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Wine Portrait Lodi’s m2 Winery built from a hobby

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Posted: Friday, February 24, 2012 7:33 am

A quiet warehouse door opens and two cats chase each other up a tower of wine barrels as Layne Montgomery lets out a jovial laugh and talks about the winemaking process.

As you walk into his small yet charming tasting room, he points out the wine barrels he has taken apart to serve as a backdrop for the bar. Since he needs to economize his space, his office is on top of the wine bar, decorated with the same barrels, only reachable by a simple ladder. In life, we are seldom presented with the chance to turn our hobbies into something larger. For Montgomery, his hobby has evolved into something much larger.

Welcome to m2 Winery. Established in 2004 by proprietor and winemaker Montgomery, his former hobby has turned into a full-fledged operation that has grown from producing 700 cases of wine in 2004, to around 2,200 in 2011. The growth of the winery has surprised even Montgomery. “When we built this tasting room in 2007, we never figured it’d be too small,” he said.

Additionally, the winery has seen exponential financial growth. Montgomery says that m2 had more gross revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011, than during all of 2007.

“We started doing our home winemaking with one 30-gallon, and one 60-gallon barrel. It grew, and then my former partner got the idea to start a winery,” Montgomery said.

M2 doesn’t grow its own grapes, but Montgomery says it is his connection with grape growers that adds to the success of his wine.

“Good wine starts with good grapes, and a good vineyard,” he said.

The size of m2’s facility is fairly small. Being only 3,600 square feet in size, m2 doesn’t strike the pose of a typical winery. Rather than a large, fancy gate, visitors are greeted by two simple warehouse doors. The lack of pomp and circumstance places the attention where it should be: on the wine.

“You don’t need the fancy to make a good winery,” Montgomery said. “You just need a commitment, a passion and a belief in doing it.”

The people behind m2: Winemaker Layne Montgomery, financial officer Ted Woodruff and wine club manager and director of sales Michael Perry.

Signature wines: Zinfandels, Soucie Vineyards Zinfandel and Artisan Zinfandel.

Where can we buy your wine? m2 Winery, Lodi Wine and Visitor’s Center, Wine & Roses and Payless Market in Lockeford.

About the label: “I wanted something contemporary, but that honored the tradition of wine. I wanted the label to stand out and tell a story. Modern, but not cliche.”

What’s your favorite kind of wine?: “It really depends on my mood, company, who I’m with. I want wine that’s fruit-forward, friendly, that goes well with a simple meal.”

What do you mean by “fruit-forward”?: “Fruit-forward really means a wine that’s soft, fruity, and varietal, something that’s easy to identify for what it is. A wine that’s true to itself.”

What is your ideal food-wine pairing?: “Some of our wines, anything on a grill can go with. You want something that’s going to complement the wine.”

What about the blending process?: “We blend right before bottling. Some wineries blend and place the components together in a barrel and age it that way. I like to keep the components apart, and put the picture together later, as things can change during the aging process.”

What do you think has kept you in business over the years?: “Naive stubbornness. The harder it got, the more enchanted, the more obsessed I got. A combination of good wine, good luck, and good partners have kept us in business.”

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