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Laurel Glen Vineyard - Sonoma


93 Points - Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

Laurel Glen Vineyard has been in existence for over three decades and has been established as a superior Cabernet Sauvignon producer for practically all of that time. Founder Patrick Campbell perfected the 16 acre-site high up on Sonoma Mountain and produced world-class wines that met with the highest accolades. For many years, Laurel Glen has been synonymous with the finest Cabernets in Sonoma County and Northern California.

Recently, Laurel Glen Vineyard has undergone an ownership change when Campbell sold the vineyard to a group headed by wine industry veteran Bettina Sichel. If the Sichel name seems familiar, Bettina is the daughter of the famous developer of Germany’s famous Blue Nun label, Peter Sichel.

Bettina Sichel feels that former owner Campbell had a good feeling about leaving the fate of Laurel Glen Vineyard in her hands. “We hit it off right away,” she recalled. “Patrick seemed to think the place had a good future with me. He knew I would take good care of everything he had started.”

Why Laurel Glen Vineyard?

“Like many others, I had always enjoyed Laurel Glen’s wines,” she reflected. “When the opportunity came, I took a closer look at the property and was even more impressed. The vineyards were magnificent, and also contained an impressive combination of both older and younger vines. The vineyard had proven itself for years, and Patrick had managed to infuse a great pedigree for our new owners.”

Laurel Glen Vineyard’s new winery team includes a number of impressive names. Phil Coturri (Coturri Winery, Enterprise Vineyards, and Winery Sixteen 600) is now in charge of the vineyards. Coturri was one of the first winemakers to practice biodynamic vineyard development more than 30 years ago. Dave Ramey (Dominus Estate, Rudd Estate) fills the role of consulting winemaker. Randall Watkins (Buena Vista Winery, Moon Mountain), is a Sonoma native and head winemaker. The group possesses a wealth of industry savvy and talent. Not to mention that Sichel herself was responsible for the origination and development of Quintessa Estate Winery as director of sales and marketing for the project. Additionally, she occupied the same position at the well-respected Franciscan Estates in Napa Valley.

Bettina Sichel and her associates also have some specific plans for Laurel Glen. These plans begin with the onset of total organic farming, a movement that is gaining additional followers throughout the wine industry each and every day.

“We feel the biodynamic farming is the way to go,” Sichel added. “We are modernizing and upgrading the vineyards, causing re-invigoration to the plants. Organic farming has produced incredible results elsewhere, and should do the same at Laurel Glen Vineyard.”

The key to Laurel Glen’s success is the vineyard itself. Planted at an altitude of around 1,000 feet, it was originally planted in the 1880’s. It faces directly east and enjoys the wonderful warmth of the morning sun while negating the blistering afternoon and late afternoon heat. Its soils are rocky and the area enjoys small diurnal temperature swings that combine to produce very distinctive wines.

Bettina Sichel also noted that she was able to taste a number of vintages of the older vintages Laurel Glen had produced prior to purchasing the winery. “Of all the years we tasted, the 2006 was by far my favorite. It contained all the great characteristics I had come to expect from a wine of its caliber.”

The winery expects to produce around 950 cases of the 2011 vintage, which was short in volume among recent vintages in Sonoma County.

An additional four acres on the property is scheduled to be planted in 2014.

“When that new fruit becomes usable in 2016 or 2017, we will increase Laurel Glen’s production to between 1,800 to 2,000 cases,” Sichel noted. “That will be our optimum production, but we will still be quite small by comparison to other wineries.”

It will be interesting to see the progression of Laurel Glen Vineyard through the next half-decade. Seldom do you see a highly-respected property change hands at the height of its prominence. It continues to collect awards and accolades and maintains its presence among California’s elite wineries.

“We still have a lot to do ahead of us,” finalized the personable Sichel. “Maintaining a high degree of excellence takes a lot of time and planning. We believe that the newly invigorated vineyards and our new winemaking team will produce great results in the future.”

While Laurel Glen Vineyard is already considered great, we predict it will be even greater in the future.


  1. Laurel Glen
    2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Laurel Glen
    Sonoma County

    $53.00

    $60.00
    93 - Stephan Tanzer
    id: 1273
    Special
    Platinum

Bettina Sichel General Manager & Partner

Dear Platinum Series Wine Club Members,

I took over the stewardship of Laurel Glen Vineyard from founder Patrick Campbell in early 2011 and the 2006 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet is one of the reasons why. When I first tasted that wine with Patrick, I was blown away by the beautiful balance between sweet fruit and minerality; between power and elegance. Patrick was thinking of selling the vineyard he had developed with his own two hands. After tasting his wines, I resolved to be the one to buy it. It took a year to put together the financing. Fortunately, Patrick Campbell was very patient. I think he recognized that I would do justice to his vision.

I have brought in an ambitious new team. Organic viticultural guru Phil Coturri, who grew up on Sonoma Mountain, now farms the vineyard organically. The winemaking team consists of Randall Watkins, who developed his skills with mountain Cabernet at Moon Mountain Vineyards, and renowned enologist David Ramey. My role is to keep everyone focused on what this great site for Cabernet does best. Laurel Glen Vineyard wants to make a complex, dense Cabernet with acidity. The acidity gives the wines a lovely freshness when they are young and allows them to age very gracefully. My goal is to preserve the nuanced flavors of the past, beautifully illustrated by the 2006 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet, while adding intensity and texture to future vintages.

Cheers,
Bettina Sichel
General Manager & Partner

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