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by Fred McMillin
Your Chardonnay For Labor Day
Since it's Labor Day, here's a quote from Bernard Fetzer.
"You don't make fine wine with people who at ten minutes to five look at their watches and say, 'Let's start rolling up the hose, boys, it's five o'clock.' You have to have dedication."
"We harvest all of our grapes by hand. I wouldn't consider picking grapes by machine."
The Rest of the Story
Sounds like Barney Fetzer did not get away from plenty of hard labor when he left the lumber business in Oregon and started growing grapes in California's Mendocino County.
Initially, in the 1950s, there was the job of planting 150 acres of Bordeaux varietals and then selling them to winemakers. It was too much work to make wine out of them.
Enter Nuclear Scientists!
"We sold grapes to amateur winemakers, most of them scientific people—nuclear scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. They believed wines from this far north had special qualities, and returned each year with samples." Barney was convinced, and decided to build a winery. More work! The first year he made about 2,500 cases.
Today's production is not 2,500 cases, but rather 2,500,000. In the midst of the rapid growth, the wine world was shocked by Barney's abrupt death (1981). His wife and eleven children carried on. Two years later a second-tier brand was introduced, titled Barrel Select. and one of them is our...
Wine of the Day
1998 Fetzer Barrel Select Chardonnay
Postscript—Take the Money and Run
What has the Fetzer property to do with the California Gold Rush? Well, the first vines were planted on the land by Anson Jebidiah Seward. The source of his wealth to buy the property and develop it? He struck gold right away (1849) and decided to take the money and run! (to Mendocino County)
This page created September 2000