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Generations and Innovations:
Cornell Alumni Shaping the Grape and Wine Industries

Long before the establishment of the viticulture and enology undergraduate major at Cornell in 2008, CALS alumni have been leaders in the wine industry from coast to coast. They have pioneered new wine regions, worked for legislative reform to foster industry growth, implemented green practices, and explored new markets from cult wines to distilled spirits.

These Cornellians represent a fraction of the outstanding alumni in the industry.


John Dyson ’65
Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, Williams Selyem Winery, and Villa Pillo

John Dyson

An accomplished businessman and public servant, Millbrook Capital Management chairman John Dyson has served as New York’s commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of commerce, chairman of the New York Power Authority, and deputy mayor of New York City. As agriculture commissioner in the 1970s, he formed a task force to develop the Farm Winery Bill, which ignited the growth of New York’s wine industry. His personal detour into wine began in 1979, when he and his wife, Kathe, converted an old dairy farm in his Hudson Valley hometown of Millbrook, N.Y., into Millbrook Vineyards and Winery. They now own over 1,000 acres of vineyards, including Villa Pillo in Tuscany, Italy, and Williams Selyem Winery in California’s Russian River Valley. Dyson is a Cornell emeritus trustee, and his family’s gift of $25 million established the CALS Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in 2010. He is a recipient of the CALS Outstanding Alumni Award and past chair and a current member of the CALS Advisory Council.


John Williams ’74
Frog’s Leap Winery

John Williams

A native of upstate New York and a former dairy farmer, John Williams trained at U.C. Davis and the Finger Lakes Glenora Cellars before establishing Frog’s Leap Winery in 1981. While focused on producing wines that reflect the climate and soils of their origin, Williams is an industry leader in organic grape production, cultivating over 200 acres of certified organic vineyards in California’s Napa Valley. Williams’s commitment to sustainability has led him to harvest more than just grapes from the land: the winery became 100 percent solar powered in 2005—courtesy of a half acre of vineyard with over 1,000 photovoltaic panels—and the hospitality center now uses geothermal heating and cooling. His son Rory ’11 is completing his M.S. in Food Science, studying the chemistry of wine aroma.


Peter Saltonstall ’75
King Ferry Winery/Treleaven Wines

Peter Saltonstall

With his wife, Tacie, Peter Saltonstall has been the co-owner of King Ferry Winery, the makers of Treleaven wines, since 1984. As head winemaker, Saltonstall focuses on producing small quantities of wine with intense varietal character by hand harvesting grapes, reducing yields in the vineyard, and fermenting in oak barrels. Along with producing award-winning wines, Saltonstall was instrumental in changing national and state laws to allow direct shipment of New York wines to other states, allowing New York wineries to maintain direct relationships with their customers in other states. He has chaired the board of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, serves on the CALS Advisory Council, is a past member of the Cornell Institute for Food Science Advisory Council, and collaborates with researchers in Cornell’s enology and viticulture program. He was recognized in 2007 with the CALS Outstanding Alumni Award.


Helen Turley ’76
Marcassin Vineyards

Helen Turley

Pioneer and perfectionist Helen Turley is one of the most influential winemaking consultants in California. She was one of the first to recognize that the wilds of the Sonoma Coast were an ideal environment for producing  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of the highest quality. With her husband, John Wetlaufer, she established Marcassin Vineyard in 1991. Since then Marcassin has become one of California’s most renowned vineyards and wineries, and Turley has become one of the first winemaking super-consultants, working with over 20 clients in her 30-year career. With her devotion to expressing the grape’s essence through intense but refined wines, she is credited with ushering in California’s cult wine revolution. In 2010, she was the recipient of Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award for her many accomplishments in the vineyard and wine cellar.


Fred Frank ’79
Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars

Frederick Frank

Fred Frank’s grandfather, Dr. Konstantin Frank, brought the cultivation of the European Vitis vinifera grapes to the Finger Lakes, altering the course of the Finger Lakes wine industry. Fred Frank, who trained as a winemaker in Germany, serves as president and manages the team of winemakers, whose track record of wine medals led the Wine Enthusiast to name them “Finger Lakes’ Most Award-Winning Winery” in 2007.

The national attention garnered by his Rieslings helped establish Riesling as the signature varietal for the Finger Lakes and elevate the international reputation of the region’s wines. Frank has served on the CALS Advisory Council and the CALS Alumni Association board of directors. In 2010, CALS honored him with an Outstanding Alumni Award. He has three children attending CALS: daughters Megan ’11 and Gretchen ’10, and son Kyle ’14, who hopes to continue the Frank family legacy.


Larry Perrine, MS ’85
Channing Daughters Winery

Larry Perrine

Larry Perrine established the first formal grape research program for the Long Island wine industry as a Cornell research viticulturist and served as a consultant for 11 years. Next, he joined Channing Daughters Winery, where he is now president, CEO, and co-owner. At the winery, Perrine has fostered an atmosphere of artisanal experimentation. Channing Daughters is the only winery on Long Island’s east end that produces wine from rare varieties such as Malvasia, Refosco, and Ribolla Gialla. Fermentations use both wild and commercial yeasts and depart from standard methods, such as fermenting white grapes with their skins—a practice traditionally employed only with red grapes. Perrine has served on the board of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station Advisory Council, and the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center’s Grape Research Advisory Committee.


Kim Wagner ’85 & Stephen Osborn ’84
Stoutridge Vineyard

Kim Wagner and Stephen Osborn

Kim Wagner and Stephen Osborn established Stoutridge Vineyard in 2001 on Hudson Valley land that was first planted to vineyards in the 1700s. Their “slow wine” approach results in wines with a natural haze and sensory complexity. To minimize their environmental impact: they installed a solar array that produces enough electricity to meet the winery’s need. Wagner and Osborn are expanding their production to make room for a distillery that will transform New York–grown ingredients into bourbon, vodka, and gin. Wagner serves on the Life Sciences Advisory Board, the CALS Advisory Council, the Governor’s Task Force on the Wine and Grape Industry, and the board of the NYS Wine and Grape Foundation.


Torey Arvik, PhD ’03
Cork Supply USA

Torey Arvik

As a specialist in wine spoilage, Torey Arvik has been on the front lines of keeping wines safe from the scourges of “Brett” and cork taint. After earning his doctorate at Cornell, he developed wine diagnostics at ETS Laboratories in St. Helena, California, and then served as director of technical services for Jackson Family Wines for four years. In March 2011, he became the technical services and operations director of Cork Supply USA, the second-largest global producer of natural cork closures and known for their commitment to sustainable cork oak forestry. Arvik also supports the global research and development program for their natural cork products and their custom cooperage program, which produces ultra-premium wine barrels.