2014 BEST Cabernet Sauvignon: Groth Vineyards & Winery
Author: Bonnie Durrance
May, 2014 Issue
“Our mission statement at Groth is to make the best wine the vintage will allow.” —Suzanne Groth
Back in 1982, when Dennis and Judy Groth bought their property in Oakville, there was very little Cabernet produced in the area. Oakville, as daughter Suzanne describes it, was “kind of the southern hinterland” of Napa Valley—still walnuts and prunes and Christmas tree farms.
Times have changed. “This year is our 32nd harvest,” says Groth, who’s been working in the family business since 1999 and is now vice president of sales and marketing. Throughout all the changes, what’s essential to the continued excellence of the wine can be traced to the land itself—which, she says, is uniquely suited for Cabernet—and to her family’s steady management.
“We’re run by an ex-accountant [Dennis, her father, who worked at Arthur Young in the 1970s], so we’re very focused on the bottom line.” To illustrate, she talks about the employees. “At Groth, the employees tell the story,” she says. “Ben Benson, our vineyard manager, has been here for 32 years. Michael Weiss, our winemaker, has been here since 1994. We have a little party here whenever anybody celebrates 25 years at Groth, and we present them with a Rolex watch. So we’re really proud of the longevity of our employees.”
Suzanne officially joined the winery in 1999. “At that time, restaurants were rocking. It was the 1997 vintage to go to market with, and it was on fire. Wine prices were sky high and nobody could get enough Napa Valley Cabernet. So it was kind of rocking the park.” Times changed. “We’ve had two recessions since then. But the good thing about Groth is it’s the land. It’s indisputable. It’s a major investment in a great piece of Napa Valley and in our state. So that’s what we always focus on and return to.”
For Groth, this is the second “BEST Of” award, the first having been awarded in 2012. So we wonder, has anything changed?
“Our mission statement at Groth is to make the best wine the vintage will allow,” she says. “And everything we do revolves around that. There are times when other projects come up. You know, do we want to expand the retail room? And do we want to offer food and wine pairings? No.”
According to Groth, that mission statement rules. “If a proposal doesn’t support that mission statement, then we don’t do it,” she says. “We’re incredibly focused. We only make the three varietals. That’s very important for us. We’re not interested in, let’s say, getting into the restaurant business or the entertainment industry.” There are those who push for greater leniency in the valley for wineries to be able to host meetings or events. But for Groth, the business is—and will continue to be—all about the wine.
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