Groth Winemaker Emeritus Michael Weis retires
OAKVILLE, NAPA VALLEY, Calif. — After a distinguished 26-year career at Groth Vineyards & Winery in Oakville, Winemaker Emeritus Michael Weis has retired. Groth’s second winemaker since the winery’s founding in the early 1980s, Weis is succeeded by Director of Winegrowing Cameron Parry, whom he recruited to the winery in 2014.
“In his time at Groth, Michael has had a profound effect on the acres we farm and the quality of wines we produce,” President and CEO Suzanne Groth said. “During his multi-decade tenure, he was able to replant our estates to varietals and clones that better captured the potential of our vineyards. I give him full credit for making white wines the family loves to drink instead of an afterthought of our Cabernet Sauvignons.”
Weis joined Groth in 1994 when Dennis and Judy Groth were looking to elevate the quality of their wines and position their family business for long-term success. He came with an impressive background, having worked at Robert Mondavi Winery and Vichon. With instructions from Dennis Groth to improve the white wines and “not mess with the Cabernet program,” Weis delivered well beyond anything the couple imagined. He led Groth’s first major vineyard replant and introduced Sauvignon Blanc to its Oakville Estate. In the Hillview Vineyard, he replaced Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay and led the charge to create a single-vineyard wine from the site.
Weis also recognized early on that the Reserve Vineyard at Groth’s Oakville Estate was becoming too old and diseased to fully ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, and he carefully guided the replant of those blocks, changing row orientation and introducing two new Cabernet clones and rootstocks. “Replanting the Reserve Vineyard wasn’t something we took lightly,” Suzanne Groth said. “The whole family was anxious to see if it would make the wine better and build on the success of past vintages.” The adjustments Weis made, as well as changes in other viticultural practices such as sustainable farming, paid off, with the subsequent vintages of Groth Reserve exceeding the family’s expectations. Weis also oversaw the rebuilding of Groth’s winery, doubling barrel and fermentation capacity and modernizing the facility to handle new blocks of grapes.
Outside of Groth, Weis has educated countless men and women in the wine business, teaching several wine courses at Napa Valley College for over 20 years. He also inspired and mentored many young people at Groth as interns and employees, including, at times, his own children. “We congratulate Michael both for a spectacular career in wine as well as his outstanding achievements during his tenure with Groth Vineyards,” Suzanne Groth said.