"Sacramento wine merchant and forager supreme" Darrell Corti -- that's how officials of the Culinary Institute of America see him -- is one of eight Californians who are to be inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in March.
CIA representatives announced their second round of selections this morning. Corti, president of the Corti Brothers grocery store along Folsom Boulevard, was one of 30 nominees described as individuals who have made a significant contribution to the California wine industry and who still are alive or who died recently. The four others in that category to be inducted this year are the late Ernest and Julio Gallo of E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, and Milijenko "Mike" Grgich of Grgich Hills Winery in Napa Valley.
The three other inductees were voted in as "pioneers" -- people who also have made significant contributions to the trade but who have been dead at least 10 years. They are John Daniel, who restored the historic Napa Valley winery Inglenook after the repeal of Prohibition; Louis P. Martini, the progressive head of Louis M. Martini Winery in Napa Valley during the middle of the past century; and Carl Wente, who founded the Livermore winery Wente Vineyards in 1883.
This is the second year for the Vintners Hall of Fame. Last year's inductees were Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi, UC Davis enologist Maynard Amerine, UC Davis grape breeder Harold Olmo, Christian Brothers Winery cellarmaster Brother Timothy, Beaulieu Vineyard founder Georges de Latour, longtime Beaulieu Vineyard winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, vineyard pioneer Agoston Haraszthy, and Napa Valley pioneering vintners Charles Krug and Gustave Niebaum.
Last year, CIA officials kept the nomination process in house. This year's candidates were nominated and elected by wine writers W. Blake Gray, Toni Allegra, John Olney, Sara Schneider, Leslie Sbrocco, Paul Wagner, Alder Yarrow and myself.
The Vintners Hall of Fame induction dinner will be March 7 at the CIA's Greystone campus in St. Helena. Tickets are $250. Proceeds endow scholarships for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the CIA. For more information, visit the center's Web site, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 255-7667.
Darrell Corti is in San Francisco today foraging for Austrian wine and wasn't immediately available for comment.