The Emeritus Vineyards

Sonoma County has many types of soils and a strong topography for grape growing. In the early 1900s, farmers had planted more than 40,000 acres of vines across 266 estates. The region had excellent soils, hills, and a cool climate. This was favorable for viticulture. In 1920, the prohibition happened, and apple orchards replaced the wine farms. In 1933, the ban ended, and the Golden Gate bridge was almost completed. There were many orchards in the region.

In 1972, Brice Cutrer Jones started the Sonoma Cutrer Vineyard, where he grew chardonnay. He was one of the earliest to participate in the white wine revolution in the area. He promoted Kirk Lokka to Vineyard Manager. In the mid-1900s, Brice and Kirk decided to grow Pinot Noir in the Hallberg ranch, with was more than 100 acres wide. They also planted Chardonnay on more than 100 acres. Their wine company grew and liaised with other farmers and winemakers from Burgundy, France.

In 1998, Bruce bought his son Victor a piece of land to create vineyards. After years of negotiation since 1992, Brice bought Don and Marcia Hallberg’s apple farm in the River Valley in 1999[1]. This region is an excellent location for growing grapes, and many people were interested in the property. The same week he bought the property, he sold Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards.

green-leafed plant

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In 2004, Brice and Don Blackburn (great winemaker from France) established Emeritus Vineyards. They assembled a team including his long-time associate Kirk. They made their debut with the Emeritus Pinot Noir, although a fire obliterated the property in an unfortunate turn of events. In 2007, they experimented with dry farming and acquired another property. In 2008, Don passed on, but his protégé Nicolas Cantacuzene took over his role. Today, they are famed for producing excellent Pinot Noir that they ship globally.

Learn more about other California wineries.


[1] “Our History.” n.d. Emeritus Vineyards. Accessed February 28, 2022.

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