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A Meeting of the Minds
David Graves and Richard Ward, both UC Davis graduate students at the time, met in brewing class. In addition to sharing a love for the homebrew, they also had similar taste in wine: Burgundies.
David and Dick are housemates working the Napa Valley harvest at Chappellet and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.
A Carneros Pinot Noir
Vision Comes to Life
Vision Comes to Life
Established in 1981, Saintsbury winemakers David Graves and Richard Ward believed innovation and a critical look at vineyard, terroir and winemaking is the best route to quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Carneros.
First wines released: Chardonnay ($7.50) and Rancho Carneros Pinot Noir ($8). Production rises to 7,500 cases. First wine to be labeled with the "Carneros" appellation is produced.
Ground broken on winery facility in June with completion in December. First employee hired: Bill Knuttel, later named winemaker. Production rises to 10,500 cases.
First "Garnet" Pinot Noir released, appropriately named by Dick (1983 Vintage).
Byron Kosuge hired as Assistant Winemaker. First bottling line purchased.
First estate vineyard (13 acres) planted with attention given to carrying out rootstock (no AxR1) and clonal experiments.
First "Reserve" Chardonnay Released (1985 vintage). Wine Spectator's James Laube writes feature article on Saintsbury. Production rises to 28,000 cases.
Cellar expanded with dedicated bottling area. First wine exported by Saintsbury.
Robert Parker dubs the second estate vineyard. All Pinot Noirs from this vintage forward bottled without filtration.
Brown Ranch Vineyards is Purchased
Saintsbury purchased Brown Ranch, originally a hayfield and Percheron horse farm, with our first harvest in 1995. The estate is located amid rolling hills on Old Sonoma Road in Carneros, Napa Valley. With its mix of loam and clay soils, balance of sunny days and cool evenings and natural hillside drainage, Brown Ranch has the ideal terrior for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Robert Parker dubs the second estate vineyard planted in Carneros (11 acres).
Brown Ranch planted using predominantly Dijon clones, the largest planting of Dijon 667 and 777 in California at the time. First "Reserve" Pinot Noir released (1990 Vintage).
Robert Parker dubs the 1990 Reserve Pinot Noir, "unquestionably one of the finest Pinot Noirs I have tasted from California."
Decision taken to stop filtering of Chardonnay, slight haze from ML bacteria taken as a badge of honor.
Brown Ranch grapes begin to see significant use in Reserve Pinot Noir.
First vintage of Brown Ranch Pinot Noir produced. Byron Kosuge promoted to Winemaker as Bill Knuttel leaves after fourteen years.
Wine Spectator names 1995 Reserve Chardonnay winner in top California Chardonnay vs. White Burgundy taste-off.
Open-top fermenters installed in the winery with an eye toward developing batches of wine with a more fruit forward character.
Saintsbury called "the best of the Carneros-based wineries" in Stephen Brooks comprehensive book "The Wines of California".
First vintage of Brown Ranch Chardonnay produced. Winery production tops out at 60,000 cases. New technology allows filtration without the impacts of traditional filters. This combats sporadic Brettanomyces bloom in bottle.
Wall Street Journal calls Saintsbury, America's "most consistent producer of Pinot Noir". Vin Gris labeled as "Code Pink" in a lighthearted response to the Homeland Security Department's more serious color-coded alert system.
Jérôme Chéry is hired as winemaker. Jérôme trained in Dijon and spent 7 years in Napa Valley most recently as Associate Winemaker at Littorai. Saintsbury Pinot Noir named the Most Popular Pinot Noir in Wine & Spirits Magazine's Annual Restaurant Poll. 2002 Carneros Chardonnay named as Best American Chardonnay $20 and under by FOOD & WINE magazine.