Saintsbury founder dies

St. Helena, Calif.—Richard Ward, co-founder of Saintsbury Winery, died on May 27 due to complications from a bone marrow transplant. He was 67 years old. Ward and his business partner David Graves founded Saintsbury in 1981, deciding to focus on Burgundian varieties in the cool southern parts of Napa Valley.

“Dick was a wine person, through and through,” says wine writer, Tim Atkin in the obituary press release for Ward. “But he wasn’t a wine bore or a geek. He just wanted more people to enjoy good wine, especially if it was Pinot Noir. Burgundy was a source of inspiration, but he didn’t revere it the way some vintners do. ‘Beaune in the USA,’ as a tongue-in-cheek Saintsbury t-shirt would have it. Dick wanted to make great California Pinot Noir that everyone could enjoy, not to mention Chardonnay and the occasional Syrah. And he succeeded. Many great bottles will be part of his legacy.”
“Dick was one of my favourite wine people,” says wine writer, Jancis Robinson. “Focused on showing the world how fine California Pinot Noir could be, he had a world view, a keen intelligence, and never took himself too seriously- despite his good looks. He was great company. We will miss him a great deal.”
In addition to his passion for the wine business, Ward loved modern art, excellent writing, music and good friends and conversation. 

Ward as born on Feb. 5, 1950 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col Richard A. Ward Sr. and Ella Meadows. He grew up in North Carolina and in the Washington D.C. area, where he graduated from Sidwell Friends High.  He earned a structural engineering degree from Tufts University in Boston and moved to California to study enology at the University of California, Davis.

He is survived by his wife Linda Reiff; his children Philippa Ward of Charleston, S.C., and Trent Ward of London, U.K.; his mother Ella Meadows Giesey of Sleepy Creek, N.C.; sister Normanide Fischer and her family of North Carolina.; sister Heidi Ravenel and her family of Charleston, S.C.; and the Reiff family of California. He also leaves behind numerous friends and colleagues who have known him as Dick, Dr. Dick, The Professor, RAW and Ricardo.
Richard served on the boards of directors of the California Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Opera House, di Rosa art preserve and Tower Road Wine Co-op.
Family and friends ask those seeking to honor Ward to consider joining the National Bone Marrow Registry or donating blood or platelets at a local blood bank.  Memorial donations can also be made to the di Rosa art preserve in Carneros where a special fund is being established to celebrate his life and love of art.

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