|Hops growing among the vineyards at Carneros Brewery|
image from examiner.com
In the late 1990s a young brewer name Vinnie Cilurzo was hired by Gary Heck, owner of Korbel Winery, to make beer in a tiny building on the winery property to have brews for their onsite deli and a few other local establishments. It was called the Russian River Brewery. Vinnie eventually bought the name from Gary Heck, opened his own brewery, and now makes some of the top-rated beers in the world.
Also in the late 1990s the Benzigers, of Benziger Winery, opened a brewery at their Imagery Winery. Sonoma Mountain Brewery lasted just a couple years. First time I tried one I recall thinking that it seemed like a really clean version of Budweiser so possibly they were going for the American lager style.
The latest to jump into craft beer is Christopher Jackson, son of Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall Jackson Winery. It will be located in Santa Rosa and is expected to be called Seismic Brewery, a name he bought from another craft brewery. (The Jacksons can afford to buy pretty much anything they need). He wants a 25,000 barrel brewery. That's about twice the size of Russian River Brewing.
Yes, some days you feel like Pinot Noir and craft beer are taking over -- and that's not a bad thing!