Zinfandel grape grower in the Paso Robles area for nearly 70 years. Known for working with growers to found Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles Area (IGGPRA) and for helping many vineyard owners throughout the county. Recognized for his techniques and wisdom about growing grapes which have been made into highly rated Zins for winemakers such as HMR, Rosenblum Cellars, Au Bon Climat, Castoro Cellars, Peachy Canyon, Opolo, Robert Hall, Gary Eberle, Hank Donatoni, and J. Lohr.
Paso Robles High School, in Paso Robles, California, 1953
Catherine and John Sauret, Richard’s grandparents settled in the Paso Robles area in 1888. They farmed hay and grain, and later almonds, in the Oak Flat area. Catherine was famous for her vegetable garden and brood of chickens. Clarence Sauret, Richard’s father, was one of thirteen children who grew up on the family farm in Oak Flat. He married and continued to farm almond and walnut orchards and barley for grain and for hay.
Richard was one of four children growing up on his parents’ farm. He and his brother, Gene Sauret, worked with their father and many local farmers to earn money for clothing and football.
Richard Sauret is remembered for his generosity in giving thousands of cuttings to local grape growers, teaching many classes in vineyard management, mentoring growers and winemakers, and delivering tons of garden and orchard produce to friends, senior centers, food banks, and strangers each summer.
1941: At age 6, harvests grapes in local Zinfandel vineyards in the Oak Flat area. Paid 25 cents per 50-pound redwood box.
1946 to 1952: Learns to plant, dry farm, and head prune Zinfandel in the “old Italian country style” from the Dusi and Rotta families.
1952: Plants 4,000 Zinfandel vines, gifted from Mervyn Rotta, in his own nursery.
1953: Transplanted the vines from the nursery to a 10-acre almond field cleared by Richard and his father to start first production vineyard.
1956: Sells first harvest to local winemakers. Rotta pays $40 per ton.
1959 to 1969: Works for Mervyn Rotta learning vineyard management by cultivating, pruning, and harvesting Zinfandel grapes, working in the winery making Zinfandel wine, and learning to design and layout vineyards.
Buys properties now known as Twin Hills and Belli Acres. Farms almonds, eventually replanting with grapes.
1969: Plants his first five and one-half acre Zinfandel vineyard. His vines, Clone 1A, were purchased at Russell Nursery in the San Joaquin Valley. Additional 300 certified vines, Clone 1A, were purchased in Healdsburg in the company of Mervyn Rotta. Total vines planted were 2,000 with 350 vines on each acre.
1970: Plants an additional 5 acres per year from 1970 to 1973. All vineyards are dry farmed and head pruned.
1972: Sauret Vineyards’ first harvest. Sells Zinfandel grapes exclusively to Dr. Stanley Hoffman, owner of HMR Winery for the price of $300 per ton.
1972 to 1979: Wins “Blue Ribbons” annually for his entry of Zinfandel grapes at San Luis Obispo County Fair.
1973: Sauret Vineyards’ second harvest. Sells Zinfandel grapes exclusively to Dr. Stanley Hoffman, owner of HMR Winery for the price of $300 per ton.
1974: Sauret Vineyards’ third harvest. Sells Zinfandel grapes exclusively to Dr. Stanley Hoffman, owner of HMR Winery for the price of $300 per ton.
1975: Sauret Vineyards’ fourth harvest. Sells Zinfandel grapes exclusively to Dr. Stanley Hoffman, owner of HMR Winery for the price of $500 per ton. The Vineyard is now known as Belli Acres.
1976: Sauret Vineyards’ fifth harvest. Sells Zinfandel grapes exclusively to Dr. Stanley Hoffman, owner of HMR Winery for the price of $500 per ton.
1976: Andre Tchelistchef, famous winemaker and consultant to HMR, praises the quality of Sauret Zinfandel grapes, tells Richard to keep growing on same terroir with same Clones, and suggests to HMR that they designate Sauret Vineyards on the label of Zinfandel Wines.
1976: HMR designates Sauret Vineyards on label of its award-winning Zinfandel – first time a vineyard designation appears on wine label in San Luis Obispo County Appellation.
1979: Hired as the vineyard manager for Pleasant Valley Ranch in east Paso Robles by Remo Belli who recently purchased the ranch. Lays out the vineyard and plants Zinfandel and Chardonnay grapes.
1982: Pleasant Valley Ranch’s first harvest and winemaking – the label is Belli and Sauret. Their Chardonnay and Zinfandel both win “First Place” ribbons at the San Luis County Fair.
1983 to 1985: Belli and Sauret Wines and HMR wines made from Sauret grapes. Belli and Sauret Sauvignon Blanc, Zin Blanc, and Zin Red wins awards at the Los Angeles County Fair.
1984: Buys property on Drake Road in Paso Robles with plan to plant two vineyards and build a home.
1985: Plants two new one-acre vineyards with Richard Sauret Zinfandel clone, Petite Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, and Paderewski Zinfandel on Drake Road.
1985: Awarded “Silver Medal” for the 1984 Belli and Sauret White Zinfandel at the 1985 Central Coast Wine Competition by the California Central Coast Wine Grower Association.
1985: Awarded the “Best of Red Award” for the 1982 Belli and Sauret Zinfandel at the 1985 Central Coast Wine Competition by the California Central Coast Wine Grower Association.
1985: Wins award for the 1982 Belli and Sauret Zinfandel at 8th Annual San Jose Mercury News California Wine Awards.
1985: Awarded “Bronze Medals” for Belli and Sauret 1983 Sauvignon Blanc,1983 Chardonnay Private Reserve, and 1982 Zinfandel at the Los Angeles County Fair.
1985: Awarded “Silver Medal” for the 1982 Belli and Sauret Zinfandel Red at San Francisco Fair and Exposition National Wine Competition. Awarded “Bronze Medal” for the Zinfandel Blanc.
1986: Awarded “Bronze Medal’ for the Belli and Sauret 1986 Chardonnay at San Diego National Wine Competition.
1986: Wine made under Richard Sauret label at Santa Ines Winery for just one year.
1987: Awarded “Silver Medal” for the Belli and Sauret 1983 Red Zinfandel at the California State Fair. Awarded Bronze Medal for the 1986 White Zinfandel.
1987: Belli and Sauret win “Silver Award” for Wine and Ranch Management at California State Fair.
1987: Begins long-term relationship and contract between Rosenblum Cellars and Sauret Vineyards (located on Drake Road).
1988: Awarded “Bronze Medal” for the Belli and Sauret 1984 Zinfandel at California State Fair.
1993: Wins award in Home Wine Making Competition for “Best in the Show” for his 1991 Quest Label Zinfandel from Sauret Vineyards at the Los Angeles County Fair.
1994: Jim Clendenen, owner and winemaker at Au Bon Climat, buys Sauret Vineyard Zinfandel Grapes to make wine sold in restaurants under the Au Bon Climat label.
1995: Fourth Edition of Parker Wine Buyer’s 1995 written by Robert Parker states: Best Producer of Zinfandel with Outstanding Rating is Au Bon Climat -Sauret Vineyard. Best Producer of Zinfandel with Excellent Rating is Rosenblum Cellars – Richard Sauret Vineyard Paso Robles
1998: Mentored Ishka Stanislaus in the planting of 16 acres of head-trained, own-rooted Zinfandel on property known as St. Peter of Alcantara Vineyard in the Templeton Gap.
2001: New plantings of Alicante Bouche, Zinfandel and Syrah. Vineyards are interplanted with Richard Sauret clone of Zinfandel on 110R rootstock, resulting in 12 x 6 spacing, head-pruned.
2002: Works with other Paso Robles growers to found Independent Grape Growers of Paso Robles Area (IGGPRA) in August.
2004-2012: President of IGGPRA. Focuses on education and communication.
2006: Hank Donatoni of Donatoni Winery in Paso Robles purchases grapes and makes wine from Sauret Vineyard grapes from 2006 to 2018 with the exception of 2008 and 2009 when the coyotes got the grapes in the 2007 and 2008 harvests before Richard got them.
2007: Rosenblum Cellars sells company to D’angelo. Richard continues selling them grapes under his contract for Rosenblum Cellar wines through 2012.
2007: Donates collection of books on wine and viticulture to the Paso Robles Library to their legacy collection.
2012: Vineyard yield was 58 tons, 2.6 tons to the acre. Sold to Rosenblum Cellars (D’Angelo) for $2800 per ton.
2013: Vineyard yield was 63 tons, 2.86 tons per acre. Sold to Opolo Vineyards for $2,800 per ton.
2013 to 2017: Sauret Vineyard grapes sold to Eberle Winery, Opolo, Robert Hall, Donatoni, and J. Lohr
2017: Last harvest in September. Grapes sold to Gary Eberle, Hank Donatoni, and J. Lohr.
2017: Killed in car accident at intersection of Wellsona Road and Highway 101 on September 30.
1999: Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Award.
2000: Received “Four Star Gold Medal Award” for Rosenblum Cellars 1998 Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Sauret Vineyard at the Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition. This is the highest award Richard received – only 15 wines out of 2,541 judged have received this award.
2001: County of San Luis Obispo Resolution honors Richard Sauret as 2001 San Luis Obispo County Wine Grower of the year.
2003: Wine Enthusiast magazine names Rosenblum Zinfandel from Richard Sauret Vineyards as one of the 100 Best Wines of 2003.
2004: Wine Spectator named 2002 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel – Sauret Vineyards – #41 in the world.
2005: Wine Spectator named 2003 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel – Sauret Vineyards – #30 in the world.
2007: County of San Luis Obispo Resolution honors Richard Sauret as San Luis Obispo County “Grape Grower of the Year.”
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This is an exceptional biography and statement of a obviously great man with particular claim to fame in the world of wine and agriculture. I had no idea of Richard Sauret’s huge achievements and the influence he has had within the world he lived in. Thank you for sharing Richards words and this biography you have detailed so well.