About a year or so after I “got into” wine, Walter and Gertrud Schug opened their Schug Carneros Estate Winery.
I remember tasting their Pinot Noir and thinking how different it was from other Pinots I’d been trying farther north in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. Those other Pinots were a little bit more fruitful than Schug’s, but that didn’t make them “better”… just different.
A visit with Walter on that first visit led to several others in subsequent years. I found him more than willing to share his thoughts on winemaking, and to explain the European style that he embraced – a style taught to him by his father, who had made wine on the Staatsweingut Assmannshausen in Germany.
It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since that initial meeting. Today, Walter and Gertrud’s son, Axel, is the managing partner of the family winery, and the estate vineyard encompasses 42 acres.
While the specialties of the house remain Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – varieties that do well in the cool climes of Carneros – Schug now also makes very good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Sauvignon made by a Pinot Noir specialist? It’s not as far-fetched as it may sound.
Before establishing his own winery, Walter Schug made wine at Napa Valley’s Joseph Phelps estate, where he crafted California’s first-ever proprietary Bordeaux-style blend. You may have heard of it, because it remains very popular today: Insignia.
Happy Anniversary to the Schug family!