Schug Carneros Estate Winery
Ever since the first grapes were planted in the Sonoma Valley in the 1850s, every harvest has always been a crap shoot. Once the vines are in the ground, Mother Nature takes over and you never know what you will come up with. That loud cheer that erupted from both the grape growers and winemakers last fall was the culmination of perhaps the best harvest in recent history in the Sonoma Valley.
“We all had just a great growing season in 2012,” said Michael Cox, Sonoma native and winemaker at Schug Carneros Estate Winery. “The Cabernet and Merlot are probably the best that I’ve seen in at least five or six years. The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also excellent with this harvest and our own Pinot Noir looks exceptional.”
Cox, who just completed his 25th harvest and 18th year at Schug Carneros, is very serious about all of his tasks, one of which is always keeping an eye on the weather. “For the 2013 growing season, it is a little too soon to see how it will all shake out, but we had a good bit of rain in November and December, and all that water was being absorbed into the ground in January,” Cox says. “The cold mornings we had in January are good for the vines and keeps them dormant. Hopefully, February and March will prove to be our rainy season, and that rain water will last with the vines well into the summer.”
With 40 acres of their estate vineyards, Schug Carneros augments their annual production with fruit from some of the more famous vineyards in Napa and Sonoma including Sangiacomo Tall Grass and El Novilliero Vineyards, Smith Vineyard (which is located very near downtown Sonoma), Rancho Salina, Atwood Ranch, Iund, Stage Gulch and others.
At Schug, Cox manages all vineyard resources and grower relations which he has overseen for the past 18 years. Following a single year at UCLA studying chemical engineering, he decided to lean toward a new direction and pursue a career in the wine industry, garnering a degree in winemaking from UC Davis.
Since joining Schug, Cox has worked in every position in the cellar over the years. His favorite task is sampling and assessing the wines, barrel by barrel, but his real strength is in the logistics of winemaking. “Keeping all the pieces moving through the winery, from grape to bottle, is an amazingly complex process,” says Cox. “The fact that we can do so much at Schug with so little is a point of pride.”
Surrounded by estate vineyards, Schug Carneros Estate Winery lies sheltered on a hillside five miles south of Sonoma. The winery is surrounded by sweeping views of the Carneros region and the Sonoma Valley, and is located just north of San Francisco Bay.
For additional information, visit www.schugwinery.com.