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Kongsgaard Hands Over Winemaking Reins at Napa Valley's Luna Winery

Cardinale, S. Anderson, also see changes in the cellar

Posted: June 12, 2002

John Kongsgaard has handed over all winemaking duties at Luna to his former assistant, Kelly Wheat. Kongsgaard, along with George Vare and former Beringer president Mike Moone, founded the winery in 1995 and focused on Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio.

"I remain a proud part-owner," Kongsgaard said. "The idea was for me to get the building built, the vineyard established and the [winemaking] style set, and I've done that."

Kongsgaard, who took the title of wine master at Luna two years ago, has increasingly focused his attention on two other ventures. Under the Kongsgaard label, he produces small amounts of Syrah but focuses on Chardonnay. His latest release, the Kongsgaard 1999 Napa Valley Chardonnay, rated 93 on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale. He is also a partner with auctioneer Fritz Hatton in the Arietta label. The 1999 Arietta red blend and 1999 Merlot were both recently rated 92 by the Wine Spectator.

Lokoya winemaker Christopher Carpenter will now also oversee the winemaking at Cardinale, succeeding winemaker Charles Thomas. Lokoya and Cardinale are both part of Jackson Family Farms, the boutique wineries owned by Jess Jackson, and are produced at the Cardinale winery near Oakville. Thomas signed on as winemaker at Rudd Estate in March but will continue as consultant for Cardinale.

Former Lokoya winemaker Marco DiGiulio is the new consulting winemaker for S. Anderson, joining winemaker Tim Milos. Before leaving Lokoya in 2001, DiGiulio worked in the cellars of Pine Ridge Winery and Atlas Peak Vineyards.

S. Anderson was purchased by Cliff Lede, a Canadian investor, in March. The winery, located near Yountville in the Stags Leap District, is dropping sparkling wine from its lineup to focus on Cabernet Sauvignon.

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