Tondre Grapefield Racks Up “Best of Show” Awards

8 June 2016




Tondre Named Top Wine At Dan Berger International Wine Competition; Is Also Vineyard Source For “Best of Show” Winner At S.F. Chronicle Judging.

Monterey County, CA:  The Tondre 2013 Pinot Noir won “Best of Show Red” at the recently completed Dan Berger International Wine Competition. This prestigious judging has been a mainstay competition for thirty-five years. The panelists are a “who’s who” of the wine industry.

The Tondre label is based upon the Tondre Grapefield home estate – one of the Santa Lucia Highlands’ most respected vineyard properties. In addition to producing grapes for their own Tondre brand, Joe and Penny Alarid also grow fruit for several other top wineries. Earlier this year at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition, the Sonnet 2013 “Tondre Grapefield” Pinot Noir took overall “Best of Show” honors.

Joe Alarid, owner / grower at Tondre, is gratified by the accolades:  “Our vineyard is fortunate to be working with some very talented winemakers; their care and craftsmanship echoes our own dedication to growing the very best possible fruit, vintage-to- vintage.”

Joe and his father Tondre began their family‘s winegrowing operations more than nineteen years ago in the Highlands. Joe Alarid is on the Board of Directors of the Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans, the industry spokesgroup for the acclaimed appellation.


The 2013 Tondre Pinot Noir has a suggested retail price of $40 and is in limited release.  Their website is


Contact:  Penny Alarid    831.675.3214 

read more

A Sonnet to the Vineyards


By Laura Ness


Tony CraigFebruary 2, 2016 – Born near Newcastle in England, Tony Craig always wanted to be a Shakespearean actor. The stage was his goal, not the cellar. But, circumstances interfered in a most unusual way, and, looking for real paying work between acting gigs, he found himself pushing a broom in the barrel room at David Bruce Winery, rather than playing Hamlet before a sold out crowd.

That was back in 1991. He remembers his first day as vividly as he remembers the last. “It was January 7, 1991,” recalls Craig, of his starting day at David Bruce Winery, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In his own version of rags to riches, perhaps with many more of the former than the latter, he worked his way up through the ranks, relying on his perceptive palate to become part of the winemaking team, and eventually, head winemaker.

During his tenure, David Bruce wines went from marginal to magnificent, and many of Craig’s talented teammates went on to make their mark on other endeavors. (Jake Kaufman became winemaker at Muccigrosso, Eric Glomksi gained international fame at Arizona Stronghold and Page Springs Cellars and Greg Stokes moved to Amador to found Ursa Cellars.)

“It was an amazing experience,” he recalls. “We were making wines from 50 vineyards from Mendocino to Bien Nacido. We made Pinot from every vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands before Pisoni!” 

But the halcyon days at David Bruce came to a rapid, and regrettable end. Craig’s last day, was June 1, 2003, two weeks before bottling. “Things were going awry at David Bruce. I started thinking I should do something for myself. I started buying Tondre for my own program,” he says.

At the same time, Craig went right to work at Savannah-Chanelle, where he has been winemaker ever since. He’s also been crafting wines for Silver Mountain, Tondre, Muns Vineyard and his own brand, Sonnet.

Fast forward to 2016, and suddenly, after 25 years, he is, as he says, “practically an overnight success!” Craig just won the high honor and rare distinction of being named Red Sweepstake Winner or Best Red of Show from among 7,164 entries at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Competition for his 2013 Sonnet Cellars Tondre Grapefields Pinot Noir.

Tony CraigAs fate would have it, one of the vineyards he worked with at David Bruce was Tondre Grapefields, a Monterey County vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands that came about as a result of a David Bruce planting contract in the late 1990s. “It was a small 10-acre plot at first. Now, it’s over 100,” says Craig. “The first vintage was 2000, I think, and I couldn’t believe how extraordinary the fruit was. It was the most gloriously aromatic Pinot I’d ever made!”

Part of this is due to the innate earthiness of the Pommard clone planted there. “I gravitate towards Pommard,” Craig admits.

He describes Tondre Grapefields as being in the sweet spot of the SLH AVA: it has lots of bright red fruit and plenty of forest floor for complexity. “Too far north, and it’s too cold, and you lose the fruit. Too far south, and it’s all tutti frutti.”

Working with the Alarid’s over the years has been a total pleasure. He’s worked with many growers and they don’t all “get it” like the late Tondre Alarid, and his son, Joe. Craig says, “Joe totally understands farming. He gets it right. He gets it done. I make suggestions and it is taken care of. Joe understands that if he does the right thing, the results will come.”

He must be doing something right, as Alarid has a waiting list for his fruit. One can assume the list will get a little bit longer, given the results from this year’s Chronicle Competition.

As a self-avowed Pinot devotee, Craig revels in the chance to make Pinot from a new vineyard. He will be releasing a brand new 2014 Pinot from Black Ridge Vineyard, above the Lexington Reservoir, later this year. Since 2014, it has been managed by longtime Testarossa winemaker, Bill Brosseau, and Craig is stoked about the quality.

Wines under Craig’s label, Sonnet, can be purchased locally at Safeway and Whole Foods, as well as smaller wine shops. They can also be purchased from the Sonnet Cellars website.

You can taste the 2013 Sonnet from Tondre Grapefields at the San Francisco Chronicle Gold medal tasting at Fort Mason on Saturday, February 13. Be sure to stop by and congratulate Tony Craig on his “overnight success.”


read more

Vineyard & Winery Management – 2014 Grand Harvest Awards


Tondre 2011 Pinot won Gold, and BEST OF CLASS!

Tondre 2012 Chardonnay won a DOUBLE GOLD!


Established in 1990, this is the only wine-judging event in North America that is based on Terroir – a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine.

In other competitions, this factor is ignored. At the Grand Harvest, judges taste wines with other wines of the same appellation. Thus, with cross-regional competition removed, the inherent quality of wines can be seen without the influences that sometimes eclipse even a wine of very high quality.

Beyond the determination of medals, the Grand Harvest Awards affords its winners a unique selling proposition-its Terroir ranked against its competitors. A medal in this wine competition not only gives your wine prestige and selling power, it adds talking points in your retail room. Favorable awards support increased local and regional sales. A win in Grand Harvest can put your wine into a whole new sales category. 

According to 2014 GHA spokesperson, Christopher Sawyer, “The Grand Harvest Awards is a judge’s dream come true. Beyond varietal category and price point, this one-of-a-kind competition is based on appellation instead of mass-production. The end result is more definition of the wines made with grapes inside the boundaries of a specific viticultural area and distinct flavors that have helped wines rise to the top of the scale in the global marketplace.”


read more

Tondre Wines Teams Up With J&L Wine Distributors

Date: 05/12/14

J & L to Represent Santa Lucia Highlands Producer on the Central Coast and in the Central Valley


Monterey County, CA: Tondre Wines, one of the rising stars of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, has announced a wholesale partnership with J & L Wine Distributors. Based in Paso Robles, J & L sales teams’ cover Monterey County south to Ventura County, and inland from Merced to Kern Counties. This will be the first real opportunity for on and off-premise accounts in these areas to have access to the highly sought-after, limited release Tondre Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Joe Alarid, owner / grower at Tondre, is looking forward to seeing his wines reach a wider audience: “J & L has a terrific team of professionals bringing a great selection of wines to the retailers and restaurateurs of the Central Coast. They care, as we do, about being first in quality and customer service. Tondre is honored to be paired with such a reputable company; we’re very excited about the partnership.”

Joe’s father Tondre Alarid began their family’s winegrowing operations more than seventeen years ago in the Highlands. The Tondre label is based upon the Tondre Grapefield home estate – one of the Santa Lucia Highlands’ most respected vineyard properties. In addition to producing grapes for their own Tondre brand, Joe and Penny Alarid grow fruit for several top wineries. “Tondre Grapefield” appears on the labels of some of the state’s highest rated Pinot Noirs.

Tondre’s online home is

J&L Wine Distributors can be reached through their website:

read more