by Gloria Ferrer Winery
While some of the attendees of the Wine Blogger Conference may already be familiar with many Gloria Ferrer wines, we wanted to take this opportunity to share the Spanish love affair behind the California winery’s founding.
Establishing Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards was the fulfillment of a longtime dream for José Ferrer. The Ferrers, winegrowers since the 1500s and the family behind La Freixeneda – a 12th-century farming estate – were well-established sparkling wine producers in Catalonia, Spain. The marriage of José’s parents, Pedro Ferrer and Dolores Sala, had united two prominent Spanish wine families. The result was Freixenet, which would eventually become the world’s largest producer of méthode traditionelle sparkling wines.
José’s father, Pedro, dreamed of expanding the Ferrer’s tradition of exceptional sparkling wine to the New World, and he began searching for land in the United States in the 1930s. His dream had yet to be fulfilled when he and his eldest son lost their lives in the Spanish Civil War. His youngest son, José Ferrer, inherited his father’s pioneering spirit and passion for sparkling wine and never forgot Pedro’s wish.
When José and his wife Gloria first visited Sonoma County, California in the 1980s, there was not a single sparkling wine house in Carneros. But the windswept hills, at the time predominantly home to cattle and sheep ranches, awoke a familiar inspiration. The Mediterranean climate, sloping hills, and maritime influences, reminiscent of their native Catalonia, would be ideally suited for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and thus the perfect terroir for brilliant sparkling wines. Los Carneros was exceptional – the Ferrers were convinced.
In 1982, they purchased a 160-acre cattle ranch and planted three-quarters of their new estate to Pinot Noir vines and the remaining quarter to Chardonnay. Their enological intuition was confirmed one year later when Los Carneros became the first wine region to receive an American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation based on climate and soil rather than political boundaries. Spanning both Napa and Sonoma counties, Carneros is defined by maritime influences, with cooler summer temperatures and moderate winters. The region’s growing conditions encourage longer hang times, translating into fully ripe grapes with lower sugars, great acidity, and lush fruit flavors.
The family was resolute that, while the wines would be true to the Carneros terroir, the winery itself would be a vibrant blend of their cherished Catalan culture and new California home and so was designed to resemble a masia (Catalan farmhouse). José named the winery for his co-founder and wife, and Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards opened its doors in 1986 as Carneros’ first sparkling wine house. Today, the winery owns 385 acres, including the 128-acre Circle Bar Ranch, and has expanded the wine portfolio to include estate varietal wines as a complement to the sparkling wine portfolio.