Sonoma County region
Good Wine, Good Friends, is Mantra for Mencarini Brothers' Abundance Vineyard
The entity that is present day Abundance Vineyards resulted from a rather complex set of circumstances revolving around the Benziger Family of Sonoma County. When the Benzigers sold their huge Glen Ellen Winery operation to wine industry giant Heublein (owners at the time of Beaulieu Vineyard and Inglenook, among others) in the Fall of 1993, a number of family members wound up splitting the proceeds. Among this group was one Bruce Rector, the godson of Dino Mencarini. Rector wanted badly to stay in the wine business but a non-compete clause presented problems toward locating the new venture in or around Sonoma County.
Rector consulted his godfather, who was also in Heublein’s employ as a grape sourcer and was advised to attempt to locate the new business in and around Lodi, in California’s gigantic Central Valley. It was Mencarini’s opinion that Lodi was an up and coming region that was just beginning to be known for its high quality grapes and wines.
Rector gathered together a number of friends and investors and put together a winery operation that was called Cuisine Cellars and went about the business of establishing the new business. The first vintages were released around 1994, and were initially well received. But, as in most startup businesses, some of the investors who expected quick profits were disappointed and soon began to fail to support the venture. When additional cash inputs were necessary to continue the business, a number of owners balked at the needed contributions.
“When all this started to happen,” remarked Dino Mencarini, “I stood back and listened for a while and then I decided it was too much to take. I talked to everyone involved and made an offer to buy everyone else out. After all, I had my own money at stake and the way we were heading just wasn’t that productive.” Mencarini decided to completely revamp the existing winery in order to give it a fresh lease on life. “We gathered together a number of friends and family and bounced a number of ideas off the group. Sometime during the evening, one woman remarked that her evening had developed abundantly, so we asked her to explain. She told us that the combination of good wine, good food and great friends provided an abundantly good evening. Everyone loved the term and I immediately decided it would be a fitting name for the new winery. The first Abundance Vineyards wines were released in 1997, a smallish 300 to 400 cases. Abundance has grown steadily during the past decade and now bottles between 8500 and 8600 cases. “What I really need to do is make the entire operation profitable,” Mencarini added. “To do that we will have to nearly double our size. If we continue growing at our present rate, that shouldn’t take too long.”
Mencarini also wants to have the entire Abundance Vineyards production to be estate bottled, a specific that will start with the 2007 bottling. Since the winery owns more than six hundred acres around Lodi, there is ample fruit available for projected future growth. At present Dino Mencarini shares the ownership responsibilities of abundance Vineyards with his younger brother Ron, 62. While Dino does most of the marketing, traveling and office decision-making, Ron stays closer to home and is responsible for the extensive vineyard operation that sets Abundance apart from many of its competitors.
Even though a number of offers to buy the vineyards and winery have been advanced, the Mencarinis are adamant about not selling their still evolving winery.
“Having our name on the label is a little like having kids,” Dino Mencarini finalized. “We’ve finally seen it through it growing pains and now it time to be able to see just how its personality develops. After all, we even integrated a cornucopia into the design of our label. It certainly seems fitting that we should be able to enjoy the fruits of all our labors.”
Dino & Ron Mencarini are totally dedicated to the proposition that they will produce wonderfully refreshing wines that appeal to a wide section of today’s American palate. When you consider that they also want to produce these wines at a truly reasonable price, you are reasonably sure they are on to something. Enjoy!