Tony Soter, a California vintner who never received a formal winemaking degree but rose to the top of his profession, has left Napa Valley after more than 30 years as one of its most influential winemakers. Soter will work full-time with the Willamette Valley winery he co-owns with his wife Michelle: Soter Vineyards.
Beginning in 1975, Soter was consulting winemaker to lauded wineries like Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stonegate, Spring Mountain, Chappellet, Sequoia Grove, Robert Pepi, Spottswoode, Niebaum-Coppola, Viader, Dalla Valle, Shafer and Araujo.
In 1980, Soter bottled his own first wine, a Pinot Noir, under the Etude brand, in Carneros. He sold Etude to Beringer Blass in 2001, but remained as winemaker, overseeing development of its estate vineyard. He continues today in a consulting capacity at Etude.
In the mid-1990s Soter and his Oregon-born wife started up a new, personal brand, Soter Vineyards, in the Willamette Valley. With the move to Oregon, Soter plans to further develop his Mineral Springs vineyard, which produces Pinot Noir for the Soter brand.