Beckstoffer honored by California winegrower group

The California Association of Winegrape Growers on July 2 said it selected Andy Beckstoffer, owner of Rutherford-based Beckstoffer Vineyards, as its 2015 Grower of the Year.

The trade group’s Grower of the Year award is presented to a farmer whose personal commitment and record of leadership has benefited California’s wine industry. Beckstoffer is the fourth recipient of the award, which CAWG created to inspire leadership and to acknowledge members who exemplify the strength and influence of the association.

“Andy inspired grape growers to become better and smarter in the vineyard and in the business world,” said David Weiss, owner of Bella Vista Farming in Kelseyville. “He is a model of how hard work and the effective use of technology can deliver the best quality grapes that command top dollar.”

The award will be presented at the association’s annual meeting and Awards of Excellence program on July 22 in Napa.

Beckstoffer is one of the top 20 largest grape growers in California, the largest nonwinery owner of Napa Valley and North Coast vineyards and the largest seller of premium winegrapes in the Napa Valley and North Coast wine regions.

Beckstoffer Vineyards grows winegrapes on about 1,000 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley, 1,500 acres in Mendocino County and 1,500 acres in the Red Hills appellation in Lake County.

“Fortunately, Andy’s passion for growing the best fruit to make the best wine extended beyond Napa Valley,” said Michael Boer, who owns Stipp Ranch in Ukiah and once worked for Beckstoffer. “Andy’s reach with vineyards into Mendocino and Lake Counties has elevated this area into greater prominence as a producer of quality wines.”

In 1970 Beckstoffer and his family moved to California where he worked as president of a farming company, a subsidiary of Hublein. He purchased the farming company in 1973 and gave it a new name – Beckstoffer Vineyards. As a winegrape grower, Beckstoffer was among the first to introduce the use of overhead sprinkler systems for frost protection, the use of drip irrigation and innovations in trellising and vine spacing.

Beckstoffer was also influential as a founder of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association where he would serve as its second president. During his term, he initiated the Bottle Price Formula, where the price of grapes was tied to the retail price of the finished wine.

In 1989 Beckstoffer is credited as a leader in the Napa Valley Grape Growers trade group in establishing Napa County’s Winery Definition Ordinance, which requires that 75 percent of grapes used in Napa Valley wines must come from the appellation. Five years later, he founded and served as first president of the Rutherford Dust Society, where he promoted high-quality winegrape growing standards in the Rutherford viticultural area of the Napa Valley.

Through the years, numerous news articles have focused on Beckstoffer’s passion for the grape and the wine business, describing him as “a legendary grower” and “the man behind many of the finest wines made in the Napa Valley.” He received the first Grower of the Year Award in 2006 from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and was acknowledged as Agriculturist of the Year by the Napa County Farm Bureau. In 2010, Beckstoffer was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame.

Editor’s note: This articles was originally published in the North Bay Business Journal. Read more at


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