The People

Schug Carneros Estate Winery celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first vintage, made when a passion for Pinot Noir led patriarch Walter Schug to establish his own label and eventually leave Joseph Phelps, where he was the founding winemaker crafting wines that put Napa Valley on the map. Now the family-owned winery is entering a new chapter, with dynamic young German-American winemaker Johannes Scheid bringing modern touches to the estate’s European-styled wines. 

Schug’s 100-year-old heritage — stemming from a Pinot Noir estate in Germany’s Rheingau region originally planted in the 12th century — spanned an era of pioneering winemaking in Napa Valley before putting down roots in the cool-climate, wind-swept Carneros hills in Sonoma. Today, Walter’s children are preserving their family’s rich winemaking legacy for generations to come. They invite you to rediscover the authentic roots of Schug — by sharing a bottle of their family’s wines with your own loved ones.

The Juice

The Schug Cabernet Sauvignon is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. The wine is entirely from Sonoma Valley grapes harvested between September 16th and October 9th, 2017. This wine was aged over the course of 24 months in 20% new French oak barrels.

The Dirt

Schug Winery is located within the Carneros Hills region of Sonoma Valley. This wine, in particular, is sourced from vineyards in Freestone. Before the year 2000, Schug only knew Napa Valley. When he began producing his own wines out of Sonoma Valley, he realized he had much to learn about this different region. 

The challenge of farming wine grapes on the Sonoma Coast became rapidly apparent, and as in Napa Valley, the first years involved a learning curve as steep as the hillsides on which vines were planted. The environment, climate, and soils were utterly different from Napa, and after the first growing seasons, several vineyard blocks were grafted over to more favorable clones. Additionally, the team adjusted trellising, pruning, and canopy management techniques. It took the winery five years from that point – around 1999 – to bring in its first crop.

The Taste

This supple and generous Cabernet Sauvignon blend is crafted in the classic Bordeaux style that Walter Schug pioneered in the 1970s as winemaker of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Fine tannins and a touch of spicy oak frame a ripe mouthful of currant and cherry flavors. It has a classic bouquet bursting with berries, cassis, and spice. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot are blended in to add depth and elegance, further enhancing the bright berry flavors and lively acidity. Try this wine with hearty stews, wild mushrooms, and grilled meats. Though ready to enjoy now, it will develop gracefully with 5 to 7 years of additional cellaring.

The Spill

Perhaps the best part of the story of the 2018 Cab Sauv is the growth and learning that Schug had to accomplish to adapt to Sonoma Valley. Joe Schug became a Napa Valley expert, and Sonoma Valley is an entirely different ballgame. It’s one of those things that some may not realize about winemaking. Despite these two regions being adjacent to one another, the strategies for growing quality grapes differ entirely. So much so that even well-seasoned pros, like Joe Schug and his team, took years to get it right in Sonoma Valley. There is something to be said about their determination for perfection, which is precisely what this Cabernet Sauvignon is all about.

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