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A passion for wine

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Posted: Sunday, January 7, 2007 10:00 pm

One of Lodi's newest wineries is a two-man operation known as M2 Wines.

M2 began about seven years ago when co-owners Chris Matheny and Layne Montgomery started making home wines together.

As they learned more about making wine, they began winning awards in amateur winemaking competitions, including a first-place award at the California State Fair for their 2003 Sauvignon Blanc.

In June, the two decided it was time to go commercial.

They bottled 700 cases of their 2004 vintage and began marketing the brand to Sacramento restaurants and vendors.

Then in September they moved into their tasting room - which also serves as a barrel room, bottling operation and winemaking area - on Turner Road.

Looking at their company Web site or their well-designed labels, it can be difficult to tell the operation is new. But one trip to the tasting room and it's clear M2 is still a work in progress - something Matheny said probably won't change any time soon.

"We don't profess to be the end-all, be-all of wine," Matheny said. "We still talk to other winemakers. We still ask questions and take classes to improve our skills. It's an evolutionary process."

As for the wine, M2 has a selection of reds, including a Lodi old vine zinfandel, a Napa cabernet and a Calaveras syrah. And it must be good, because they've already sold about 70 percent of their first commercial vintage. They'll be bottling their 2005 vintage in March.

Matheny said they plan to improve on the interior of the tasting room as time goes on, adding a permanent tasting bar, dropped ceiling and possibly a separator for the barrel room.

But right now the two are focused on letting people know they are in Lodi and the tasting room is open for business on the weekends.

Matheny and Montgomery both work full-time jobs in addition to their work at the winery.

Bottles of M2 Wines are seen at the M2 winery/tasting room in Lodi. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

Matheny is the chief financial officer for a Sacramento construction company. And Montgomery has a "portfolio career," which means he's done a lot of different things. Currently, he works as a freelance writer and graphic designer to pay the bills, according to the company's Web site.

At the winery the two aren't just owners, they are also "the winemakers, the cellarmasters, the barrel washers, the sales and marketing department, and the financial department."

Matheny's enthusiasm for wine began in his early 20s when he began collecting wines. He now has more than 800 bottles in his home cellar.

Matheny said credit for the winery's early success goes to the two men's wives, who have given their support throughout the years. Matheny's wife Diana has also done most of the marketing for the winery, finding a number of vendors and restaurants to buy the wine in the greater Sacramento area.

If business continues to do well in the coming years, the two intend to go into wine-making full time, Matheny said.

"Right now it's more of an exercise in passion for us," he said. "But this is what we really want to do."

Contact reporter Rebecca Adler at rebeccaa@lodinews.com.

M2 basics

The winery is located at 1376 E. Turner Rd, Unit D. The tasting room is open on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wines range in price from $12 to $25, not including a Napa cabernet that sold out late last year. To find other places where the wine is sold, visit the company's Web site at http://www.m2wines.com.
Source: Sentinel staff

First published: Monday, January 8, 2007

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