Imperial Beverage Logo
November 2014
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
facebook logo      twitter logo      You Tube logo      Wordpress
Raising The Bar
Michigan Beer Weeks
Virtue Cider
Sign up for our newsletter                            

Sean Minor: a Family Man…and a Family Business

Inevitably, the first question of a winery owner is usually about winemaking philosophy.  “What methods do you employ? Tell us about your wines.  What makes them special?”  But when meeting Sean Minor and learning of his business philosophy (rather than just the winemaking), you realize his wines could only be truly understood with the understanding of why he decided to make his own wines.

Quick to say he is all about family, Sean recalls the impetus for Four Bears Winery and Sean Minor Wines, established in 2005. “Not long after Nicole and I were married, we discovered our second largest monthly expense was wine.” In truth, the wine budget the two shared was second only to their mortgage.  Because they so appreciated great wine but also wanted to be responsible financially as their family grew, it became clear. “After a number of years in the industry, I knew there had to be a better and more affordable way to produce great wines without severe consequences on the pocket book.”  And so began the journey of Sean Minor Wines, to create remarkable and consistent offerings affordable for the consumer, without sacrificing quality and terroir. 

But not just family relationships make great wines.  Sean Minor Wines also believes strongly in three others: the relationships with the earth, with wine growers, and genuine relationships with customers.  “The concept of coaxing things out of the earth and bringing them to the dinner table has always been a fascinating aspect”, says Minor, who was born in Kansas surrounded by agriculture and work ethic of Midwestern culture.  The winery’s philosophy on sustainability reflects his upbringing as Sean believes growers get a better product by being stewards of the earth.  Citing his time in Oregon during the resurgence of the sustainability movement as a catalyst for his thoughts in this area, Minor says, “I think they found processes that formed more flavor, more deepness and richness,” resulting in a better product in the end.

Sean’s wine career began after his formal education in finance from Arizona State University, where he met his wife Nicole, and subsequent move to California, working for Napa Valleys’ Beaulieu Vineyard. “I knew right from the start, the wine industry was the right place for me.” What followed were viticulture and enology classes at U.C. Davis to expand his  understanding of grape growing and wine production. 





Sean Minor

Seen above, Sean Minor is quick to say he is all about family. After a number of years in the industry, in 2005, Sean started Four Bears Winery (named for the four Minor children) and began producing wines from premier appellations throughout California.

Minor Family Children

The Children of the Minor Family are known as the 4 Bears, from which the 4 Bears brand gets its name. Seen here are Nick, Elle, Jack and Charlie.

SM Logos

The family relocated to Oregon when Sean was recruited by King Estate Winery (widely renowned  as Oregon’s largest producer  of highly regarded Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris) to manage the Estate. It was here Sean met Will Bucklin, King Estate’s then winemaker, and developed an even stronger knowledge of winemaking and developed a lifelong friendship.  Working side-by-side at King Estate, with Will leading winemaking efforts and Sean leading operations as general manager, Sean “learned firsthand the importance of site-specific viticulture, and ended up leaving King Estate to lead Benton Lane Winery, rounding out my cool climate viticulture experience.”  In 2001, the Minors left Oregon for a return to California Wine Country and the opportunity to manage Renwood Winery.

After a number of years in the industry, in 2005, Sean started Four Bears Winery (named for the four Minor children) and began producing wines from premier appellations throughout California. With the help of family friend and colleague, Will Bucklin, the initial production featured a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast Chardonnay, and Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc. Now, 9 years later, Four Bears has expanded and refined its offerings to selections sourced from premier appellations , with consistent flavors and exceptional quality from vineyards perfectly suited to each particular varietal.  “I wanted to produces wines that people believe truly exceed the price,” Sean said.

Since their 2005 start, the winery has expanded its production to include the Sean Minor tier of wines (in addition to Four Bears), which concentrates on premium appellations, and offers more “bells and whistles” of cellaring and production.  Most recently, the winery has partnered with Oregon friends to produce Point North, a Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir.

SM Logo

Rather than investing in the bricks and mortar of building a winery, Sean’s primary focus has always been on sourcing quality fruit from family growers.“Our winery isn’t unique in that we source grapes from a number of California growers.  But we do concentrate on relationships with them.  We’re in the vineyards with them, learning from them and sharing with them what we are looking for.”  For Sean Minor Wines, these relationships with growers spark long-term contracts forgrapes, further cementing the winery’s ability to provide a consistent product, growing the trust of the consumer over time.  Having experience in the management of wineries with 4,000+ acres under vine in his career  helps further the development of relationships with family growers today

So, Sean.  What is your winemaking philosophy? What makes it special?  “My winemaking philosophy is to offer wines that exude quality and truly represent the appellation, from which they’re produced, yet are affordable for everyday enjoyment.” 

And family made it happen.


Sean Minor Wines are currently distributed in 48 states and five foreign countries. The winery has focused on developing relationships with independent fine wine retailers and restaurants, especially by –the-glass programs. As a family owned and operated business it has always been a goal to work with other like-minded companies.


AHA National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) coming to the mitten!
June 12-14 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
• 55 different seminars
• 80 expert speakers - the rock stars of the homebrewing world
• Keynote address by our Michigan pals, the Founders founders
• A welcome reception and toast spotlighting Michigan¹s finest commercial brews
• Club Night - wacky and tasty as ever!
• Thousands of delicious homebrews
Read More >

South African Possibility
Possibility Abounds With South African Portfolio
As with many of us that buy, sell, or trade wine, we put our faith in publications that have built their reputation naming the next trend. In fact, not only have their tions been built, but also those whose management puts faith in the words pages. Wine Spectator is just one of those trusted institutions: one that names coming trends, calls them out, and covers them as they soar.

September 2013’s edition of Wine Spectator calls out South African wines as relevant and notable on the wine landscape. The coverage also remarks on a number of South African scenic stops, not unlike the Cape of Good Hope. Read More >

They've Done it Again: Wente Releases Brand to
Critical Acclaim

Wente Family Estates, known for its Wente Vinyards Wines, Murretia's Well, Hayes Ranch, the Food Network partnersip known as entwine, and the unforgettable "American Winery of the Year" distinction in 2011, has done it again. Launching Double Decker wines nationwide with their well-crafted messaging and solid brand identity, the Wente Family's latest is entering the market straight into customers' outstretched arms. Read More >

La Playa & CabCorp: A Contemporary Approach
This year marks the introduction of dramatic new packaging for many of CabCorp’s core wines, including the La Playa Estate Series, La Playa Block Selection Reserve, and Don Rodolfo wines of Argentina.
Read More >

New Age: An Essential Part of the Summer Lineup
New Age wines, offered in white and rose varieties, are terrific warm weather finds at any bar.  But more exciting was the opportunity for an establishment and its amazing bar & service staff to gain some New Age notoriety!

Exceptional Beers and Brewers Recognized in the
Largest Global Competition
Read More >

"The Next Big Thing" could be Mead
Draft Magazine reports a resurgence for mead's market share and popularity. See their coverage after the jump.
Read More >

Craft Brewers Among those Named Semi-Finalists for Prestigious James Beard Awards
The 2012 James Beard Awards semi-finalists list has been released, and more craft brewers than ever before have been nominated for this internationally recognized achievement in the category of Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professionals. Receiving a Beard Award is the highest honor...
See the complete list of Semi-Finalists Here >

Atwater Brewing: A Featured Michigan Brewery
Located in Detroit’s historic Rivertown district, and housed in a 1919 factory warehouse, Atwater Brewery was founded in March of 1997 with the purpose of carrying on the rich history of breweries in Detroit...
Read more about Atwater >

USA TODAY reports "An American Wine for Every Day of the Week"
Originally printed in the November 2, 2011 edition of USA TODAY, Natalie Ermann Russell writes about domestically made wines, and even quotes Andrew Stover of Vino50 Selections, “The craft wines I sample from emerging regions like Arizona, Idaho or Michigan are often every bit...
Read More >

Fermented Fight Night
Contributed by IB Staff Writer Matthew J. Scott
Is it a frosty mug or a crystal glass that you desire? Though trends and reports vary, they have always tended to favor the same category. For twenty years strong, beer has remained the top preference for U.S. adults, but their contemporaries are gaining strength...
Read More >

Coors Light Gains on the lead Domestics, according to Symphony IRI
Comparable data results in a clear market winner, as Symphony IRI reports that Coors Light is the only brand with positive growth. Having surpassed Miller Lite in market share, Coors Light is trending to take over Budweiser...
Read More > reports "King of Beers Dethroned?"

Wente and Food Network Collaborate for "entwine"
Wente Vineyard’s deep connection to food, embodied by their own on-site gardens that sustain the offerings of their area restaurant might raise eyebrows for some. If the passion of this family-owned house...
Read More >

A Rogue Collaboration: Artisanal Cheese made with Hops

In a "Collaboration of crafts", Rogue Ales & Spirits has released the first in a series of 2009 Bintage Cheddar and TouVelle cheese, made with hop varieties from the micro-hopyard at Rogue.
Read More >

Sake Made Simple
We all have favorites. A rich, luscious, buttery Chardonnay on a hot, hot summer day, served outdoors under an ancient shade tree. A stinky, spicy, tongue drying Cabernet served with our favorite carnivorous treat. But Sake?
Read More >

A Notable Supplier: The Other Guys

Widely recognized for its zealous approach to creative, cutting-edge marketing and unique...
Read more about Read More>

Under 21 Statement
At Imperial Beverage, we support safe alcohol related practices. This website is not intended for those under the age of 21.
©2011–2012 Imperial Beverage | All Rights Reserved