Books on history of California winemaking?

I am trying to find a book that best lays out/tells the story of the period in time in Napa and others parts of California from say 1950-the 80s when the true classic wines of California were being made and discovered. Any recommendations on a book that covers the period that anyone would recommend? Really looking to learn more about some of the great winemakers from that era and where they were and what they did.

Thanks in advance!

There was a huge, doorstop of a book on California wine published by the University of California Press back in the late 70s or 80s. It was an excellent collection of articles that might be up your alley. I can’t find it quickly on line, but I’ve got it at home and can post the name if someone else hasn’t first.

Hit up Richard Walker.

It’s not comprehensive, but George Tabor’s book on the Judgment of Paris covers a lot of this ground.

Also, not a book, but there’s a lot of really interesting material on the early days of the CA wine industry at the California Wine Industry Oral History Project: Bancroft Library | UC Berkeley Library

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Great Winemakers of California: Conversations with Robert Benson

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The book I was thinking of was University of California/Sotheby’s Book of California Wine, which is still available:

Give Healdsburg Wine Library a call. They may have some suggestions. They do have a bunch of audio where old winemakers talk about wineries and such from back in the day etc.

Not a book but these would be a cool place to start. I’ve looked at a few and there is some great history here:

Those Oral transcripts are wonderful, I read just about all of them a few years ago, you can find them on also.

If you want to find a book regarding the wines of California made in the 1880’s and 1890’s dig up George Hussman’s 1888 treatise- a pretty amazing read and remarkably prescient. The UC Davis tome from the early 1980’s is pretty fascinating; there is a nice piece by Paul Draper on Zinfandel.

If you are looking at 1950-1980 then you must read James T. Lapsley’s “Bottled Poetry, Napa Winemaking from Prohibition to the Modern Era” as well as Charles L. Sullivan’s “Napa Wine A History”. These cover your period of interest plus a little bit more. To understand what was going on right before your period look at Frank Schoonmaker’s and Tom Marvel’s “American Wines” published in 1941.

Morgan, to add to your suggestion for the 1880’s and 1890’s I recommend Vincent P. Carosso’s “The California Wine Industry, 1830-1890”. It has tons of 19th century references and a great bibliography. It is more of a history but it help frames all of the highly detailed viticultural reports where you can read about actual efforts in vineyards and wineries.

This one is fun…done in 1973. Great profile on Heitz, etc…

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Nate – Looking at your original query again, I think you should definitely check this out, particularly since it’s still in print and fairly cheap. There 44 articles by people like Paul Draper, Zelma Long, Gerald Asher. It covers history, winemaking, grape types, and many of the articles talk about the evolution of California wine. (There are some amusing passages talking about overripe wines in the 70s and the move back toward balance. Plus ca change…) I think you might find it captures a lot of the thought of that period. (It was published in 1984.)

John thanks I am going to grab a copy of this from the local library and give it a look through.

James Halliday’s “Wine Atlas of California” has some nice historical info.

Others here have stole my thunder, but here’s what we have in our library:

) Creating wine : the emergence of a world industry, 1840-1914 / James Simpson
(mostly Europe, but a chapter on CA)

) Guide to California wines. Introd. by Joseph Henry Jackson, John Melville (1955)

) The story of wine in California / Fisher, M. F. K. (1962)

) The taste of place : a cultural journey into terroir / Amy B. Trubek
[more about local food, but could be a fun read]

) Vineyards & wineries of California / author, Donald Holtgrieve, California State University, Chico ; production, Allan Cartography ; design, Stuart Allan ; cartographer, Pat Tamarin [map, but may have info you seek]

) Webster’s wine tours : California, Oregon, and Washington / Bob Thompson

) The Wine spectator’s wine country guide to California

) Winemaking in California : the account in words and pictures of the Golden State’s two-century-long adventure with wine / Ruth Teiser and Catherine Harroun

and don’t forget about The ZIN!:

) Zinfandel : a history of a grape and its wine / Charles L. Sullivan ; foreword by Paul Draper

North American Pinot Noir by John Winthrop Haeger has some very good historical detail relating to Pinot Noir in California.

Another vote for Great Winemakers of California. Incredibly good interviews with pretty much everyone in the 1970s talking about everything from grape growing to cellar practices. You’d be amazed at how much of the conversation hasn’t changed. Highly recommended.

Napa: The Story of an American Eden by James Conaway is a nice read.