SONOMA, CA (March 17, 2021) – Forty years ago, Napa Valley winemaking pioneer Cabernet Sauvignon followed his heart to the cool, breezy climate of the Carneros Hills to find the perfect terroir for pinot noir. Joseph Phelps’ founder, Walter Schug, passed away in 2015, but his legacy is preserved by his children and a new young German-American winemaker who has added a modern European style to the winery.

We feel incredibly fortunate to celebrate our family’s rich wine history and open a new chapter in our father’s passion with a dynamic new winemaker, said Axel Schug, managing partner.

Schug’s heritage extends beyond its 40-year history in Sonoma to its original 12th-century home. The origins of this wine go back to a pinot noir estate in the Rheingau region of Germany, founded in the 19th century. Then came the historic Napa Valley era, where Walter led grower relations for E & J Gallo and helped manage a third of the Northern California vineyard before moving to Phelps, where he produced the first bottle of Insignia and received Robert Parker’s first rating of 99 points. His love of pinot noir led him to create his own label, first at Phelps after the winery stopped producing the variety, and then at his own winery in Carneros.

Shug highlights the rich history with the lot for the 2021 Sonoma County Barrel Auction, a library proposal that is a new category for the event. Decade of Carneros contains two large formats of Walter’s 1995 and 2005 Carneros Pinot Noir wines. The 5 litre bottles are presented in their original wooden case and have been aged in the caves of Shuga since bottling.

Schug specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from its own Carneros vineyard and from partner vineyards elsewhere in Carneros and on the Sonoma Coast. The winery also produces Bordeaux varietals from the best locations in Sonoma County, in honor of Walter Shug’s work at Phelps. The wines are made by Johannes Scheid, 35, who met Walter at their shared alma mater, the leading school for the German wine industry. The 2019 vintage that Schug is currently marketing is Johann’s first.

Growing up in a small vineyard in the Mosel Valley in Germany, Johannes developed a passion for the European style of winemaking while working on the family farm and on summer trips with his parents and sister to the continent’s wine regions. He studied viticulture and vinification at the college in Heisenheim, where he first met Walter after the annual presentation and, after inquiring about the possibility of an internship before the grape harvest, was hired on the spot for a position at Schuga in 2009. After working in winemaking in Germany and New Zealand, Johannes returned to Schug in 2016 as assistant winemaker and was later appointed head winemaker.

The basis of any good wine is quality fruit, so for me it all starts in the vineyard, says Johannes. As a winemaker, it is very important to listen to the sites, from pruning the vines to growing the fruit and determining the best time to harvest. In the cellar, we accompany the wines in a practical but gentle and restrained way, allowing them the chance to express themselves fully.

Shug has been a family business since its inception. Axel and his sister Claudia currently run the winery, which produces 30,000 cases of bottled wine sold throughout the United States and on four continents. Today they preserve their family’s rich wine heritage for future generations.

We are so proud to be stewards of the centuries-old tradition of Pinot Noir winemaking that has been firmly rooted in beautiful Sonoma for 40 years, said Claudia Schug, who returned to California in 2017 after working in the wine business in Germany for decades, including managing the European export market for Schug.

Schug Carneros Estate Winery is open to the public by appointment Thursday through Sunday for wine tastings and cellar tours. For more information, visit or call 707.939.9363.

About Schug Carneros Estate Winery

Schug Carneros Estate Winery was founded 40 years ago by Walter Schug, the founding winemaker of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. With extensive experience producing fine wine in Europe and California, Walter and his wife Gertrude established the winery in the cool ocean climate of the Carneros appellation. Today, the winery is owned by Walter and Gertrud’s children, Axel and Claudia, who continue Walter’s legacy with German-American winemaker Johannes Scheid. In addition to its 42-acre vineyard, the winery sources grapes from some of Sonoma County’s leading grape growers. Shug wines are available directly from the winery in the United States and in more than a dozen countries around the world. Surrounded by vineyards, Schug Carneros Estate Winery sits on a hill 5 miles south of historic Sonoma and offers breathtaking views of the Carneros region and Sonoma Valley. For more information, see

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