Diamond Creek Vineyards - Exclusively Cabernet

diamond creek

Class of '72

1972 was the year Californian winemaking began in earnest. Thirty years on, PAUL FRANSON finds out why.

This year is the 30th anniversary of a remarkable year in California, the year when more important wineries were formed than during any other year in 300 years of winemaking. And though 30 years may seem trivial against Europe's history, 1972 had a profound impact on California wine.

1972 was the year that oilman Tom Jordan started Jordan winery, which would become a favorite of President Ronald Reagan. It also saw the birth of cult favorites Burgess Cellars Diamond Creek and Silver Oak. All still owned by their founders.


Most well known wineries founded in 1972 have grown to at least moderate size - 25,000 to 150,000 cases per year. At one extreme, Franciscan Vineyards produces 1.2 million cases. At the other, Diamond Creek Vineyards still makes only about 2,000 cases per year
Diamond Creek's owner and marketing wizard Al Brounstein has invested in his unique site, which has tiny production and intense wines, to sustain cult status while newcomers rocket to the skies and fall to earth. Cheekily setting the highest prices in the industry, he charged $350 (£245) for his 1999 Lake Vineyard Cabernet and sold out in days.

Brounstein's winery lies in a bowl with three diverse soils and exposures producing distinct wines: volcanic ash hillside, red rock terrace and gravelly meadow.

Former pharmaceutical entrepreneur Brounstein got into the wine business selling wine for Weibel and Sebastiani, and admits that he smuggled in budwood from two first growth estates in Bordeaux to plant vines on the property.

Probably a pioneer in marketing terrior at a California vineyard, Brounstein insists on tiny yields and premier quality. "I'm asking the most money; I want the best wine," he proclaims.
Decanter January 2002


Diamond Creek Vineyards · 1500 Diamond Mountain Road · Calistoga, California 94515 · 707.942.6926
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