Mark Burch started Career at E & J Gallo
Mark Burch grew up in a rural farming community in the Central San Joaquin Valley two miles from E & J Gallo’s largest production facility, Laraxa Winery. “That’s just what the fall air smelled like to me”, Mark noted as he remembered the sweet smells of fermentation from his youth.
While pursuing a degree from Fresno State, Mark started his career in wine at E & J Gallo Winery as Laboratory Assistant. Little did he know that position would be the start of a career that would span nearly four decades? “Absolute fascination”, Mark recalls of his experience in the fall of 1980. He had found his calling and would never question his desire to become a winemaker.
After Graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Plant Science Viticulture, Mark held advanced through positions at Gallo and later moved to Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma. Under the tutelage of Mark Lyon and Mary Sullivan, he began to expand his winemaking skills.
Mark moved to Lake County in August 1994 to work for the late Jess Jackson as the Cellar Master for Kendall Jackson at Jackson’s founding facility in Lakeport. In two short months following the 94 harvest he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker and was being tutored by John Hawley, Steve Reeder, and under the daily direction of Mark Theis. “Having the opportunity to learn and grow under Mark Theis was the single most influential experience of my winemaking career”, Mark recalls. “He instilled in me the skills, and what I consider the very heart of my winemaking style that is still with me today.”
Mark moved to Wildhurst Vineyards in 1998, helping to build the business and grow the brand. In 2010, Mark joined the team at Chacewater Winery as winemaker. In June of 2012 Chacewater Winery was awarded “Golden State Winery of the Year” at the California State Fair Professional Wine Competition, the first Lake County winery to receive this honor. Many more accolades and honors for his wine followed with over a dozen wines scoring 90 points or above in Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Mark has a special love for Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that has become his signature. “Lake County Sauvignon Blanc’s don’t over deliver on Pyrazines, have tropical and melon aromatics, with mouthfeel that is rich, broad, and complex, a finish that is crisp, fresh, and extremely clean. The wines are special,” notes Mark.
In January, 2018, Mark made the move to branch out and become a full- time consulting winemaker.