Wine Enthusiast magazine awarded its Wine Star for American Wine Legend to Warren Winiarski at this year’s wine awards dinner in January.
The award recognizes Winiarski’s legacy in the wine industry as well as his many contributions to land preservation, philanthropy and to reinforcing the culture of wine as an American tradition.
“The Wine Legend Award is reserved for our most influential people that have contributed to more than the wine industry. Warren’s dedication to elevating the status of American wine and his contribution to the Napa Valley has been monumental,” says Adam Strum, editor and publisher of Wine Enthusiast magazine.
In 1964, Winiarski moved to the Napa Valley to follow his dream of becoming a winemaker. In 1970, he planted his first Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in a former prune orchard. Six years later, Winiarski’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won the Judgment of Paris, a blind tasting of California wines against venerated French classics.
A strong advocate for agricultural land preservation, he was a key supporter of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018. Winiarski went on to become the first in Napa Valley to place vineyard land under a conservation easement to ensure it would remain in agricultural use and he has since donated to the Land Trust of Napa County more than 200 acres of vineyard and open space.
In 1996, Winiarski and his wife Barbara initiated the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History’s American Food & Wine History Project, which uses food and wine history as a lens for understanding American history. The Winiarskis have donated significant funding to the Smithsonian for the conservation of wine and food history research, collecting wine and food objects, public events, as well the Annual Winemakers’ Dinners.
Through his family foundation, Winiarski has given the UC Davis Shields Library $3.3 million to create the Wine Writers’ Collection, and he helped to secure the papers of renowned international wine writers Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson and Robert Thompson.
Winiarski was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017. The 11th class of inductees were honored for their exemplary contributions to the “spirit of California.”