It’s no secret by now that Surdyk’s Liquor has long been a family affair. Joseph Surdyk obtained the 11th liquor license in Minnesota after Prohibition ended and transformed his grocery store into a liquor and wine store. Passed down and expanded with each generation, Bill Surdyk, Jim Surdyk, and now Melissa, Molly and Taylor Surdyk work to uphold the legacy that was started so long ago. What seems like an unordinary story is only one of many when it comes to the wine world. Selling, and especially making fine wines, is all about legacy. Just like our store, vineyards stay in the family for decades, cultivating a history as deep as the roots that were planted when the first vines hit the soil. This harvest season, fourth generation Surdyks Molly, Melissa and Taylor were lucky enough to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma and appreciate just what it means to be in a family business. The reason for our trip was to attend the Seghesio 120th anniversary party. Seghesio Family Vineyards was established in 1895 when Italian immigrant and winemaker Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in
Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Edoardo and his wife Angela kept their vines thriving through Prohibition, and were one of only 100 vineyards to survive that era in the United States. Fourth generation family member Ted Seghesio made the first wines under the Seghesio label, and with his cousin Pete, have become recognized for exceptional Zinfandels and Italian varietals. Now including their fifth generation to work and sip from the same glass, it’s no surprise after 120 years they are as fruitful as ever.
Just down the road from Seghesio, Gloria Ferrer sits on a gorgeous hillside with bottles ready to pop for any meal or celebration. In 1914, Pedro Ferrer and Dolores Sala (both from prominent winemaking families) released the first cava, Freixenet, on its way to becoming the world’s largest maker of traditional Champagne method-made wines. When Pedro passed in 1930, his wife and three daughters took over the winery. In 1982, Pedro’s son bought 250 acres of land in Carneros, fulfilling his father’s dream, and named the land after his wife Gloria. What was just one couple taking a chance has turned into a legacy of fabulous sparkling wines that have accompanied many families’
traditions and celebrations ever since.
In 1971, with the boom of wineries in Napa Valley, Charles F. (Charlie) Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in starting a winery with them. If Chuck had declined, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell their ranch in Napa Valley and move to Australia. Lucky for the rest of us, Chuck accepted the offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards. The Wagners produced their first vintage in 1972, consisting of only 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today’s production is 65,000 cases. The Wagner family retains 100 percent ownership of Caymus Vineyards. Today, Chuck, his two sons—Charlie and Joe—and one daughter—Jenny—have joined the family team, proving that family business will never go out of style.
Although these are only some of the stories among thousands of family-owned vineyards, it is a testament to an industry that proves many (related) hands lighten the load. The true success of vineyards and liquor stores alike is that there is a standard to uphold and a legacy to live up to.
Although our father, Jim Surdyk, never pressured us to take over the family business, we felt in our hearts, which grew in Northeast Minneapolis, that the Surdyks were here to stay. Now with our expansion to Surdyk’s Flights in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International
Airport, Surdyk’s at Northrop Auditorium, and Surdyk’s Catering, there is even more reason to celebrate. As the holiday season approaches, it really is all about family, but lucky for us, our family comes together all year-long to celebrate hard work, good fortune and really good wine.