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When you’ve been making wine in California for 50 years, there are more than a few stories to tell. We sat down with the legends who pioneered not only our winery, but an entire industry. We talked to the founders, winemakers, wine educators and others who have loved our wines for decades. Every story is unique. Every story is worth telling. Every story captures a moment that shaped our first 50 years.
This Week's Video
Welcome to the Fetzer 50th Storyteller Series. Because we’d like to bring you along on our journey, we’re sharing a Fetzer story each week throughout 2018, that's 50 stories for 50 years. Learn about the inspiration and grit of the founding Fetzer family (all 11 kids pitched in), parties at the infamous Big Dog Saloon, and visits from culinary legends like Julia Child. Come back often and follow us on social to enjoy them all!
We couldn’t let this moment pass without honoring our roots. We crafted our limited-release 50th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon from choice fruit grown in select California regions including the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Blended with select other reds including Petit Verdot, Merlot and Syrah, our commemorative Cabernet is deep and complex, with a decadent palate that tips its hat to our storied heritage and looks ahead to the next 50 years.
Guided by founder Barney Fetzer, the Fetzer family crafts its first commercial vintage and kicks off one America’s great winemaking stories. Barney, his wife Kathleen and their eleven children go on to build a legacy in Mendocino County while bringing a dream to life: offering quality wine, responsibly crafted, for everyday enjoyment.
The Fetzers purchase a Chardonnay site in Mendocino’s Hopland area and name it Sundial. The namesake wine crafted from this vineyard – our Sundial Chardonnay – broke with prevailing trends and was largely unoaked, yet balanced and richly appealing. An American classic, the wine was ahead of its time nearly four decades ago.
Building on the growing popularity of Fetzer wines, the Fetzers open the Valley Oaks Food & Wine Center in Hopland. During its 23-year tenure, this visionary hospitality center plays host to celebrity chefs, passionate gardeners and thousands of guests who travel from near and far to experience the farm-to-table
lifestyle and Fetzer wines.
Long before sustainability was a trend, the Fetzers and their colleagues looked for ways to farm and make wine in harmony with the environment. As early as 1990, they begin tracking and reducing waste and energy use. Thanks to this legacy, we are proud to be certified TRUE Zero Waste and to operate on 100% renewable energy today.
Having expanded to Hopland, we build the new Fetzer Party Barn there in homage to the original Big Dog Saloon, built by the Fetzers. Featuring sweeping views of the Sanel Valley and plenty of space for entertaining, the Barn remains a popular gathering spot for Fetzer friends and colleagues today.
We complete our Hopland winery headquarters, a model of early sustainable design crafted from reclaimed materials and rammed earth found on site. In the following decade, we install a solar array on its roof and adjoining buildings made up of 4,300 panels—the largest such installation at a U.S. winery at the time.
Wine & Spirits calls Fetzer one of America’s “Top Value Wineries,” highlighting our longstanding commitment to offering quality wines for everyday enjoyment.
Our winery is certified for sustainable practices in the first year of the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program. We adhere to guidelines promoting sustainable winery practices day after day, harvest after harvest, and vintage after vintage.
The evocative place-names that long graced the labels of Fetzer wines—“Valley Oaks” Cabernet Sauvignon, “Sundial” Chardonnay, “Eagle Peak” Merlot and others—are brought back. Though these wines are now crafted from celebrated vineyards throughout California, the names hearken to our roots and the rich legacy of innovation built by our founders.
Building on decades of responsible practices, we become certified as a B Corp. B Corps are certified for being better for the environment, better for communities and better for workers. We are proud to be in the company of admirable brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery and method.
Our Fetzer collection of wines achieves its 20th Best Buy commendation in three years, continuing a trajectory of acclaim for these American classics. It all goes back to Barney’s original vision – what’s good for the Earth is good for the grape, and what’s good for the grape is good for the wine.
We commemorate our 50th anniversary, while laying the foundation for the next 50 years of innovation, quality and leadership in sustainable viticulture and winemaking. Though we have much to celebrate, we’re already busy planning for our next chapter. After all, in some ways, it feels like
we’re just getting started.