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by Fred McMillin
for January 12, 1998
King of the Vineyard
Prologue: "Dear Fred, We don't make wine because I found the growing end to be more fun."
The Rest of the Story: Andy almost missed all the fun. The Virginia Tech engineer who went on to Dartmouth business school didn't have a rich background in viticulture. But he joined the Heublein beverage corporation and in time became director of acquisitions analysis. He took his analyses seriously, and eventually worked out his own acquisition, taking over the large Heublein vineyards. He had instantly become one of the biggest growers in the Napa Valley ... And before long, he was one of the best. For example, ten years ago he began selling his Cabernet Sauvignon to the Guenoc Winery. Good choice. The Guenoc 1987 Beckstoffer Vineyard IV Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon won Six Gold Medals, a Double Gold at the San Francisco Fair and a Platinum at the American Wine Competition. I put the '94 Beckstoffer IV into my last blind tasting, and it won, even though it was not the most expensive bottle.
Postscript—The Name Game: The Catholic Saint Guenoc (GWEN-uk) was buried at Buchan, Scotland in 838 A.D. Nine centuries later the last Spanish land grant was just north of the Napa Valley. The recipient was a Spanish nobleman who had been baptized in the name of St. Guenoc ... the Guenoc land grant.
Sources: 1) Karen Melander-Magoon, 2) J. Conaway's "Napa"
Note: For more on the subject see the Mar. 6, 1997 WineDay titled "The Beckstoffer Connection" and the Sept. 11 WineDay titled "The Langtry Pedigree."
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the WineDay Annex
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