Viticulture Briefs: Napa Valley’s Somerston Estate hires Steve Leveque as consulting winemaker

Leveque will work directly with Craig Becker, the winery and general manager, on all aspects of winemaking, from the farming of its 1,682-acre Somerston Estate in the Vaca Mountains to the production of Priest Ranch and Somerston wines.|

Constellation Brands will announce 1Q results July 1

Constellation Brands Inc. will report financial results for its fiscal first quarter that ended on May 31 on July 1.

The Victor, New York, company, which owns such local wineries as Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa and Simi Winery in Healdsburg, is in the process of trying to complete a ?$1 billion sale of its low-end portfolio to the E. & J. Gallo Winery, which it wants to wrap up by this summer.

Company president and CEO Bill Newlands and chief financial officer Garth Hankinson are expected to address that topic during the conference call after the earnings are released.

College students receive grants from ag foundation

Three local college students have received grants from the foundation of the Ag Health Benefits Alliance, which has provided health benefits to agricultural employees in Northern California since the group’s founding as the California Winegrower Foundation in 1972.

The grants range from $3,000 to $5,000, and the students were eligible if they had family members who are members of the alliance’s plans. The aid is to be used for the recipients to complete an undergraduate or graduate education in the field of their choice at their college or graduate school or to attend various education programs for vocational or other training.

They are Wyatt Gray of Santa Rosa, who is studying biochemistry/molecular biology at UC Davis; Leo Lara of Cloverdale, who is studying anesthesiology at UC Davis; and Natalie Lara of Cloverdale, who is studying psychology at UC Davis.

Somerston Estate hires consulting winemaker

Napa Valley’s Somerston Estate has hired Steve Leveque as a consulting winemaker, which is the first project for his new company, Leveque Wine Consulting.

Leveque will work directly with Craig Becker, the winery’s general manager, on all aspects of winemaking, from the farming of its 1,682-acre Somerston Estate in the Vaca Mountains to the production of Priest Ranch and Somerston wines.

“We are thrilled to have Steve join us as consulting winemaker,” said Becker in a statement. “His experience, palate and knowledge are the perfect addition to our excellent team.”

Leveque was the winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery from 1992 to 2003; served as winemaker and executive vice president at Chalk Hill Estate Winery from 2003 to 2008; and most recently was the winemaker for Hall, WALT and BACA wines.

Nearly 25 years ago, Leveque hired Becker for his first wine industry job as a lab technician at the Robert Mondavi Winery.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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