‘Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans,’ states the wisdom of the ages. No truer words could have been uttered in the case of Ventana Vineyards. Certainly, Doug Meador, a University of Washington Econometrics graduate and a former Navy jet pilot, had absolutely no plans to settle in Monterey County and begin an illustrious career in viticulture when he was making his way back home from the Navy to his family’s orchards in Washington State some four decades ago. However, while en route, some college friends persuaded him to make a short stop in Monterey to help them plant some grapes, and the best laid plans of mice and men went out the proverbial window. Doug’s plans changed abruptly when he became fascinated with the challenge of cool climate viticulture in Monterey and the potential he encountered there for premium wine production. Needless to say, Doug decided to remain in Monterey where he subsequently purchased the finest area of the large vineyard planting he was supervising and named it Ventana Vineyards. Doug chose the vineyard’s name (the Spanish word for window) because Ventana’s vineyard abuts to the Ventana Wilderness, and the vineyard symbolized to him the “window to the future” in viticulture in Monterey. However, more than thirty years ago, not even Doug envisioned just how prophetic the name Ventana would become and how it would come to symbolize Monterey’s miraculous transformation into one of California’s most important viticultural appellations. Today, Ventana Vineyards remains entirely owned and operated by Doug and his wife Luann Meador, with assistance from their terrific production staff. Moreover, Ventana Vineyards is the “Most Award Winning Single Vineyard in America”. This has been attributed largely to the fact that for over thirty years, Ventana has essentially been a research vineyard – the result of Doug Meador’s single-minded dedication to earn Monterey County a respected place on the California wine map. Undoubtedly, Ventana’s great success and myriad accomplishments are due in large part to Doug’s research and dedication into solving the challenges, while reaping the rewards, of cool climate viticulture. Some of Doug’s innovations include close vine spacing and split canopy trellising – methods that protect the vines from wind and open the grapes to sunlight and air circulation. This increases yields in a cool climate while improving overall fruit quality. Doug Meador has also tackled clonal vine research, finding that many of California’s vines had been mislabeled and they were not the best varietals or clones for Monterey’s cool growing region. This has helped growers to re-plant their vineyards with more suitable grape varieties. With Doug in the vanguard, the Arroyo Secco American Viticultural Area of Monterey has become the fastest growing wine region in the world. From Doug’s original plantation in 1972, the Arroyo Secco has grown to more than 50,000 acres, much larger than many more renowned viticultural regions such as the Rioja in Spain. Moreover, the Arroyo Secco now attracts the biggest names in American and European viticulture. The benefits of four decades of research are found in the wines of Ventana Vineyards. By his own proclamation, Doug describes his wines as possessing a “European sensibility with an abundance of California fruit.” Doug has so adeptly translated this style into considerable critical acclaim as well as resounding commercial success. However, there is more than style behind the success at Ventana Vineyards. Each of Ventana’s wines is true to its labeled varietal and is 100% estate grown and bottled from a single vineyard; these practices are evident in only the finest wines. Yet, these remarkable attributes are only part of the quality quotient at Ventana. The other half of the equation is Ventana Vineyard’s refusal to bottle more than a third of its entire grape production each year. In choosing this path, the winery is able to bottle only the finest portion of each vintage, which assures the overall quality of its wines as well as consistency from vintage to vintage. The rest of the estate’s production is sold off to other premium wineries, such as Bernardus, Cain, Fogarty, and Geyser Peak. Not surprisingly, these other wineries have also made an unprecedented number of award winning wines from Ventana’s fruit, augmenting further Meador’s claim to fame with his own wines.