The Emeritus Vineyards

There are many famous vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma regions of California. A recent newcomer with a sterling reputation is The Emeritus Vineyards in Sonoma.

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 making it perfect for viticulture. In 1920, Prohibition was passed, and apple orchards replaced the wine farms. Finally in 1933 the ban was revoked, but by then most of the vineyards had already been converted to orchards.

Did You Know: Prohibition decimated the wine industry in Northern California and it took decades for it to recover.

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, which 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 plant vineyards. After years of ongoing negotiations starting in 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.

The Emeritus Vineyards grapes

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In 2004, Brice and Don Blackburn (a 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.

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

Categories: This Day in Wine History | Articles, WineTags: , , By Published On: July 15, 2022Last Updated: March 5, 2023

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