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Viansa Winery - Los Carneros Region - Napa


Mediterranean elegance with fantastic international varietals

For the past two decades plus, most visitors to Sonoma County and Napa Valley that traveled the Golden Gate Bridge northward to the wine country have encountered the stunning complex that is Viansa Winery and Marketplace. Originally built as a tribute to their family’s Tuscan heritage, original owners Sam and Vicki Sebastiani truly captured the feelings and spirit of their iconic Sonoma wine family that has been a major player in the Sonoma wine industry for over a hundred years.

The secret to the place’s success is its incredible ambiance. Located on a small hill overlooking seventy acres of vineyards and natural wetlands, Viansa is exactly what it appears to be, namely a near perfect doorway into the myriad collection of wineries and estates that make up Sonoma County and Napa Valley.

Viansa Winery and Marketplace prospered from its very inception by producing a number of award winning wines and offering its visitors and customers a keen insight into a little bit of Tuscany nestled near the entrance to Northern California’s premier wine country. Somehow, this idyllic situation slowly changed and in 2005, the winery was sold to a publicly traded company called 360 Global Wine Company. With no previous expertise in running a winery operation, Viansa’s fortunes quickly went downhill. In less than two years, the company’s fortunes had further regressed to the point that 360 Global Wine Company was forced into Chapter 11 reorganization. At this time in 2007, Viansa changed hands again, and is currently owned by Laurus Master Fund, a hedge fund located in New York that had been 360 Global Wine Company’s main creditor. Spinning forward to present time, it is interesting to note that Viansa’s fortunes have dramatically turned again, witness Viansa’s excellent showing in recent wine tastings and ratings by industry periodicals.

“It’s safe to say that we had a long way to go to get us back into the limelight,” commented Viansa’s co-owner and President Lloyd Davis. Davis was a former executive of Laurus Master Fund who is now calling all the shots for the rejuvenated winery. “Everyone involved with Viansa, or anyone who has ever seen the property, agrees that we have one of the really great showplaces for fine wine in California. It was simply a matter of getting a number of things straight and then applying basic economic and marketing principles to make everything work correctly.” At its height during the Sebastiani ownership period, Viansa produced about 55,000 cases of high quality Sonoma varietals. That level has been downscaled and Viansa currently produces close to 35,000 annual cases.

“Part of our current production levels can be attributed to the recession,” added Davis. “It’s a simple fact that many customers just don’t have the funds they had a few years ago to buy the wines they would like to buy. But the recession has affected everyone, not just Viansa.” Davis also said that his five-year development plan has Viansa back to its former production levels and he feels confident the winery can achieve its stated goals. Viansa has the luxury of owning most of its vineyards in the highly rated Carneros Appellation that surrounds the winery. All of the winery’s estate bottlings are produced from these grapes and assures the company of truly excellent fruit for their leading wines.

“What the former owners did with the property is amazing,” Davis continued. “They used just about all the plantable property and even made allowances for the wetlands project that has garnered so much interest over the ensuing years.” The wetlands project involved Viansa and Ducks Unlimited, and sought to provide wildlife permanent usage of the wetlands during periodic flooding of San Pablo Bay (the northern extension of San Francisco Bay) that actually touches Viansa’s southern property border. The project involved a levee that has proven to be an unmitigated success to everyone involved. Viansa Winery and Marketplace is a remarkable story due to its many-faceted makeup. As the doorway to Northern California’s wine country, it is an excellent ambassador to the general public as well as the serious wine drinker.

Most of Viansa’s problems are in its rear view mirror and the leadership displayed by Lloyd Davis and his retooled staff seems to have the proper ingredients for success in the long term. It is fitting that Viansa is once again successful, it is simply too much of a jewel to ever loose.


  1. Viansa
    2005 Proprietary Red Blend
    Viansa
    Sempre Avanti
    Sonoma County

    $25.00

    $32.00
    Special Selection
    id: 476
    Special
    Gold
  2. Viansa
    2006 Pinot Gris
    Viansa
    Vittoria
    Sonoma County

    $16.00

    $19.50
    Gold Medal
    id: 477
    Special
    Gold

Ron Goss winemaker at Viansa Winery

Ron Goss was appointed winemaker at Viansa Winery and Marketplace in August of 2006 and brought with him a unique sense of creativity, talent, and leadership that helped form Viansa into the entity it is today. Prior to joining Viansa, Goss had served as premium winemaker at Foster's Wine Estates, and as an associate winemaker at Beringer's. During his distinguished career, Goss has been responsible for all aspects of the winemaking process, from the coordination of cellar, bottling and vineyard activities, and supervision of wine made at outside plants, through new product development, and promotion of wine brands. Goss has since relocated and Viansa is currently working with a number of highly sought after consulting winemakers in the Sonoma region.

Lloyd Davis

Viansa Winery and marketplace Co-owner and President Lloyd Davis expected to be part of the financial world for his entire professional career. The Manhattan-born 50-year-old graduated from Adelphi University with a degree in finance and immediately joined the prestigious banking firm known as Irving Trust in 1980. Davis worked his way through the financial world and finally landed with Laurus Master Funds as its chief credit officer in 2005.

‘My job at Laurus was to travel extensively throughout the United States and Canada to check on the 145 investments and 26 industries that we had our money invested in,” Davis recalled recently. I was on the go all the time and really put in some miles. One of the companies I worked with turned out to be 360 Global Wine Company who bought Viansa from the Sebastianis.” Davis admitted to having more than a passing fondness for wine and the wine business.

‘I guess it all started with my family and the fact that we always had wine at our table when I was growing up,” he continued. ‘During my college years I became more and more interested in wine. My mother’s next door neighbor even made wine on a small scale at the beginning of the Long Island wine industry explosion.” About ten years ago, Davis took his interest in wine to another level. He became involved in the wine/food pairing aspect of the business, and has translated that interest into his marketing effort at Viansa. He began attending wine seminars and then wine and food dinners that paired unique wines and specific foods to produce specific taste sensations.

‘I found it very fascinating,” Davis added. ‘Even before Viansa, I found myself becoming a serious wine person. When you consider what is available to your palate and how easily you can improve and accent even your simplest dinners, well, to me it seemed the world opened itself up.” When the chance to run Viansa and have an ownership position in the new entity evolved, Davis jumped at the opportunity. For him, running Viansa was almost a dream come true.

‘I thought I worked a lot at Laurus,” he again added, ‘but the winery is a 24/7 job. So far I have worked in the vineyards in my own coveralls, learned how to correctly cut a vine and grapes, and hand select the grapes that will be used. I have even run a tractor to the amazement of my staff. Where else could I get the chance to do all that and still have the time of my life’”

Lloyd Davis’ business expertise has also come into play in a major way. He has firmly reshaped Viansa and has slowly increased its production over the past two years. Viansa now produces some 31 different wines, an attempt by the winery to please the taste buds of practically very consumer.

‘No two palates are alike,” Davis ended. ‘I have kept that in mind as we reshaped our winery.” From the judging results and laudatory ratings so far, Davis’ plan has worked well beyond expectations.

About The Region

The grapes that go into making Viansa’s widespread wine portfolio come from just about every part of Sonoma County as one would expect from a winery that produces thirty-one different wines. The important thing is that ONLY Sonoma County grapes are used for Viansa’s wines. Viansa owns about forty percent of the vineyards they utilize and these grapes form the basis for Viansa’s estate bottlings. The remainder of the grapes is from vineyards that Viansa controls with regard to plantings, trellising and most other aspects of vineyard maintenance. Sonoma County’s varied microclimates are perfectly suited to an extensive array of planted varietals, perhaps more so than any other California growing area and thus is home to just about every important varietal grown in California.


Halibut with Acqua Pazza


Ingredients

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
3 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 ½ cup Viansa Vittoria Pinot Grigio
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 tbs. capers
Salt & Pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
4 Halibut Fillets


Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 3 tbs of Viansa's Extra Virgin Olive Oil in pan. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until tender. Add wine, rosemary, thyme, seasonings, capers and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add fish fillets, vegetables. Bake about 20 minutes, or until fillets are completely cooked. Remove the rosemary sprig. Serve the fillets in individual bowls. Garnish with ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley.




Viansa’s Cannellini Bean and Sausage Stew with Tomatoes and Basil


Ingredients

2 cups cooked cannellini beans
4 Sausage links
2-3 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 bay leaves
1 tbs minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can small diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 cups chicken stock
Pinch of salt and black pepper
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Fresh grated parmesan for serving
Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning


Instructions

Beans: Soak beans overnight. In large pot, add beans, ¼ onion, and 3-4 bay leaves. Fill pot with water to cover ingredients by several inches. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook beans until soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.

Sausage: Cut sausage in half lengthwise, then cut into slices. Heat 2-3 tsp. olive oil in pot. Add Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning to sausage, ¼ chopped onion and 1 T garlic. Sauté sausage until well browned. Add tomatoes with juice, oregano, dried marjoram, and chicken stock to pot. Cool at very low simmer for 30 minutes, until flavors are well blended and liquid is slightly reduced. After 30 minutes, add drained beans and simmer for 15 minutes more. After beans have simmered, add chopped basil and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.



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