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With his parents and brother, George moved to Napa in 1939 at the age of two. He grew up on the ranch and learned to tend the goats, the cows, the prune orchard and the grapevines. He completed his undergraduate degree at U.C. Berkeley in 1959 and after two years in the navy, completed a masters degree in 1963. Following graduation, George began working for a company called the Cyclotron Corporation. (Cyclotrons are a type of particle accelerator primarily used for the production of radio isotopes used in medical imaging.)
Over the next 40 years, at various companies including his own, George distinguished himself as a cyclotron designer. Many of his designs and innovations are in use in cyclotrons and hospitals around the world. George’s latest innovative cyclotron design was completed in 2008, and he continues to consult for the company he founded. When he wasn't designing cyclotrons, George was usually working on the ranch.
Whether growing grapes, making Hendry wines, or designing cyclotrons, George applies the same tenacity and ability to apply fundamental concepts. His detailed approach to winegrowing has earned a reputation and is reflected in our vineyard and our wine.
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a profound change in Napa’s wine industry. The price of grapes was rising rapidly, the focus of wineries was shifting from quantity to quality, and vineyard plantings were on the rise. With his engineering earnings, George Hendry built a reservoir, and in 1973, 74, and 75, replanted most of the ranch to vineyard. Some of these plantings returned vineyard to land that had been fallow for nearly 100 years.
Initially, George grafted only Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, but with time, and a growing understanding of the ranch’s potential, George re-grafted 20 acres of the Zinfandel to Chardonnay, and 20 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 1970s, Robert Mondavi was a rising star in Napa’s wine industry, and was soon buying the grapes from the ranch.
By the late 80s Mondavi was buying all of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and dividing the Cabernet Sauvignon with Opus One. Kent Rosenblum was buying the remaining 9 acres of Zinfandel and bottling a “George Hendry Reserve”. After 50 years of growing, the Hendry Ranch was beginning to develop a reputation for its grapes.
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