Under Michael Colhoun's guidance, Landmark Vineyards has catapulted from a little-known winery to world-class prominence. Michael's achievements were best summed up in a recent article by James Laube in the Wine Spectator, "Since 1993, Landmark's Chardonnays have been among the most exciting wines made in California, combining uniformly high quality with excellent value."
Prior to 1993, Michael was Executive Vice President of a commercial real estate brokerage and development company in the New York metropolitan area. All of that changed when his mother, Damaris Deere Ford, the great, great granddaughter of John Deere and the Founder of Landmark, needed someone with marketing, sales and operational skills to run the winery.
Landmark Vineyards may have been founded in the Windsor area of Sonoma County in 1974, but its roots stretch all the way back to 1838 and America's heartland. It was in Grand Detour, Illinois of that year that John Deere invented the steel plow - an event that virtually revolutionized the business of agriculture. In 1989, John Deere's great great granddaughter, Damaris Deere Ford, following the family tradition in agriculture, relocated Landmark Vineyards from Windsor to a spectacular piece of land at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain in the Sonoma Valley. Damaris believed that Landmark could be a small jewel of a winery and built a Spanish mission style winery equipped with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment capable of producing 20,000 cases of wine per year.
Michael shared in his mother's drive and also saw the challenge to take a winery that made an assortment of ordinary wines and turn it into a winner. Here was a new horizon that would spark his creativity and test his marketing skills. Thus, Michael and his family moved west to Sonoma County and he became President of Landmark Vineyards. When Michael Colhoun became the President of Landmark Vineyards, he asked his wife, Mary, to join him as an equal partner. He knew Mary's graceful touch and her organizational ability would add the dimensions needed to fulfill his plans for Landmark. They would work together to build a winner.
Initially, Michael worked in the winery, watching and learning every phase of an industry that was new to him. As his wine expertise increased, he realized there was no need to compete with every other winery by offering an alphabetical inventory of varietals. He knew less would be better but only if it resulted in excellent wines. Michael chose to concentrate on Chardonnay.
Mary took the opportunity to direct her creative energy to develop a facility that would echo a sophisticated life style attainable to everyone who enjoyed wine. She created the "Landmark look," an understated elegance that conveys Landmark's style. That aura of accessible refinement may be seen today in the beautiful facility, the bountiful flowering gardens, the well-appointed tasting room, and the levels of hospitality that make every person's visit to Landmark an unforgettable experience.
With the Chardonnay program well established (Landmark's Overlook and Damaris Reserve were rated by the Wine Spectator as the two best California Chardonnays of the 1998 vintage), Michael sought a new challenge, to master the finicky Pinot Noir, the crown prince of red wines. That challenge has been met. Today, the winery produces two superior Pinot Noirs and is adding a Syrah program to landmark's collection of handcrafted ultra premium wines.
Landmark's mission is "to make great wines that enhance the joy of life." Quality and flavor begin in the vineyards.