Article August 1984

Historical Excerpt
From ASEV History compiled by Leonard “Bud” J. Berg

The seeds of what was to become the American Society of Enologists were planted and diligently cultivated by Charles B. Holden, M.S. a few years before the Society became a reality. He traveled many miles and spent many hours of his time (and quite a bit of money) visiting wineries, winemakers and winery owners to explain his hopes of founding a Society to enhance the image of the winemakers, enologists and chemists and elevate them to the status they so richly deserved. He spoke to many of the local technical groups throughout the state. Thanks to Ze’ev Halperin, who recalls Charley Holden speaking to the monthly meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Winemakers in July of 1948 in Fresno, California. His subject – more dignity for the Winemaker! More realization by the wine industry that the Winemaker is the central figure in the art and science of making wine!  He simply suggested that the technical people within the wine industry get together and form an organization dedicated to the upgrading of the technical field through scientific approaches. This was the first time Ze’ev and the rest of the assembled members of our budding industry heard about an organization to become the prestigious group it turned out to be. This message was repeated to many other wine groups throughout the state. Translating Charley Holden’s idea into reality was not a smooth sailing affair.

The wine industry was going through a period that the breweries had, for the most part, passed. The American Society for Brewing Chemists had done much to improve the technical status of the industry by helping to eliminate the “trade secret” type of thinking. In addition, the Wallerstein Laboratories were putting out a quarterly trade journal which was very technical and well thought of by the beer industry. It helped turn the industry away from art and toward science. Charley sent quite a few old copies of this journal to Dr. Maynard A. Amerine. He didn’t believe that we in the wine industry should feel unhappy that the proto-type of our Society and Journal was already successful elsewhere. Time has demonstrated their value to us.

At this time the winery owners were against the formation of the Society, fearing that the winemakers were trying to form a union. Many of the “Old Timers” of the late 40’s and early 50’s will recall that at that time many winemakers were making less money than some of the cellar help! (Historian’s Note: I know, I was there!). The winemaker’s status was so low that it was not unheard of to fire the winemaker before Christmas and not rehire until just before the vintage. The Society, with the increased stature of the industry, helped develop humane as well as professional treatment of enologists and viticulturists. Indirectly, the formation of the Society did upgrade the salaries of many winemakers by bringing to the attention of the winery owners that success or failure depended mainly on the competence of the winemaker.

Some of the key people that helped promote the growth of the Society were Dr. Maynard A. Amerine, Prof. Harold W. Berg, Dr. Albert J. Winkler, Dr. William V. Cruess, Dr. Maynard Joslyn, Dr. George Marsh, Dr. James Guymon, Dr. A.D. Webb and Mr. Min Akiyoshi. There were others that were important like Louis Martini, Charles Crawford, Ze’ev Halperin, Myron Nightingale, F. Filipello, Roy Mineau, Hans Warkentin, Raul DeSoto, Lewis Stern, Dick Auerbach, Elie Skofis, Frank Pilone, C.E. Bailey, Ted Kite and Bill LaRosa. If I have inadvertently left someone off the above, my sincere apologies.

A meeting was held in 1949 at the Hotel Wolf in Stockton, California to organize the Society. Seventeen (17) persons attended who were all active in the field of winemaking at that time.

1. Maynard Amerine
2. Dino Barengo
3. Harold W. Berg
4. John G.B. Castor
5. Herman Ehlers
6. Reginald Gianelli
7. Max Goldman
8. James F. Guymon
9. Charles B. Holden
10. Dale Mills
11. Allen Pool
12. Lawrence Quaccia
13. Andre Tchelistcheff
14. Edmund Twight
15. Walter Twight
16. Albert J. Winkler
17. James Parsons

The above people can be described as the Founding Fathers of the Society! This was a preliminary meeting as the Society was not officially founded until 1950.

The American Society of Enologists was officially organized at the Hotel Wolf in Stockton, California on January 27, 1950, adopting a set of bylaws prepared by a special committee which had met in Stockton on December 16, 1949. Charles B. Holden, who had provided the impetus and obstinate resolve to form a society for scientific workers interested in wines and brandies, was elected the first president, an honor he richly deserved! Harold W. Berg was the first vice-president and Walter S. Richert the Secretary and Treasurer. From a letter to Dr. J.F. Guymon from Charles Holden, dated March 8th, 1971, I quote: “At the first meeting of the Society in 1949 at the Hotel Wolf in Stockton, California, the meeting became primarily concerned with the name of the Society. Charley (Holden) was in favor of calling it the American Society of Wine Chemists, as having a better public image, whereas Andre Tchelistcheff spearheaded a group composed of Dr. Winkler and Edmund Twight for identifying the group’s first name as being more traditional”. (Historian’s note: The American Society of Enologists).

An early copy of the bylaws lists the following objectives of the Society:

  1. To promote the technical advancement of enology by developing integrated research between Science and Industry.
  2. To provide a medium of free exchange of technical information on problems of general interest to the wine industry by encouraging the spirit of scientific cooperation among the members. (Historian’s note: Until the founding of the Society, any exchange of technical information was unknown between winemakers, except in very rare cases).
  3. To improve the qualifications and usefulness of technical people who deal with enological problems thereby raising their professional status.
  4. To improve wine quality and to increase production efficiency.
  5. To collaborate with other societies having similar objectives.

The journal has expanded in scope, quality and circulation and four issues per year are printed. Most of the papers presented at the annual meeting are published in the Journal, but other articles are accepted from a wide variety of contributors. The circulation of the Journal has increased yearly, going to members and subscribers in nearly every country growing grapes and wines. The Journal had the distinction for more than twenty-five years of being the only scientific Journal in the English language devoted entirely to grapes and wines.