“We’re more of a delicate style than other méthode champenoises.”

Gary Heck

A member at Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club, Santa Rosa, Calif., since 1974
BY LOUIS MARROQUIN / PHOTO BY BRYAN MELTZ  — Summer 2019

Who he is: President and owner of Korbel California Champagne, the top-selling producer of méthode champenoise sparkling wines in the U.S.

Méthode what? Champagnes using this traditional winemaking process dating back to the 15th century are fermented in the same bottle in which they are sold.

Grape beginnings: When Heck was 7 years old, his father, Adolf, bought Korbel. Young Heck spent his youth pruning grapes and working in the cellars and vineyards. “Growing up, I loved Korbel. It’s all I ever knew.”

On the grow: “When I took over the company in 1974, we did about 146,000 cases annually. Today we make more than 1.5 million. The whole industry has just exploded with the number of wineries there are now. Just in California, we have close to 5,000.”

Open doors: Each year, about 100,000 guests visit Korbel’s winery in Guerneville, Calif. “Our tours are free and so are our tastings. When people come here, they’re a guest in my home.”

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