|Wine legends Nils Venge & Jim Allen|
Nils Venge - Nils graduated from UC Davis in 1967 with a BS in viticulture and a minor in enology. In 1970, after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, Nils began his career in the wine industry as a vineyard supervisor for Charles Krug Winery and later, Sterling Vineyards. By 1973 Nils made the transition into winemaking by becoming winemaker and general manager for Villa Mount Eden.
In 1982, Nils joined forces with Dennis Groth to form Groth Vineyards and Winery. Nils served as winemaker and general manager. In 1985, Nils was bestowed the honor of being the first American winemaker to receive a perfect ‘100 Points’ from Robert Parker Jr. for Groth’s Reserve Cabernet. In that same year, Nils began making wine under his own label, Saddleback Cellars, from grapes grown on property he and his father-in-law owned together. Saddleback Cellars’ first vintage was released in 1982.
Nils parted from Groth Vineyards in 1993 to become a consulting winemaker and to make wine under his own label, Saddleback Cellars. Nils later added Venge Vineyards, a Venge family operation with his son Kirk. Envy Wines is his newest collaborative venture. In addition to now consulting for Fortress Vineyards, Nils' winery clients include such prominent wineries as Keenan, Del Dotto, Plumpjack and Moss Creek.
Jim Allen's background includes a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from Temple University, a Master's Degree in political science from the University of Colorado and graduate studies in philosophy at Innsbruck, Austria. While serving in the army, Jim studied German and then worked as an interpreter with the United Nations in Germany, Austria and Greece. During these years, Jim educated his palate to European wines and developed his philosophy of traditional European attitudes toward wine and winemaking. He believes that wines should not be exaggerated expressions of their varietals and creates his wines to be approachable and elegant while still young and continue to develop character and complexity with age.
Founded by Jim Allen and his family in 1980, Sequoia Grove is named for the grove of giant redwood trees which encircles its century-old building in the Napa Valley. The 24 acres of vineyards surrounding the winery lie in one of Napa Valley's most superb microclimates, midway between Rutherford and Oakville on the famous Rutherford Bench, in close proximity to Beaulieu Vineyards on the north and Opus One on the south. Not only did the Allen Family single-handedly transform their property by completely remodeling the property's old redwood barn into a modern winery and planting acres of new vines capable of producing an outstanding Bordeaux blend, they were also the developers of 110 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines in the Carneros district which new comprise the Domaine Carneros estate of Champagne Taittinger. ###