Sonoma County region
93 Points - Wine Enthusiast magazine
Were it easy to identify a winery’s greatness through its pedigree, then Sonoma’s Goldschmidt Vineyard (and its Forefathers Wines brand) would certainly be near the top of the list. Goldschmidt Vineyard is the brainchild of owners Yolyn and Nick Goldschmidt, both natives of New Zealand who have lived in California for the past two decades.
Nick Goldschmidt holds four academic degrees (in Science, Horticulture, Viticulture and Enology) and possesses a world-class resume. Goldschmidt made his first wines in 1982 when a chance encounter at a small vineyard (part of a research project) left some grapes available. Once he made wine from the grapes, something clicked within him and a passion for growing grapes and making wine was started. Since that time, Goldschmidt has worked in New Zealand, Australia, South America and California in practically every facet of the wine industry. He and his wife Yolyn came to the United States in 1989 and Nick landed a job at Carneros Creek Winery in Napa Valley.
“1989 was the vintage we called the ‘earthquake year’ and I was fortunate to get a position as a basic schlepper (cellar rat and gopher),” Nick recently recalled. “Even though I had held higher positions in other countries, I wanted the experience of working the harvest.” Within a few years, Nick was winemaker for the much larger Simi Winery in Healdsburg where he also became general manager. After a series of ownership changes, Nick was asked to run the worldwide winemaking operations for industry giant Allied Domecq that covered the company’s operations in Chile, Argentina and the United States. Just before the turn of the century, Nick and Yolyn began acquiring small, selective vineyards for their own winery project. Nick’s relationship with his corporate partners allowed him to make his own wines and the undertaking that would become Goldschmidt Vineyard was soon a reality.
“I never wanted to be in the position of sitting around and one day saying I wish I’d done something about it,” smiled Goldschmidt. “I wanted to develop a winery with a specific purpose. It was our plan that each wine we produced would be considered as one vineyard, one vintage and one varietal. We have held to that philosophy and the results have really exceeded our expectations.”
‘Exceeded our expectations,’ is putting it mildly. Since the company’s inaugural release in 2007, Goldschmidt Vineyard’s wines have literally gone through the roof. Practically every wine industry periodical has given the wines top marks and has made Goldschmidt Vineyard’s offerings among the most sought after in the industry.
“Frankly, I had an idea we would be successful,” Goldschmidt offered. “But, I believed the economy and recession would probably slow everything down. I am happy to report this has not been the case.” From the initial offering of around 1,000 cases, Goldschmidt has grown to just under 7,000 cases, a figure that includes some superlative wines Goldschmidt brings in from his programs in New Zealand and Australia. These wines are a part of Goldschmidt’s Forefathers Wines brand, a portfolio that comprises three single vineyard, single varietal wines from perhaps their most definitive growing regions in the world: a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, a Shiraz from McLaren Vale, South Australia, and a Cabernet from Alexander Valley in California. The wines are all made and bottled at the source and Goldschmidt maintains chief involvement, traveling to make all pivotal decisions in the winemaking and bottling processes before the wines are shipped. While Nick Goldschmidt does all the winemaking himself, Yolyn runs the business aspect of Goldschmidt Vineyards. The couple’s three daughters also have a hand in helping out. Eldest daughter Chelsea had a Merlot named after her that vaulted to #4 on one periodical’s list and sold out immediately. Daughter Catherine was the recipient of a noted Cabernet naming, while youngest daughter Hillary was honored with a marvelous Sangiovese that received additional high praise. Of the three children, Nick Goldschmidt ardently believes his daughter Catherine will follow him into the business. “She’s really into the whole thing at this point and helps out every time she has a chance. She seems to be a young woman who knows what she wants and that couldn’t make me happier.”
Nick Goldschmidt also admits that finding his little slice of heaven outside the corporate world has made him, “the happiest and most contented,” in his entire business life. He is now firmly in control of his family’s destiny and seems headed for continued success with his winery operation.
“I always wanted to do things right,” he concluded. “I wanted a smallish operation where quality was the most important aspect. I wanted vineyards that were almost perfect and could produce really world-class fruit. Everything has come together quite nicely for us, and for that I am most certainly thankful.”