Barry Sterling, a pioneer of the California sparkling wine industry and co-founder of Iron Horse Winery, recently passed away at the age of 90.
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Sterling died Sunday at his home after a long illness, according to a family statement.
In 1976, Sterling, a lawyer-turned-winemaker, and his wife Audrey bought Iron Horse Winery. At the time, it was not yet highly recommended to plant grapes in Sonoma County because of the risk of frost. In addition to producing cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Iron Horse is also known for its sparkling wines and is one of the pioneers of high-quality sparkling wines, along with Chantilly, which is part of the LVMH group.
From Ronald Reagan to current President Donald Trump, the White House has served Sterling"s sparkling wine for six consecutive presidential terms.
Sterling was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 1929, and graduated from Stanford University. He served as a clerk to the chancellor in Washington, D.C., and assisted the legal staff of the U.S. Department of Defense during the McCarthy Senate hearings.
Later, he opened a corporate law firm in Los Angeles and also founded the Los Angeles Music Center and the Los Angeles Museum of Art with his wife.
While in France in the 1960s, he developed a passion for wine. After correctly guessing a Cahors wine in a blind tasting competition, he was inspired to start his own wine project.
In 1979, on Sterling's 50th birthday, Iron Horse Winery was officially opened. Since then, Sterling and Audrey have been instrumental in the creation of the Green Valley appellation. The Green Valley appellation is a sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley appellation, which is also home to their winery.