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James L. Barrett, pioneering Napa Valley vintner was 86

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chateau Montelena Founder James L. Barrett The one-time Los Angeles lawyer who turned to viniculture and made a huge splash in 1976 when his Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won a prestigious Paris tasting, has died in San Francisco. A family spokesman said that Barrett died last Thursday, without providing the cause of death, the LA Times says. Barrett bought Chateau Montelena, a century-old non-operational winery in Calistoga, in 1972. Four years later he (and it) burst on the world wine stage at the famous blind tasting now known as “The Judgment of Paris.” It pitted California wines against French wines, and to the astonishment of many at the time, California wines, including his beloved label, won in both white and red categories. Obituary: LA Times

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