William F. Heintz was a historian who lived most of his adult life in Sonoma. Heintz wrote two detailed books on Napa, Wine Country: A History of Napa Valley, The Early Years 1838-1920 and California's Napa Valley, One Hundred Sixty Years of Winemaking. As an old-school academic, Heintz studied the events that shaped California wine, particularly Napa Valley. Through his three decades of research and writings, Heintz made a great contribution to piecing together the people who started winemaking in Napa through its formative years from Prohibition to the 1970s and 1980s wine boom. Heintz was known as a stickler for facts, and liked rummaging through old newspapers, magazines and reports that were pertinent to wine history. "Libraries are the life-blood of historians," he once wrote. He was regarded as a historical detective for his ability to search out and remember obscure details other researchers did not find. He wrote nearly 90 research reports and conducted hundreds of oral history interviews with people in the wine business. A native of Rudyard, Mt., Heintz began his college work toward a degree in journalism in Helena, Montana, but completed his bachelor's degree at San Francisco State University. At Sonoma State University, he attained his master's degree in history and was soon taking on commissions to write histories for wineries all over California.
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