As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our website and social media.
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Innovations in the Winery

Scientific and technological advances in the process of winemaking also contributed to the overall improvement in the quality of wine produced in postwar America. New research conducted in university departments and winery laboratories helped guide winemakers toward new materials, techniques, and processes that reduced spoilage and resulted in more stable and flavorful wines. Many winemakers adopted the new methods for starting, monitoring, and controlling fermentation, as well as for storing and aging wine.

What we did in forty years, it can be accomplished normally in Europe in four or five centuries.

—André Tchelistcheff, enologist, 1979

Russian Master

André Tchelistcheff, born in Moscow in 1901 and trained in agricultural science and enology in Paris, played a defining role in the rebirth of the California—and American—wine industry. Arriving in Napa in 1938, he was both surprised and dismayed by the primitive conditions of grape growing and winemaking. To raise the standard of wine production, he insisted on better sanitation, new equipment, and the adoption of scientific methods to winemaking. He established an important laboratory at Beaulieu Vineyard, one of Napa’s oldest wineries. Until his death in 1994, he served as a consultant to many California winemakers, and was instrumental in establishing the modern wine industry in Washington State.

André Tchelistcheff, 1970

André Tchelistcheff, 1970

Courtesy of Dorothy Tchelistcheff


Enologist André Tchelistcheff used this colorimeter in his various winery labs. It could analyze the colors of wine samples or measure their acid levels (pH). Gift of Darrell F. Corti.

View object record

Remind-O-Clock, 1940s

Lab work often requires the simultaneous timing of experiments, and this device was a well-used instrument in André Tchelistcheff’s winery lab. The brainchild of California cab driver Henry C. James Jr., this device can be set to activate up to forty-eight times per day. Gift of Darrell F. Corti.

View object record