Richard A. Ward Fellowship created to honor late UC Davis alumnus in viticulture and enology

Richard A. Ward

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 spouse, 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 for 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 Napa Valley Vintners (a trade association), 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 Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis. “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. In addition, Saintsbury is launching a new wine offering, to ensure the program’s longevity, so that more students receive assistance in the future. Saintsbury’s winemaker, Tim Colla, will craft a one-of-a-kind, limited-edition bottling of a wine each year and the proceeds will support the fellowship.  This year, the inaugural wine offering was a 2019 Lee Vineyard Pinot Noir Clonal Blend that Tim described as a well-structured, beautiful and complex wine that can be aged, enjoyed and rediscovered for many years. The wine sold for $125/bottle and each label was hand-numbered and signed by Tim.  This year’s vintage (2019) has sold out, however, if you would like a bottle of next year’s vintage, please contact the winery.

“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. The first Ward Fellowship awardee will be announced during this year’s Viticulture and Enology Graduation and Award Ceremony, which will take place on June 11, 2021.


This is an update of an original article posted by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on February 5, 2021. To read the original article, click here.