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Vergari Wines - Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountains

95 Points, Pinot Report — 95 Points, Wine & Spirits magazine.

From the time he was five, David Vergari knew that wines held a special interest for him. As a youth, Vergari vividly remembers sampling his great uncle’s homemade red wine when he and his parents visited his family in San Francisco. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to Atomic Energy Commission-employed parents, the Vergaris moved back to Northern California’s East Bay in the mid 1950’s. David attended and later graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Latin American History. He served as a Navy corpsman attached to Marine units during the latter stages of the Vietnam War and returned home to enter the financial business. At one point, while he was pursuing a masters of business degree in college, his girlfriend at the time asked him what he really wanted to do with his life. Vergari thought for a second and blurted out, “why make wine, of course.”
Vergari, now 58, explained that while his answer surprised him, it really could have been expected.

“Since I basically grew up in and around wine country, I guess my heart was there all the time. My parents had a place across the road from Korbel in Sonoma County and I had hung around wineries and vineyards since I was a kid.” Once he made the decision to enter the wine arena, David Vergari really did it in the right manner. In 1989, he enrolled at UC Davis to learn “both the theory about winemaking and grape growing and also to achieve the credibility that a degree from UC Davis brings with it.”
He worked at a number of internships while at David including the likes of Sonoma Cutrer and The Hess Collection. He also gained a great deal of practical experience from the esteemed Sullivan Vineyards of Rutherford, Napa valley, and its iconic owner, the late Jim Sullivan. In 1992, Vergari took a job in Australia with legendary Australian winemaker James Halliday at his well- known Coldstream Hills Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, not far from Melbourne. Upon leaving down under, he worked his way through Europe’s wine regions and finally landed in Spain where he produced wine for a startup winery before finally returning home in 1993. A ground level job opened up at the iconic Joseph Phelps Vineyard in Napa Valley and Vergari jumped at the chance. He stayed there four years and was eventually named Research Enologist for the classic winery. Stints at P.H. Phillips, Rutz Cellars and finally the Riboli Family Vineyard gave Vergari an incredible resume from which to draw. A number of top ratings for wines he made caused Vergari to carefully consider his future.

In 2003, David Vergari made a most important decision to begin making wines under his own Vergari Wines label. The first year’s production was a microscopic 167 cases that was followed the next year by around three hundred cases of mostly pinot noir.

“I have always been interested in pinot noir because of the difficultness of growing the grapes and making the wine” he confessed. “When the movie Sideways came out, pinot noir’s statue rose considerably and a number of people jumped into the race to make it. The film was really a double edged sword. On the one hand, the publicity it generated was wonderful for the grape and the wine business, but at the same time, the exposure attracted a number of vintners who just wanted to capitalize on the publicity.”
Vergari Wines’ production has risen to around 750 cases for this year, and David Vergari doesn’t see a great deal of growth for the future since he is the winery’s only employee. If I was to reach, say 1500 cases in the future, that would be just great. 2,000 cases would be off the chart.” Vergari has no plans for a winery, preferring to put his money into the best possible grapes. He uses the facilities of Oak Ridge Wines Services in Sebastopol, Sonoma County that is owned by close friends who cater to his every need.

He and his wife Katie Orth, live in Sierra Madre, part of Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, but Vergari’s heart remains close to his wines up in Northern California.
By making some Chilean wines in 2005, Vergari added a fourth continent on which he has made wine, a rarity among modern winemakers. He possesses a world-class amount of wine expertise that is definitely apparent in his remarkable wines.

  1. Vergari
    2005 Pinot Noir
    Van der Kamp Vineyard


    95 - Pinot Report
    id: 220