Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Experience Spanish-Inspired Culture
“For generations, my family has said, ‘when you serve sparkling wine, you are serving a smile,’” stated Gloria Ferrer. Here you are … feeling serene, sipping acclaimed sparkling wine and munching on complimentary almonds on the Vista Terrace at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards in Sonoma Carneros. The undisturbed view of the valley overlooking the estate vineyard from the base of the golden Sonoma Mountains is remarkable. The rockier Mayacama Mountains rise in the distance and random patchwork vineyards dot the valley. You continue to sample your sparkling wine flights while breathing in the experience. Simply, sublime.
The Ferrer family has been growing wine grapes since the 1500s and was the family behind La Freixeneda – a 12th century farming estate and well-established sparkling wine producers in Catalonia, Spain near Barcelona. José Ferrer’s parents, Pedro Ferrer Bosch and Dolores Sala Ferrer united two prominent Spanish wine families. The result was Freixenet, which would eventually become the world’s largest producer of sparkling wines in the world.
José, his wife Gloria and son Pedro came to California, purchased a pasture in 1982 in Carneros – an ideal Mediterranean climate – and planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. They incorporated their Spanish winegrowing traditions and winemaking practices in creating exceptional sparkling wines and estate varietal wines. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards opened in 1986 as the first sparkling winery in Carneros. Today, they own 335 prime acres of estate vineyards with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
The winery architecture blends California mission design and Spanish-inspired architecture modeled on the original Ferrer family’s 11th-century Catalonian farmhouse (masia) in the hills outside Barcelona in Sant Sandurni d’Anoia. Spanish features are included throughout the winery such as the grapevine-covered Spanish arbor, the décor, the red tile roof and stucco walls.
Gloria Ferrer brings Old World handcrafted wine practices in creating California-style sparkling wines. They planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in the Home Ranch and Circle Bar Ranch estate vineyards, which produce the entire fruit for their sparkling wines.
Their secret: carefully hand-harvesting their grapes at night, carrying the grapes to the winery in small bins and gently pressing the fruit in whole clusters using membrane presses in their méthode champenoise (fermenting naturally in the bottle) and storing the wine in cool underground caves. The winemaking team creates seven diverse sparkling wines from over 50 individual wine lots as the blending palette. Through the entire process – from grape harvest, pressing, blending, double fermentation, aging, bottling and riddling – it takes two to ten years to produce a great bottle of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine. The distinctive blends offer different flavors and textures including Brut, Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Blanc, Vintage Prestige Cuvées and VA de VI. The Royal Cuvée is a tribute to the King of Spain in honor of their Spanish heritage.
Executive Winemaker Bob Iantosca, Winemaker Steven Urberg and V.P. of Production Mike Crumly move seamlessly from the vineyard to the cellar producing consistent quality Gloria Ferrer sparkling and still wines from vintage to vintage. Gloria Ferrer remains a leader in sustainable farming practices including biodiversity, soil health, water management, energy conservation and in systematic approaches to improving environmental practices. Bob said, “The synergy between the winemaking and the winegrowing teams is one of our greatest benefits. Mike and I have studied every block, year after year, with the ability to choose the rootstocks, clones, trellising, vine spacing – everything we need to make the best sparkling and estate varietal wines from these Carneros vineyard sites.”
Gloria Ferrer began making still wine after producing sparkling wine to demonstrate further the mature vines that produce modest yields with full fruit expression. They purchased new land and constructed vineyards specifically designated for estate varietal wine grapes with heirloom vines, constructed new extended underground caves, purchased fermentation tanks, barrels and a separate crush pad.
The four estate Pinots produced are distinctly different due to site-specific terroir. Gravel Knob and Rust Rock Terrace Pinot Noir are two vineyard-designated wines produced from the 128-acre Circle Bar Ranch vineyard and the 207-acre Home Ranch vineyard. The José S. Ferrer Selection Pinot Noir is a blend of the best blocks from the estate vineyards. The Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend from eleven different soil types from varied terrain and different clones and selections.
Carneros is a prime cool climate for producing their award-winning Carneros Chardonnay with warm, sunny days and cool nights. They planted the Chardonnay grapes in the lower sections of the vineyard where prime fruit flavor is optimal.
For the Carneros Merlot, they selected the grapes south of the winery in the Thimbleberry Block of the estate vineyards along the hillside of a small valley with clay soil similar to those of Pomerol in Bordeaux.
Top sommeliers recognize Gloria Ferrer wines in worldwide competitions awarding over 400 gold medals. Wine experts continue to deliver stellar reviews with over 30 outstanding 90+ ratings in the last five years. In June, The Wine Spectator gave 93 points to the 2008 Anniversary Cuvée, 90 points to the 2003 Carneros Cuvée, and 90 points to the Sonoma Brut. Wine & Spirits Magazine voted Gloria Ferrer the 2013 Winery of the Year. Steven Urberg, the Winemaker said, “I enjoy the exercise in subtlety involved with making sparkling wines. The challenge lies in creating the delicate texture and mouthfeel, while maintaining balance with the fruit structure.”
Tours & Tastings
You can experience the full Spanish-inspired culture during a daily tour at the Visitor Center open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. where you can learn about the méthode champenoise sparkling wines produced at Gloria Ferrer. Enjoy guided tours in the production facilities and cave overlooks, learn of the Ferrer family and their winemaking traditions and history, see and touch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, and learn about the winemaking team and the sustainable farming practices employed in the vineyards.
Gloria Ferrer is one of the few places where you can taste wine sitting down at a table comfortably either indoors or outdoors and is a favorite place for locals and visitors. Tasting fees: Flights $18-$33, wine by the glass, from $6-$20 and bottles from $22-$70. Enjoy complimentary house-made Gloria Almonds during your wine tasting. A variety of artisan cheeses, favorite bites, and chocolates are available for purchase – selections and prices vary seasonally. Group tastings available.
Daily tours are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; $20 per person with two sparkling wines and one estate varietal wine, and last approximately 40 minutes (8-15 guests – one hour by appointment daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; fee includes a flight per person, 20% gratuity and tax) (16-30 guests – one hour by appointment daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; fee includes a flight per person, site fee, 20% gratuity and tax).
Kick off the crab season at the Holiday Crab Feed at the winery on Saturday, December 13, 2014. Sample award-winning sparkling and estate varietal wines with a special holiday crab menu in a Catalan setting.
The Annual Catalan Festival takes place July 20-21, 2015 celebrating the culture of Spain and the Catalan Region. Enjoy flamenco music and dancing, entertainment, authentic Catalan food sampling, local artisans, wine sampling, cooking and educational demonstrations and a festive grape stomp.
The picturesque winery is an ideal setting with estate vineyard views as a background with the comfort of Catalan-inspired hospitality for retreats, private events, celebrations, business meetings, parties and weddings.
When you join the Gloria Ferrer Cuvée Club, Glorious Cuvée Club, or the Tête de Cuvée Club, the Catalan experience is delivered directly to you if you are not able to plan a visit. Wine club members enjoy many benefits including release parties, priority access to library release wines complimentary tastings and tours, special club pricing on wine, merchandise, and event tickets.
Visit Gloria Ferrer and relax in the Catalan-inspired elegance at the first sparkling winery in Carneros.