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New "Facts & Figures" re: wine industry

z
zin1953 Feb 6, 2013 09:51 AM

From the trade journal, Wines & Vines . . .

As of 12/31/2012, there are now almost 7,500 wineries in the US, and over 8,000 wineries in North America -- broken down as follows:

Bonded wineries in the US = 6,439 (in all 50 states)
"Virtual" wineries in the US = 1,059

That's 7,498 wineries in the US. Add in the combined figure for Canada and Mexico of 548, and the total is 8,046 wineries in North America.

Six US states and one Canadian province have 200+ wineries each within their borders:

California = 3,532
Washington = 670
Oregon = 544
New York = 310
British Columbia = 239
Virginia = 222

(Another 6 states and one province have between 100-199 wineries.)

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  1. Midlife Feb 7, 2013 12:28 PM

    Jason, with reference to California, do you know of any stats about how many of the 3,532 wineries are 'brick and mortar' wineries vs. 'négociants' of one kind or other? The last I think I read was about 50/50 but that was a long time ago. Thanks.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Midlife
      z
      zin1953 Feb 7, 2013 12:32 PM

      Short answer is "no."

      1. re: zin1953
        Midlife Feb 7, 2013 12:47 PM

        Thanks. Just curious.

      2. re: Midlife
        Gussie Finknottle Feb 8, 2013 04:41 AM

        If there are 3,532 bonded wineries in CA these would be 'bricks & mortar'. In total for the USA there are 1,059 virtual wineries - I expect the vast majority are in CA but even if they all were, itsnot 50%

        1. re: Gussie Finknottle
          Midlife Feb 8, 2013 08:52 AM

          I'd appreciate a source for that stat. I know I've read something that supports my thought on this. I think there's also a distinction in this between wineries that actually own some vineyard property AND those that don't, but DO have a tasting room of their own.

          This is no big deal other than that I work in a small wine shop that features a lot of very small CA producers and this subject comes up often with customers.

          1. re: Midlife
            Gussie Finknottle Feb 8, 2013 09:05 AM

            Jason gave the source in his first post - it's from Vines & Wines. Here's a link http://www.winesandvines.com/template... American Winery Total Passes 8

            1. re: Gussie Finknottle
              Midlife Feb 8, 2013 12:58 PM

              I think what I'm really looking for here is a stat on what % of CA wineries actually own/lease vineyard property and grow at least some of their own grapes. I'm certainly no expert on the definition (and may be on shaky ground here) but I do think you can be a bonded winery and not own a single grapevine.

              In addition, a 'winery' which uses a custom crush facility is not counted as a 'bonded' winery because that legality is covered by the facility. http://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-faq.shtm... (see "custom crush facility" vs. "bonded winery").

              Sorry to be so OCD about this, but I like to have some degree of credibility when I tell a customer something. If I'm way off I want to know.

              1. re: Midlife
                z
                zin1953 Feb 8, 2013 02:07 PM

                In the United States, there is NO CONNECTION between grape growing and winemaking. That is to say, you can be a bonded winery and own ZERO grapevines, you can be a bonded winery and own 100% of your grapevines, or anything inbetween.

                There are "grape growers" and there are "winemakers." It's an industrial, not agricultural, model. Indeed, unlike Europe, the historical tradition is to BUY grapes, not grow them.

                The term "Estate Bottled" does NOT mean you grew the grapes or owned the vineyard. The vineyard could, for example, be under long-term contract. It could also be owned by the winery, but in a different county. (At least, that used to be the case; it may have changed -- there were a number of wineries that were upset at having to use "Vintner Grown" on their labels if the vineyard was in a different county than the physical winery location.) Only a P&B line reading "Grown, Produced, and Bottled By" means the winery grew the grapes, and IIRC, there's still "wiggle room."

                1. re: zin1953
                  Midlife Feb 8, 2013 06:47 PM

                  Still just trying to see if I can find out what the breakdown us. ;o] It really DOES seem to be something interested consumers want to know. Probably moreso in CA where people like to visit wineries and seem to find some greater degree if pleasure visiting vineyard properties.

                  1. re: Midlife
                    z
                    zin1953 Feb 8, 2013 08:45 PM

                    Hmmmm . . . OK. Let me make a few observations.

                    As you (probably) know, I spent some 35 years in the wine trade. Over that time, spent most of my time in retail, but I worked for/with wineries in both Napa Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains, wineries that owned (at the time) no vineyards whatsoever, owned 1,000+ acres of vineyards (including one of the most famous vineyards in California), and were famous for their Estate-grown wine(s).

                    To be honest, it never made a difference to the visitors who visited the wineries. Most Napa wineries are on the valley floor anyway, and the vineyards are *rarely* "right there." The winery that I worked for has over 1,000 acres of vines, but only five were right at the winery, and not where the public could view them. Our tasting room was swamped all the time.

                    Down in Santa Cruz, we had a map on the wall showing where our vineyards (i.e.: the vineyards from which we bought grapes) were located. No one seemed put out/bent out of shape that the vineyards weren't right there.

                    And so on and so on . . . .

                    Vineyards (IMHO) are only important to visitors/tourists IF they are visiting the vineyards! (Benziger, for example, has a whole vineyard tour.) Most people visit a winery to, first and foremost, taste the wine, and secondly, to see where the wine is made. But lots of people cold care less about the tour (of the winery), and just want to taste . . .

                    Vines tend to just stand there in the dirt. Unless it's harvest, or pruning time, nothing happens in the vineyards -- there's nothing, no action, to see there.

                    1. re: zin1953
                      Midlife Feb 8, 2013 11:13 PM

                      To each his/her own I guess. Maybe I'm just having trouble making my point in a way that makes the data seem worthy of discussion. Must be just me. No............... I don't really mean that, but it's not really worth further discussion.

                      1. re: Midlife
                        z
                        zin1953 Feb 9, 2013 08:18 AM

                        Well, nonetheless . . . .

                        I agree that, for example, showing people pictures of one's vineyard(s) is rather useless, but -- going back to the Napa winery with 1,200 acres of vineyards -- we were in St. Helena, with two separate vineyards on the Napa side of Carneros, one near Healdsburg, one on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Mountains, and a 10-acre parcel behind the winery you couldn't see from the tasting room or on the tour. No one seemed to mind.

                        If . . . and it's a big "IF" . . . you have arranged for a visit to a winery that is closed without an appointment, and the winemaker him-/herself, and he/she will drive you through the vineyard . . . that's different.

                        When I was in Spain on (primarily) a food tour, we visited several wineries. The only one who was excited to see the vineyards was me. We were all "foodies" on this trip (which was led by Susan Spicer of Bayona in New Orleans), we all enjoyed wine, but I was the only one who came from the wine trade. I could tell a lot by the spacing, the trellising, pruning, etc. No one else could, and I dare say no one really asked questions in the vineyards (but did inside the wineries).

                        I am sorry I seem to be mission your point, and am rather curious as to what it is . . .

                        1. re: zin1953
                          Midlife Feb 9, 2013 11:07 AM

                          Well.............. I don't think this really needs belaboring but I had something to do this morning that was cancelled, so..............

                          I don't disagree with anything you've said. I DO, have the sense that a "winery" (technically a wine wholesaler) which has only a remote connection to it's fruit source and winemaking is less likely to produce good product than one that does. However, I don't care if someone like Phillipe Melka has even a single vine growing in a pot in his kitchen. My presumption is that his wine will be good.

                          But I find that a lot of people I come in contact with feel somewhat more confident in a winery that grows it's/their own fruit, or at least SOME of their own fruit. I fully understand that the connection is not necessarily any real indicator of quality or value. Maybe it's just the "farmer" in many Americans that wants to feel that link. TLC comes to mind.

                          Anyway............... My own experience is that people like to know. All I was asking for was some info on that specific. I suppose it's pretty hard to come by because the real stat has to do with how much TALENT and INVOLVEMENT the winery has. So.................... maybe this is a 'never mind' thing.

                          Hope that at least explains what I was after.

                          1. re: Midlife
                            z
                            zin1953 Feb 9, 2013 12:01 PM

                            >>> I DO, have the sense that a "winery" (technically a wine wholesaler) which has only a remote connection to it's fruit source and winemaking is less likely to produce good product than one that does <<<

                            Leaving aside the fact that a winery is a "manufacturer," as well as a wholesaler and a retailer, I am rather surprised by your statement above.

                            Wineries like Ridge, Patz & Hall, Navarro, Rombauer, Kendall-Jackson, Littorai, Chateau Montelena, Mount Eden, Caymus, Stag's Leap, etc. -- they ALL buy grapes.

                            Just because someone knows how to make wine doesn't make them a good grape-grower, or vice-versa.

                            1. re: zin1953
                              Midlife Feb 9, 2013 10:56 PM

                              Jason, are you seriously putting a quality winery that buys some fruit in the same category as some guy who decides he can make money developing a label......, he has no wine knowledge but he contracts with a winemaking source and buys finished wine without even the slightest involvement in fruit sourcing or the production if his own wine? I know a few of the latter and that's the kind I'm referencing.

                              I have a lot of respect for your experience so I've got to conclude that either I haven't made myself clear or that you don't have much exposure to the other end of the spectrum.

                              Somewhere in the middle of all this is my point that the average person would tend to put more faith in someone who has wine knowledge, experience, and is either personally involved or pays for someone who is to maintain a hands-on relationship to the product. I suppose it's overly simplistic to make an issue of only the aspect of whether or not the winery grows fruit, but most consumers (at least from my perspective) have an overly simplistic perspective of the wine biz. I'm pretty sure I would have been more clear if I'd started with THIS post, but hopefully I've explained more by now.

                              1. re: Midlife
                                Gussie Finknottle Feb 10, 2013 07:18 AM

                                I too like buying a wine that I know where it comes from, that is I can look at a map (or Google world) and see the place on the surface of this planet where the grapes were grown and the wine made. In other words, an Estate or Chateau wine, where the winery is on the land surrounded by the vines that produce the grapes used to make the wine.

                                But a winery that uses only its own grapes from its own vineyards is at risk from the vagaries of the weather. Some years the grapes are better than other years.

                                In theory I like experiencing the ups and downs of the vintages and one enjoys a good vintage much more when one was drinking the poor one the previous year. But in practice I buy lots from the good year and little or none from the less good years, and those that buy on scores buy none.

                                Now let’s look at a winery that buys in its grapes. Arguably it can pick and choose from where it buys its grapes – this year the vineyards in that valley were damaged by hail, but the grapes from over the mountains are perfect. If the winery has the choice of the best grapes every year then maybe it consistently makes a better wine.

                                Both are common valid wineries and sometimes the first will also buy in some grapes to meet demand, or maybe for a second label.

                                Then there is the virtual winery where a brand is created, grapes are bought and a winery contracted to make wine – either by their winemaker or with the brands own winemaker. The brand owns nothing in the way of vines or equipment.

                                Then there is the brand that buy ready made wine, maybe a surplus from a winery or wines a winery doesn’t think good enough for its own label, they stick their own label on it and sell.

                                Or there is a brand name – often a supermarket or merchants own-brand name label, and the source of the wine can change every vintage.

                                I prefer the first, the Estate wine. But I also think the winemaker is important and will buy wines made by a favourite. And if he wants to start his own label I will buy his wines even though he has no equipment or vines. He will buy grapes and rent space in a winery to make his wine.
                                So for me it’s not black and white – it depends.

                                What I do not like is the wines that show minimal information on the label about who or where they were made, wines that are shipped in bulk across the world and bottled in some anonymous bottling plant.

                                With an Estate/Chateau wine you know that when the bottles left the premises they contained what the winemaker intended.

                                However -- going to your example of a brand owned by someone who knows nothing about wine or vine growing.....
                                Well, some top Bordeaux chateaux are owned by insurance companies. Does the MD of that company know anything about making wine? As long as the virtual winery contracts good winemakers and grapegrowers, why should they not make good wine?.

                                Interesting conversation, 'doubt Jason expected so mnay comments to follow his post on statistics...

                                1. re: Gussie Finknottle
                                  z
                                  zin1953 Feb 10, 2013 08:54 AM

                                  >>> I too like buying a wine that I know where it comes from, that is I can look at a map (or Google world) and see the place on the surface of this planet where the grapes were grown and the wine made. In other words, an Estate or Chateau wine, where the winery is on the land surrounded by the vines that produce the grapes used to make the wine. <<<

                                  Let me chime in here and say, "Yes!" Yes, I agree with you -- when I am purchasing a Bordeaux, I ***do*** buy château-bottled wines. Why? Because I prefer the character, the complexity, the WINE from (e.g.) Château Potensac over what I could get from a bottle of Mouton-Cadet. (There was a time when these were actually in the same price range.)

                                  In Burgundy, the Rhône, and the Champagne; in Alsace, the Rhein and Mosel -- indeed, in many other places throughout Europe, the winery is NOT surrounded by vineyards, but there are parcels scatted all over the place. Still, there are some excellent estate- and domain-bottle wines, but there are also some wonderful wines coming our of caves cooperatives.

                                  But this thread was (at least originally) focused on North American and, specifically, California. And again, I must ask, does it make a difference if Ridge is surrounded 360° by vines, or if the grapes were bought from Benito Dusi in Paso Robles?

                                  And, FWIW, you can still use Google maps and find the Dusi vineyard . . . ;^)

                                2. re: Midlife
                                  z
                                  zin1953 Feb 10, 2013 08:42 AM

                                  >>> I've got to conclude that either I haven't made myself clear <<<

                                  Well, that's my conclusion, because I have no idea what you're talking about. ;^)

                                  I am NOT speaking of control labels, private labels, or purely "blending" operations where someone contracts for finished wines in bulk to be bottled under his label, or to be blended with other wines and then bottled. I am ONLY speaking of people who actually CRUSH grapes, ferment the must, age it -- in other words, people who actually MAKE the wines.

                                  My point is that, in California (which is what I thought we were talking about), the historical model is, and has always been (at least since the repeal of Prohibition, and I suspect long before that as well) some people grow grapes, some people make wine. Did the Joseph Phelps "Eisele" Cabernet suffer, for example, by being made from purchased grapes? What about the Heitz "Martha's Vineyard" bottlings of the the 1960s and 1970s? Do the various wines made from, say, Gary's Vineyard or Pisoni suffer when they aren't made by Gary himself?

                                  >>> Somewhere in the middle of all this is my point that the average person would tend to put more faith in someone who has wine knowledge, experience, and is either personally involved or pays for someone who is to maintain a hands-on relationship to the product. <<<

                                  I would strongly disagree with this. I personally don't think the average wine consumer (and certainly not the average person off the street) gives a damn. At least not in my retail, wholesale, restaurant experience. OTOH, the people who DO care -- to be blunt about it -- are the people who *think* they know more than they do, who rely on Emperor Bob to tell them what to drink, etc., etc.

                                  OK, that's not completely fair (but I do believe it's close!). There are some exceptions: one is the individual who grew up drinking, or prefers drinking, Europen wines and takes for granted the concept of "le petit vigneron," the "winegrower" (which doesn't work in English nearly as well s in French); the other is the ***far-above-average*** consumer who loves to visit the "wine country," who gets so into every aspect of the "process" that they want to know EVERYTHING they can. These people can be great customers, but rarely are they an average customer.

                                  Is is a great story to tell a customer that Jean Deaux nurtured these grapes since they were babies? tended them all through the harsh spring frosts? that they were organically farmed? gently anesthetized just before harvest to save them the trauma of picking? Yeah, sure. But does it matter in the end? Or is what actually counts what is it the bottle itself?

                                  1. re: zin1953
                                    Midlife Feb 10, 2013 10:26 AM

                                    Wow! I'm certainly getting a lesson in exact wording and communication here.

                                    Would it help if I made one change to a previous statement I made and say i'm talking about "the average person ..... WHO HAS ANYTHING LIKE A REAL INTEREST IN WINE AND WINEMAKING...... would tend to put more faith in someone who has wine knowledge"? I DO know that most of the people who, for example, buy Charles Shaw at TJs, couldn't care less about any of this. I guess I thought that would be 'understood' in this forum. Apparently not.

                                    And I DO get that it doesn't "matter in the end". The only thing that counts is what's in the bottle....... but that's not what I was talking about. You know...... it's frustrating to be unable to get an answer to a question you believe is valid, when your "expert" doesn't accept the premise of the question.

                                    I will always appreciate you experience and knowledge of wine. But I think it's time to let this rest.

                                    1. re: Midlife
                                      z
                                      zin1953 Feb 10, 2013 10:56 AM

                                      Look, I'm not trying to tick you off -- which is seems I've done, and thus I apologize.

                                      As you (probably) know, I grew up in the wine trade, and worked in every sort of retail environment from small "boutique" wine shops where we didn't sell distilled spirits and I had to wear a coat-and-tie every day; to "regular" full-service liquor stores that delivered but also specialized in fine wines; to large chain stores (Liquor Barn, the predecessor to BevMo!). So, yes, "average" may mean something different to you than to me. But I also -- rightly or wrongly -- try to keep in mind the rest of the people reading this board, whose interest in wine crosses all levels, and so I tend to define things broadly and, hopefully, inclusively.

                                      FWIW, I always treated the customer looking for a case of her favorite Almaden Mtn. Red Burgundy in the 4.0L jugs the same as the customer looking for a case of Comte de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny . . . you never know how many California Burgundy customers will turn into French Burgundy customers!

                                      1. re: zin1953
                                        Midlife Feb 10, 2013 05:28 PM

                                        As Chick Hearn used to say - "No Harm. No Foul." "I have no idea what you're talking about. ;^)" is just a bit off-putting when I feel I've explained myself several times. Maybe not as exactly as I should have, but enough to avoid that level of dismissal.

                                        One more time....... the simple fact is that many people I meet, working in a small wine retail shop, express a preference for wine made by a winery staff (owner, winemaker, ???) that is "involved" in the process. The more involved, the better. I truly do not know why that is a statement with which you could disagree so vehemently.

                                        We both know that personal involvement of the staff in the office is no guarantee of good wine...... and also that it's the wine in the bottle that people like or don't line.... not the people who put it there. But...... I just find that the idea (and maybe that's all it is) that someone who cares and has some knowledge is personally involved (ultimate expression being growing their own grapes) gives people a positive feeling of potential quality.

                                        An example - (leaving out the grapes for simplicity) I could care less that Fiji Water bought Landmark (Sonoma). What I want to know is whether some know-nothing accountant is running things at the winery, or is it someone who knows what they're doing that's making the decisions that effect what ends up in the bottle.

                                        1. re: Midlife
                                          z
                                          zin1953 Feb 12, 2013 10:08 AM

                                          Let's chalk it up to me being dense, but it feels to me that we're now talking about something else entirely.

                                          >>> . . . the simple fact is that many people I meet, working in a small wine retail shop, express a preference for wine made by a winery staff (owner, winemaker, ???) that is "involved" in the process. The more involved, the better. I truly do not know why that is a statement with which you could disagree so vehemently. <<<

                                          Hmmm . . . well, a) I haven't disagreed with that statement, and don't -- but it's also one you haven't made until now; and b) I was under the impression we were talking about

                                          >>> I think there's also a distinction in this between wineries that actually own some vineyard property AND those that don't, but DO have a tasting room of their own. <<<

                                          and

                                          >>> I think what I'm really looking for here is a stat on what % of CA wineries actually own/lease vineyard property and grow at least some of their own grapes. <<<

                                          and

                                          >>> I find that a lot of people I come in contact with feel somewhat more confident in a winery that grows it's/their own fruit, or at least SOME of their own fruit. <<<

                                          I thought we were talking about wineries-which-own-vineyards versus wineries that don't. It has been MY point that a) the California wine industry has, for decades, been "set up" with a separation between vineyard-and winery; and b) great wines can be produced from vineyards owned by the winery AND from grapes purchased from the winery -- i.e.: owning a vineyard isn't a prerequisite to making a great wine.

                                          That said, 99 percent of my comments have been about wineries that actually MAKE the wine (crush the grapes, ferment the must, age and bottle the wine themselves -- i.e.: not buying wines in bulk and bottling them, and/or having someone else bottle them). I do not know of any winery that actually makes wine where a winery staff (i.e.: winemaker) isn't involved. Even wineries which hire very famous "consulting-" or "flying winemakers" still have a winemaker (in the case of the former) or an assistant winemaker (in the case of the latter) around on a full-time basis.

                                          I don't care who owns the darned place -- unless the owner is also the winemaker. Now certainly there are instances where corporate ownership has f****d up a winery (look at Inglenook, for example, before Coppola; does anyone remember that Chevron and Pillsbury used to own wineries?), but there are also numerous examples of where corporate ownership has either done no harm whatsoever, and/or in many cases significantly improved things.

                                          Is anyone still upset that Otsuka Pharmaceuticals owned Ridge Vineyards? (Lots of people were upset when they bought it; I don't think anyone still is.) Is anyone complaining that Beringer is owned by Treasury Wine Estates? And so on . . . .

                                          Now, is it a nice, romantic story that a Japanese drug company that made a fortune selling a sports drink called "Pocari Sweat" owns Ridge Vineyards? Or is it far more romantic to talk about four guys from SRI who rescued an old vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, that an Illinois-born Peace Corps volunteer-turned-winemaker in Chile came to be one of the greatest winemakers California has ever seen? What's in the bottle remains the same, regardless of which story you tell but, I grant you, I'd much rather talk about Paul Draper than Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

                                          >>> What I want to know is whether some know-nothing accountant is running things at the winery, or is it someone who knows what they're doing that's making the decisions that effect what ends up in the bottle. <<<

                                          I agree completely, but to one extent or another, money (or the lack thereof) influences every winery, every winemaking decision. The trick is to not let the lack of money *negatively* impact the wines.

                                          Slight thread-drift, but appropriate I think: there was a major news story about Markers' Mark Bourbon yesterday reducing the alcohol content from 90 proof (45% abv) to 84 proof (42% abv). Doesn't seem like much, does it? But by adding that much more water to their whiskey, they can a) bottle that much more for sale in the marketplace, b) increase their profits, and c) reduce their per bottle excise tax payments to the Feds.

                                          For better or worse, the decision was made to "water down" the whiskey, and thus maintain availability in the marketplace, while expanding production to meet future demand. Personally, I think it's "for worse." Once they're at 84 proof, they'll never go back up to 90. I would have rather they suffer through shortages and maintain the quality (and integrity) of the product. Customers would have been happier.

                                          This is an extreme (IMHO) example of how management can make a decision that hurts the product, quite possibly never to recover. The Master Distiller may or may not have been involved in the decision; I have no idea.

                                          Does this type of decision happen in the California wine trade? Yes and no. Generally not with the higher-end segments of the market. On the lower-end, sure.

                                          EXAMPLE: things were so bad at Beringer when Nestlés took over that the winemaker was order to blend their 1970 Petite Sirah into the non-vintage California Burgundy . . . winemaker hand-bottled 36 bottles . . .he and I drank one, and he gave me two. Best damned Petite Sirah I ever had!

                                          So -- yes! -- it DOES happen. But consider the winery: Grace Family, or Charles Shaw? Kendall-Jackson Vintners' Reserve, or Cardinale? Ravenswood Vintners' Blend, or Ravenswood single-vineyard Zinfandels?

                                          1. re: zin1953
                                            Midlife Feb 13, 2013 10:31 AM

                                            I started with a question about what % of CA wineries grow grapes because of my perceived notion that people see that as important in some way. In response (at least I thought) to questioning I tried to make my self clearer by broadening the context. In one post I noted that I was leaving out the grapes to simplify my thought and better explain the underlying issue. Apparently that had the opposite effect.

                                            So................. back to the beginning. Do you think there are any stats available for wineries that own vineyards and use at least some of their own grapes to make their own wine?

                                            1. re: Midlife
                                              z
                                              zin1953 Feb 13, 2013 11:55 AM

                                              None that I know of.

                                              But long before the internet, "virtual wineries," and the development of the California-version of négociants -- in other words, going back to the 1970s, 1960s and before -- it was a rare winery indeed that was self-sufficient in terms of supplying 100 percent their own grapes.

                                              By way of example, when I worked for Louis M. Martini Winery -- the smallest of the "big" Napa Valley wineries; these were Beaulieu, Inglenook, Beringer, The Christian Bros., and Louis Martini -- the Martini family owned some 1,200 acres of vines. But in order to produce the 325,000 cases that comprised our annual production, we purchased an awful lot of grapes. Almost none of our wines were estate bottled, though occasionally (1968 in one example) the winery would bottle a Monte Rosso Vineyard "Special Selection" Cabernet Sauvignon, or a La Loma Vineyard Pinot Noir -- vineyards Martini owned in what is now the Sonoma Mountain and Carneros AVAs, respectively.

                                              Rare is the winemaker who is also a viticulturalist. Steve Storrs and his wife Pamela are both UC Davis-trained enologists and started their eponymous winery in Santa Cruz in 1989. (Before that, they worked for Domaine Chandon, Almadén, and Felton-Empire, among others.) Steve, however, also earned a degree in viticulture, and they only purchased their first vineyard within the last 15 years.

                                              I am NOT, by the way, saying Steve Storrs is the only enologist-viticulturalist in the state -- far from it -- but people who hold both degrees are more rare than individuals who hold one or the other.

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