Empathy for the Farmers

Every farmer has a unique story that's translated through their vines. We partnered with amazing grape growers in Northern California to make our wines.

Markus Bokisch

Bokisch Vineyards | Lodi Ca

Markus Bokisch has an obsession with heritage and quality. This becomes obvious with one look at his mint condition 1960s Volkswagen bus he restored in his spare time. He and his wife, Liz, then drove it through Europe, where he worked in the vineyards and wineries of Spain, where his mother was from. It should come as no surprise then that during the 1990's boom of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc plantings across California, Bokisch refused to follow the herd. Those grape varieties would have fetched more money. But his passion for soil and his Spanish roots led him to experiment with lesser-known Iberian grape varieties, well-suited for Lodi’s climate and soils.  Grapes like Albariño, Garnacha Blanca, and Verdejo are far from household names, but one taste of this fruit from his Terra Alta vineyard, and you quickly begin to respect how special this land really is. We’re grateful to work with The Bokisch Family, as trailblazers in Lodi’s evolving grape growing culture.

Scot Bilbro

Marietta Vineyards | Mendocino CA

Grape growing runs deep in the Bilbro family. Syrah from old vines practically runs through Scot’s veins. At a young age, he and his brothers would curiously watch while his father, the founder of Marietta Cellars and Vineyards, created what they called “magic” - the harvesting of perfectly-ripe grapes, and guiding them through their transformation into deeply concentrated and flavorful wines. A long day in the vineyards for Scot was followed by Dad’s home-cooked, sweet and spicy ribs - a perfect companion to the family's juicy Zinfandel and hearty Petite Sirah. Scot would leave Sonoma County in his twenties for the epic ski mountains of Alaska, but was lured back to wine after a trip home to visit his dad during harvest. Two decades later, and he hasn’t looked back. The Bilbro’s are among California’s most recognized winemaking families, but they also provide grapes to some of the state’s most iconic wineries. We’re fortunate to be counted among them.

Clay Shannon

Shannon Ranch | Lake County CA

Clay Shannon was born with the heart and soul of an American entrepreneur. As a young teenager, he applied for a job listed in his local paper - “Vineyard Manager” at Sutter Home. With zero wine industry experience, but unbelievable charisma and can-do positivity, he managed to land the gig. After more than a decade of mentorship from the Trinchero Family at Sutter Home, Clay would branch out on his own in 1993 at the age of 22. He was among the first to recognize the true potential of Lake County, a northern-neighboring but less-developed region near Napa Valley. He started his business by buying and managing volcanic-rich, hillside vineyard sites, and selling ultra-high-quality grapes to Northern California wineries. Fast forward to today, Lake County is known by industry insiders as a source for unparalleled wine value, and Clay as its pioneer.  Today, Clay is still most often found working the vineyards with his team, clad in signature cowboy boots and a Stetson hat.

The Mettler Family

Mettler family Vinyards | Lodi CA

The Mettler Family are pioneers in every sense of the word. They have been growing grapes for 130+ years, spanning 6 generations. Today, the family provides fruit to some of California’s most reputable winemakers, and produce their own wine under The Mettler Family label. Their team is comprised of three living generations, invested in the long-term legacy and health of the family vineyards. Larry Mettler is the family patriarch and oversees the business at-large. Larry’s daughter Kimberly is the general manager, overseeing operations and sales. Adam Mettler is Larry’s son, responsible for winemaking of the family’s branded wines, and was recently recognized by Wine Enthusiast magazine as 2018 Winemaker of the Year. Larry’s grandchildren serve as Instagram marketing strategists, and last but not least, dogs Duke and Dash roam the vineyards. We’re thrilled to call The Mettlers an extension of our Empathy Wines family.

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Hear the story of what makes Empathy Wines special

We set out to do things differently. After several decades in the wine industry, we grew tired of the consumer paying too much for a great bottle of wine.

We cut out the middlemen to produce a better bottle of wine for your money. And we do it by working with honest, passionate farmers to source some of California's greatest grapes from awesome vineyards. No gimmicks.

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