Feature Creating Memorable Moments with Duckhorn Wine Company TEXT BY CHRISTOPHER SAWYER Sip, Sniff, Savor! It was a true love fest. Hundreds of wine fans wandering bliss-fully from table to table sniffing and sipping flavorful offerings of new Pinot Noir releases made with pristine fruit grown in the coastal region of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Set inside a spacious white tent surrounded by beautiful vine-yards near Philo in mid-May, this momentous event marked the 20-year anniversary of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and two decades since the first Pinot Noir grapes planted by Goldeneye Vineyards, the hosts of the event, were picked on the estate property. Although he worked down the road as winemaker at Husch Winery when Duckhorn Wine Company began devel-oping the Goldeneye property in the 1990s, Duckhorn Chief Operating Officer, Zach Rasmussen, remembers that exciting period very well. “To me, it became very obvious that Dan (Duckhorn) was passionate about what he believed in. In the case of Anderson Valley, his ultimate goal was to develop a winery that was focused on showcasing the special characteristics of Pinot Noir, the sites where the grapes are grown, and the appellation as a whole.” Today, this artisanal approach has resulted in 136 acres of planted vineyards; three annual releases that have gained a wide-spread following by Pinot Noir lovers around the globe; and the integration of the Goldeneye label into the company’s robust wine portfolio, which includes high-profile winery Duckhorn Vineyards, Paraduxx, Migration, Decoy, and Canvasback. It’s a journey that began when Dan and his former wife, Margaret Duckhorn, founded the original Duckhorn Vineyards wineries near the sleepy town of St. Helena in 1976. At the time, there were only 40 wineries in Napa Valley. After producing their 44 first 1,600 cases (800 of Cabernet and 800 of Merlot) in 1978, Dan followed his passion for the magnificent red wines from the famous Bordeaux regions of Pomerol and St. Emilion to help establish Merlot as one of North America's great premium wine grapes in the early 1980s. In 1982, the winery released the first offering of its crisp, clean, and elegant style of Sauvignon Blanc, which has since become its signature white wine. Like successful architects, artists, designers, star chefs and other types of entrepreneurs, great wineries do more than just endure—they evolve, innovate, learn and lead. This has been Duckhorn Wine Company’s signature since the begin-ning, and as a result the winery in their portfolio continue to stay relevant, consistent, and pleasing to the palates of a wide range of consumers. Thus, once the Duckhorn winery was humming, new opportunities and fresh ideas culminated in the development of the Paraduxx winery, one of the early proprietary blends of Napa Valley, in 1994; two years later, the establishment of the Goldeneye played an essential role in positioning Anderson Valley Pinot Noir on wine lists, retail shelves, and in cellars around the globe; and in 2001 the company launched Migration, a marvelous winery focused on making elegant and sophisti-cated styles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with premium fruit from Sonoma County and the Central Coast. Together, these new wineries helped the company become more recognized for benchmark wines and offering more diversity in terms of grape varietals, price points, categories, and regions. Therefore, while other wineries have been consolidating production and carving up assets, the Duckhorn Wine Company has continued to move forward.