The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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august 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  95 I was president of a farming company and also still an investment banker at my own firm. Eventually, because the [Monterey Farming Corporation] was so successful, they asked me to start a biotech company, and I ran that in Northern California for about three years. Then I became a consultant in the biotech business, so we were selling my services for that. Then a group of venture capitalists wanted to start another biotech company in Houston, in conjunction with the Baylor College of Medicine. I ran this company with this hand [Scheid raises his right hand] and biotech with this hand. After a while, I felt like the rat on a treadmill, and I decided to go do this thing full time." Scheid taps his finger firmly on the wooden table, the wines made from the grapes he was referring to briefly jiggling. "Hold on," I say. "I have to stop you there. This rosé is incredible." The bright, red-fruit core and perfectly substan- tial body of the Scheid Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé (SRP $19) has stolen my attention, even from Al's amazing saga. "Saigneé?" I ask, thinking it isn't. "No," says Heidi, "we make rosé to make rosé, and I think we hit our stride with this vintage." This is 100 percent Pinot Noir sourced from their estate Mesa del Rio Vineyard in Monterey. "When you grow 4,000 acres of grapes, you also have the luxury of making honest-to-goodness rosé," adds Al. As we continue to taste through the wines, Al picks up where he left off, detailing with pride how each of his kids— Heidi and Scott Scheid—ended up joining the company. (This story is about Al, but it's a tribute to his character that he takes time to explain how the highly educated second-generation Scheids truly deserve their positions in the company.) "Then," continues Al, "I woke up one day in the '80s and realized, someday, [the partners] are all going to sell out one way or another, so I had better start making plans. I bought the first people out around 1985, and we did something like that every year. Every year I'd sell stock in the biotech company and buy some more vineyard, until the one big deal in '96, before we went public." During this time of strategic maneuvering, they were also investing in the vineyards, and by 1996, the Scheid family had bought out all their partners. Says Al, "After the public offering in '97, we coasted along there for a number of years. Developed some vineyards, went up in acreage, went down in acreage. But after a while we finally got it down to what I think is the choicest properties of all the properties we had." Today, more than 10 years later, they are farmers with more than 45 years of experience, 11 estate vineyards and 4,000 certified sustainable acres in total, running along 70 miles of the Salinas Valley. The Scheids own two wineries, one large-capacity and one smaller facility. The larger of the two houses a crusher capable of 30,000 tons at once and is used to make wine sold in bulk. This accounts for 70 percent of their grapes. The rest of the grapes—from the astonishing 40 varieties grown—make their way into one of the eight labels. The Scheid Vineyards 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir (SRP $50), the apex of their efforts, swirls in my glass. Listening to Heidi detail their Pinot Noir clone series—and explain how their winemakers are able to take advantage of this to pick and choose their favorite barrels and blend them to create the Reserve—seems reminiscent to me of Al's cunning and foresight in creating Scheid Vineyards, albeit over a much shorter period of time. It's no wonder that the California Association of Winegrape Growers is honoring him as "Leader of the Year." Tasting Highlights from Other Scheid-Produced Wines from Monterey District 7 2015 Pinot Noir (SRP $20) Metz Road 2015 Riverview Vineyard Pinot Noir (SRP $35) Scheid Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $20) Ranch 32 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $20) District 7 2015 Chardonnay (SRP $18) Stokes' Ghost 2014 Petite Sirah (SRP $34) VDR 2014 "Very Dark Red" Blend, Hames Valley, Monterey (SRP $25) Al Scheid with daughter Heidi Scheid, Senior Vice-President, Scheid Vineyards.

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