Sonoma County region
Bringing a unique energy and enthusiasm to winemaking
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 explains 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 UC Davis 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 legendary 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 just under a thousand cases, and David Vergari doesn’t see a great deal of growth for the future since he is the winery’s only employee. 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.
About the Vineyard
Vergari’s 2008 Pinot Noir comes from the tiny Marin County appellation, located just north of San Francisco and west of San Pablo Bay. The region’s climate is similar to that of the Sonoma Coast, seeing influence from the Pacific Ocean and nearby Petaluma Wine Gap that creates a coastal fog and moderates the temperate. The result is one of the longest natural growing seasons in the state, which promises wines with ideal acidity levels and generally lower alcohol.
Marin County is home to just about 125 acres of vineyards, mostly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With scarce property availability, Marin County will always be a small grape growing region, but its vineyards and wines are recognized worldwide for their quality and diversity. From the days of the Gold Rush in 1849, this part of the state has embodied the pioneering spirit and innovation that still energizes the California wine business.
David Vergari - Winemaker
David Vergari is an incredibly talented, engaging winemaker with an enthusiasm for life and wine that’s simply contagious. Growing up in an Italian family, homestyle winemaking was a way of life and it instilled in him a lifelong interest in wine.
After deciding to pursue a career in winemaking in the late 1980s, Vergari took courses at UC Davis with many of his classmates who are distinguished winemakers today. Vergari gained hands-on winemaking experience working on three different continents, which truly paved the way for his own label, Vergari Wines. In addition to handcrafting his own wines, Vergari is now consulting for other small wineries and teaches wine courses at UC Irvine Extension.
Vergari Wines reflect David’s philosophy: ‘Give every lot of grapes the attention and careful handling it needs to fully express its character; let the wine find its ‘voice’ while knowing when to stay out of the way; and, always remember that wine is something to be enjoyed like the company of an old friend.”