"We do not hire "rock star" winemakers or wine consultants that pop in and out at Groth," says Suzanne Groth. "We look for dedicated winemakers invested in our wines who will watch the wine through the entire process." Groth winemakers have been working with the winery for three decades. "We make certain that there is a multi year overlap to insure passing down techniques and insuring consistent quality."
Suzanne was in Asheville to host a dinner at The Grove Park Inn. The wines paired perfectly with the perfectly prepared dishes. Groth wines are bold on the nose and palate but within bounds setting them apart from many California wines that are just about being BIG. While you could certainly enjoy Groth Wines solo, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, these are unquestionably food wines.
So how did we get to this point....................
Graduating from Lewis and Clark College in 1992 with a BA in art history, Suzanne entered the art world, working in a gallery. But soon, she decided on a career in wine. After spending four years with the Henry Wine Group, a California wine distributor, selling fine wine to restaurants and retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Suzanne says, “It was only after selling other people’s ‘wine vision’ that I was able to appreciate how very special Groth Vineyards was.” She returned to the family business in 1998, working several years in wine sales and Public Relations before becoming VP of Sales and Marketing in 2009.
Suzanne's parents, Dennis and Judy Groth, are Bay Area natives and lived there until they decamped to Napa Valley in 1985. Dennis, a CPA was a partner at Ernst and young before joining Atari in 1978.
In 1981, the Groths purchased a 121-acre parcel in Oakville adding a second 44 acre vineyard in 1982. Totaling These vineyards are the primary source of grapes for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines produced by Groth.
Established in 1982, Groth crushed the first grapes for their own wines that same year. Production increased quickly to 30,000 cases by 1984. By 1985, the winery needed full-time attention from Dennis and Judy, so they moved their family to the Oakville property. And the rest is, as they say, history. "When we arrived in Oakville, vineyards were planted with Charbono but my father believed that this could be great cabernet country," Suzanne says. "And now, the area is considered one of best areas in world for elegant cab."
Suzanne tells the story that sounded similar to the experience of Chateau Montelena in "Bottle Shock." Making wine is a labor of love and an expensive one. The Groths were facing an uphill financial battle and feared they might lose the farm, literally. "My father had to sell some of the land he loved." But out of the blue, Suzanne says, the Groths got a call from a friend who said that Robert Parker had just awarded 100 points!! to Groth Cabernet Sauvignon.
Groth has come a long way. The winery has produced well balanced wines for decades and their work has not gone without notice and BIG notice. Groth Sauvignon Blanc was served at The White House dinner welcoming Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain!
And despite her many responsibilites at the winery, Suzanne still works her art. She gave us all a print at the dinner. Her work is much like the wine, dynamic but within bounds.
And I did not forget to ask if there was a winery dog. "Two Pugs," Suzanne says, "they come to work with me everyday."