GUERNEVILLE (RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY), CA, September 14, 2012 – As maker of the premium American champagne served at more celebrations than any other, Korbel Champagne Cellars knows those glasses of bubbly mark both the occasion and all that led up to that special moment. This year’s 130th anniversary of Korbel Champagne Cellars’ founding is certainly cause for celebration, but it’s also an opportunity to look back at the innovations that have made Korbel California champagne such an enduring favorite.
When brothers Josef, Anton and Francis Korbel first established their eponymous small winery in Sonoma County in 1882, their first innovation was already in place; premium vineyards – including a block of Pinot Noir – they had planted in the cool Russian River Valley. The quality of Korbel’s early wines prompted additional innovations, among them construction of the impressive brick winery that – renovated into offices – remains the headquarters of Korbel today, and the hiring of university-trained European winemaker Frank Hasek to guide its expansion into champagne production. The award-winning Korbel Sec and Grand Pacific champagnes he created soon made the company one of the top three producers of sparkling wine in North America prior to Prohibition.
On the day Prohibition was repealed in 1933, a case of Korbel California champagne was delivered to President Franklin Roosevelt. Sadly, Korbel’s founders did not live to see that day, but their heirs quickly revived production and returned Korbel California champagne to prominence. When the Heck family acquired Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1954, they pioneered fresh innovations; new Chardonnay and expanded Pinot Noir plantings in the vineyards; the development and introduction of several new champagnes – Korbel Brut, Korbel Natural, Korbel Blanc de Noirs and Korbel Brut Rosé, and invention and patenting of the world’s first automatic riddling machine.
Today, shepherded by second-generation proprietor Gary Heck, Korbel Champagne Cellars continues to innovate. Award-winning sustainability initiatives enhance vineyard health and reduce energy use. Recent introduction of sparklers like Korbel Brut – Made with Organic Grapes and Korbel Sweet Cuvée address evolving consumer tastes. Development and distribution of single-serving bottles enable consumers to enjoy Korbel California champagne anytime.
However, some things never change. Every bottle of Korbel California champagne is produced using the traditional, time honored méthode champenoise and each proudly proclaims “Fermented in this bottle.” Korbel Champagne Cellars continues to grow grapes and make champagne in the Russian River Valley – the only place it has ever called home. Korbel California champagnes continue to win awards at major wine competitions. And Korbel remains the champagne of choice at America’s great celebrations, from the inaugurations of U.S. Presidents and MusiCares’ Person of the Year Tribute to Sir Paul McCartney to the LA Kings’ celebration of their 2012 NHL Stanley Cup win and the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
Korbel Champagne Cellars’ 130th anniversary celebration will be marked by a special release of Korbel Sec featuring an “old style” commemorative label. In truth, Korbel Champagne Cellars prefers to help others mark their milestones and looks forward to providing bubbly for countless celebrations to come.