Valle de Inez Winery
Santa Ynez Valley AVA
A highly successful winery owner and winemaker, Doug Margerum takes a traditional French negotiant approach with his Valle de Inez Winery, crafting small batches of artisan wines from the top wine growing regions in the state
This month’s Gold Wine Club selection is the Valle de Inez Winery located in Buellton in Central Coastal California’s Santa Ynez Valley, a part of the larger Santa Barbara Valley.
Inez and not Ynez? “If you visit the landmark building, the Mission Inez,” owner Doug Margerum explained, “you will see that Inez was the original spelling of the word. It was my intention to call attention to that fact and celebrate the original settlers that brought the initial rootstock to establish the region’s first vineyards long, long ago.”
Margerum founded Valle de Inez Winery back in 2014 to fill a void that he felt existed in his business. “I am a throwback to French vintners and winemakers who were called negociants (see Spotlight section) who were incredibly successful. After several decades in the wine industry, I felt I had developed sufficient contacts around the state to allow me to try and replicate the efforts of French negociants. I know that many wineries make more wine than they actually need to protect themselves against eventualities that might occur.”
Valle de Inez Winery buys these finished wines and produces wines that fit the formula Doug Margerum has developed. “Many of these wines are top flight wines, some a bit more acidic, some a bit heavy on the flavor side. It becomes my job as winemaker (see Winemaker section) to blend these wines together to make a more effective, more drinkable wine. It’s a simple matter of the sum being better than the parts and our initial successes with Valle de Inez’s wines bear out my decision to follow this route in making our wines.”
Valle de Inez Winery expects to produce around 2,000 cases this year, a figure that will grow substantially in the coming years. “There’s a lot of great wine available out there at realistic prices,” he continued. “These prices allow me to produce a wine that is immediately drinkable and represents an excellent price/value ratio for the consumer. When the customer is happy and feels he is getting a good deal, then I’m happy too.”
Margerum also pointed out that the Valle de Inez label that was designed by graphic artist Tom Adler is actually an impressionistic woodcut that represents the work that is done in making the wine. “It takes a lot of work to produce a finished wine,” Margerum added. “The label depicts various aspects of our trade in a basic, innate manner. Our customers love the label and so do I.”
Another innovative approach might possibly be in store for future Valle de Inez releases. “It involves us putting our wines in cans, a part of the wine business that is gaining popularity. It came into being as a means of getting wines into beach and resort facilities where glass bottles are forbidden due to the possibility of breakage. The idea of wine in cans also reduces the carbon footprint and constitutes lower shipping costs that means greater savings to the consumer. The recycling of cans is also a major help to the environment,” concluded Doug Margerum.
However, such a scenario figures to be a way off for the still emerging winery and its current boutique status. In the meantime, Doug Margerum and Valle de Inez Winery will continue to pursue the accolades and scores that most of his wines have enjoyed.
Wineries such as Valle de Inez serve an important part within the complexity that is the California wine industry. While providing an ideal outlet for excess juice for other wineries and growers, the excellent price points for quality wines are a boon for customers with diminished wallets.
It is our pleasure to introduce Valle de Inez to our Gold Wine Club members. We predict you will embrace this wonderful winery and its remarkable wines and will take great satisfaction as you watch it grow and prosper in the future. Enjoy!
Doug Margerum - Winemaker
Owner/Winemaker Doug Margerum considers his accomplishments with Valle de Inez Winery a return to his roots in the wine business. “From 1986 to 1998, I was with a company called Vita Nova that specialized in making extremely drinkable wines immediately fit to drink. Our wines were extremely successful and this experience gave me the idea to found Valle de Inez Winery and our approachable wines,” he recently stated.
Margerum is a self-taught, highly successful winery owner and winemaker. His Margerum Wine Company wines, Barden (Sta. Rita Hills AVA) and Rancheria Cellars are all highly successful with wonderful scores and accolades that continue to impress. He is a declared devotee of Rhône wines and Rhône varietals and has recently planted a 19-acre vineyard located on Alamo Pintado Road in Los Olivos with 10 different Rhône varietal grapes, five red and five white. He also considers himself a throwback to French negociant winemakers that have seen a marked revival during the past decade.
Doug Margerum is a multi-talented individual that has been able to identify opportunistic situations throughout his long career in the wine industry. He owns several wineries and wine entities and is extremely enthusiastic about this month’s Gold Wine Club feature, Valle de Inez Winery.
“The idea of a true negociant winery has always fascinated me,” he informed. “In Franc, negociants were the backbone of the French wine industry for many, many generations. They usually bought finished wines from growers or vintners and blended the wines together to produce their own style of wines. Negociants were popular in many parts of France, especially in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. The winemakers who made these wines were the real heroes of the French wine business even though they toiled in relative obscurity.”
Doug Margerum is determined that his Valle de Inez Winery will become a leader in that segment of California’s remarkable wine production. Even though Valle de Inez Winery first saw light some four years ago, it has remained at its current level of around 2,000 cases per annum. “That’s about to change,” remarked Margerum. “I am hopeful that Valle de Inez Winery will grow substantially in the upcoming years. We have revamped the initial concept and feel it is the only way to truly grow the brand.”
Margerum is also an entrepreneur of the first magnitude. He owned and operated Santa Barbara’s Wine Cask Restaurant, recognized as one of the country’s first successful wine bars. After he sold the place, he decided to buy it back. He sold it once again and is now delighted with the fact that the new owner is doing quite well with the business.
Margerum has applied his BA in Economics from University of California, Santa Barbara to a good end. He has also consulted for a number of top wineries including Happy Canyon Vineyard and Cent’Anni Vineyard in California. Interestingly, he also consults for a Rhône Valley company, Chene Blue, that is located in the French village of Crestet. More importantly, Doug Margerum is one of only a handful of American wine consultants in France.
Even Mother Nature hasn’t been able to thwart Margerum and his quest to becoming one of California’s leading winery owners. The fateful mudslide that followed the devastating fire in January of 2018 that ravaged the City of Montecito completely destroyed the Margerum family’s home. Margerum’s initial thoughts were that his family was safe and that the winery in nearby Buellton had been spared. He hopes to return to the rebuilt home sometime in early 2019.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Doug Margerum is his down-to-earth candidness and his ongoing viewpoint on what’s really important in life. He is happiest in the company of close friends and customers in the enjoyment of his excellent array of fine wines.
He is true to the phrase ‘Wine is Good Living’ that adorns his biography. The phrase is well worth remembering and should be put into practice by anyone who truly loves and believes in wine as does Doug Margerum.
California Wine Region
Wineries such as Valle de Inez have a wide spectrum of available wine regions from which to choose. Most of the top appellations in the state have wineries that tend to overproduce, particularly when it comes to wines. The sharp winery owner, Doug Margerum, who has multiple contacts throughout the state, benefits from this overabundance (except during really small yield years) of made wines, and is consistently able to find wines that meet his standards and can be used in making the type of wines he considers plausible.
These Gold Wine Club selections from Valle de Inez Winery originated in different appellations. The Merlot bears a Central Coast Appellation designation (cold climate), while the Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of several appellations including Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, Yountville, Lake County and Central Coast. Due to this plethora of appellations, the wine must bear the more general ‘California Appellation’ by law.
Having this flexibility in not being tied to one wine region is a huge benefit to Doug Margerum, as he can hand select the best of the best for his Valle de Inez wines. Whether that means all of the fruit originates from one appellation, or several appellations, you can be confident that the finished blend will be distinctive, complex, and true to the varietal’s characteristics - and made with the best fruit possible.