André – The Voice of Wine

The new film “André – The Voice of Wine” from director and producer, Mark Tchelistcheff, is the inspirational back story of “Bottle Shock“, and who was truly behind the Napa Valley Winners at the 1976 “Judgement of Paris” wine tasting.

“On June 7, 1976, a story in Time Magazine announced to the world the shocking results of the now-famous Paris Tasting: Two California wines had, according to a panel of France’s most glorified oenophiles, bested their French counterparts in the head-on blind competition. As it turned out, the winning vintages had more than California in common. Miljenko Grgich, whose 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay topped four white Burgundies, and Warren Winiarski, whose Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1972 Cabernet took home best-red honors, both attributed their success to a higher power: André Tchelistcheff.”

From: “Man of the Year: André Tchelistcheff,” John N. Hutchison, Wines and Vines, March 1990

Who was André Tchelistcheff?

André Tchelistcheff, the “Dean of American Winemaking,” was a seminal figure, a legendary winemaker, and one of the most remarkable men of the twentieth century. 

His influence and contributions almost single-handedly made the rapid development in the quality of wine in the United States after the repeal of Prohibition possible. For over five decades, he worked with numerous wineries that helped establish the American wine industry: Beaulieu, Charles Krug, Louis M. Martini, Buena Vista, Firestone, Schramsberg, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Hanzell, Heitz, Simi, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hoffman, Jordan, Quilceda Creek, Sequoia Grove, Villa Mt. Eden, Conn Creek, King Estate, Rodney Strong, Niebaum Coppola, among others.

Though small in stature, André seemed larger than life, and all those who knew him experienced him that way, for he was a mountain of energy and inspiration. Countless technologies that are now routine in wineries worldwide – cold fermentation, stainless steel tanks, controlled malolactic fermentation – were developed by André and tested in Napa and Sonoma. 

He was also known as “The Maestro” and “The Winemaker’s Winemaker”. He believed in sharing information and teaching all those who yearned to make great wine. He mentored countless winemakers, including Louis Martini, Robert Mondavi, Joe Heitz. He taught young winemakers that they could make wonderful wine whether they were tending grapes in Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, or Washington.

His students and protégées now make wine in all corners of the world, weaving the subtleties they learned from him into their work. Years after his death, many still ask themselves in time of crisis or decision; “what would André have done?”

To all who met André, he was an inspiration and wonderment in his being and articulation. André once recalled a Beaujolais as “a young woman, barefoot, the wind blowing in her hair, ruffling her blouse. She has the look on her face of an early peach, a teenage beauty”.

Among the first young winemakers that he mentored was the first woman winemaker in America, MaryAnn Graf. In 1965 MaryAnn became the first woman to graduate from the viticulture and enology program at the University of California Davis.  

MaryAnn and André worked together closely for many years at Simi. When asked to reflect on her relationship with André, she told Wines & Vines Magazine “he is the master of description: each word so perfectly defines right down to the subtlest nuance”.

Throughout his life, André was a true gentleman; a man like no other in a century when chivalry seemed forgotten. His achievements were recognized internationally, with the French government naming him as a “Chevalier” in 1954, and an “Officier du Mérite Agricole” in 1980. 

He was also awarded the 1970 Merit Award of the American Society of Enologists (of which he was a charter member) and the 1980 Award of Merit of the American Wine Society.

André’s quotes on wine appear in numerous books on wine, and the stories of his influence are woven throughout the histories of countless wineries in the United States. He loved what he did until the very end and talked about “wine as a joy of life” to all who would listen. 

“Wine is an intellectual beverage. It does not have the toxicity of liquor. Taken in moderation, it opens the mind. I have seen an introvert, after two glasses of wine, open like a flower.”

 –André Tchelistcheff

André followed his passion, took great risks, and influenced so many people. He served as muse to an entire generation of winemakers who have made our world so much more wonderful by creating this magical nectar.

“Always on the go, often busy and in a hurry, but always able to find time to help someone. I have many warm memories of Tchelistcheff, his gracious smile, his thick curly eyebrows, his rich Russian accent. The deep creases etched in his face were lines of wisdom and time. Always a gentleman. Always a pleasure to be around.” -Jim Laube, Wine Spectator, May 31, 1994

The cast

Director Mark Tchelistcheff has assembled an illustrious team of filmmakers including Oscar-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes narrating; multiple Oscar winner Walter Murch as an adviser (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, The Unbearable Likeness of Being); with editing and writing from BAFTA winner Michael Chandler (Amadeus, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg, Mishima in Four Parts) and multiple awards winning composer Alexei Aigui for an all-original score (I’m Not Your Negro, Le Petit Poucet, Moloch Tropical and the recent Venice opening film The Truth).

What the press is Saying

“Hidden Gem” – Hollywood Reporter

“…defies the expectations…one worth seeking out.” – Kelly J Hayes – The Aspen Times

“André – The Voice of Wine… is a rare achievement: a wine documentary that isn’t boring for either wine experts or novices.” – W. Blake Gray – The Gray Blog

“A compelling, dramatic story, rather than a documentary it seems to be a fictionalized film, but it is not.” – Alessandra Piubello – Bubbles Italia

Click HERE to watch a preview of the film.

Limited time, special offer

To celebrate this truly amazing film, we are offering a complimentary screening with any bottle or case purchase of our Double Gold Medal-winning 2012 Byrd Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Click HERE to for more details on this exclusive offer.

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Bruce Byrd started Byrd Vineyard out of a love of making great wine by hand. Wine that everyone would enjoy while creating cherished memories. Check back often to learn more about his journey and wines.

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