Celebrating more than 45 years in business with delightful wines from Monterey County
When founder Al Scheid first contemplated the operation that has become the modern Scheid Vineyards, he thought of the project as a grape growing business to supply some of the new wineries that had begun popping up around Monterey County and its environs. He planted some 10 acres around the town of Greenville and began adding a number of additional vineyards to his portfolio. He called his enterprise the Monterey Farming Corporation and registered it as a limited partnership.
Scheid was a Harvard Business school graduate who saw that vineyards could provide a tax shelter vehicle. The numerous microclimates of Monterey County were assessed as ideal by some top experts in the wine industry. His industry-changing limited partnership concept was broadly accepted and Al Scheid was on his way to becoming a highly successful farmer and entrepreneur.
For more than a decade, things went well for the entity. Al Scheid brought his son Scott, who had been working as an options trader on Wall Street, on board to help run the company in 1986. Along the way a vineyard planted to Pinot Noir was acquired and the resulting wines added to the company’s wine portfolio.
In 2005, a state-of–the-art winery was completed as well as a smaller Reserve Winery where Scheid Vineyards wines are produced. Only two percent of the company’s production is used for these wines which the Scheid family considers to be their highest quality fruit.
The company’s logo actually has a name, Vin. The bold image is the company’s salute to the vineyard worker and is intended to reflect the company’s beginnings as a grape grower. While rooted in tradition, the iconic image is intended to look ahead and step forward. It also implies the truism that great wine begins in the vineyard.
Senior Vice President Heidi Scheid, the daughter of founder Al Scheid and an insightful wine executive, put it thusly. “We are a company without a dreamy story to fall back on. We are an old company that is doing new stuff every day. We never take anything for granted and all do our own things.”
It is our pleasure to introduce Scheid Vineyards’ exceptional wines to our Gold Medal Wine Club members. We know you will enjoy the experience!
Scheid Vineyards founder Al Scheid used the advice of viticultural expert and UC Davis Professor, A.J. Winkler, to purchase his first vineyards in the Salinas Valley of Monterey County in 1972. Professor Winkler’s forecast for the Salinas Valley placed it on a par with Napa Valley, Sonoma County and both Burgundy and Bordeaux regions in France. Additionally, the price of vineyard land was considerably lower in the Salinas Valley than any of the aforementioned planting sites. Al Scheid acted promptly and purchased his first vineyards (ten acres) located on the edge of the town of Greenfield.
About forty-five years later, Scheid Estate Vineyards’ holdings cover eleven different growing sites along a 70-mile spread of the Salinas Valley that encompasses four primary climate zones.
The Salinas Valley wine growing region is flanked by the Gabilan Mountain Range to the east and the Santa Lucia Mountains to the west, all the while maintaining its cool coastal presence due to the proximity of Monterey Bay. Influenced by the gigantic offshore Monterey Canyon (as massive as the Grand Canyon), the area produces an upwelling effect that cools the marine air. This allows the fruit to ripen more slowly and increase the hang time of the grapes. This increased hang time leads to exceptional wines that exhibit intense fruit flavors, deep color extraction and full varietal expression.
A total of 39 different varietals are utilized in the Scheid Vineyards operation, arguably among the highest number of differing varietals planted in California by one company. All Scheid vineyards are officially certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance that provides a third-party verification of the winery’s commitment the adoption and implementation of sustainable winegrowing practices.
Dave Nagengast - Winemaker
A top notch discus thrower in both high school and college, Dave Nagengast chose the wine industry to show his skills. After competing in collegiate track and field at Cal State Fresno, Nagengast received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Science with an emphasis in Enology in 1985. He pointed to the complexity of the winemaking process as the main reason for his interest in the craft.
Over the next few years he was employed as an assistant winemaker at several wineries including Storrs Winery & Vineyards, Mirassou Winery and San Martin Winery. His winemaking philosophy is to accentuate the character of the grape through the finished wine. Nagengast’s goal is to make wines that are true to the grape and balanced in the mouthfeel. He feels he is still learning his art after more than 30 years in the role of winemaker.
Nagengast is also the owner of Nagengast Estate Vineyard overlooking Hog Canyon and of the very successful Cinquain Cellars Winery in San Miguel, CA where he and his family reside.
Heidi Scheid - Senior Vice President
When Heidi Scheid was growing up, the thought of her spending her career in the wine business never entered her mind. “When my Dad started the grape growing business,” she informed, “it wasn’t with the idea of it becoming a family business. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was living with my mother in Orange County and I never really paid much attention to it.”
Heidi Scheid decided to head into the world of finance and completed her business and finance degree at the University of Southern California. During her time in college, she worked various jobs in the restaurant business, first as a server and then as a manager. It was during her stint as manager of the first California Pizza Kitchen in Beverly Hills that she began to notice the differences in wine. “The California Pizza Kitchen was unique in that had an extensive wine list. One day I had the opportunity to taste a bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. I thought ‘wow’ there is a difference in wines, a great difference. I started taking wines more seriously after that and slowly developed a real working knowledge of wines.”
Her business career blossomed and Heidi Scheid accepted a position with the financial firm Ernst & Young (now known as EY to the financial world). She worked in the financial arena until 1992 when she was on maternity leave for her first baby. She had begun working part time with her dad and brother Scott, helping to keep the winery’s books. “This was BC (before computers) she explained. “Our company’s books were being kept on old green ledgers. I introduced some basic accounting programs and everyone was really pleased with the results.”
Her dad, winery founder Al Scheid, compelled her to join the now Scheid family business (her brother Scott was already on board) and Heidi finally accepted. At the time, the family was growers only and sold their entire crop of grapes to other wineries. It was a simple business or so the new wine executive believed.
Then the great phylloxera epidemic of the mid-1980’s devastated the Scheid family vineyards. It necessitated a replanting and change of direction for the company. “We decided not to rely on just a few wineries to take our fruit,” Heidi Scheid continued. “We also decided to start producing our own wines under our family’s label. It turned out to be a really good decision.”
A tiny production of around 100 cases of the 1989 vintages started off the process. The company grew steadily and last year accounted for around 14,000 cases.
Today Heidi Scheid is supremely happy with her surroundings. She wears a number of hats as Senior Vice President at Scheid Vineyards. “I basically work for everyone in the company,” she joked. “I do whatever it takes to get the job done.” She credits the people who work at Scheid Vineyards as the sources of her successful environment.
“We have a number of people working with us with curious minds and great energy and passion for what we do,” she finalized. “It is similar to the sporting world where those attributes propel some to the very top. They will not settle for the ordinary and do the best possible job on our wines.”
Are there young Scheids around to join the family business?
“I have three children, one who has just finished college. My brother Scott has two. We are both of the opinion that our children should seek and find their own way in life and business. We also realize that wine passion develops as one gets older, so the door is wide open should any of them decide to join our team. We would be very pleased.”