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Jim Grow

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What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by Jim Grow » Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:03 pm

I've been gone from this BB for many months but Robin finally helped me gain access and not just browse. Anyway my question is, after stumbling on a packet of saved wine labels, there were some that I have not seen here in Ohio since the mid-80's. Anyone know if these are still around and maybe just not being brought into Ohio anymore?

Sam Martin (great LH Rieslings in Santa Clara Co.)

Morterey Peninsula Winery( also wonderful LH Rieslings)

Parsons Creek in Mendocino Co.

Felton-Empire in San Luis Obispo

Smothers (of Smothers Bros. fame in Alexander Valley)

The Konocti Winery in Lake Co. (made a fine J.R. in 1981)

Thanks and glad to be back!!! :D
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Mark Willstatter

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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by Mark Willstatter » Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:34 pm

I can give a couple of hints but that's about it. I'm assuming you meant San Martin rather than Sam Martin, formerly in Morgan Hill in the south of Santa Clara County. They went belly-up, I understand, after sustaining damage in an earthquake centered in Morgan Hill in the mid 80's. Monterey Peninsula Winery, which used to be a great old place, has also been out of business for quite awhile. I understand the label is still around - owned by Mondavi (?) - but I haven't seen it for years and I don't think there is any connection between the label and the old winery. Felton Empire would not have been in San Luis Obispo, but rather in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the town of Felton and the road of that name both are. I don't know if they're still around or not.

Hopefully somebody else can fill in some of the holes for you.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:59 pm

Glad to have you back here Jim.

I had two bottles of 1995 Smothers Cab, and after the way they showed they are better off out of buisness (if they are).
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by TimMc » Mon Jul 24, 2006 9:30 pm

Smothers, as I recall, offered some of the best Chardonnay in Sonoma....and so far as I know, they are still in business but under the name of Remick Ridge Vineyards.

Source: http://www.smothersbrothers.com/remick.html
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by David Sharp » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:56 am

Parsons Creek Winery, which was started by Jesse Tidwell in the late 70's, suffered a severe fire in 1986.

Tidwell then sold a significant portion of the winery to a Canadian investor in order to finance rebuilding.

By the early 90's the investor had financial problems of his own and the winery languished through 1991 in Chap. 11 bankruptcy.

The doors closed forever at the end of that year.
David in Sonoma Wine Country
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by Sam Platt » Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:43 pm

I believe that the Konocti Winery is now the Steele Winery. I bought one of their wines and Konocti was mentioned in the literature. I only remember because I was unsure of how to pronounce "Konocti".
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by CraigW » Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:56 pm

Damn Canadian investors!!

Actually, it's kind of fun to see Jayson Woodbridge ('retired' 40 year old Torontonian investor and owner of hundred acre) in pretty big doo-doo with the California Government. I guess there's at least a little bit of wine-karma involved... That'll teach him for selling $300-$400 cali. cab one year out of the gate!

:wink:
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by Hoke » Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:31 pm

Regarding San Martin (a winery I did a lot of business with whilst a buyer in Texas, btw):

The earthquake might have been the final straw (and oddly enough, I was there immediately after that happened), but the demise of San Martin was by that point already inevitable.

San Martin was one of the older family properties in the CA wine business, back when that valley was one of the bastions of that biz. As late as the early 1980s, San Martin was still dominated by generic jug wines, including a big business in 1.5Ls of various sherries and ports. They also had a history of producing Cold Duck and other cheap sparklers.

When the business shifted from generics to varietal wines, and from jugs to 750ml, San Martin attempted to shift as well. They managed to get a good winemaker from Germany, who pioneered the "Soft" wines that became so popular, and provided a bridge between the sweet generics and the trendy new dry wines.

But San Martin never broke past the price barrier to a point where they could make any meager profit at all without playing the "make it up in volume" game, and they were unable to do that, as sourcing good cheap fruit became harder and harder, and competing against the likes of Gallo and the other big boys became more prohibitive.

Towards the end, they were sourcing Zinfandel from Baja California and Merlot from (then unheralded and unknown) the Columbia Valley. Appellations would change with every vintage; somethimes they'd change within the same vintage.

Plus, the center of the business moved clearly to the North Coast. Nobody wanted to go to south of San Jose anymore for wine. They wanted Napa and Sonoma. Remember, Monterey was not very well known at that time, and Paso and Santa Barbara were strange words to wine purchasers outside California.

But for a while, San Martin had some nice varietal wines at good price points. They weren't the flashiest, but they were sturdy and consistent and good QPR. And my fantastical side still fondly remembers that strange and wonderful little wine they used to make from that tiny little patch of vineyard right in front of the admin building. They called it Montonico, and it tasted like a cross between sweet Sherry, Madeira, and Vin Santo. And it came in a square, medicinal looking, dark brown bottle with a really, really tacky looking bright, relfective gold metallic label with white writing on it.

Towards the end they changed hands a couple of times, but it didn't improve things. They still couldn't break out of the discount rep, and couldn't sustain themselves in the jug market either. So they folded. Another casualty of change, and of being in the wrong place.
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Trippin' Down Memory Lane With Hoke...

by TomHill » Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:28 pm

Hoke,
I think the winemaker in those days at SanMartin was Ed Freidrichs??
Ahhh...the Montinico..... that was, in fact, an Angelica, made from Mission grapes, and had a fair amount of old reserves in it. One of the better Calif Angelicsa that used to be around.
Tom
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Re: Trippin' Down Memory Lane With Hoke...

by Hoke » Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:07 pm

TomHill wrote:Hoke,
I think the winemaker in those days at SanMartin was Ed Freidrichs??
Ahhh...the Montinico..... that was, in fact, an Angelica, made from Mission grapes, and had a fair amount of old reserves in it. One of the better Calif Angelicsa that used to be around.
Tom


Yep, Tom, it was Ed. Great guy. Left San Martin and went to a start-up winery in Georgia with grandiose plans. Sadly, Ed got cancer and died a couple of years later.. After Ed, their next winemaker left and went to Texas to make wine their.

Another winemaker, who started out working for SM in his early years, is now up in the Mendocino...and we're working together. And the orginal family that owned San Martin is still around, and in the biz in different ways. Another guy I work with (on the sales side) is one of the cousins, and provides me with the occasional bottle of some small production stuff from the Central Coast. Small world. Still.

I surprised an awful lot of people with that Montonico
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Mark Willstatter

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Re: Trippin' Down Memory Lane With Hoke...

by Mark Willstatter » Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:09 pm

TomHill wrote:Hoke,
I think the winemaker in those days at SanMartin was Ed Freidrichs??
Ahhh...the Montinico..... that was, in fact, an Angelica, made from Mission grapes, and had a fair amount of old reserves in it. One of the better Calif Angelicsa that used to be around.
Tom


Tom, if you had multiple Angelicas in those days, I imagine you must have run into the Novitiate version? I'm familiar with that one - how did they compare?
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Novitiate...

by TomHill » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:53 am

Yup...had the Novitiate Angelica in them days as well. It was, as I recall, rather thick & sweet & unseracid...kinda goopy. Much preferred the SanMartin as being more "old" character and more interesting.
The Novitiate did make a Black Muscat that I liked quite a lot...along a Port style.
The Quady Essencia and Quady Elyisium are also made by the same technique as Angelica.
Tom
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Re: What ever happened to these Ca. Wineries?

by OW Holmes » Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:22 pm

No info - just want to welcome Jim home.
-OW
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Re: Novitiate...

by Mark Willstatter » Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:52 pm

TomHill wrote:Yup...had the Novitiate Angelica in them days as well. It was, as I recall, rather thick & sweet & unseracid...kinda goopy. Much preferred the SanMartin as being more "old" character and more interesting. Tom


That matches what I remember of the Novitiate version. I wasn't exposed to many Angelicas otherwise and unwisely assumed it was typical. Sounds like I should have sought out the San Martin.

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Yup...

by TomHill » Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:14 pm

Angelica is an unheralded style of wine. It was traditionally made from Mission grapes, which makes one of the most miserable dry wines in the world. But those Angelicas were wines that could aged forever. I've had 2-3 Angelicas (old in glass carboy, not old in btl) way back then that were amazing...truly amazing.
There is a lady down in the SantaRitaHills who has an extremely old Mission vnyd she brought back from the dead who's making new Angelica, under the Gypsy Canyon, name's Deborah Hall. Pretty expensive, though.
Tom
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Re: Yup...

by Hoke » Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:25 pm

TomHill wrote:Angelica is an unheralded style of wine. It was traditionally made from Mission grapes, which makes one of the most miserable dry wines in the world. But those Angelicas were wines that could aged forever. I've had 2-3 Angelicas (old in glass carboy, not old in btl) way back then that were amazing...truly amazing.
There is a lady down in the SantaRitaHills who has an extremely old Mission vnyd she brought back from the dead who's making new Angelica, under the Gypsy Canyon, name's Deborah Hall. Pretty expensive, though.
Tom


From what I understand, there's some folks in Texas making Anjelica these days, too, Tom.

I think you're right about the San Martin Montonico. It had a little touch of that Italian style to it, with lots of burned candied orange peel and intense spice and caramel. Endlessly complex. Pretty remarkable wine.

I've had people compare it to the Commandaria St. John (but since it's so damned hard to find the Commandaria these days, and the Montonico has long gone, I'm not able to make the comparison any more.)

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