The differences between old world wine (the wines of Europe) and new world wines (the wines of the Americas and Oceana) are subtle, but distinct. Generally, new world vineyards have warmer climates, creating grapes that produce fruit-forward, higher alcohol wines. Old world vintners firmly believe that less is more. Not only are their vineyards cooler, but their wine-making practices are less invasive. They lean more to a hands off philosophy when making wine, letting the wine express the grape and terroir rather than the winemakers' additives and interference.
What happens when you bring an old-world winemaker to the new world cool climate of Carneros? You get European elegance just over the hill in Sonoma.
Walter Schug earned his degree in viticulture and oenology in his home country of Germany. After coming to the states and working for several years in Napa and Sonoma, he established Schug Winery in 1989. His vineyards are planted in Carneros, known for its cool climate due to both the breezes from the San Pablo Bay as well as the cooling winds that blow through the Petaluma Gap. The cooler temperatures give the grapes a nice acidity that makes for some very crisp wines. While Walter continues to oversee the wine making of the estate, his successor in the day to day operations, Michael Cox is just as dedicated to old world practices including judicious use of oak that lets the flavor of the grape come through in his elegant wines.
The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is light and crisp with a lovely tart grapefruit flavor. The 2010 Pinot Noir is soft and earthy with nice red fruit aromas. Both wines have an elegant acidity to them that well represents the soils of Carneros.