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Warren Winiarski

Headshot of Warren Winiarski wearing a polo t-shirt.
Photo by Bob McClenahan. Courtesy of Warren Winiarski.


California Connection

  • Lived and worked in the Napa Valley since 1964


Biography current as of induction in 2017

Ever since his 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon placed first at the 1976 Judgment of Paris, Warren Winiarski cultivated a legacy for the meaning of that tasting, for Napa Valley, for California, and for America’s place in the world of wine.

Thanks to 53 years of dedication and perseverance as grape grower and winemaker, Winiarski became a mentor and preservationist. His devotion matured from making exceptional wine to reinforcing the culture of wine as an American tradition.

Winiarski began his career in wine in Napa Valley in 1964, starting as an apprentice then becoming Robert Mondavi’s first winemaker. In 1970, Winiarski planted his first Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard with the goal of illustrating that high-quality wines were not the exclusive domain of France.

Winiarski was a longtime advocate for agricultural land preservation in the Napa Valley. 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Napa Valley Agriculture Preserve, of which he was one of the key supporters. He placed his own vineyards under conservation easements. He was also a leader in passing California legislation to require the use of “Napa Valley” with all internal American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

Winiarski was dedicated to ensuring that the history of California wine development to world class status be preserved at the “greatest wine library in the world.” For that purpose, he supported the collection of papers of world-renowned wine authors at U.C. Davis.

At the Smithsonian Institution, where Winiarski’s 1973 Cabernet is included as one of the “101 Objects that Made America,” he supported the American Food & Wine History Project, which demonstrates California’s history of wine making and the contributions of those involved.  

Selected Awards/Recognition

  • The Culinary Institute of America’s California Vintners Hall of Fame

View more inductees from the 11th class, inducted in 2017.