Walter Schug has long dreamed of producing world-class Pinot Noir. His efforts
have spanned four decades and across two continents. That dream is being realized
now at the Schug Carneros Estate Winery south of Sonoma.
A native of Germany's Rhein River valley, Schug was raised on the region's only
Pinot Noir estate. Since the nineteenth century, the State Domain of Assmannshausen
has been recognized by European connoisseurs as one of the few areas outside France
capable of producing fine Pinot Noir.
In 1959, after finishing his studies at the prestigious German wine institute
of Geisenheim, Walter left for California determined to find success with Pinot
Noir. Ironically, in the early 1970's he was successful with nearly every other
major wine varietal while winemaker for Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the Napa Valley.
In fact, he first established his reputation as one of California's top Cabernet
Sauvignon and Riesling producers.
Yet he longed to achieve this same success with Pinot Noir, the grape of his childhood
home. In 1980, starting with a vineyard he had produced at Phelps, Schug launched
his own brand. By 1983 his quest for an outstanding California Pinot Noir became
serious and he left Phelps to focus on his own wines from the then newly emerging
SCHUG wines have since been proclaimed no less than world class by several critics
in both the U.S. and Europe. Because of this international recognition, SCHUG
is one of the few California producers exporting to Europe, where an astounding
30% production is sold. With wine lovers on both sides of the Atlantic enjoying
his wines, it appears that Walter Schug has attained his goal of producing world-class
Walter's philosophy is "to protect and enhance the varietal and regional characteristics"
of the grape. "Any other embellishments (oak, toast, or yeasty extracts) should
only play a supporting and never a dominating role."