Doug Meador, a former Navy jet pilot and University of Washington Econometrics graduate, was planning a career in Washington State where his family owned orchards, when he was unexpectedly waylaid. On his way to Washington from the Navy, some college friends persuaded Doug to supervise the planting of 2,500 acres of grapes in Monterey County. Suddenly, Doug’s plans changed. He had become fascinated with the challenge of cool climate viticulture, so he decided to remain in Monterey. Doug subsequently purchased the finest area of the large planting he was supervising and named it Ventana Vineyards. Doug chose the vineyard’s name (the Spanish word for window) because the vineyard abuts to the Ventana Wilderness, and the vineyard symbolized to him the “window to the future” in viticulture in Monterey. However, not even Doug could have envisioned just quite how prophetic the name Ventana would become and how it would come to symbolize Monterey’s miraculous transformation.
From the outset Doug became involved in clonal vine research, discovering that many Monterey vines had been mislabeled or were never the best varietals or clones for the region’s cool climate. With Doug in the vanguard, the Arroyo Seco American Viticultural Area of Monterey became legendary for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It also became the fastest growing wine region in the world. From Doug’s original plantation in 1972, the Arroyo Seco has grown to more than 50,000 acres, more than many other world renowned viticultural regions such as Spain’s Rioja. Moreover, the Arroyo Seco now attracts the very top names in American and European viticulture.
Today, Ventana Vineyards is owned by a group of long time growers and its wines are now being made by Reggie Hammond who continues Doug Meador’s dedication to vineyard selection and deft touch in the cellar. All Ventana wines remain estate grown and bottled. Moreover, because of the many fine wines Ventana has produced over the years and the quality of the fruit it has supplied to other leading California wineries, Ventana has earned the reputation of being “The Most Award Winning Single Vineyard in America.” Bernardus, Cain, Fogarty, Geyser Peak, and others have all benefited from Ventana’s fruit, which has the propensity to make wines with an abundance of fruit with a European sensibility.
In addition to fashioning its traditional Burgundian and Rhône blends and varietals, Ventana recently acquired Le Mistral, the legendary Joseph Phelps’ Rhône Ranger that flows from a single vineyard in Monterey County. In 2008 Ventana purchased the vineyard as well as the rights from Phelps for Le Mistral.