Episode #692 – Wine Rebel With a Cause; Mendocino County Wine Pioneer Greg Graziano

This week on Grape Encounters Radio, we are delighted to welcome back Mendocino, California winemaker Greg Graziano. Greg’s remarkable winemaking journey has made him a pioneer, a rebel, and a legend. That’s because, when it comes to winemaking, you name it, he does it! Join host David Wilson as he and Greg discuss Greg’s winemaking journey, the impact of late-season weather events on grape crops, and what it means to be a wine rebel and pioneer. We’ll also talk to Greg about his thoughts on natural and orange wines, as well as how he’s been able to stay ahead of the game in a crowded landscape.

Greg’s family has been growing grapes and making wine in Mendocino County since 1907. Their story began when Greg’s grandfather, Vincenzo Graziano, arrived on Ellis Island from Italy. After working his way across the country, Vincenzo bought 100 acres of land in partnership with his future brother-in-law and began planting vines just two years prior to Prohibition. During Prohibition, Vincenzo Graziano sold whatever wines were legal to sell in order to survive.

The family started Mendocino Vineyards in the early 1950s. During their early years, Gallo, IItalian Swiss Colony, Sebastiani and Parducci bought most of what they produced. Mendocino Vineyards was eventually sold and renamed Cresta Blanca. Later, Constellation bought it and changed the name to Dunwood.

Greg started making wine as Milano Winery in 1977, in partnership with his close friend Jim Malone. In 1985 he went to work for La Creme. Shortly after coming onboard, Greg took over winemaking and was winemaker until 1990. At that time, La Creme made 50,000 cases per year. Now, Greg estimates that it makes upwards of 2 million under ownership by the Jackson Family.

Today, Greg is the mastermind behind Graziano Family of Wines. The company produces multiple brands and grows more than 30 different varieties of grapes. They even produce a stellar sparkling wine made from Pinot Meunier grapes.

Greg studied at California’s esteemed UC Davis, but was so anxious to build the family brand that he left before graduating. Greg says he managed to become an expert winemaker by working with some of the best producers in the industry.

Over the years, Greg and his Graziano Family of Wines have been pioneering a new level of excellence in the Mendocino wine scene. From producing classic styles to experimenting with more modern techniques, Greg has been pushing boundaries and creating some serious buzz around his wines for decades.
On this week’s episode of Grape Encounters Radio, Greg discusses his winemaking journey, the impact of late-season weather events on grape crops, and what it means to be a wine rebel and pioneer. We’ll also talk to Greg about his thoughts on natural and orange wines, as well as how he’s been able to stay ahead of the game in a crowded landscape. Tune in to Grape Encounters Radio this week to hear Greg Graziano share his story, philosophy, and winemaking techniques with us!

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