The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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6 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 Having the last name Sebastiani would be more than enough pres- sure for any person working in the wine business. Growing up with the name August Sebastiani, however, creates immediate comparisons with a man who was instrumental in the 20th-century development of the wine industry in California. You would never know it when speaking to young August Sebastiani II, one of August's 14 grandchildren. His infec - tious enthusiasm and success in the wine business, along with a sincere appreciation of family heritage, have made him very worthy of his grand - father's name. As young August puts it, "You usually expect the first born to get the name of the family patriarch. I was number 11, but I still understood the word legacy." August Sebastiani, a 2010 Culinary Institute of America Vintners Hall of Fame inductee, was one of the forefathers of the Sonoma County wine industry. It was August who turned a successful local bulk wine production started by his father Samuele, into a true nationally recognized wine brand. August and his wife, Sylvia ("Nonni Syl"), brought a personal touch to everything they did while building one of the biggest, family owned wineries in Sonoma County. That type of personal touch is still a cornerstone of the Sonoma County wine industry today. Young August was naturally drawn into the wine business, folding cardboard wine boxes at age eight in the back room of the winery, mapping vine by vine some of the famous family-owned vineyards at age 14 and eventually moving up to tasting room host in high school. His high school years brought him in touch with peers from other winery families like Peterson, Trefethen, Mondavi and Staglin, but he ultimately opted to study political science in college with thoughts of emulating the career of his father, Don Sebastiani, a California State Assemblyman. Fresh out of the University of Santa Clara in 2002, August went to work for Don Sebastiani & Sons. Don's post-political career included the development of a successful portfolio of large-vol - ume, value brands that included Pepperwood Grove and Smoking Loon. In 2006, August developed a sales division within Don & Sons called The Other Guys and became the Northern California distribution arm for his father's portfolio. Not forgetting his interest in politics, August served as a City Council member for the city of Sonoma while building his dad's brands, an experience August feels helped him understand the need of listening to your constituency/ customers in any business. Escaping the shadow of Don Sebastiani & Sons was inevitable for young August. In 2009, The Other Guys split off from Don & Sons to develop their own wine brands.* Following a similar formula as his dad, producing California-appellation, value-driven wines, August's company quickly succeeded with brands like Hey Mambo and Leese-Fitch. Always the restless spirit, August dreamed of reaching beyond "n├ęgociant-oriented, Tuesday night wine" and developing a brand that would be "a premium brand, Saturday night wine." August's new label, Gehricke, has become just that. Sourced from high-quality Sonoma County vineyards, these wines are made to showcase "the soul of Sonoma" while paying tribute to his family origins. Gehricke Road is located just outside the town of Sonoma, a road that passes by some of the old vineyards that his grandfather and father made famous. The label is chic but not overdone, August's handwritten notes on the side of the label show a personal touch to an otherwise serious label. Their first release, a 2012 Los Carneros first press by Bob Bath, MS / photos by Alexander Rubin A rainbow over the vineyards.

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