Interview By Lisa Gmur, CSW
The U.S. domestic sparkling wine category has seen pretty staggering growth over the last dozen years. According to Impact Databank, domestic sparklers crossed into the $28 million-case territory in 2020 in the U.S. and progress has been solid at the premium end, with the market’s six largest domestic brands priced above $15 collectively growing. Nielsen says the same. That the sparkling wine category has been the fastest growing wine sub-category, growing by over 13% in 2021.
Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling wine house established in Carneros and has gone on to become the most awarded California sparkling wine producer. Gloria Ferrer has received over 500 Gold Medals and more than fifty scores of 90+ ratings in the last few years. The winery does make some still wines, but sparkling wines will always be their signature.
The winery was founded in 1986 on a 250-acre estate in Carneros. As the story goes, it was one of those crazy coincidences that sealed the deal. Jose had narrowed the search down to a handful of properties and while walking one of them, a bull started charging at him. He was wearing a red sweater. Well, when this happened, he immediately thought of Spain and the “running of the bull” and knew he had found the perfect spot for their winery. And Gloria was smitten. It reminded her of their home in Catalonia.
We talked with Harry Hansen, Director of Winemaking at Gloria Ferrer about his recent return to the winery and what he’s got in store to keep Gloria Ferrer fresh, current and as delicious as ever.
Harry Hansen, Director of Winemaking, Gloria Ferrer
You’re back. How absolutely fabulous. How long has it been?
Such a wonderful story. What brought you back?
My goal is to introduce our wines to the next generation of sparkling enthusiasts with our fresh style, estate emphasis and sustainable approach.
I am really thrilled to come back to Gloria Ferrer. The heritage and history of the estate inspires our winemaking style.
So where are you starting Mr. Director of Winegrowing? Love the title.
We are using a regenerative model to take Gloria Ferrer into its next 40 years.
This includes looking at the sustainability of all parts of our business. 2022 is our third year of no herbicide use, and we’re using organic practices in the vineyards.
Last year, we joined the IWCA (International Wineries for Climate Action), with a goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
My return last June was perfectly timed as the team was focused on the upcoming harvest.
I am dedicated to producing bright and fresh sparkling wines, which allow us to highlight the traditional method while allowing the distinctive Carneros terroir to shine through.
One of the most important parts of our past and future is Mrs. Gloria Ferrer herself.
She is a strong woman, who fearlessly traveled the world, passionate about quality and experience.
We have taken inspiration from her as we create new experiences and wines for our portfolio.
Shortly after Gloria Ferrer was established, the winemaking team began to research the various Champagne clones.
Establishing Gloria Ferrer in a new AVA, we understood that more work would be required to develop complex sparkling wines.
With few clones of Pinot Noir and a single clone of Chardonnay between 1984 and 1986, the team began to experiment in different soil types and vineyard locations, setting the benchmark for clonal experimentation for generations to come.
What new plans are there for Gloria Ferrer?
The “Bubbles and Bites” is my absolute favorite experience. And Gloria’s crystal collection. Can you please elaborate on these experiences for our readers?
We love coordinating VIP hospitality experiences for our buyers.
If you are reading this, please reach out to me.
The Gloria Ferrer experience is spectacular! The crystal collection. The vineyards. Everything.
We have 40 years of producing unique sparkling wines, driven by the Carneros terroir and augmented by longer ageing on the yeast.
The sweeping vineyard views from our Terrace are unlike any other in the region and we are honored to have our guests choose to spend their time with us enjoying their favorite sparkling wine.
And your homecoming. How has it been?
My return to Gloria Ferrer has been exhilarating so far. Not many people in this industry are fortunate to have a second time around where they began their career.
I am excited to work on the next vintages and other projects that I know will entice even more sparkling enthusiasts to choose Gloria Ferrer.
Gloria Ferrer is not just one person, though Mrs. Gloria is our muse – it is also a very passionate, experienced team in winemaking, vineyard management, club management and hospitality experiences.
We aim to deliver the best experience from Sonoma, California whether in person or virtually, every time you enjoy a glass of our sparkling wine.
Which is exactly what I plan to do as soon as I post this interview. Thank you so much.