Korbel Champagne Cellars

Coordinates: 38°30′28″N 122°58′1″W / 38.50778°N 122.96694°W / 38.50778; -122.96694
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Korbel winery in Sonoma County.

Korbel Champagne Cellars is a winery based in Guerneville, California. Since 1882, Korbel has primarily manufactured California champagne, using the méthode champenoise process. In this process, sparkling wine is fermented inside the same bottle from which it is served. The company is a division of F. Korbel Brothers, and also makes brandy and still wine, and imports Prosecco from Italy.

F. Korbel & Bros. is a private company owned and operated by the Heck family. Brown-Forman[1] has handled Korbel's marketing and sales since 1965.


Korbel was founded in 1882 by three Czech brothers named Korbel. It was purchased by Adolf Heck in 1954.[2] Heck's son, Gary, took over in 1982, and over time increased production from 150,000 to 1.6 million cases per year, making Korbel the 16th largest wine producer in the United States as of 2022.

Use of "champagne" on labels[edit]

Korbel California champagne.
Korbel Champagne on a shelf at the Korbel Champagne Cellars
Korbel Champagne on a shelf at the Korbel Champagne Cellars

Korbel has followed regulations – both in letter and in spirit – regarding use of the word “champagne” on wines made in and marketed in the United States, specifically regulations established by the U.S. Department of Treasury in the 1930s.[3] These regulations allow U.S. producers to use names of geographical significance that also designate a class or type of wine. Such names – like champagne, sherry and port – are called semi-generics, and may be used on labels only in direct conjunction with an appropriate appellation of origin (place in the United States where the grapes were grown) and only on wines that conform to the standard of identity for that class or type. [4] In 2006, all 27 EU-member countries, including France, signed the Bilateral U.S.-EC Trade Agreement on Wine reaffirming this right. This Agreement takes the laws of all involved nations into account, halts the development and use of new brands with semi-generic terms by U.S. wineries, while protecting U.S. producers – such as Korbel – who have made substantial long term investments in trademarks, brand names and marketing of their products. [5]


Korbel California champagnes have been served at 10 United States presidential inaugurations.[2] It was also one of the wines served on January 20, 2009, at the Congressional Inaugural Luncheon for U.S. President Barack Obama.[6]

Korbel's brandy has a particularly strong following in the State of Wisconsin, where over 50% of Korbel's brandy production is consumed.[7]


  1. ^ "Brown-Forman Annual Report 2008"
  2. ^ a b Kevin Fagan (2009-08-30). "Family squabble tarnishes Korbel wine empire". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Our Champagnes[permanent dead link] Korbel corporate website
  4. ^ "26 USC 5388© Designation of Wines". Cornell Law School. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  5. ^ "U.S./EC Wine Agreement". TTB Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  6. ^ Hulse, Carl (20 January 2009). "The Nation Awaits Its 44th President". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  7. ^ Snyder, Molly (6 March 2020). "Cheers! Wisconsinites are the top consumers of brandy in the U.S." On Milwaukee. Retrieved 2020-05-05.

External links[edit]

38°30′28″N 122°58′1″W / 38.50778°N 122.96694°W / 38.50778; -122.96694