Historic Napa and Sonoma
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Historic Napa and Sonoma



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

"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 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. HISTORIC NAPA & SONOMA Michael Wangbickler
  • 2. ABOUT ME • Michael Wangbickler – – – – – President, Drink Local Wine Certified Wine Educator Certified WSET Educator CIA Adjunct Instructor Senior Manager, Balzac Communications
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. MICHAEL MARTINI • In 1977, Thirdgeneration winemaker Michael Martini takes the reins, carrying on his father's and grandfather's winemaking tradition.
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 2009 GDL CABERNET SAUVIGNON • Named for the winery’s founder, it is their premiere wine. • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon • $135
  • 62. TIMELINE • • • • • • 1857 - Buena Vista Winery 1862 - Schramsberg 1882 - F. Korbel & Bros. 1890 - Simi Winery 1900 - Beaulieu Vineyard 1933 - Louis M. Martini
  • 63. THANK YOU! Michael Wangbickler Balzac Communications www.balzac.com mwangbickler@balzac.com