the barrel was empty, you'd roll it down to the end, let it drop onto the barrel, onto the, uh, tire, and then roll it on these rails, on four by four rails laid on the ground. He'd roll the barrels out and then wash them out, clean them, um, get them ready, make sure they're not leaking, and then bring them back up empty, lift them back up with a hoist, get them back in the barrel racks, put the bungs up-

Doug:
Oh, my gosh.

Richard:
Then you'd go in and fill them with a gas pump-type filler.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
It was, uh, it was awful to do that, and-

Doug:
No, no forklift.

Richard:
No, no forklift.

Doug:
Yeah, no, yeah.

Richard:
You couldn't use a forklift anywhere along the line, whether it was cleaning or washing barrels, you had to do everything by hand.

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
And I kept thinking, “I've got to get this somehow on, on barrel racks." Beringer started, they, they had the idea of, of making, of putting the barrels on racks-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Richard:
But they had great, big wooden pallets and, uh, it took a huge forklift just to handle it and it didn't work very well.

Doug:
It was too, it was too unwieldy, yeah.

Richard:
And so, I wanted to be able to see ... Because they got, they had gotten the idea too. They knew that there had to be-

Doug:
Right.

Richard:
You had to have a rack system.

Doug:
But you did it?

Richard:
And I said to myself, "I'm an engineer, what the hell, I can do this."

Doug:
You're an engineer and, you know, look, it's, it-

Richard:
So, I got steel tubing and I figured this will do it. We bent it a little bit so it so it would flush, so it would mesh with the barrel around the, the curvature of the barrel.

Doug:
They're beautiful. And, um, look it, you are an engineer, a chemical engineer-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
A wine maker-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
You started with, you know, your-

Richard:
I should be able to design the racks.

Doug:
You, you started with the ice cream bags and-

Richard:
That's right.

Doug:
And the, and the stick to poke them and, and you ended up-

Richard:
Yeah.

Doug:
You, you've been, and you're still creating. I know you've probably got things going right now at, at home.

Richard:
I have.

Doug:
I bet. I knew that. I know that. All right, well, Dick Peterson, thank you so much for coming here today. What a great story, um, this, the, the story of, um, the post-Prohibition, you know, resurgence of quality wine in this country. So, thank you so much for being here.

Richard:
Thank you very much, Doug.

Doug:
All right.

Richard:
It's been a pleasure being here.

Doug:
Thanks.