Historic Napa and Sonoma


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"Historic Napa and Sonoma" is a presentation I gave at the American Wine Society Annual Conference in Sandusky, Ohio in November 2013.

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Historic Napa and Sonoma

  1. 1. HISTORIC NAPA & SONOMA Michael Wangbickler
  2. 2. ABOUT ME • Michael Wangbickler – – – – – President, Drink Local Wine Certified Wine Educator Certified WSET Educator CIA Adjunct Instructor Senior Manager, Balzac Communications
  4. 4. IN THE BEGINNING • Spanish Franciscan Father Jose Altamira planted the first vines in Sonoma at Mission San Francisco Solano in what is now the city of Sonoma in 1823.
  5. 5. PIONEERS AND THIRST • George Calvert Yount was first to plant wine grapes in Napa in 1839. • Cyrus Alexander plants grapes in northern Sonoma County in 1856. • Agoston Haraszthy founds first commercial winery in Sonoma in 1857. • Charles Krug establishes first commercial winery in 1861 in Napa.
  6. 6. EARLY TRIALS • Phylloxera strikes in the 1870s, devastating many vineyards. • In 1920 the 18th Amendment launches Prohibition, effectively ending commercial wine production. • Hundreds of wineries close their doors.
  7. 7. THE STRUGGLE TO BEGIN AGAIN • The 21st Amendment ends the “great experiment” in 1933. • But world conflict makes it difficult to grow. • In the 1950s and 1960s, American’s developed a taste for wine and the modern era bloomed.
  8. 8. DISCLAIMER • I am not affiliated with any of the following wines • I am not the winemaker, so you can’t hurt my feelings • I chose these wines as a good way to experience the history of Napa and Sonoma. • We’re only going to scratch the surface
  9. 9. F. KORBEL & BROS. • Mid-1800s • Francis, Anton and Joseph Korbel emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States • F. Korbel & Bros. began as a manufacturing business in San Francisco that produced materials for the building industry
  10. 10. MOVING TO SONOMA • Born in Bohemia, Sonoma County felt like home. • Moved their families to this Russian River Valley, logging, ranching , and farming during the late 1870s.
  11. 11. THE DRAW OF WINE • In 1882, they began making wine. • So well received, that two years later, they converted all of their ranch lands to vineyards. • By the mid-1890s the Korbels shipped their first California “champagnes”
  12. 12. THE DARK AGES • Prohibition in the 1920s forced the family to rely on their other business interests • All three brothers passed before repeal in 1933
  13. 13. THE NEXT CHAPTER • 1930s-1950s – The Korbel children carried on the legacy • 1954 – The winery is sold to Adolf Heck who brings a new spirit and updated production • Adolf set out to pioneer what he described as "California-style" champagnes.
  14. 14. INNOVATIONS • In 1966, Adolf invented and patented the first automatic riddling machine. • Taking advantage of Sonoma County's ability to produce high-quality pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, he made world-class “champagne”.
  15. 15. GENERATIONS • Gary Heck, was appointed the company’s president in 1982 and named chairman of the board in 1984. • Under Gary's guidance, KORBEL enjoyed double-digit growth during the 1980s, and the brand currently sells more than 1.2 million cases annually.
  16. 16. KORBEL BLANC DE NOIR • “Best of Show White” at the 2013 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition • Introduced by Adolf Heck • Varieties: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese, Zinfandel • 18,000 Cases • $12.99
  17. 17. SCHRAMSBERG • In 1862, Jacob Schram, a German immigrant and barber, purchased property on the eastern side of Diamond Mountain, thus starting Schramsberg Vineyard – the second bonded winery in Napa Valley.
  18. 18. NAPA’S OLDEST WINE CAVES • In the late 1800s, Chinese laborers dug into the hillside’s volcanic rock to build caves for aging and storing wine. • Additional tunnels were added in the 1980s.
  19. 19. THE EARLY DAYS • European grape varietals planted and table wine production began. • Grew until he had 50 acres and made 12,000 cases per year. • Distribution as far as New York and London. • Following Schram’s death in 1905, production gradually decreased until it ceased in 1912.
  20. 20. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON • In 1880, author Robert Louis Stevenson visits Schramsberg and records his stay in The Silverado Squatters. • Silverado is America's other Walden, and Stevenson's language is as lofty as was his view from Napa's Mount Saint Helena.
  21. 21. DAVIES RIVAVAL • In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies revived the Schramsberg property, redefining it as a sparkling wine estate. • At a time when there were only 22 wineries in Napa Valley. • Their goal was to craft world-class sparkling wine in the true méthode champenoise style.
  22. 22. THE WORLD STAGE • Schramsberg has played a role in world history. • The Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. • Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since.
  23. 23. TODAY’S SCHRAMSBERG • Schramsberg Vineyards is now in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies' youngest son, Hugh. • Born in 1965, Hugh was named President and CEO of the 40-year old sparkling wine house in 2005.
  24. 24. BLANC DE BLANC • Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 • America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. • 100% Chardonnay • 25,331 Cases • $38
  25. 25. BUENA VISTA WINERY • Agoston Haraszthy, “The Count of Buena Vista,” and “Father of California Wine,” establishes Buena Vista in 1857 in Sonoma, California • He was a real character, but also a visionary
  26. 26. ABOUT THE VINES • Plants more than 250 acres of vines in 1860. • Brings back over 300 cuttings from Europe’s finest vineyards in 1861. • The historic Press House, the winery’s tasting room today, is constructed in 1862.
  27. 27. VINICULTURAL SOCIETY • The Buena Vista Vinicultural Society, dedicated to expanding and modernizing winemaking, is established at Buena Vista in 1863. • First publically held winery in country.
  28. 28. DIGGING DEEP • Haraszthy has California’s first wine caves completed at Buena Vista in 1864. • Buena Vista continues to grow to 2 Million gallons. • In 1866, Haraszthy was forced to resign from his position at the winery.
  29. 29. EATEN BY AN ALLIGATOR • Haraszthy disappears in a Nicaraguan, Alligatorinfested swamp. • His body is never found. • But the winery would continue to grow and prosper until succumbing to financial pressures in 1878.
  30. 30. WINE AT BUENA VISTA AGAIN • Between 1878 and 1943, the winery and grounds lie neglected • In 1943, Frank and Antonia Bartholomew purchase the property, refurbishing the winery and replanting vineyards
  31. 31. ANDRE TCHELISTCHEFF • In 1949, Buena Vista Winery releases its first post-Prohibition vintage with André Tchelistcheff as consulting winemaker. • We’ll talk more a Andre later.
  32. 32. CHANGING HANDS • In 1968 the Bartholomews sold the winery to distribution giant Young’s Market, who invested in a major reconstruction. • They then sold it to international wine merchant Marcus MollerRacke, then AlliedDomecq, and then Beam Wine Estates.
  33. 33. THE FRENCH CAVALRY • Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates purchased the Buena Vista property in May of 2011. • Makes a huge investment to bring back former glory
  34. 34. GEZA’S SELECTION PINOT NOIR 2011 • Reinvention of Vinicultural Society • Named for the Count’s oldest son, Geza who valiantly fought during the Civil War. • 100% Pinot Noir • 500 Cases produced • $45
  35. 35. LOUIS M. MARTINI WINERY • In 1899, Martini arrives in San Francisco from Genoa. • His father sends him back to Italy to learn winemaking in 1906. • Returning to SF is 1911, he begins making wine in Pleasanton.
  36. 36. DO NOT ADD YEAST • Martini forms the L.M. Martini Grape Products Company, a Prohibitionera winery that produces sacramental wine and grape concentrate for home winemaking.
  37. 37. COMING TO NAPA • At the end of prohibition in 1933, Martini builds the Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena, heart of the Napa Valley. • In 1936, Louis M. Martini Winery becomes one of the first to use temperature-controlled fermentation.
  38. 38. SONOMA SORTIE • Purchases the Goldstein Ranch on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas in 1938. • Once an active volcano, he aptly renamed the property Monte Rosso Vineyard. • With vines planted as early as 1890, it became the foundation for Louis M. Martini wines.
  39. 39. NAPA VALLEY VINTNERS • Martini helps establish the Napa Valley Vintners Association in 1944 to elevate the status of Napa Valley's wines and give vintners a forum to exchange ideas and work collectively to overcome industry obstacles.
  40. 40. LOUIS P. MARTINI • Martini’s son, Louis P. takes over as winemaker in 1954. • He is among the first winegrowers to use wind machines to combat frost. • Louis M. Martini Winery is among the first to bottle Merlot as a varietal wine in California in 1968.
  41. 41. MICHAEL MARTINI • In 1977, Thirdgeneration winemaker Michael Martini takes the reins, carrying on his father's and grandfather's winemaking tradition.
  42. 42. GALLO TAKES OVER • The Gallo family purchases the winery and vineyards in 2002. • Mike Martini remains winemaker. • In 2013, the Louis M. Martini Winery celebrates 80 years of winemaking in Napa Valley.
  43. 43. 2010 NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON • As Mike Martini likes to say, “Cabernet: It’s what we do.” • 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Petite Sirah, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Syrah • $21.99
  44. 44. SIMI WINERY • In 1876, Giuseppe and Pietro Simi began making wine in San Francisco. • Five years later they moved to Healdsburg and planted vineyards in Alexander Valley. • In 1890, the brothers completed Simi’s historic stone cellars.
  45. 45. ISABELLE SIMI • Simi's stone cellars are expanded. Tragically, later that year both Simi brothers die suddenly. Guiseppe's daughter Isabelle takes over management at the age of 18.
  46. 46. PROHIBITION…AGAIN • In 1920, Prohibition begins. Isabelle sells all vineyard holdings to keep possession of cellared, anticipating a quick repeal of the Volstead Act.
  47. 47. AHEAD OF HER TIME • With repeal, Simi is immediately prepared to sell 500,000 cases of perfectly cellared wines. • In 1934, Isabelle converted a 25,000gallon cask into a tasting room and placed it in front of the winery on Healdsburg Avenue.
  48. 48. RUSSELL GREEN • In 1970, Isabelle Simi retires, selling the winery to Alexander Valley grape grower, Russell Green. • Simi uses the Alexander Valley appellation on its labels for the first time in 1974.
  49. 49. WOMEN PIONEERS • America's first woman winemaker to graduate in enology from a university, Maryann Graf, came on the scene in the sixties. She joined Simi Winery in 1973. • In 1979, Zelma Long (the second woman to graduate in enology from UC Davis) joins Simi to direct major renovation of the winery.
  50. 50. CHAMPAGNE DREAMS • The winery was sold in 1981 to MoëtHennessy. • Beginning in 1982 the winery began to reacquire its own vineyards. • Long, who continued after the Hennessy sale, eventually became President and CEO.
  51. 51. A NEW ERA • LMVH sold the winery in 1999 to Canandaigua Brands, a division of Constellation Brands. • Zelma Long retires. • In 2003, Steve Reeder joins Simi as head wine maker.
  52. 52. 2010 LANDSLIDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON • In 2000, Simi’s southern Alexander Valley Vineyard is named Landslide Vineyard, and produces Simi’s first single vineyard wine. • 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 1% Tannat • $35
  53. 53. BEAULIEU VINEYARD • Started by Georges de Latour in 1900 with 4 acres in Rutherford • "beau lieu" means "beautiful place." • He purchased 128 more acres (BV #1) in 1903. • He imported Phylloxeraresistant rootstock from Europe to help California Vineyards
  54. 54. DEVOTION PAYS OFF • In 1908, BV signed a contract with the Catholic Church to provide sacramental wine. • In 1910, GdL buys 146 acres (BV #2) from the Church.
  55. 55. DRY TIMES • BV survives prohibition with their contract to the Church. • Increases business fourfold • GdL buys Fred Ewer winery in 1923. It would become the core of the present winery.
  56. 56. ANDRE TCHELISTCHEFF • In 1938, GdL travels to France and hires enologist Andre Tchelistcheff, who brings European winemaking expertise to California. • He becomes a mentor to many. • He retires in 1973.
  57. 57. THE PASSING OF A LEGEND • Georges de Latour passes in 1940 at 84. • Ownership passes to his daughter Helena and her husband, the Marquis de Pins • Legh Knowles joins the winery in 1962. • BV is sold to Heublein Inc. in 1969.
  58. 58. A MAN OF PRINCIPLE • Knowles was instrumental in growing BV to the force it is today. • He remained tied to the Latour family and GdL’s vision. • He retired in 1988.
  59. 59. ENTER THE MODERN ERA • In 1982, Heublein was acquired by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. • In turn, it sold the division to Grand Metropolitan in 1987. • Grand Met merged with Guinness in 1997 to create Diageo.
  60. 60. INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE • In 2008, BV completed the new Georges de Latour Private Reserve Winery. • Dedicated to making top quality wines in a modern facility, but remaining true to tradition.
  61. 61. 2009 GDL CABERNET SAUVIGNON • Named for the winery’s founder, it is their premiere wine. • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon • $135
  62. 62. TIMELINE • • • • • • 1857 - Buena Vista Winery 1862 - Schramsberg 1882 - F. Korbel & Bros. 1890 - Simi Winery 1900 - Beaulieu Vineyard 1933 - Louis M. Martini
  63. 63. THANK YOU! Michael Wangbickler Balzac Communications www.balzac.com mwangbickler@balzac.com