A to Z Wineworks
A to Z Wineworks is a partnership of two winemaking families. William Hatcher developed and managed Domaine Drouhin Oregon from its conception in 1987 until the Spring of 2001. His wife Debra was active in the venture as well. Many years ago, she also worked with David Lett at The Eyrie Vineyards.
Sam Tannahill was the winemaker at Archery Summit from 1995 until Spring 2002. Before that he worked at Domaine l’Arlot in Nuits St. Georges. Sam’s wife, Cheryl Francis was Chehalem’s winemaker from 1996 through 2003 after stints in Burgundy and New Zealand. Camas Goble joined the company in May, 2004 and, in light of her accomplishments, became a minority partner in 2005.
More About A to Z Wineworks
The partnership blends unique skills. Bill brings an extensive background in strategy and finance to the company while Deb has successfully spearheaded their design, marketing and promotion. Sam and Cheryl have combined surpassing creativity and technical experience, allowing A to Z to maintain the same quality at 40,000 cases as with the first release of 2,500 that earned A to Z Food & Wine Magazine’s award for the best American Pinot Noir under $20. Meanwhile Camas’ organizational skills have made day-to-day operations smooth, allowing the other partners to focus on their areas of expertise.
Founded three years ago, the company has quickly became Oregon’s fastest growing winery. The business model is simple: to produce and market Oregon’s best wine values by eliminating unproductive fixed investment and unnecessary overhead.
Originally, A to Z sourced and blended excess wines from other Oregon producers. Although the company continues to purchase wine, they have gradually decreased their dependence on the variability of those supplies in favor of long-term grape agreements from Hood River through the Willamette Valley and south to Medford. While the contracts themselves ensure continuous sources of fruit, the 350 mile geographic dispersion serves as a hedge against a weather calamity in any particular region.
The idea behind A to Z is that these
four friends can seek out individual lots of good quality finished
wines, blend them skillfully to meld their individual characters, and
then offer consumers a new wine at a value price that is—in essence—greater
than the sum of its parts.
Luckily, A to Z can rely
on the combined experience of the partners to parse the character of
the wines available to buy. Sam Tannahill has experience in Burgundy
and was winemaker at Archery Summit; Cheryl Francis was co-winemaker
at Chehalem; Bill Hatcher spent 13 years as managing director of Domaine
Drouhin Oregon; Deb Hatcher has been involved in the Oregon wine world
for 18 years. Together, these veterans create the blends for A to Z.
To help maintain their quality and consistency, they do not continue
to add new lots to a previous base just because new lots become available.
When they are out of the 2002 A to Z Pinot gris, for instance, they will
not go back and blend some more just so they can release more A to Z
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