Benchmark Wineries


Introduced in 1966, Andre was E&J Gallo’s attempt to produce inexpensive sparkling wine that was affordable for the average consumer. The wine is off-dry, and is labeled California champagne, as it is grandfathered into law as having been labelled as California champagne prior to March 10, 2006.


Barefoot Wines is one of the biggest brands in the states, producing over 40 different wines. Founded in 1965 by Davis Bynum, but renamed Barefoot in 1986 by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey who refocused the winery’s production and branding. Currently Barefoot produces 11 different styles of sparkling wine.

Brick and Mortar

Founded in 2011 by husband and wife team Matt and Alexis Iaconis, Brick and Mortar produce vineyard driven expressions of restrained old world styled wines. Their sparkling wines have extended lees aging and low dosages, presenting some of the most exciting high quality small production California sparkling wines produced today.

Cruse Wine Company / Ultramarine

Michael Cruse, SF Chronicle winemaker of the year in 2016, is a self taught winemaker whose custom crush facility in Petaluma allows him to help others make wine, mostly among up and coming new wine labels. His Ultramarine bottling is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from the Charles Heintz vineyard in Sonoma, and is highly sought after by collectors. Made in a more oxidative style using natural yeast, his style is unique compared with other California sparkling producers.

Domaine Carneros

Domaine Carneros is a partnership between the Taittinger family of Champagne, and the Kopf family of the Kobrand corporation. Located in Carneros, they draw 95% of their grapes from their estate, and all come from both the Napa and Sonoma sides of Carneros. Eileen Crane was the founding winemaker from its inception in 1987 until her retirement in 2020.

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon was the first French-owned sparkling wine house in California, founded by the newly formed Moet-Hennessy in 1973. The first crush took place at Mt Veeder winery, and the first wines were originally stored at Trefethen before the winery itself was built. Domaine Chandon has many outposts around the world, including California, Argentina, Brazil, China, and Australia.

Ferrari Carano

Don and Rhonda Carano founded Ferrari-Carano in 1981, after achieving success with the Eldorado hotel in their native Reno, Nevada. In 1985 they began building their winery in the Dry Creek Valley, and in 1987 released their first wines, a Fume Blanc and a chardonnay. Today they produce a wide array of wines, all sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards.

Fess Parker

Fess Parker was an actor best known for his portrayals of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on television in the 1950s and 60s. After retiring from show business, Fess purchased 714 acres in Foxen Canyon with the intention of raising cattle and plating a few vines, but wine soon became the focus. They currently produce a large selection of sparkling and still wines.

Frank Family

Rich Frank founded what would become Frank Family with the help of Koerner Rombauer in the early 1990s. Rich Frank himself has background in Hollywood, as a former Disney executive responsible for many well known films of the 1980s and 1990s. The winery was previously Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars from 1958 to 1990. Interestingly the winery produces both still and sparkling wines.

Gloria Ferrer

Hailing from Catalonia, home to Spain’s Cava, Gloria and Jose Ferrer created the first sparkling wine estate in Carneros in 1984. The vineyards are planted exclusively to different clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the cool climate of Carneros. The produce a wide array of different sparkling styles, as well as still wines.

Hungry Hawk

Created in 2009 by Ed and Jeannine Embly, Hungry Hawk is a small family owned winery. The currently grow over 15 varieties, and produce a sparkling Albarino, made in the traditional method, but with only 4 months on the lees.

Iron Horse

Iron Horse was founded in native Californians Barry and Audrey Sterling in the late 1970s in the Green Valley of Sonoma. After having fallen in love with French wine, (and eventually moving there for a time) they returned with the goal of creating a winery in the French tradition.

J Vineyards

Judy Jordan, (daughter of Tom Jordan, founder of Jordan Winery in the Alexander Valley), began in 1986 as a partnership with her father. Originally Russian River Valley winery’s focus was on sparkling wine production, however they now produce pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris in addition to their sparkling offerings.

Kathryn Kennedy

Kathryn Kennedy was one of the first women winemakers to have her name on the label, and was a trailblazer in the Santa Clara Valley. Inspired by a bottle of Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, she planted her vineyards in the 1970s, releasing her first vintage in 1979. She would only produce Cabernet Sauvignon from 1979 to 1988, before adding Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling wine to her portfolio.


Kenwood was established in 1970 on the site of former winery founded in 1906. As the winery grew, it was purchased by Korbel, Riunte, and finally Pernod Ricard in 2014. The wines are sourced from vineyards in Sonoma, most of which are farmed sustainably.


Founded in 1882 by three brothers from Czechoslovakia who arrived too late for the gold rush, but shifted to lumber production for their cigar box factory in San Francisco. After the factory burned down, they moved to the Russian River valley, and planted grapes and focussed on making traditional method sparkling wines. Korbel still uses the California Champagne terms on its labels.


Laetitia was originally founded as Maison Deutz, by the Duetz Champagne house in 1982, before changing ownership in the late 1990s. The winery now focuses on still pinot noir and chardonnay, as well as sparkling wines. Interestingly, Laetitia has the only two coquard presses in the USA, which are traditionally used in Champagne.

Mumm Napa

With ties to Champagne Mumm, Mumm Napa was begun in 1983, with their first vintages made at Sterling, before their Rutherford winery was built in 1986-7. With their mid-valley location, they source most of their grapes from the cooler Carneros and Oak Knoll AVAs. Their prestige cuvee DVX is named for their founding winemaker Guy Devaux, first vintage released in 1990.

Paula Kornell

Paula Kornell is the daughter of Hanns Kornell, who founded his winery in 1958 in the old Larkmead Estate in St Helena. She worked in wine sales and for the Napa Valley Auction for years, before founding her wine consulting company in 2014, and releasing her first sparkling wine using grapes from Carneros in 2017.

Roederer Estate

Jean Claude Rouzaud, former head of the Louis Roederer Champagne, found what would become the 580 acre site of Roederer Estate in 1982. The cool climate of the Anderson Valley in Mendocino is key to preserving the desired acidity in the grapes that will be made into sparkling wine. Roederer Estate was one of the first forays of a French Champagne house putting down roots in California, and draws all of its grapes from its own vineyards.


The second oldest winery in the Napa Valley (behind Charles Krug, founded in 1861), Schramsberg was founded by Jacob Schram in 1862, and revived by the Davies family in 1965, releasing thier first sparkling wine with purchased grapes that same year. The winery gained national fame when Nixon took their sparkling wines with him when he met with Mao Tse-Tung in the 1970s. Their grapes are sourced from all over the north coast.


Sterling was founded in 1967 by a team of investors, including Peter Newton, who would go on to found Newton Vineyards on Spring Mountain years later. Sterling’s first winemaker was Roc Forman, who himself would go on to found his eponymous winery years later. The winery produces a full line of still wines, as well as a blanc de blancs and rosé sparkling wines.