Many of you have, over the yrs, met JimAllen, founder/owner of SequoiaGroveWnry. I have, of course, followed Jim from (before) the very start.
I take, in all modesty, full credit for SequoiaGrove. Back in the late '60's/early '70's, Jim was a home builder in SantaFe. He was also an Economics professor at College of SantaFe. He had a plot on his land and started growing grapes and making wines. BacoNoir & the usual cold-hardy stuff (it was a North-facing slope). The wines were absolutely dreadful. Jim was one of the founders, in the early '70's, of the NewMexico Wine&Vine Society.
Jim started coming up to my wine tastings in the mid-'70's and got totally hooked on wine. By the late '70's, he was so smitten by wine that he decided to chuck his day jon and buy a vnyd in Calif and make wine on a commercial scale. I made it clear to Jim it was the stupidist thing I'd ever heard of. He talked to DarrellCorti, who assured him it was the stupidist idea he'd ever heard.
Despite our nay-saying, Jim found a Cab vnyd for sale (on Hwy 29, right across from F.JustinMiller/MillerwayProcess and MondaviWnry, adjacent to JackCakebread). He took the plunge & founded SequoiaGrove, named after the huge grove of sequoias there on the property. He & his wife (then), Barbara, lived on the house on the property. Jim's brother, Steve, lived in a little trailer out back of the house and did the vnyd management. He made his first wines at MikeRobbins SpringMtnVnyd, using AndreTschelitov as his consultant. The wines were quite good right out of the gate. He eventually converted the barn on the property into a wnry (now the tasting room) and, later, built the bigger wnry behind it.
I visited Jim one Spring shortly after he bought the property and had his first vintage under his belt. He was so proud of the vnyd that, as we walked it, he fired up the wind machine to show me how it was used for frost protection. In the next few hrs, he got several calls from neighbors about what he knew about the weather that they didn't know!!
He drove SequoiaGrove to success based on its Cabernet program. It was named Wnry of the Year one year by WineEnthusiast magazine. He eventually sold the wnry to Kobrand, the present owners. Early on, Jim hired MikeTrujillo to take over the winemaking duties & taught Mike much of what he knew. Mike continues to be the consulting/executive winemaker at SG.
After breaking a leg a few yrs ago, that didn't heal properly, he returned to SantaFe to live in his old house off CanyonRd to be near his daughter, Alicia. He also has a son who lives in Australia. He has been pretty immobile for the last yr. I have been going over to visit Jim most every weekend for the last yr and share my dinner wine w/ him. Sometimes he'd pull an old SG Cab from the '80's out of his stash. They have universally been amazingly good. Sometimes we'd have lunch or some apps together.
For the last few weeks, I've not been able to raise Jim on the phone to arrange my weekly visit. I got a call from Alicia that Jim has been in the hospital & diagnosed w/ acute kidney failure. He's now at home under Hospices care and sleeps much of the time as things wind down, but is still able to have visitors.
Fortunately, Jim ignored my advice & went on to great success in the wine biz. Just like my kids always ignored Dad's advice. Sometimes...Dad's don't know it all..though they may think they do.
Jim has written a book on his experience in founding SequoiaGrove, with a lot of anecdotes about many folks in the NapaVlly wine biz. It exists merely as a typewritten manuscript in a loose-leaf binder (for those of you who remember what a typewriter was). It probably will never be published. I'm hoping Alicia will scan it in and put it out there on the InterNet in .pdf for folks to read. The parts that I've read are quite interesting.
Things continue at SequoiaGrove and, from my tastings, the wines are the best they've ever been. The winemaker is Molly Hill. Molly's very smart & very competent...obviously, though, no relation to yours truly.
I'll probably go visit Jim several times over the coming weeks. So sad...the end of an era and a great run for SequoiaGrove.
Edited by TomHill (02-20-2017 08:42:33)