Schoonmaker, Frank

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Schoonmaker, Frank (1905–76), highly influential American wine writer and wine merchant. Born in South Dakota, he first became interested in wine when researching travel books in Europe in the late 1920s. Immediately after the Repeal of prohibition, he wrote a series of wine articles for the New Yorker which were published as The Complete Wine Book in 1934. Soon afterwards he founded an eponymous wine import company and travelled extensively, becoming noted for his abilities as a judge of young wines, his espousal of domaine bottling in Burgundy, and his expertise in German wines. An early advocate of American wines, he was highly critical of the habitual generic naming of them. In the 1940s, he was hired as consultant to the large California producer Almaden, for whom he created the best-selling varietal Grenache Rosé, having been inspired by the French wine tavel. Schoonmaker employed Alexis lichine, who was to occupy a very similar, if not more public, post immediately before the Second World War and the two men were to publish the first editions of their respective wine encyclopedias in 1964 and 1967. He published five wine books and numerous shorter works on wine.