2019 Wine River Cruises
Colors of ProvenceMar 21, 2019
Nancy Bailey & Theresa Heredia
Born in Syracuse, New York, Nancy Bailey spent a good portion of her school years overseas in England. Her interest in food and wine was sparked by family travels abroad. After attending Hamilton College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government and The Fletcher School at Tufts University earning a Master of Arts degree in international relations, Nancy ventured to California where she discovered a true passion for wine country living. She lent her many marketing talents to well-known brands as Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Champagne Perrier Jouët, and Kendall-Jackson. Her creativity and communication acumen placed her in high demand when she went on to work as a freelance marketing consultant for a number of Sonoma County wineries. Before accepting her current role at Gary Farrell in 2011, Nancy was General Manager of Wine Creek LLC (Quivira Vineyards & Winery, La Follette Wines and Torbreck Vintners) for 4 years.
Theresa Heredia joined Gary Farrell Winery team as winemaker in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, before becoming a Ph.D candidate in chemistry with an emphasis in enology at UC Davis. She left the program to follow her calling as a hands-on winemaker. Coming off a long stint as winemaker at Freestone Vineyards in Sonoma County, Heredia brings considerable experience working with cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and small-lot, single-vineyard wines. During her tenure at Freestone, Heredia’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought the Joseph Phelps-owned winery significant critical acclaim. In early 2012 she was named “Winemaker to Watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle, reflecting her interest in wines that offer a pure expression of their vineyard site and her willingness to experiment with different winemaking techniques.
Jim is a fourth-generation farmer with a strong work ethic and integrity learned from a lifetime of experience on the family land. The oldest son of Robert and Gertrude, his courage and curiosity led him to the University of California, Davis where he graduated with a BS degree in plant science with a specialty in viticulture and extensive course work completed in enology. His first wine, made in 1978, was awarded Sweepstakes in the amateur category of the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and in 1989 he was honored in being selected as Outstanding Young Farmer. Patience, compassion, understanding, kindness, and meticulous attention to detail guide Jim as CEO and Vineyard Manager of the family businesses. In maintaining the legacy of the land, Jim understands that sustainability must continue to be at the root of all farming practices and all enduring relationships with his generational vineyard and winery team. Jim learned early on that a farmer’s footprints are the best fertilizer. Thousands of steps every day ensure his promise to preserve this land for generations to come.
Mitchell Katz Winery is an innovative Livermore Valley winery dedicated exclusively to producing single-vineyard wines that capture the essence of each vineyard. Mitchell Katz has built an impressive portfolio of vineyards that allows selection of the fruit which best exemplifies true varietal character of premium wines. So critical is the quality of the grape to the character of the wine that winemaker, Mitchell Katz, monitors the vineyards as well as the cellar. Mitch ensures that only the finest, most intensely flavored grapes are used for Mitchell Katz’ single vineyard wines. His diligent wine making approach begins in the vineyard where all grapes are hand-harvested. Through his careful selection of grapes, and use of barrels for both fermentation and aging, Mitch has developed wines that are both an expression of ideal vineyard conditions and thoughtful wine making. The results are wines of extraordinary flavor, richness and intensity.
The 3 Steves (Burman, Melander, and Ziganti) met by chance in pursuit of the same dream. By day each had separate careers as executives in corporate America, but by night they were practicing their creative skills as home wine makers and/or home brewers. Wondering if there might actually be a way to earn a living in the wine business, the Steves randomly invested in a local winery as strangers, but quickly become great friends. They took an active role in the wine making and management of this winery, and realized the dream of having their own winery was within reach. So they started their own winery from scratch, and have become one of the largest producers in the Livermore Valley, making all the wine on their own- just the three of them. Last year they were awarded Best Red Wine of Show for their Ancient Vine Zinfandel in the largest competition in the world for U.S. wines- the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They are living their dream.
Renowned Wine Expert and Author Paul Wagner, wine expert extraordinaire, has been an instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture & Enology department for the past 17 years, is a regular columnist for Vineyards & Winery Management Magazine and is the founder of Balzac Communications & Marketing. He is a highly regarded guest lecturer at universities throughout the world on wine business, communications, wine and wine marketing, and in 2007 he co-authored Wine Marketing & Sales, Success Strategies for a Saturated Market, an award winning wine book. In 2009 he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain.
Doug started his food and wine explorations at a young age while traveling with his parents in France. His passion for food and wine was enhanced as he worked in restaurants as a cook and server throughout his high school and college years. Coinciding with his graduation from UCSB in 1981, his family purchased WINE CASK – which quickly expanded to include a simple bistro adjacent to wine store. In 1994, the WINE CASK became one of 74 restaurants in the world to earn the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Doug sold the WINE CASK in 2007 after deciding to devote all of his energies to wine making. Margerum Wine Company began in 2001. His philosophy is to return to wine making in its previous form of production – handcrafted and personal. Doug reassumed ownership in WINE CASK in 2009.
About Earl Jones, Owner and General Manager of Abacela Vineyards and WineryIt started with a chance encounter – a bottle of Pouilley-Fuissé – and resulted in founding the first award winning Spanish varietal winery in America. As a research physician-immunologist, Earl put his research skills to work and after three years landed in the oak savannahs of Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. The vineyards and winery were established in 1994/1995 and by 1998, self-taught winemaker Earl produced America’s first internationally acclaimed tempranillo wine. Tempranillo’s success led to further trials of old world wine, and Albariño and other novel wines have joined the offering.
About Hilda Jones, Vice President of Abacela Vineyards and Winery While Earl’s dream was to make great wine, Hilda’s was to live on a farm. She left a career in medical technology to help Earl follow the dream that became Abacela Winery. Early years found Hilda working every job in the vineyard and winery, including managing the tasting room. When Hilda and Earl decided to build a new tasting room in 2010, “It was our goal to make each guest’s visit an experiential one.”
Both Earl and Hilda are active in the Southern Oregon Winery Association, the Oregon Wine Board, and other wine trade associations.
Ed Sbragia and his son, Adam, are third and fourth generation winemakers in California’s prestigious Dry Creek Valley. Following 32 years as Winemaster at Beringer Vineyards in the Napa Valley, Ed returned home in 2001 to establish Sbragia Family Vineyards. The small, family-owned winery makes individual lots of wine from grapes grown in select blocks of their favorite vineyards. Ed is the only winemaker to receive The Wine Spectator ‘Wine of the Year’ for both a red wine and a white wine. After stints at Beringer, Souverain and St. Clement wineries, Adam joined his father at Sbragia Family Vineyards, where they have been making wine side by side for ten years.
Dr. Douglas Garman, Ph.D, a 35 year professional educator, is the wine educator and sommelier for Europa Village. An original wine club member and one of the first employees hired by Europa Village Winery, Dr. Doug's wine expertise has been sought after and shared as a speaker by those attending classes, tours, and in numerous media interviews. A world traveler, Dr. Doug has enjoyed many wines from different regions of the US, Europe, Australia and South America and is looking forward to teaching all about the different wine regions along this Rhine River Cruise.
Bradley Brown of Big Basin Vineyards is passionately driven to produce authentic and fascinating wines which represent the best of the Santa Cruz Mountains wine growing region. As a farmer, winemaker and owner, he oversees all aspects of production of his award-winning wines, crafting critically acclaimed bottlings that have captured the attention of major wine critics around the globe. Antonio Galloni writing for the Wine Advocate recently had this to say about Bradley, “Proprietor Bradley Brown crafts some of the most compelling, small-production artisan wines in California’s Central Coast. With each passing year, the wines are more refined and polished, making Big Basin one of the most dynamic up-and-coming wineries in the state.” Join Bradley on the AmaCello as he hosts “Spain and Provence” in April of 2019, imparting his knowledge of Rhone varietals and sharing his passion of all things wine with guests.
As a boy living on the Mosel River in Germany, Ewald was always somehow involved with the winemaking going on in his village. Before he was old enough to help with the actual harvesting, he would carry a big bottle of wine through the vineyards to replenish the spirits of the workers. Naturally, he had to try a little himself, and since then he has been madly in love with that special kind of Riesling that can only be found in Germany. Ewald has spent a great deal of time researching and tasting the wines of numerous producers in the important wine regions of Germany and Austria. That, combined with his lifetime of experience with Mosel wines, has enabled him to assemble his own personal selection of German wines, all of stunning quality, and many that are unequaled values in fine wine. Come Join Ewald on the Enchanting Rhine!
Laurent took his first steps in the vineyard in Medoc owned by his great grandfather, Joseph Montalieu. He grew up on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and returned to his family's homeland of Bordeaux for summer vacations and high school. It was through his family's deep commitment to the land that he learned to respect the vines and the wines they produced. After graduating from the Institute of Oenology of Bordeaux, in 1987 he worked for Chateau La Tour Blanche near Sauternes, and Domaine Mumm in California's Napa Valley before moving to Oregon. After seven successful vintages at Bridgeview Vineyards in Cave Junction, Laurent joined WillaKenzie Estate in 1995 as partner and winemaker. In 2003 he left WillaKenzie to focus on Soléna Estate . Today, Laurent handcrafts the Soléna Estate and Hyland Estate wines while also serving as winemaker and co-founder of the Northwest Wine Company, a state-of-the-art winemaking facility in nearby Dundee. There he produces Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the Domaine Danielle Laurent vineyard as well as other prime sites throughout the Willamette Valley. Expanding on his passion for winemaking, he also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah under the Soléna Estate label and Gewürztraminer and Riesling under the Hyland Estates label.
Paul Maroon, owner and vintner for Maroon Wines became interested in winemaking over 40 years ago while as a young man helping his uncle make wine in Pennsylvania. In the back of his mind he always knew that for him Napa Valley was the place to be. Paul visited as often as possible throughout the years and finally in 2000 realized his dream and relocated to the Napa Valley. Here he began his life as a vintner. For ten years Paul had a lucrative contract with Joseph Phelps to sell them the Cabernet Sauvignon from his Coombsville vineyard. These grapes were used in their Insignia blend. Before the contract ended, Paul made under two barrels of wine for himself and realized the quality of fruit his vineyard could achieve as a single varietal, single vineyard wine and as a result, his first commercial vintage of Maroon Wines came two years later in 2008 and Paul has been growing grapes and making fine wines ever since. He married his beautiful wife, Reneé in September of 2013.
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Since graduating from UC Davis in 1980, Jeff Runquist has been the winemaker at Montevina Wines in Amador County, Napa Valley Cooperative in St Helena, and the J. Lohr Winery in San Jose and Paso Robles. In 1996, Jeff designed and helped construct the McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon then launched his brand in 1997. Jeff’s dream was to move back to Amador County and open his own tasting room and that dream came true in 2008. From the 2012 vintage, Jeff offered twenty-nine different wines from twenty different varietals ranging from Barbera to Touriga. Depending upon the varietal, Jeff teams with twenty-four different growers from throughout California, pairing the particular grape varietal with a specific vineyard site. All but four of his wines carry a vineyard designation and the name of the grower. A close relationship with growers and a respect for their fruit is revealed in every bottle of Runquist wine.
Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Cellars, Cornville, AZ
Page Springs Cellars was established in 2003 when Eric Glomski and his family purchased the property. Page Springs Cellars is considered a Rhone house, meaning we specialize in varieties that are grown in the Rhone valley in southeastern France. Mirroring appellations such as the Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and Chateaunuef du Pape, our specialty in red varietals are Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache, and Petite Sirah.
Sam Pillsbury, owner of Pillsbury Wine Company, Cottonwood, AZ
Sam Pillsbury is Phoenix Magazine’s ‘Best Local Winemaker’, Wine Spectator called him one of the ‘Rising Stars of the Southwest’, and MSN.com/food and wine named him top winery in Arizona. In 2014 he completed construction on his own winery at the vineyard in Cochise County, where he now makes his wines with fellow winemaker James Callahan of Rune Wines.
Cabell’s obsession with winemaking began with a harvest in Burgundy while he was enjoying an undergraduate semester abroad. After finishing his B.S., Cabell moved up to Oregon’s Willamette Valley than traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand, where he earned degrees in Enology and Viticulture from Lincoln University. In 2017, Cabell launched his own winery and brand with partner, John Graves high above the Bennett Valley in Sonoma County … Coursey Graves. Cabell describes his philosophy: “My goal is always the same, to deliver each vineyard’s best expression in each vintage and to make a wine where the last glass is better than the first.”
Tony grew up in Sonoma County and his first job in wine came in 1998 when he joined the hospitality team at Clos Du Bois Winery, located in Geyserville, California. In 2001, he joined the public relations team at Clos Du Bois’ parent company, Allied Domecq Wines. From there he joined the team at Kosta Browne Winery as its Brand and Public Relations Director in 2010. Tony founded Lombardi Wines in 2013, in a pursuit to honor his family’s rich history of wine, food and tradition. Lombardi Wines crafts small lots of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from some of the finest vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, and are born from Passion, Inspiration and Family.
Wilson Creek is truly a family winery as nine family members help run the dynamic winery. Wilson Creek is known for its famous Almond Sparkling Wine but it also produces numerous award-winning red and white wines as well. The winery is consistently voted the most popular winery in Southern California Wine Country partially due to the hospitable staff, amazing restaurant, and beautiful winery grounds. On the wine cruises, Rosie and Gerryb Wilson host the cruise while Mick and Deanna Wilson facilitate the onboard wine tastings and wine paired dinners. Mick is a Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators as well as a Certificated Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Glenn Hugo was appointed Winemaker for Sonoma Valley’s B.R. Cohn Winery in April of 2018. Glenn’s background in the restaurant industry informs his approach to winemaking and wine as part of the culinary experience. A native Texan, Glenn developed his passion for wine in the restaurant industry before moving with his wife to Napa Valley in 2003 to pursue a dream of becoming a winemaker. Glenn’s formative winemaking experience was in Napa Valley and includes early assignments with Provenance Vineyards, where he learned from Napa legend Tom Rinaldi. As General Manager of Bounty Hunter Wine Bar in downtown Napa, Glenn met renowned winemaker Marco DiGiulio who launched Glenn on his winemaking career at Girard Winery Napa Valley. Glenn has garnered numerous awards, accolades and 90+ point scores for the Girard portfolio and is looking forward to continuing the high-scoring tradition at B.R. Cohn Winery. His winemaking philosophy is simple: wine is to be shared with friends, family and great food; it is a living and breathing expression that constantly evolves and instills memories. He describes himself as down-to-earth and one of the least pretentious winemakers you’ll encounter.
Scott Scheid grew up just south of Los Angeles in the town of Costa Mesa. After receiving a B.A. in Economics from Claremont McKenna College, he moved to New York City and became an options trader with E.F. Hutton. In 1986, after a successful stint on Wall Street, Scott was invited by his father to join the family business. In addition to managing the young winegrowing enterprise, Scott was integral in the plan to buy out the remaining partners and rename the company Scheid Vineyards. During his three-decade tenure, Scott has seen the company grow to nearly 4,000 acres of vines and 600,000 cases of estate-grown wines. Scott is an ardent supporter of the California wine industry in general and Monterey County in particular. He served as a director of the California Association of Winegrape Growers for nine years and as President of Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association. He is also an active member of the Cadre of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, Monterey Chapter. Scott currently serves on the board of directors of the Monterey Jazz Festival. Scott likes to say that if wine is the storyline of his life, then jazz is the soundtrack. He and his wife, Nancy, met years ago at a jazz club, and to this day they share a passion for this uniquely American musical genre. They attended their first Monterey Jazz Festival in 1991 and haven’t missed one since. Scott and Nancy live in Monterey County and have two daughters who share their love for music.
Peter Mondavi Jr. is the second son of Peter and Blanche Mondavi and grandson of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, the Napa Valley pioneers who purchased the historic Charles Krug Winery 75 years ago, in 1943. Peter grew up on the winery property. “I was born and raised around grapes, wine and food. It has always been part of me,” says Peter. His education began at the winery, at a very young age, where he and his brother Marc sanded fermenting tanks, unpacked glasses, worked in the winery’s laboratory and cellar, and drove tractors through the vineyards. Following in his father’s footsteps, he attended Stanford University, earning a BS in mechanical engineering, an MS in engineering management and later an MBA. His engineering background has proved a valuable asset to the winery as he has directed a number of key design projects, including the state-of-the-art winemaking facility. His business education has contributed to the development and execution of the company’s long-term strategic plan. Peter is deeply committed to the stewardship of the historic Charles Krug Winery and vineyards. He tirelessly promotes the Charles Krug Winery as one of Napa Valley’s great estates, centering on the family’s tradition of innovation and quality.
Katie was raised in Northern California by a family of medical caregivers. She met her husband at Stanford and earned her Medical Degree from the University of California, San Francisco. She was an early volunteer to FAME (Foundation for African Medicine and Education) in Tanzania where she works in the clinic for two months each year and serves on the staff of the Jewish Community Free Clinic in Santa Rosa. Peter and Katie have a son Lucio, a Stanford graduate and vehicle dynamics engineer for Lamborghini, and a daughter Lia who attends Harvard University.
Matthieu was born in Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley of France. Coming from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers, Matthieu was predisposed to continue his family’s pursuit of making and enjoying wine. He first studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy. After graduating in 1995, Matthieu worked in many different wine regions around France including Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and Jura. He then worked in Italy and South Africa to gain experience around the world before settling in Virginia. Since arriving in 2003, Matthieu has worked with wineries throughout the state. He enjoys working in the Monticello Appellation most because he likes the excitement of the region’s growth and being close to Charlottesville.
Born and raised on one of the very last farms in San Francisco, a young Fred Schweiger helped care for his grandparent’s vineyard as a boy. He purchased the Spring Mountain acreage in 1961 at the age of 19. Marriage, children, a successful construction company, and several years later, he and his wife, Sally, began a long-held dream: to clear and plant the family owned Spring Mountain property into vineyard in 1979. The Schweiger Estate was designed and developed by Fred and Sally with the help of family, with their first official harvest in 1984. Today the Schweigers are proud to be the longest property owners in the esteemed Spring Mountain AVA in the legendary Napa Valley, with ownership spanning four generations to live and work on the family estate. Their UC Davis-educated son Andy Schweiger serves as winemaker, crafting fine Bordeaux varietals, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, and their signature blend, Dedication. Fred and Sally look forward to joining you and sharing their wines and story.
Moving to a home in the middle of the vineyards when he was 10 years old, Cyril Chappellet’s course in life was influenced by the romance of the vineyards and the growth of Napa Valley’s wine industry. The eldest son of Molly & Donn Chappellet, Cyril was encouraged to make his own career choices and explore life away from the family winery. After studying farm management at Cal Poly and completing his business education at Pepperdine University, Cyril began his career in corporate planning and acquisitions working on the East-coast for an oil and insurance company. In 1988, with nearly 10 years of business experience under his belt, Cyril returned to Pritchard Hill, excited by the challenges Chappellet faced in an ever-changing industry. Cyril says his goal was “to continue what my father started, making extraordinary wines that express the unique growing conditions of Pritchard Hill.”
Foodie superduo Ryan Levy and Ian Eastveld of The Nice Winery are Certified Sommeliers, wine educators, and Le Cordon Bleu trained chefs. Their hand crafted, boutique wines are poured in top restaurants and have won gold medals in internationally recognized wine competitions. Two of their wines have received 94 point and 92 point ratings from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and the Beverage Testing Institute, and were selected as Top 100 Cellar Selections. Ryan and Ian built their epicurean pedigree first while studying in Paris, France, then directing culinary education for Viking Ranges, teaching cuisine to thousands of students at Central Market, and operating their restaurant and catering companies, Republic and Nuance. They craft 14 award winning varietal wines in Texas, Argentina, and California’s Napa Valley and Paso Robles regions.
In 1978, Henry immigrated to the United States with his family from the Ukraine. Living during Soviet regime, he understood early on the value of hard work. Henry got his education at UC Santa Cruz in Computer Engineering. During his second year, he met Olga, who had only recently immigrated to the United States from Israel. When Henry and Olga first came to Napa as a young couple, they could not escape the lure of this charming land. The welcoming atmosphere, the wonderful wine, the laughter, and the beautiful scenery just kept bringing them back. Motivated by what they saw, they began looking for a way to turn their dream of starting a winery into a reality. After several years of searching, they finally found a place that spoke directly to their hearts: The beautiful and serene Terra Del Cuore. The Patlands set their roots among the hilltops of eastern Napa and have created exceptional and distinctive wines ever since.
As cruise host, Butch Milbrandt will be conducting exclusive tastings and walking wine lovers through the rich history of Washington's booming winemaking industry. He'll also highlight similarities in the state's growing seasons to that of other acclaimed grape-growing regions around the world. Pioneer of the Columbia Valley wine region, Butch Milbrandt saw potential in Eastern Washington. He’s one of the first to drive a stake into what is now known as a world-class wine destination. In 1997, this fourth-generation farmer took a risk in planting grapes and soon became recognized for helping establish two of the top AVAs in Washington State: Ancient Lakes and Wahluke Slope. The Milbrandts are celebrating nearly two decades of 90-point wines. Their Evergreen Vineyard was named “Vineyard of the Year” by Seattle Magazine and over 12 varietals have been awarded “Best Buy” or “Editor’s Choice” by Wine Enthusiast. Wine Club Members have access to two tasting rooms- the Prosser location and the brand new tasting room in Woodinville! Now a multi-generational brand with Butch and his son Buck taking the lead, Milbrandt Vineyards remains a symbol of perseverance and reward. A premium wine tier as well as an introductory wine tier is available nationwide, both delivering uncompromising quality.
Paul Toogood's two professional loves always played tandem roles in his life. At Cornell University and the University of California at Davis, he received degrees in veterinary medicine and viticulture and enology. This Southern California native established his veterinary practice in Northern California. Then the winery bug came back! Paul founded the Toogood Estate Winery in May 2001 on a beautiful 40-acre parcel of rolling foothills in El Dorado County. Its one-quarter-mile square offers microclimates uniquely perfect for his hand-selected varieties. The winery includes over 5000 square feet of winery production and aging space, all underground in the delicately controlled atmosphere of the only wine cave in the Fairplay Appellation. The first crush of the Toogood Estate Winery in 2002 was bottled in January of 2004. The vineyards currently have 12 acres planted with varieties including Zinfandel, Primitivo, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah.
While John Komes will say that hard work and a stellar team are the keys to the longtime success of Flora Springs, first-hand interaction with John hints that the secret ingredient to Flora Springs' success is his charisma. John is a laugh-out-loud kind of guy, who when he smiles, his eyes dance. He teases, he jokes, he holds court in any group situation, and makes everyone in his midst feel like a member of the Flora Springs family. Yet underneath this convivial exterior is a hardworking tenacity and an enduring passion for wine. Although originally from San Francisco, John eventually moved his construction business to Napa, using his enterprising ingenuity to specialize in building and renovating wineries. As Flora Springs took root, John left construction to devote himself full-time to the winery, overseeing production, sales and marketing. Today, John sees a bright future for Flora Springs as he gears up to let the next generation – including his son Nat Komes, General Manager, and nephew Sean Garvey, Vineyard Manager -- take the lead. He’s also excited about the new wine project he shares with Nat called Jon Nathaniel Wines. A boutique portfolio of wines made entirely from fruit grown in John’s own vineyards, Jon Nathaniel is John’s way of recapturing the passion that brought him to winegrowing in the first place.
Richard Sanford is a true pioneer of quality winegrowing in California. Drafted into the Vietnam War, Richard chose agriculture as a way to be in nature upon his return. Winegrowing became an antidote to the war and tumultuous homecoming. With a degree in Geography from U.C. Berkeley, he was inspired to research the west coast for the perfect place to plant Pinot Noir grapevines. Recognizing the east-west Transverse Mountain Range of California, and cool maritime coastal climate of Santa Barbara County, with thermometer in hand he selected a site in the Santa Ynez Valley just a dozen miles from the Pacific Ocean. He is the first winemaker to prove the potential for Pinot Noir in the cool Santa Rita Hills, founding Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in 1971. He and his wife Thekla founded the Sanford Winery in 1981 and spent the next 25 years making some of the best-regarded Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines from the region. The first certified organic winegrowers of the County, the Sanford’s left their namesake winery in 2005 and established Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards to continue their commitment to agriculture in harmony with nature. Richard was inducted into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2012. He is fully engaged with Alma Rosa Winery and is enjoying his 47th consecutive year as a winegrower.
Founded by retired Judge Royce Lewellen, and long-time grape grower Louis Lucas in 1996, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards has been producing fine grapes and wine for many years. Royce’s son Mike Lewellen became a minority owner of the company in 1999 and joined the company full-time in 2009 to help manage the operation as it grows into the future. As Managing Partner, Mike carries out business planning and analysis and works with all departments at the winery; Marketing & Sales, Finance, the Tasting Rooms, and of course the Winery. Prior to Lucas and Lewellen, Mike worked for over 16 years in the multi-channel retail business. Working at different times as Marketing Director, Circulation Manager and Inventory Planner, he gained valuable experience that he has applied toward the wine business. Mike was raised in Solvang, California near the vineyards, has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado, a Professional Designation in Business Management from UCLA, and has furthered his wine education through programs at U.C. Davis.
Wood Family Vineyards is a family run winery located in the eastern foothills of Livermore Valley specializing in limited production handcrafted wines. Rhonda started making wine in 1996 – after they purchased the Merlot vineyard where she and Michael built their home. Together, their passion for wine and belief that winemaking begins in the vineyard led them to Livermore Valley. They are tireless champions about the quality of Livermore Valley soils and their commitment to Valley grown grapes.
Portland, Oregon native Janie Brooks had no intentions of being in the wine industry – other than being a proud and supportive sister to the founder of Brooks Wines, her brother, Jimi Brooks. Upon Jimi’s unexpected passing in 2004, Janie quickly found herself responsible for the business operations of the winery. Since his passing, Janie has increased the production from 3,500 cases to 8,000 cases and has been able to maintain the same vineyard sources and winemaking style, while growing the business to meet the consumer and market demands. Janie enjoys golfing, exercising and being involved in the community where she resides and actively volunteering with her children’s school. She spends her summers in Oregon at the farmhouse on the property with her family. She has also become an active member of the Oregon wine community.
Colors of ProvenceNov 7, 2019
Winemaking is often a trade passed down from generation to generation, and Mick Schroeter is no exception. Following in his father and uncle’s footsteps, Mick joined the family business at the Penfold Winery in 1982. With his love and passion for winemaking, he rose rapidly within the Penfold Winery, and later accepted a position as Vice President of Winemaking at Geyser Peak Winery in California where he remained for 17 years. His long track record of success and illustrious career in Australia and California, along with twice being named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, have given Mick the knowledge and experience to take the reins as Winemaking Director at Sonoma-Cutrer.
Peter Marks is one of only 24 Masters of Wine residing in the U.S. and was the first American to win the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award for having the highest tasting score on the rigorous MW exam. He has served as Director of Wine at the upscale Draeger’s Supermarkets in the San Francisco area, Chief Wine Merchant for online wine retailer Wine.com, and Senior Vice President of Wine at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. Peter is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, sits on the Board of Directors of the Napa Valley Wine Library and judges many international wine competitions.
Holly Howell writes a wine column for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester and is a well-respected New York-based authority on the wines of the Finger Lakes region, particularly Rieslings. She spent a year in France studying French food and wine, teaches wine and food pairing classes, and has served as a judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and also writes a popular blog. Holly is currently pursuing her Wine Spirit Education & Trust diploma.
Romantic DanubeNov 10, 2019
Arturo Keller and his wife Deborah first fell in love with the site while driving a vintage car through the meandering Sonoma roads, and selected the property for its potential as a site for a world-class vineyard. Clearly, the property’s beauty, setting, and history in the Petaluma Gap area influenced their decision to make it their home. Ana Keller, Arturo’s daughter and a biochemist by training, has been at the helm of Keller Estate Winery since the family-run business turned from vineyard to winery in 2000. Ana joined the winery eager to create the most exquisite wines from the Estate’s vineyards. Ana’s passion has established Keller Estate as a benchmark for producing some of the best wines in the Sonoma Coast, and her dedication has been instrumental in helping to establish the Petaluma Gap as the country’s newest AVA and in promoting the wines of this region worldwide.
Melodies of the DanubeNov 10, 2019
California winemaker Erich Russell founded Rabbit Ridge Winery and Vineyards in 1981 in Healdsburg CA, building a substantial operation. In 1996 he married the lovely Joanne James-Russell, a native of St. Petersburg FL. In 2001 they relocated Rabbit Ridge to the fast growing central California area of Paso Robles. That area’s calcareous soil conditions are very similar to France’s Rhone Valley, a part of Europe that Erich Russell knows intimately. He has visited and studied Rhone winemaking for decades. Implementing design ideas from Tuscany and France, Erich and Joanne have built a stunning winery that is both regal in look and Old World in feeling. Rabbit Ridge Vineyards today farms over 200 acres of premium grapes, producing 10,000 cases of delicious Rhone-style wines sold nationwide. The next generation is prepping to take the reins. Daughter Sarah and husband Brice Garrett manage the Rabbit Ridge tasting room and produce their own wine label called Serrano. Join the Russell family on a remarkable voyage and wine extravaganza down the beautiful Rhone River, France’s nautical highway since the time of Julius Caesar.
Scott developed a keen interest in winemaking as a high school exchange student in the Rhineland Pfalz region of Germany. Scott attended California State University at Sacramento before beginning practical Enology training at Montevina Winery in Amador County. Back to Germany in 1975, he apprenticed at K. Fitz-Ritter Winery while attending the Weinbau Schule in Neustadt. In 1978, at the age of 23, Scott took over as Head Winemaker for Story Winery, also in Amador County. In 1996, Scott was recruited as Partner, Winemaker & President for newly purchased, Folie a Deux Winery in Napa Valley. Scott pursued his commitment to award-winning Cabernets made from the Estate Vineyards in Napa Valley while continuing his passion for Amador County Zinfandel. In addition, Scott’s creation, the “Menage a Trois” line of wines, was an instant commercial success. In 2004, Folie a Deux, now a respected brand, was sold to Sutter Home/Trinchero Winery. Scott was finally positioned and ready to start his own venture, and he had the ideal partner, his wife Jana, a wine industry veteran.