A new fellowship in memory of UC Davis alumnus and Napa Valley winemaker Richard A. Ward has been established in the Department of Viticulture and Enology by his widow, Linda Reiff, to help in the development of a new generation of winemakers.
The fellowship will annually provide financial support to a graduate student in viticulture and enology who will assist with crucial research in the wine industry. Ward was co-founder and managing partner of Saintsbury vineyard and winery in Napa. He died in 2017 following a fight with cancer. Reiff, president and CEO of the trade association Napa Valley Vintners, felt compelled to make a fitting tribute to her late husband at his alma mater.
“Richard carried his exceptional intelligence with an equal level of curiosity to learn more about topics that enchanted him, including wine,” she said. “I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate and honor him than to create an opportunity to help someone deepen their knowledge and perhaps pursue a career related to wine. I also thought it would be meaningful for the fellowship recipients to assist with essential research projects to help the industry Richard and I dedicated our lives to.”
“Richard Ward was a pioneer in the expansion of quality wine production in the Napa Valley,” said Professor David Block, chair of the viticulture and enology department. “He and his partner, David Graves, were some of the first to prove that they could make world-class Pinot noir and Chardonnay in California. Linda’s generosity is a wonderful way to recognize her husband’s contributions to the wine industry and his roots in our department. ”
Ward earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Tufts University in Boston and then followed his dream to make wine in California. After completing his graduate work in winemaking at UC Davis, he and Graves started the Saintsbury winery in 1981.
The Richard A. Ward Fellowship will award $10,000 each year for at least the next decade to help defray tuition and other expenses. Saintsbury also is launching a new wine series to help raise funds to support the fellowship program beyond the initial 10 years.
“By focusing the fellowship on a student performing research in our department, this gift will also be contributing to the creation of new knowledge to strengthen the California wine industry over the long term,” Block said.