Born and raised on a wine estate in Germany, Walter Schug arrived in California in 1961 as a professional winemaker, having grown up in a winemaking household. I recently sat down with Walter and discussed both the past and the present world of winemaking in California's wine country.
The battles he faced were two-fold: making better wines and convincing the marketplace that there were better wines. The first took time and effort, but the raw materials available in California paired with the know-how of the post-Prohibition pioneer winemakers made that inevitable.
The second phase, educating the consumers, proved more time consuming, and elusive, putting Walter in a difficult position (solved for a time by shipping Pinot Noir to Germany—this in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an outside-the-box and rather ingenious solution to one of the challenges of the marketplace).