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2015’s Wine Mavericks

It’s time to raise a glass to these vino-industry innovators who are changing the grape landscape

Abe Schoener
The philosopher on a mission to plant vineyards in big cities

The former classics professor is one of the wine industry’s most respected risk-takers. He’s known for The Scholium Project, a winery that takes an unconventional approach: His three-member team forgoes fancy machines and stomps on nearly every batch of grapes themselves. (The wines are served at Michelin-starred restaurants like Per Se.) Schoener’s latest passion project involves raising $2 million to build an “urban winery”—and eventually a vineyard—in Central Los Angeles.

Michael Evans
The entrepreneur who turns dreams of owning a vineyard into a reality

Michael Evans had recently completed a stint as a consultant on John Kerry’s presidential campaign when he visited Argentina for the first time. He planned for a short respite—and never left. Evans purchased land in Mendoza, started making wine and soon enough his vino-loving friends wanted in. His company, the Vines of Mendoza, has since facilitated the winemaking dream for 150 clients. He recently opened a $16 million resort on the property to host owners and guests.

Michelle Reeves
The Pinot Noir producer who snags wine lovers a spot at the top of the list

Michelle Reeves’ passion for Pinot Noir inspired her to quit a coveted gig in the entertainment world and buy a winery in Napa—all at the age of 27. Now, after nine years at the helm of boutique Pinot Noir producer David Family Wines, Reeves is splitting her time with another entrepreneurial venture: I Know The Winemaker, an exclusive membership club that lets oenophiles skip decade-long winery wait lists and instantly purchase current releases of rare wines.

Bill Koch
The billionaire on a crusade to fight wine fraud

After growing suspicious that he’d been duped by a counterfeit-wine scam, businessman Bill Koch opened his prized cellar to a team of authenticators who determined that $2 million worth of his rare vintages were fakes. To prevent others from sharing his fate, Koch has spent an estimated $25 million on private investigators to expose offending auction houses. His most recent victory came in July 2014: After a six-year lawsuit, a prominent wine auctioneer agreed to amend its policies to better protect consumers.

Main photo illustrated by Daniel Hertzberg