Wed, Jan 25, 2012 12:07 PM
Real people still make up the world of wine, starting with the
winemaker to you, the wine drinker (or, should I say, enthusiast,
lover, or consumer?)While there might be some industrialization
techniques already employed in the process, there is still plenty
of wine made by real people for real people.
And the real fun part is, that wine never stays quite the same. It
fluctuates with temperatures, climate and seasons. Vintages are all
different and change over the years. It's not a quantifying science
that produces good wines; it's more likely a gut feeling of a real
person (pun intended) that leads to the creation of great
Here are a couple of the stories behind the wineries and their
In 1964, Louis Honig purchased a 68-acre ranch in the heart of the
Napa Valley and planted it with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet
Sauvignon grapes. He sold the fruit to neighboring wineries with
the dream of retiring one day from his San Francisco advertising
business and making wine from his vineyard in Rutherford. Before he
could realize his dream, Louis passed away, leaving the estate to
his children and grandchildren.
In 1981, as a tribute to his legacy, the family rallied together to
produce several hundred cases of Louis Honig Sauvignon Blanc in the
vineyard's old tractor barn. The wine won a Gold Medal at the
Orange County Fair, and thus, the winery was born.
In 1984, at the age of 22, Louis' grandson, Michael Honig,
took over management of the vineyard and winery. With a lot of hard
work and a beat up pickup truck, Honig managed to get their
Sauvignon Blanc into many fine restaurants in California. In 1987,
they began producing small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon. The
family business grew with the addition of other family members; and
what began as a small garage winery has become a team of people who
work collaboratively to run an inspiring and socially responsible
business, donating wine to charity auctions all over the country,
hosting political and community events at their vineyard, and
exploring ways to improve and practice sustainable farming.
WHITE OAK VINEYARD
Born in Los Angeles, White Oak founder Bill Myers worked as a
building contractor and salmon fisherman in Alaska. During the
1970's, he relocated to the bucolic town of Healdsburg, California,
sold his boat, purchased his first vineyard in the Alexander Valley
and began to make wine. With his newly purchased vineyard, a tiny
tasting room and wine production facility just off the square in
downtown Healdsburg, Myers started making wines and quickly became
recognized for producing wonderful Chardonnay, Zinfandel and what
was to become White Oak's flagship wine: Sauvignon Blanc.
After winning a bunch of prizes and recognition for his wines, he
formed partnerships with Don Groth and Burdell Properties to buy
over 750 acres of prime vineyards in Napa Valley and the Russian
River Valley; broke ground on this impressive Mediteranean-style
winery in the most scenic area of the Alexander Valley; and thus
created the current winery nestled amongst seventeen acres of
Zinfandel vines dating back to 1929 and 1935.
The small bottling of this old-vine Zinfandel is only available at
the winery, but the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and (to me one of
the best Napa-) Cabernet Sauvignon are locally available.