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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for September 28, 2000


The Right Aptitude


The Stanford University aptitude test indicated Bob Poulson should choose a career in agriculture or engineering. Which did he select?


Bob chose engineering. and here I thought we had a wine story. But wait. While he started with Dow Chemical in Michigan, they made the mistake of transfering him to the San Francisco Bay area.

Warning: The Wine Country Can Be Hazardous To Your Career

Sure enough, Bacchus bit Bob. Soon, Bob and wife Mary Lou had purchased a small vineyard at the north end of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. Next they were making wine in a converted cafeteria. That was 1978, and their 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon was "rich, delightful for current drinking," according to critic Anthony Dias Blue. Some Aptitude!

Name The Winery

Soon after the Poulsons arrived in California, a winery sprung up in nearby Benicia called Diablo Vista. So, the Poulsons bought it, moved it to Dry Creek, and changed the name to the Lake Sonoma Winery. (They were very close to the large reservoir called Lake Sonoma.)

These were good years. In Wine Regions of America, Prof. John Baxevanis commented on the "rich Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 3 1/2 years in French (Nevers) oak."

Lake Sonoma Winery


Then, in 1995, Bob Polsen died...but the Lake Sonoma Winery,(pictured), didn't. After the grief and turmoil subsided, it was sold. That marked the start of the...

Heck Era

When Bob Poulson was settling in with Dow, Gary Heck was starting with Korbel Champagne Cellars. His father, Adolph Heck, and uncle Paul bought Korbel in 1954. He worked eveything from sales rep to purchasing agent to traffic manager and more. By the time the Lake Sonoma Winery went on the market, Gary was President and CEO. He grabbed it fast, to make super-premium wines. He clearly improved the appearance ; as for the wines, the first Cabernet Sauvignon made in the Heck Era is...

Our Wine of the Day

1996 Lake Sonoma Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
Production—We're talking small lots of handcrafted beauties...1628 cases.
Aging—30 months in French and American oak.
Grape Sources—Jimtown and Independence Lane areas of nearby Alexander Valley.
Rating—The competition included four bottles that averaged $14 more than the Lake Sonoma. But when we unwrapped the Best Red of the Night, the Lake had won!
Six tasters gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, while the other 10 ten tagged it EXCELLENT.
Food Affinities —Finish with a course of strong cheeses, plain crackers, and this red to savor.
Contact—Office of Margie Healy, (707) 824-7715, FAX (707) 431-8356
Price—$25 range


How many entities have the word Sonoma in their name, in addition to today's winery? There are at least eight: an American Indian tribe, a Spanish mission, a mountain, a lake, a creek, a valley, a county and a town.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


This page created September 2000