Honig Vineyard and Winery
In 1964, Louis Honig purchased a 68-acre ranch in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley. The vineyard was planted with Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which he sold to neighboring wineries. Louis worked to create a family gathering place at the ranch, for his children and grandchildren, while he dreamed of the day he could retire from his San Francisco advertising agency and make wine from his vineyard.
Louis passed away before he could realize his dream, leaving the estate to his family. In 1981, as a tribute to his legacy, his family produced a few hundred cases of Louis Honig Sauvignon Blanc in the vineyard’s old tractor barn. After the wine won a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair, the family decided to increase production, and Honig Vineyard & Winery was born.
In 1984, at the age of 22, Louis’ grandson, Michael Honig, took over management of the vineyard and winery. In 1989 the family began producing small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon. As the business grew, family members Regina Weinstein, Steven Honig, Stephanie Honig, and Jonathan Honig joined Michael in the winery. Today, Honig wines can be found on the wine lists of hundreds of fine restaurants.
What began as a small “garage” winery has today become a successful family enterprise, with everyone working collaboratively to run an inspiring and socially responsible business. The Honig family donates wine to charitable organizations around the country; hosts political and community events at their vineyard; and are leaders in sustainability, both in the vineyard and the winery. Louis Honig’s vision of bringing his family together to share in the beauty and bounty of Napa Valley, while producing outstanding wines, has become a reality.
At the age of 22, Michael took the reins of his struggling, family vineyard and winery. With an old meat locker for an office, a shoebox marked "miscellaneous" for an accounting system, and no training, he began canvassing the streets of San Francisco, selling wine and delivering it himself. As president of the winery, he has built a strong team and transformed the business into a success. With his seemingly endless energy, Michael is often referred to as "the James Brown of the wine industry" and spends 75% of his time out in the world introducing people to Honig wines.
A leader in sustainable farming, he chaired the first California initiative to develop a "Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices," a voluntary program establishing statewide guidelines for sustainable farming and winemaking. He is also involved in an innovative pilot program that trains yellow lab puppies to detect vine mealy bugs in the vineyard.
While attending UC Davis, Kristin serendipitously stumbled upon an answer to a daunting career puzzle. For someone unable to choose between a multitude of disciplines, winemaking was an elegant solution.
In 1981, degree in Enology in hand, Kristin began her first of two California harvests, as an intern at Trefethen. It was there that she perfected forklift driving, cleaning tanks, and topping barrels, while learning a lot about small winery operations. A southern hemisphere harvest experience in Australia taught her even more. Kristin's first full winemaking position began in 1985, making Cabernet and Chardonnay at Johnson-Turnbull (which later became Turnbull Wine Cellars). in 1998, after working at one facility for nearly 13 years, she joined Honig as Winemaker. Kristin says that "being able to craft award winning, nationally recognized Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon and being part of the dynamic Honig team has been nothing but rewarding. For me, what is most satisfying is knowing that I play a part in creating something that people are enjoying in many different settings, with family and friends. Wine has an extraordinary way of connecting together people, places and experiences."
For us, sustainability is a holistic way of looking at our entire business. A way to do well while doing good. Michael Honig helped to write the Code of Sustainable Practices for the Wine Institute and was instrumental in developing the first sustainable certification for California wineries. Our family is active in local environmental causes, and Winemaker Kristin Belair works with our growers, sharing and encouraging sustainable practices.
One of the many benefits from our sustainable farming practices is the profusion of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. In German, Honig means honey. So we thought we would take up bee keeping. Honey is surprisingly like wine, and like wine, honey's flavor is a reflection of the plants where the pollen originated. Our beehives are located along the river, where the bees can get fresh water and forage for pollen along the banks. They also forage in the cover crops in the vineyards and the gardens around the winery and houses.