David Bruce sold

I read that David Bruce winery was sold to a college in Michigan, biut then i was asked to fork over money for a subscription to the Mercury news…Being cheap I am hoping somebody can fill me in on the rest.

I thought you were going to say the college asked you for money.

VERY conservative Christian college, connected to Trump world, and the new home of Pat Sajak following his retirement from television


I got through the paywall.
Not sure why a college would buy a winery, but maybe a Wheel of Fortune Pinot is in the future.
Of course,Alex Trebek had a winery…why not Sajak??

To paraphrase Tom Hill,I have followed this winery since about day 2. IOn the 70s and early 80s Dr Bruce made a lot of what we might call experimental wines…white grenache,late harvest chardonnay, etc. Then the winery --under Keith Hohlfeldt’s direction–became more normal. Keith took a hike after the '89 earthquake because his girlfriend’s ex bf threatened to shoot him. and off Keith went to Portugal.

Some of the wines wer amazing. A year or two ago I opened up an '82 Pinot that was sensational. I was expecting to pour it down the drain.

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Oh, Lord. I somehow got on their mailing list and for years have received regular newsletters with their take on the world.

Well…didn’t follow DavidBruce from the very start…but pretty close.

David was a practicing dermatologist in LosGatos. Fell in love w/ wine, particularly Burgundy.
He made his first wine, a ho-made wine, from Concord grapes. Hit it with a brand-new Fr.oak barrel. Served blind, very few were able to identify it as Concord. I never had the wine.
He then founded the wnry in '64. Did a lot of innovative wines in the late '60’s-early-'70’s. He, like Dave Bennion/Ridge, chose to make Zin as a serious wine. Both of them made the first white Zin (no…it was not Bob Trinchero/SutterHome) around '76. Also the first LateHrvst Zin.

My comments upon his death in 2021:


One of the greatest wines I’ve ever had in my life was a 1974 David Bruce at Berns in 2008. 44 year old, it blossomed in about 15 minutes into this beautifully perfumed wine that was all forest floor and mushroom but still oh so much life. It gave everything it had for nearly three hours.

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Hillsdale or Bruce??

Many years back someone brought a bottle of DB Pinot noir and a bottle of DB Syrah to our house . Those were some of the first “real” wines I ever drank. I thought they were great; perhaps it was due to the name (I’m Bruce David).

I continued to buy various DB Pinots for several years until they were harder to find, and didn’t offer much of a value .

Did anyone mention that David Bruce was a pioneer in eliminating lead foil caps and replacing them with plastic? I went to a tasting of his wines way back maybe '75, and getting the lead out was his main topic of discussion.

I used to buy David Bruce wines occasionally back in the '70s. I think I still have a late harvest Zin buried in the cellar… IF so, anyone who want to share the experiment is welcome to set up a time to try it.His Pinots were somewhat odd, sometimes wonderful, sometimes suffering from excessive VA.

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I drank his Pinots in the 90’s, along with Chalone, occasionally Saintsbury and a bunch from Sta Rita and Santa Barbara; they were always very solid. Very strange that a conservative Christian college would buy a winery. Something up here? Maybe it will loosen them up?

It’s a little unclear whether it was purchased or donated.


Headline says purchased. First line says sold.

Of course, even a quitclaim deed requires a nominal sum.

I saw other articles that stated it was “gifted”. There may be tax ramifications, depending.


They’ve since updated the info. Now says gifted:

My David Bruce story is less exciting. We went to him in 1981 and wanted to sell him Zinfandel. The vineyard had some early success with Fetzer in 78, 79 and 80. From memory, I think we sold him Zinfandel in 1982. It wasn’t a great vintage as things weren’t as ripe as most folks wanted in those days. John Scharffenberger had moved off the property by then and I was over my head.

David’s son came to haul the fruit and when I didn’t return with a load of bins, he jumped on one of our tractors and tried to find the crew. I felt like such a a dork. David was very disappointed…as were we that although he vineyard designated the wine, it wasn’t up to his liking.

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Both Ridge and David Bruce made their first white Zin in 1964. Ridge did it for cash flow, pressing 60% of the harvest (just Picchetti?) for rose, then adding all the pomace to the rest in an out-of-left-field interpretation of advice Mario Gemello had given about adding intensity to a wine. So, Ridge’s first Zin got about 2 1/2 times the intensity of a regular old vine Zin and is drinking well…now. Finally.

David Bruce was inspired by the wines of Martin Ray and copied what he knew Ray was doing, including not adding sulfite to the wines. (As has been pointed out, they used sulfur sticks to treat the barrels, so that was surely more than sufficient to protect the wines.) He finally had an issue in the early '70s that led him to start adding sulfite.

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We did an extensive tasting of mostly '70 David Bruce wines about 8 years ago. One of the attendee contributors had been a long-time customer from the '60s, having visited often with her late husband. Pretty fun mixed bag. The wine I was most looking forward to was a dud, when I bottle of the same I’d opened a year before was stunningly good. A wine that was a weird dud when I tried a bottle six years prior was quite good.

DB is one of the earlier wineries I visited when just getting into wine in the mid-'90s, when Bruce would be there in the old tasting room and had some library bottles on offer. His '90s era Pinots were part of my Pinot exploration, providing first impressions of various regions, like RRV and Chalone. I have some older stuff back to '68.

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