Gay Winemakers in Sonoma County
Though the characteristics of a great wine are relatively universal and have nothing to do with L, G, B, T or Q, there is something to be said for supporting Sonoma County winemakers who are members of the LGBTQ community and wineries that are active advocates on behalf of equal rights for all.
Below are a few of Sonoma County’s shining examples on both counts. In a crazy, mixed up world, it’s good to know who your friends are.
Brad Beard, Mercury Wines, Alexander Valley
Out vintner and winemaker Brad Beard of Mercury Wines has earned something of a national cult following. Beard is noted for specializing in Bordeaux-style blends and small-lots of lesser-known varietals like Tempranillo and Mourvedre, sourcing all five Bordeaux varietals in the Alexander Valley and grapes from other interesting vineyards in Geyserville and elsewhere in California. Brad and Mercury Wines have supported a number of community causes including events produced by Out in the Vineyard which gives a portion of proceeds from its events to local LGBT charities like Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network.
Scott Anderson, J Vineyards & Winery
Since its inception in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery has earned kudos for its sparkling wines and varietals, many of which can be sampled at the winery’s hospitality center in the heart of the gay-friendly Russian River Valley. Much of the credit for the winery’s success must necessarily go to its winemakers — head Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock and out associate winemaker Scott Anderson. Like Brad Beard and Mercury Wines, Scott Anderson and J Vineyards & Winery support a number of community causes, including events produced by Out in the Vineyard.
Kurt Giusti, Via Giusti Wines
Via Giusti Wines is a limited production artisan winery whose history in Sonoma County can be traced back more than 150 years. Primarily known for sourcing some of the most premium quality Pinot Noir grapes in California, Via Giusti began producing its own Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir in 2009 and now also produces its own Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Carneros-Sonoma County Vermentino as well to the tune of 500 cases per year.
A portion of Via Giusti’s production is an important part of the collection that is Equality Vines, the world’s first cause wine portfolio dedicated to equality for all people. Co-founded by equality pioneer Jim Obergefell, whose landmark Supreme Court case resulted in guaranteeing the rights of same-sex couples to marry, Equality Vines present a limited release collection of high quality wines to benefit the Human Rights Campaign and the nonprofit organization One Glass for Equality. Among the Via Giusti vintages in the Equality Vines collection: the 2014 inaugural vintage of The Decision Pinot Noir; the 2015 Via Giusti Vermentino; and 2012 Giusti Estate Russian River Pinot.
Joy Sterling, Iron Horse Vineyards
It can rarely be said that a sparkling wine excels most French Champagne and, moreover, is on par or better than some of the best bubbly that France has to offer. However, to say such of Iron Horse Vineyards would be something of an understatement.
Each new vintage Iron Horse sparkling wine earns every type of praise imaginable, which explains why they have earned a place at the table of some of the most prestigious events in America for decades. Not only has Iron Horse been served at the White House during five consecutive inaugurations, the Iron Horse Rainbow Cuvee, originally produced in 2014 to celebrate “everyone who believes in love, justice, and equality,” was notably featured at annual White House LGBT events in 2014 and 2015.
Like Via Giusti Wines, Iron Horse Vineyards is also a major player in the Equality Vines portfolio of wines contributing two sparkling cuvées to the collection’s Love Wins series, which features extremely limited release, custom productions by some of the world's most talented winemakers.
Now add to the above the fact that Iron Horse CEO and wine pioneer Joy Sterling is also a vocal advocate of equality and a friend to the LGBT community, and you have every reason in the world to not only make Iron Horse your sparkling wine of choice, but also to pay a visit to the stunning Iron Horse Estate on your next visit to Sonoma County.
For more LGBTQ-friendly wineries in Sonoma click here.