Gifford’s new wine deal has local tie

MONTEREY, Calif. – It’s no secret that three-time Emmy Award winner Kathie Lee Gifford loves wine.

However, did you know that her latest wine endeavor has an Eastern Ohio connection?

Partnering 50/50 with Scheid Family Wines, GIFFT is launching two new brands – a 2012 Estate Grown Chardonnay and a 2011 Estate Grown Red Blend.

Scheid Family Wines has been around for four decades in the Monterey County wine growing business in California, having been founded in 1972. The family-owned company has 10 estate vineyards that produce wines to showcase the varietal character of the grapes, the individuality of the vineyard and the exceptional quality of the Monterey Viticultural Appellation. The 10 estate vineyards are located along a 70-mile spread of the Salinas Valley, and SFW is committed to crafting estate-grown wines that express the highest quality of each varietal.

“We met through a mutual friend who liked grapes and we clicked right away,” Heidi Scheid, senior vice president of SFW, said of the partnership with Gifford. “Kathie knew exactly what she wanted from the vineyards, and the wines are exactly the style that we love and that Monterey is perfectly suited to produce. From day one, we were on the same page on how to transfer Kathie’s vision into delicious wines.

“We are thrilled to have her as a collaborator, partner and friend.”

In a release, Gifford said, “It’s well-documented that I am a wine lover. So when I started talking to the Scheid family about making a wine, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I wanted to create wines I would want to drink and serve to friends in my home – an elegant Chardonnay like those I tasted in California in the 1970s, and an easy-drinking, yet balanced Red Blend. And who better to make them with than the Scheids, who have more than 40 years of experience.”

The name, GIFFT, derives from Gifford’s last name and her belief that friendship, love and laughter are gifts to be cherished. The classically-styled package depicts Gifford’s favorite place to enjoy wines with her friends – her garden gazebo at home. The bottles also feature screw-off caps and are available nationally at fine wine retailers and on the GIFFT website, They retail for $20/750ml per bottle.

The 2012 GIFFT Chardonnay exhibits richness, depth and complexity, balanced by a lively acidity and an essential freshness. Featuring the gorgeous tropical fruit flavors that are the hallmark of Monterey Chardonnays, the 2012 GIFFT Chardonnay strikes the ideal balance between rich and refreshing. The wine is 100 percent Chardonnay.

The 2011 GIFFT Red Blend is smooth and favorful, with a core of fruit and structure that carries through from beginning to end. The 2011 GIFFT Red Blend is a blend of 42 percent Merlot, 25 percent Petite Syrah, 10 percent Petit Verdot and a small percentage of other varieties.

Gifford is co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today.” She also earned 11 Daytime Emmy Award nominations for her role in co-hosting “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” She is also a playwright, singer, songwriter, author and humanitarian.

Scheid’s father, Al, is a Bridgeport graduate and well-known contributor to the school district. He was instrumental in starting the Bridgeport Educational Assistance Fund, which helps students with their reading.

The state-of-the-art winery has a crushing capacity of 30,000 tons, as well as a smaller Reserve Winery where the small production wines of Scheid Vineyards are crafted. With 4,200 acres of vineyards, the bulk of the production is sold as custom-made wines to other wineries, now totaling more than 80.

Al spends a little less time working and a little more time golfing nowadays, with son Scott heading up the operation as president and CEO, and Kurt Gollnick running the vineyards and winery as chief operating officer.