Wine Importing and Marketing Services

The Monterey Pioneer Who Put Grape Growers First

Image Courtesy of Scheid Family Wines

When entrepreneur Al Scheid entered the wine business back in 1972, Monterey County was barely a blip on the American viticultural map, and California’s grape growers were treated as second-class citizens by the winemaking elites who ruled the day. A half-century later, thanks largely to Scheid’s efforts, Monterey grows more wine grapes than all but two California counties—including the state’s largest crop of Pinot Noir. And, vineyard owners enjoy equal footing with winemakers, now considered partners as much as customers.  

“My dad came as an outsider,” says Heidi Scheid of her father, who died at age 91 on March 31. “But he gained a lot of respect because he wanted to make sure the industry was strong, and [he] knew that it was crucial that grape growers had a united voice. It was a much dirtier business back then. Growers were at the mercy of the wineries, so it was a lopsided power dynamic.” 

Soon after creating the company that would become Scheid Family Wines, Scheid became a founding member of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) in 1974. “He really dove into helping CAWG accomplish so much for the winegrape grower,” recalls Jerry Fry, another CAWG founder and the president/CEO of Mohr-Fry Ranches in Lodi. “He was a strong leader, and gave so much of his time, not only while he was on the board, and president, but continually after.”  

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