Andrew Tow is a longtime wine collector; he proposed to his wife, Kathleen, 28 years ago while they were standing in a vineyard. His passion for wine has inspired him to introduce himself to some of the pioneers of wine country and in so doing, he has built a “friendly network” of Napa legends. Nowhere along the journey had he seriously considered pursuing the “gentleman winemaker” dream-- until recently.
When California wines got big and heavy, he started going in the opposite direction and building a cellar of European wines. One day, Andrew read a review of Ant Hill Farms Winery (Healdsburg, California) in the wine newsletter Burghound. When he tried the wines, he loved them. Fittingly, he introduced himself to the cofounders (one of whom was David Low), and subsequently established a friendship with David.
Soon, a barter deal took shape. Andrew would provide fly-fishing “lessons” in return for David’s coaching in winemaking. They fished in Montana and then made barrels of wine together. Through David’s introduction to another winemaker, Tyson Freeman, they also made some Rhône blends from the El Dorado region of the Sierra Foothills and pinot noir from the Anderson Valley. The common goal was to make (with minimal intervention) balanced wines that reflected the vineyards, irrespective of the grape variety.
The Tows ended up making 1000 cases of wine “for goofs” (personal consumption and gifting). But there was nothing goofy about the outcome.
Once they launched formally under the brand name The Withers, the Wall Street Journal critics immediately loved the wines-- as did acclaimed critic Stephen Tanzer.
Seven months later, The Withers is now distributed by Skurnik Wines in the New York Tri-State area, and is poised to launch in a number of other states. (The mailing list of customers already spans 25 states.)
Andrew has “no idea where this journey will take me,” but is “having a great time with it.” Most inspiringly, he is gleeful to be “surrounded by such talented and committed people who help me make it possible.”
To celebrate a truly American entrepreneurial story this Thanksgiving, get a bottle (or three) of The Withers pinot noir, syrah, grenache or mourvèdre blend. It will be perfect for your holiday celebrations. (The Daily Sip’s advice: get the goods while you can.)
With which wines will you be celebrating Thanksgiving? Let us know below.
Photo Credit: The Withers Winery