Sonoma pioneer Robert Young dies

  • Thursday 2 July 2009

Robert Young, the Sonoma County wine pioneer, has died at the age of 90.

Young died at Santa Rosa’s Memorial Hospital on 19 June after being hospitalized with heart irregularities two days earlier.

In 1963, Young planted 6,500 cabernet sauvignon vines on 14 acres of what was then a prune orchard; in doing so he became the first grower to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma's Alexander Valley.

With help from the University of California-Davis, Young later selected and propagated a Chardonnay clone which became known as the Robert Young Clone (clone #17).

In 1975, his client, Chateau St. Jean, began crediting his vineyard on the label, making it one of the USA's first vineyard designated wines.

In addition to selling grapes from their vineyards to Chateau St. Jean and other wineries, the Young family bottles 5% of their production under their eponymous label.

In 2001, Young bought 100 acres in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York to convert to vineyards.

Young is survived by his children JoAnn, Jim, Susan, and Fred; wife Donna and sister, Marion Penry; twelve grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A memorial was held on Wednesday at the family's ranch in Geyserville California.

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