Monday, February 23, 2015

02/23 SEAN D. PITTS, HAPPY CANYON VINEYARDS, VIOLET GRGICH, GRGICH HILLS ESTATE

SEAN D. PITTS – GENERAL MANAGER, HAPPY CANYON VINEYARDS

Happy Canyon Vineyard is a family owned and operated estate vineyard and boutique winery on the central coast of California that has gained esteem with our award winning Bordeaux varietal wines. Our vineyard is nestled into the undulating hills of the beautiful Piocho Ranch at the eastern most edge of the Santa Ynez Valley. The ranch and vineyard is where we, the Barrack family, call home. We have taken great pride over the years in being stewards of the land and created wines that are unique to the beauty, richness, and heritage of the “terroir”. On our ranch we have two regulation sized Polo fields and many powerful Polo ponies where we blend our commitment to excellence in wine with a passion for Polo.

Happy Canyon Vineyard is nestled into the undulating hills of the beautiful Piocho Ranch, home to the Barrack family. The Barracks have taken great pride over the years in being stewards of the land and along with their wine maker Doug Margerum, have created something that is unique to the beauty and richness of the place. Piocho, is a Native American Indian word meaning “where the two rivers meet and go to heaven”. The ranch is also home to the “Piocho” polo team.

There are the two top wines called Brand and Ten–Goal and two companion wines; PIOCHO is the champion wine which is a classic Bordeaux style. There is also a nouveau styled Bordeaux blend released each Easter (perfect with Spring Lamb) called CHUKKER.

The Cabernet Sauvignon Block 8 is a truly special vineyard; head trained vines planted to the steep hillside adjacent to the road. No tractor works here as the terrain has been untouched by machine.

ABOUT SEAN:
As General Manager of Happy Canyon Vineyards, Sean Pitts is responsible for all operations of the vineyard and winery including partner contracts and personnel management. Sean oversees the sales and marketing programs, distribution, financial management, wine tasting room and day to day functions. Sean is responsible for inventory control, as well as meeting financial and strategic goals of the winery. Sean currently holds all fiscal management duties, including financial analysis; budget creation, forecasting, managing labor cost and P&L oversight.

As part of the Happy Canyon Vineyards family, Sean ensures ongoing performance of the business by facilitating decisions on strategy, long and short term objectives, determining wine styles, managing vineyards and bulk wine production.

Sean holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado and an MBA from Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Prior to working for Happy Canyon Vineyards Sean worked for over 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry working for companies such as Amgen, Genentech and Novartis.

WWW.HAPPYCANYONVINEYARD.COM



VIOLET GRGICH - CO-PROPRIETOR & VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES & MARKETING, GRGICH HILLS ESTATE

Grgich Hills Estate celebrates the 35th anniversary of The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown

In 1980 “The Great Chicago Showdown” brought together 221 of the best Chardonnays from around the world.  Chardonnays from France, California, New York and even Bulgaria were collected for a historic first, the largest blind tasting of that time of one single varietal. The first vintage that Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted at Grgich Hills, his 1977 Chardonnay, emerged triumphant with a first place ribbon and the Chicago Tribune called it “The best Chardonnay in the world”!  With this win so close on the heels of the famous 1976 Paris Tasting, where the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that Mike made took first place over some of the best French white Burgundies and American Chardonnays, he soon became affectionately known as the “King of Chardonnay.”

In 2015, Grgich Hills Estate will celebrate the 35th anniversary of this historic tasting and its legacy in Chardonnay with vintner dinners across the country, a photo contest, a new mobile application launch and much more, all culminating into two festive gala dinners. The first will be in Chicago on May 7, 2015 and the second in the Napa Valley at the winery on May 16, 2015.  Mike Grgich believes this is a significant event not just for Chicago and Grgich Hills but for all of America since it proves that “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Grgich Hills will launch “The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown” celebration starting on January 15, 2015. “This is a great opportunity for our winery not only to celebrate my father’s many accomplishments but also Chardonnay, a varietal that is enjoyed and loved by so many people,” says Violet Grgich.  As Mike explains, “There is no scientific formula for making great wines.  You make wines with your heart. You pour your love into them and nurture them like children, and transmit to them the richness of your spirit.”  That philosophy is the very heartbeat of Grgich Hills Estate.

The winery is partnering with publications such as Robb Report, Chicago Tribune, Saveur Magazine, Modern Luxury Publication Group, and Food & Wine Magazine to unveil this great celebration. In addition, Grgich Hills will launch the “Taste the Legacy Photo Contest,” where consumers are encouraged to engage with the winery via social media and upload their best photos while enjoying Grgich Hills Estate wines. Each month will feature a different theme with the chance for consumers to win prizes on a monthly basis. The Grand Prize winner will win the ultimate grand prize - a trip to the beautiful Napa Valley for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Grgich Hills Estate winery and a private dinner with Mike and Violet Grgich.

ABOUT VIOLET:
Violet’s passion for wine began at an early age, as she literally grew up accompanying her father in the vineyards and cellar. She spent her summers at the winery, doing everything from bottling line work to laboratory analysis and working in the tasting room.

Attending the University of California, Davis, Violet earned a BA in music while taking classes in biology, chemistry, and enology.  After graduation, she returned home to Grgich Hills to continue her education in the wine business, learning about daily operations of the winery from Mike. She received her Master of Music in harpsichord at Indiana University, and then joined the winery fulltime in 1988. She’s now responsible for daily management of the winery, as well as sales and marketing. She says that she has the ideal job: “I believe that wine is part of a healthy, happy and long life. Wine brings people together and makes them happy, which makes my job extraordinarily fulfilling.”

Involved with every aspect of the wine business, Violet enjoys wearing many different hats, often at the same time.  She explains, “My dad insisted that in order to lead the winery I needed to work at every single position, starting at the bottom.” Violet continues to enjoy learning something new each day and following her grandfather’s and father’s philosophy of “Every day do something just a little better.”

Violet is pleased that the next generation of Grgich’s has joined the winery: Noel Grgich Shipman, her son born in 2005, accompanies her on sales trips, and enjoys every minute of it.

WWW.GRGICH.COM

Monday, February 16, 2015

02/16 WES HAGEN, CLOSE PEPE, NORM YOST, FLYING GOAT CELLARS, WORLD OF PINOT NOIR

WES HAGEN – VINEYARD MANAGER/WINEMAKER, CLOS PEPE

Clos Pepe Vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and established the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California. The Italians say, ‘Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra.’  Wine is the poetry of the earth.  There is nothing that can obfuscate Pinot Noir’s ability to speak of a time and place.  Of every plant on earth, Pinot Noir is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage, every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. Tea, coffee, white truffles—these can tell a story and confound us with their deliciousness, but the uncontested Queen of Natural Complexity must be Pinot Noir. We anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass.

WHERE THE OLD WORLD MEETS THE NEW
Great wine is born, not made. The great wines of the world weartheir provenance proudly and show a regional character andquality that is impossible to imitate. The world’s most vauntedbottles all have one thing in common: they are grown on the edge ofwhere ripeness is achieved. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne,Barolo — these are all areas where getting the fruit ripe is notassured. In most of California ripeness is easy to achieve. The goal becomes‘hang time’, allowing the fruit to hang on the vine as long as possibleto develop flavor, color and character. Clos Pepe, and the Sta. RitaHills AVA, are stuck between these two archetypes: we are one of the coolest areas on earth where winegrapes can be ripened, but wehave tons of California sunshine and a relatively dry Septemberand October for extended hang time and later harvest.

We love the complexity and age-worthiness of the Old World, butclaim our purely New World heritage. Making wines that have thefruit and impact of the New World, with the mineral structure andacidity of the greatest Old World bottles, gives us enviable baseingredients for making some of the most profound cool-climatewine in the world. These wines can be drunk at release when they're young and fruity(0-3 years), as the primary fruit begins to sublimate (4-7 years), orwhen fully mature like the greatest Grand Cru Burgundies (7-20years).  The Santa Rita Hills and Clos Pepe make a wine for everytable, every plate and every palate.

THE WINES
The Santa Rita Hills produce many styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — wines that will excite every palate and match with almost any food. The Chardonnays are naturally lean, mineral-laden and racy, but with more winemaking influence can exhibit richness and roundness: new oak, malolactic treatment, extended barrel aging. When young, the wines have austere structure and bright apple fruit with hints of tropical fruit and peach. Clos Pepe Chardonnay is crafted for both early enjoyment as well as cellaring for a decade or more. As the wines age they gain a hazelnut and mineral complexity, quite similar to Premier Cru Chablis and White Burgundy from great vintages. Try young Clos Pepe Chardonnays with oysters, fried chicken or barbecue. Older vintages can be enjoyed with sand dabs in a lemon cream sauce, firm cheeses, cream-based soups, or any kind of delicate seafood preparation. Clos Pepe Chardonnay seems to like 3-5 years from vintage date to fully integrate, and can last up to 10-12 years for those that appreciate full maturity and a bit of oxidative aromas and flavor.

Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe can range from delicate and earthy to dense, purple, full-bodied Pinots that are among the darkest and richest on the planet. The Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe also age wonderfully, but can also be drunk early in their life. Rich, dark vintages like 2002, 2003 and 2010 hold their baby-fat (primary fruit and richness) for 5-7 years and then begin mellowing slowly. Restrained, balanced wines like 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 age very similarly to Premier or even Grand Cru red Burgundy — being primary and juicy from release to 5-7 years old, and then slowly unfoldingwith minerality and aromas of dried flowers and earthy forest floor for another 5 years. Young Clos Pepe Pinot Noirs match beautifully with strong cheeses, duck confit, pork loin, lean steaks, venison with reduction, or almost anything that you can put on a plate. As the wine matures and loses some baby fat, try more delicate dishes and add Morel or Chanterelle mushrooms. A fully mature Clos Pepe Pinot Noir matches very well with simple presentations of salmon, game (especially quail and pheasant), and other light dishes that will not dominate the wine's delicate complexity.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY
If all goes well in the Vineyard, the crop from an acre or two of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir is hand picked in the cool of night, and the fruit is delivered to the winery as the sun is rising or the fog becomes visible, like a blanket reminding us of the sleep we've missed. At this point the winemaking process begins.

While it might seem odd to provide our 'recipe' for winemaking, we don't see it as a trade secret. Some wineries thrive on secrecy and an insistence that what happens behind the cellar door is a magical process with French elves and Italian sprites sprinkling fairy dust over the fermenters, but we don't see it that way. Winemaking is a simple process for preserving the integrity of the fruit, the site and the vintage. Again, the magic is in the site, and we'd rather show a refreshing level of transparency in the way we farm and make wine so our customers, and those who visit the website, feel that they can clearly understand and intuit how we treat our fruit and wine, and how simple the fermentation and aging process can be.

CLOSPEPE.COM


NORM YOST – PROPRIETOR & WINEMAKER, FLYING GOAT CELLARS – BOARD MEMBER, WORLD OF PINOT NOIR

Two pygmy goats, Never and Epernay, inspired Norm to name his winery Flying Goat Cellars. The goats were his pets and lawnmowers and came to be a source of entertainment and enjoyment, with their unrestrained spiral loops, flipper turns and straight-legged leaps. When pondering a name for his new wines and brand, Norm wanted to project fun, enjoyment, and happiness. While many people put their own name or their children’s name on their label or vineyard, Norm’s playful spirit opted to name it after his kids. His kids, of course, were those two pygmy goat pets, who had always inspired him and made him laugh. The winery was “launched” with this same spirit of enthusiasm and Flying Goat Cellars was born.

The Vineyards - Cool Climate, California Central Coast Vineyards:
Pinot Noir is all about “place.” When grown with care (and patience!) and treated well at the winery, this grape will express a vineyard and region like no other varietal. We are fortunate to work with very dedicated and passionate vineyard owners and growers who farm Pinot Noir to showcase “place.”

ABOUT NORM:
Norm Yost graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies in 1981. When his college roommate graduated from the winemaking program with a job and Norm didn’t have one, he morphed from a beer drinking football player into a winemaking craftsman. During his 30+ vintages in the industry, Norm worked for diverse wineries in cool climate regions, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the Russian River in Sonoma County and finally Santa Barbara County. He attributes his vast experience in the industry to the success of Flying Goat Cellars, which he launched in 2000. As the proprietor of his own business, Norm enjoys the freedom to focus on his passion for making vineyard designated Pinot Noir and sparkling wine. Half of Norm’s winemaking career has now been in Santa Barbara County, where he celebrates working with Central Coast fruit. He is currently president of World of Pinot Noir; formerly a board member of Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance and Santa Barbara County Vintners Association and winemaking instructor at Allan Hancock College.

WOPN:
March 6th & 7th 2015  |  BACARA RESORT & SPA  |  Santa Barbara, California

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

Our mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California's beautiful Central Coast.

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

The World of Pinot Noir was established in 2001 by a small but dedicated group of winemakers from California’s South Central Coast. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (6) trade organization.

WWW.FLYINGGOATCELLARS.COM
WWW.WORLDOFPINOTNOIR.COM

Monday, February 9, 2015

02/09 BOB TILLMAN, ALTA COLINA, ADELAIDA DISTRICT AVA, EMMA SWAIN, ST. SUPERY

BOB TILLMAN - OWNER/WINEMAKER, ALTA COLINA – NEW ADELAIDA DISTRICT AVA        

HISTORY
Since the 1970’s, Bob Tillman has looked for the site where he could plant a world-class vineyard. He didn’t find that property until the Tillman family moved to the Central Coast of California and tasted the wines coming out of Paso Robles. Finally, he and his wife Lynn knew they were in the place where they could produce the kind of wines they love to drink.

In 2003, after an extensive search for the ideal location, Bob found the beautiful hilltop property on Adelaida Road in Paso Robles that would become Alta Colina Vineyard. Nestled high in the rugged coast range mountains, Alta Colina Vineyard’s natural beauty soothes the spirit with its 360 degree vistas and calming seclusion.

To achieve great wines from this spectacular site, Bob assembled a world-class team: John Crossland, Dean Harrell, and Steve Vierra from Vineyard Professional Services planned, planted, and farmed the vineyard; Scott Hawley consulted on the winemaking and the crucial decision on when to harvest; and Bob makes his wines in space leased from Alex and Monica Villicana. Collectively, this expert group has over 100 vintages under its belt!

Finding the incredible site and assembling the expert team were only the first steps in preparing the property for planting. First, the narrow track up the mountain had to be expanded to a workable agricultural road—a non-trivial task given the very steep terrain. A high volume water well was drilled at the bottom of the mountain and piping installed to carry water over 500 feet up the hill where a reservoir holds the vital irrigation supply. Then the soils were ripped to allow free vine rooting, the drip irrigation system constructed, and finally the trellis was put in place.

After more than a year of site preparation, the first vine was planted on April 23, 2005 by Ann Walsh, Lynn’s mother. That vine was Petite Sirah in vineyard block 7—now named Ann’s Block to commemorate the event. By the end of May, 40,773 vines were planted, consuming 31.1 acres broken into 15 blocks. Four Rhône red wine varietals and 4 white Rhône varietals are planted. Most are sourced from a French government nursery (the so-called ENTAV selections) with 1 block coming from John Alban’s vineyard in the Edna Valley, located in Southern San Luis Obispo County.

The first three growing seasons were dedicated to vine development. The focus was on developing robust plants with extensive root systems while carefully pruning to shape the above-ground canopy for optimal fruit production. In 2007 the vineyard produced Alta Colina’s first crop—tiny by commercial standards, but adequate to give the first taste of what is to come. As we had hoped, the wines are excellent—the future looks very bright for Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery.

ABOUT BOB:
Bob Tillman is the man behind Alta Colina. After 35 years in the high-tech business world, Bob launched Alta Colina in 2003. From the beginning, the enterprise was dedicated to nurturing world-class wines from a magical site tucked into the Coast Range west of Paso Robles. But it’s really more than creating world-class wines—Bob also pulled together a group of top-notch people that have formed an exceptional team with collective experience stretching over 3 generations. It’s not just the vineyard site that is magical at Alta Colina.

Lynn Tillman is the one-woman support staff for the vineyard and winery operations — and she supervises Justin, the harvest intern.

WWW.ALTACOLINAWINE.COM


EMMA SWAIN – CEO, ST. SUPERY – NEW VEGGIES & VINO PAIRING

St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery is the largest family owned, sustainably farmed and estate produced winery in Napa Valley. Our land and our winery are certified Napa Green.

ABOUT EMMA:
Emma Swain is the CEO of St Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery. She received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis and is a Certified Public Accountant. Emma has worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years. She began her career with Niebaum-Coppola Winery and served as the Chief Operating Officer at Sebastiani Vineyards prior to joining St. Supéry Estate. Emma currently serves as a board member for the Napa Valley Vintners, as well as serving on multiple sub-committees. Emma also volunteers locally with a number of environmental, educational and health-based charities. She is an avid runner and has several half marathons under her belt of accomplishments.

ABOUT VEGGIES & VINO PAIRING:

  • Available to all winery visitors by appointment, $40/guest
  •  Call 707.963.4507 or visit www.stsupery.com to reserve the experience
  • Features four of our Napa Valley estate wines and four vegetarian small bites
  • Each pairing features seasonal produce from our Culinary Garden and Dollarhide Ranch
    •  Changes regularly based on what’s coming out of the gardens
  • Pairings are developed by our Sommelier and Guest Experience Manager, F. Scott Tracy
  •  Current pairings include:
    • 2012 Napa Valley Estate Virtú (Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend) and bruschetta with kale and hummus
    • 010 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Malbec and beet, turnip and potato salad
    • 2012 Napa Valley Estate Élu (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend) and eggplant parmesan
    • 2010 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and mushroom caps stuffed with burrata drizzled with truffle oil
  • All guests are treated to full recipes for each pairing so they can bring a taste of Napa Valley home to their kitchens


WWW.STSUPERY.COM