Brother Timothy, Napa legend, dies

Brother Timothy Napa Christian brothers News Wine News
  • Thursday 2 December 2004

Brother Timothy Diener, one of the pioneers of California winemaking, has died aged 94.

In one of many tributes, one colleague said a glass of wine made by Timothy 'works more miracles than a church full of saints.'

Known mainly for his approach to blending and his remarkable collection of corkscrews, Brother Timothy joined the Christian Brothers in 1935 as wine chemist at Mont La Salle vineyards. He became head of winemaking for Christian Brothers in 1962.

Anthony George Diener was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1910. He began his working life as a brother teaching high school chemistry before, as Brother Timothy, he was invited to Mont La Salle at the age of 24.

A religious order in California, the Christian Brothers’ adherents take a vow of poverty. Their non-pofit wine has been made in the Napa Valley for decades: during Prohibition it was produced for medicinal and sacramental purposes.

During the 1960s Brother Timothy became a household name in America as Christian Brothers produced consistently good varietal and sparkling wines. One of best known was Château La Salle, a light muscat.

The Christian Brothers winery, which included Greystone Cellars, now the Culinary Institute of America - where Timothy's corkscrew collection is displayed - and the Mont La Salle facility was sold to Heublein in 1989.

Brother Timothy served as president of the NVVA (Napa Valley Vintners’ Association), Napa’s trade body, and was on the executive committee of the Wine Institute for 28 years.

‘I enjoyed those winery days and all the activities, as well as the lasting friendships made over a bottle of wine,’ he said last year at a dinner to celebrate his jubilee as a Christian Brother.

The former head of the Wine Institute, John DeLuca said, ‘A glass of wine made by Brother Timothy works more miracles than a church full of saints.’

A mass and funeral ceremony will take place on Saturday 4 December in Napa.

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