Craig Becker, part owner, winemaker and general manager of Somerston Wine Co., announced today the promotion of Ignacio Gallegos Jr. to vineyard manager. Ignacio has held a management role on Somerston’s vineyard team since 2006, and his land-centered philosophy complements Craig Becker’s own beliefs, which are centered on natural vineyard and winemaking practices.
“Ignacio’s values represent the essence of Somerston’s foundation, which combines respect for people and hard work with a commitment to honoring the true character and beauty of the land,” says Craig Becker. “His management style seamlessly integrates communication and collaboration between the vineyard crews, company directors and the winemaking team with the end goal of producing great fruit and great wine.”
A native of the small farming town of El Llano in Michoacán, Mexico, Ignacio’s family raised him with an intimate understanding of agriculture and a love for fresh and locally-produced foods. His father immigrated to the United States in 1950 under the government Bracero guest worker program, and the rest of the Gallegos family later followed in 1966, settling in the town of St Helena. His father found work in the vineyards of Beringer Brothers Winery, where he spent his next 30 years and retired as a supervisor in the winery. As a child Ignacio spent his free time alongside his father, learning the basics of grape growing and vinification. At 16 he began working after school and on weekends under Edgar Beard of Beard Ranches, where he was eventually promoted to supervisor. He went on to become vineyard foreman of Rutherford’s 100-acre J.J. Cohn Ranch, an estate now owned by Francis Ford Coppola and Scarecrow. It was here where Ignacio instilled a passion for agriculture in his own sons, Ignacio III and Eric, and taught them the basics of grape growing.
“I am thrilled to join Craig Becker in managing the Somerston vineyard crews and overseeing the development of the vines,” says Ignacio Jr. “It is a privilege to work with a parcel as special as the Somerston ranch. The diverse terrain, temperate climate and company-wide commitment to sustainability found at Somerston are unlike anything else I’ve encountered in the Napa Valley.”
Somerston’s 1,682-acre ranch is located in the mountains above Lake Hennessy. The ranch is comprised of two neighboring valleys—Priest Ranch and Elder Valley—and is home to over 200 acres of vineyards. The diverse soils, micro-climates and sun exposures of the property are ideal for growing world-class grapes, and are planted to 11 varietals on elevations of 850 to 2,400 feet above sea level. 87 individual blocks are planted to tailor varietal characteristics to each site’s specific soil type, slope and sun exposure. The property’s fruit goes into Somerston Wine Co.’s three distinct wine brands: Somerston, Priest Ranch and Highflyer, and has been and continues to be purchased by some of Napa Valley’s most renowned winemakers including David Ramey, Heidi Barrett and David Phinney, plus a handful of well-respected wineries, including Biale, Katherine Hall, Orin Swift, Reynolds Family and Viader.
About Somerston Wine Co.
Somerston Wine Co. was founded by Allan Chapman and Craig Becker in 2008. Allan purchased the historic Priest Ranch in 2004, later acquiring Elder Valley in the mountains east of Rutherford to create one contiguous property, the Somerston Ranch, in 2006. Somerston opened a downtown Yountville tasting room in June 2010 and in mid 2011, a gourmet grocery will open as a virtual “window on the Somerston Ranch”, featuring Somerston wines, produce and food products. While each site offers unique experiences tailored to their locations- one in town, the other in the country-both the tasting room in downtown Yountville and the ranch in the hills east of Lake Hennessey serve as destinations focused on great wines that convey the history, the beauty and the holistic farming philosophy of Somerston.
Somerston Wine Co. encompasses three distinct wine brands: Somerston, Priest Ranch and Highflyer. Somerston wines are selected from premier blocks on the Somerston estate. These include a single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($120), a red Bordeaux blend ($90), and a Sauvignon Blanc ($40), each of which are produced in extremely limited quantities using classic winemaking practices to achieve the best expression of complexity, depth, structure and long-term aging potential. Priest Ranch wines represent the diversity of the Somerston property: Cabernet Sauvignon ($38), Petite Sirah ($38), Zinfandel ($38) and Sauvignon Blanc ($24). Each exhibits the distinctiveness of Somerston’s microclimates with an intensely rich quality. Highflyer wines are named for winemaker Craig Becker’s love of flying and include an eclectic line-up of varietals from some of the best vineyard sites throughout California. Wines in the Highflyer portfolio include Viogner ($17), Grenache Blanc ($19), Pinot Noir ($38), Somerston Syrah ($48), Vivio Syrah ($48) and a red blend called “Centerline” ($28). The premium vineyard sources for these wines are from Somerston’s own vineyards, as well as vineyards in Bennett Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez.