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Napa and Sonoma Wineries Hire New Winemakers

Dana Nigro
Posted: November 16, 1999

Planning to boost their annual production figures, three California wineries -- one in Napa Valley and two in Sonoma County -- have appointed new head winemakers.

Stonegate Winery in Napa Valley has hired Gerard Zanzonico, who spent the past 20 years at Chateau Montelena, part of that time as assistant winemaker. Stonegate, based in Calistoga, produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Zanzonico oversaw the 1999 crush and will be guiding the winery as it expands gradually from its current annual production of 23,000 cases to its goal of 40,000 cases.

Zanzonico's appointment caps off a series of changes that Stonegate has made since its founder, James Spaulding, sold the winery, in 1996, to the California Wine Co., a group of wine investors that owns more than 200 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley. Andy Schweiger, formerly with Cain Vineyard & Winery, oversaw last year's harvest at Stonegate, and John Quinones, winemaker at Clos Pegase until 1996, consulted on the 1996 and 1997 vintages.

This fall, Quinones -- who works with a number of limited-production wineries -- took a position as consulting winemaker for Raymond Burr Vineyards in Sonoma County. He will oversee all of the Healdsburg-based winery's production as it expands from 2,500 cases to 4,000 cases with the 1999 vintage. Raymond Burr makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay from its 15-acre vineyard.

Also in Sonoma County, Trentadue Winery in Geyserville appointed Miro Tcholakov as its winemaker. Tcholakov, a native of Bulgaria, spent the past nine years at Dry Creek Vineyard in Healdsburg, most recently as assistant winemaker. He replaces Chris Gebhardt, who is taking some time off but continues to help with the winery's limited-release Ports.

Trentadue specializes in Italian-style red wines -- using varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel -- and makes a total of 10,000 cases per year. Tcholakov will help with the 30-year-old winery's plan to expand to 25,000 cases annually within the next five years.

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