What's the best way to become a boutique winemaker? Get a job with wine giant Beringer Blass. In the past year, Beringer has helped three of its star employees debut their own labels. Beringer granted its legendary vineyard manager, Bob Steinhauer, complete control of Taz, a small winery in Santa Barbara ("Taz" is Steinhauer's nicknameshort for Tasmanian devil). Tor Kenward, Beringer's former VP of communications and now a consultant to the company, launched two well-received small production Cabernets under the name Tor. Most recently, Beringer's acclaimed winemaker Ed Sbragia introduced his own label called, sensibly enough, Sbragia. His current lineup includes a big, oaky 2002 Napa Chardonnay (unsurprising to those familiar with the Sbragia style) and a powerful 2001 Howell Mountain Cabernet. Also in the works for 2005: a Dry Creek Zin, Merlot and Cabernet.
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