WHO ARE WINE FELLAS?
Let the grapes express themselves: this is the Wine Fellas way. This is the way of the past, but also the way of the future.
Wine Fellas excites inspiration from the classic American wines of the 50s, 60s, & 70s with a European influence, paying homage to the Schoch family's heritage and most significant era in the wine industry.
Working from four generations of experience as vintners, we are passionate about clean, vitalizing wines filled with life and energy. We specialize in organic and biodynamic wines made using traditional winemaking methods with minimal intervention, free of added sugar and chemical additives, low in sulfites – bottlings the wine world describes as ‘natural wines,’ or ‘Au Naturel!’ These are wines as they were meant to be enjoyed, with nothing standing between you and pure, expressive fruit.
IN THIS DAY AND AGE, WE'RE ALL HYPER-AWARE OF THE MANY BENEFITS OF FOOD AND WINE THAT'S GROWN AND PRODUCED LOCALLY AND ORGANICALLY. Therefore WE GO ABOVE AND BEYOND TO ENSURE YOU KNOW PRECISELY WHAT'S IN YOUR GLASS. BY PROVIDING A CHEMISTRY ANALYSIS PANEL ON EACH OF OUR WINES, WE'RE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH ACCURATE TECHNICAL DATA CONTAINING EXTENSIVE INGREDIENT AND NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION. STRAIGHT TALK.
the wine renaissance revisited...
1912 — 1946
The Wine Fellas saga starts with Benno Schoch, who migrated from Switzerland in 1912 through Canada. In 1918 the Schoch family moved to California, where Benno began working as an importer-exporter with Schwartz Brothers. Associated with the Italian-Swiss Colony, a leading wine producer by 1941, Benno was the first to export California wines to Central and South America. He was the OG if you will.
1946 — 1967
In 1946, Benno's son, Napa Valley pioneer viticulturist Ivan Schoch, began managing Martin Stelling’s To Kalon Vineyard holdings — a property that is now widely considered the most valuable, historic vineyard in the Napa Valley. Well-respected in the field, he planted Hanzell Winery’s first vineyards for Ambassador James Zellerbach in Sonoma County and advised Joseph Phelps in selecting some of his first iconic vineyard sites.
After Martin Stelling passed away, Ivan was presented with the distinct opportunity to buy the majority of Martin’s vineyard holdings, most of which Martin’s wife had sold to the Italian Swiss Colony. Italian Swiss Colony agreed that Ivan was better suited to manage the vineyard, so in 1953 they sold him what was, in fact, a considerable portion of the now famous To Kalon Vineyard (approximately 428 acres). Ivan continued to farm To Kalon under his company Vineyards Inc., providing the good stuff to both Beaulieu Vineyards and Charles Krug Winery, until 1962, when he sold most of the vineyard to C.K. Mondavi & Sons.
When Robert Mondavi (now there’s a name you recognize!) ventured off to start his winery four years later, ushering in the start of Napa’s modern wine industry, Ivan Schoch was one of Robert’s two investing partners. The Rainier Brewing Company bought out their Mondavi shares in 1968, after which Ivan next purchased Souverain Winery on Howell Mountain.
1967 — 1986
While Ivan was headed into retirement. His son Nikko was developing a reputation of his own. A long line of wine-loving fellas, as you’ve gathered. Nikko gravitated to winemaking early on, learning from industry legends such as André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyards. He studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis. Also a decorated Vietnam war hero and peace activist, Nikko quickly proved to be a natural at winemaking. He was responsible for many outstanding wines produced throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, including those made for Shafer, Folie à Deux, Trentadue, Freemark Abbey, and his co-owned Schomann Cellars. Nikko and his wife Bonnie established their brand, Schochenfels, in 1977.
1986 — PRESENT DAY
Gotta keep it going, right? The bloodline continues with our present-day advocate of low-intervention wines: Nikko’s son, Galen. An ‘80s baby and a Napa Valley lifer, Galen’s been absorbing the vast wine knowledge surrounding him since childhood, nabbing his first job at age 13, working at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Which ultimately led him to the marketing side of the industry. Galen managed major retail chain and restaurant accounts for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the country’s premier wine distributor. What resulted was priceless insight into how wine is made and sold in America. He later gained certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers and studied winemaking at UC Davis extension among working harvests around the Napa Valley. Now, Galen tirelessly builds on that experience as the founder and vintner of Wine Fellas. In keeping with the historical philosophy shared by all four Schoch generations, Galen remains dedicated to his family’s commitment to the good stuff.