Exploring the Rich History and Sustainable Practices of Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma
Although the winery was only established in 1982, Gloria Ferrer’s rich history dates back to the 1500’s as the family brought with them a multi-generational knowledge of grape growing and sparkling winemaking with them from Spain.
Founders José and Gloria Ferrer knew they wanted to make méthode champenoise wines with new world grapes. The climate and terroir of Carneros, in Sonoma County, reminded them of their homeland in Spain. The focus was to create sparkling wines with adapted varieties and style to match that of Carneros. A traditional method applied to New World terroir.
Gloria Ferrer comprises two estate vineyards– Home and Circle Bar– which consist of over 300 acres of planted grapes. They both have a variation in soil types and are primarily focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which thrive within the cool climate region of Carneros. The vineyard operations team puts a lot of time and effort into site specific plantings.
Managing both vineyard operations and winemaking, Harry Hansen has visibility into the entire program from vine to bottle. Every block of grapes is assigned a grade after harvest, providing a quality assessment that is used in blending the wines. His goal is to craft fresh, crisp sparkling wines that best express uniqueness and personality. Great winemaking starts in the vineyard and the optimal flavor profile comes down to thoughtfully timed viticulture practices from suckering to shoot positioning and leafing to rebalancing the crop. Every wine has a pleasing freshness, a fine mousse, great length, and speaks to the heritage of Carneros.
“Gloria Ferrer has always been a Pinot Noir house, with higher percentages of Chardonnay in the reserves, but the intentionality of the viticulture based on site and soil springs from my experience in making still wines,” said Harry. “Individual wines made from each block of grapes are evaluated, and those of the most weight and flavor density, are guided to reserve programs.”
A key showcase of the wine offerings is the Royal Cuvée. Served to the King and Queen of Spain in 1987, this sparkling wine is a harmonious balance of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This wine is an excellent starting point for sparkling wine drinkers as it truly captures the essence of the Carneros estate vineyards. Aged for over four years in bottle, on the yeast, which helps bring out notes of baking spice and warm apple pie within the Royal Cuvée . Hearty flavors that will have customers reminiscing of intimate dinners with families and friends of years gone by.
Sustainability remains a key pillar that drives all business decisions within Gloria Ferrer. Not only has the winery received a Certified Sustainability in their vineyards, but they also are in the process of becoming certified by the IWCA (International Wineries for Climate Action). A few key areas are biodiversity, wastewater treatment and regenerative farming. A wide array of cover crops are planted to provide for native wildlife habitats while concurrently composting all of their grape skins, seeds and stems. With regards to wastewater management, all wastewater from wine production is reused for vineyard irrigation. Precise measurements are used at each vineyard block to determine the exact amount each vine needs.
Gloria Ferrer’s regenerative farming processes include employing a variety of techniques to improve overall soil health to make grape yields more resilient while capturing additional carbon dioxide in the air. They strive to be regenerative throughout all aspects of their business. Not only through farming, but creating “Regenerative Experiences” for visitors to the winery, leaving them relaxed, rejuvenated and excited to come back for more.
Food and wine pairings are a centrifugal part of the Gloria Ferrer visitor experience. There is a common misconception that sparkling wine is difficult to pair with food. Ray Schafer, executive chef, has curated an amazing menu that completely dispels that myth. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities for Ray is to forget the standard ideas of wine pairings and think outside the box–working with sparkling wine is a much more delicate process. At Gloria Ferrer, the pairing focus tends to be on seafood, braised meats like beef cheeks, lamb shanks and vegetables from the garden to name a few.
“In creating our seasonal menus, I start by selecting foods that will compliment each other from a flavor, texture and color standpoint. In determining the preparations of any of the individual items, I try to vary the flavor profiles,” said Ray. “For example one item might be slightly spicy– another might rely on fat and salt. Keeping in mind that while I want the flavors to stand out–they should never be so bold as to overshadow the wine.”
As Gloria Ferrer has just completed its 40th harvest, it is a chance for the winery to reflect back on where it all started and ultimately look to the future. The winery continues to evolve its practices and put the customer first. Being the first sparkling winery in Carneros is a continued reminder of the historical significance and that to drive excitement and propel the business ahead Gloria Ferrer will need to continue to innovate, develop exceptional wines and change with the times.
Originally appearing in the Wine Routes Blog. To book a reservation today please visit their page: www.wineroutes.com/winery/gloria-ferrer
Disclosure: The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives was provided from wineries or importers for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide readers with informative and unbiased reporting.
2014 Royal Cuvée- A harmonious balance between Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Flavors of baking spice and apple with notes of mandarin orange. This wine showcases balance and complexity with fresh fruit vibrancy. The nuances and expressions of this wine truly encapsulate the beauty and quality of the Carneros estate vineyards.
2018 Blanc de Blancs- Opens with flavors of green apple, apricot and orange with a touch of toast on the finish. Clean and crisp all the way through with vibrant acidity on this sparkling Chardonnay. This wine pairs great with a cheese board or a grilled chicken.
2018 Brut Rosé- Gorgeous salmon pink with a little orange in color with flavors of tangerine, watermelon and pear. A composition of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. This crisp sparkling wine has nice acidity and provides great versatility for food pairings. Korean style street tacos and soft goat cheese come to mind.