Monday, January 31, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Although Keith is currently one of the world's youngest Master Sommeliers, he brings with him more than 19 years experience working for a variety of prestigious and award winning restaurants & wineries including Domaine Chandon, Masa's, Spago, and Picasso. Wine Spectator has called Keith "a wizard at matching food with interesting wines".
Since passing the Masters Exam Keith has been involved in a variety of projects, many of them with star Chef Charlie Palmer. Keith has worked at Charlie's Las Vegas restaurants; Charlie Palmer Steak and Aureole with its "wine tower" and digital wine list featuring over 4000 different wines. Keith was also hired to open Charlie Palmer Steak Washington D.C. For Charlie Palmer Steak DC, Keith created the "all-American wine list"; offering over 800 wines all exclusively produced in the U.S.A. Keith and Charlie also teamed up to produce a series of private-label wines, where Keith was able to craft the blends with top winemakers in Sonoma. Keith loves to educate and lecture and has had the privilege to teach over 1500 students.
Keith has taught classes at COPIA & the Culinary Institute of America plus travels to exotic locations such as Seoul where he lectured at the Korean Wine Academy and represented the U.S.A. as a wine judge in Korea's first international wine competition. Keith has traveled to India to help with the opening of India's first wine bar, "The Tasting Room" in Mumbai as well as providing extensive staff training for India's top two hotel groups, the Taj and Oberoi. Keith is a regular fixture at the Court of Master Sommeliers Courses, teaching and testing aspiring sommeliers in the ways and standards of the Court.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Louis has sold wine grapes to many wineries over the years including: Sebastiani, Korbel, Chateau Montelena, ZD, Wente Brothers, Ridge, Callaway, Bargetto, Kendall-Jackson, Robert Mondavi, Steele, Rusack, Fess Parker, Sunstone, Dan Gehrs, Austin Cellars, Foxen, Sanford, Viansa, Fiddlehead, McKeon-Phillips, Rideau and Bonny Doon.
In 1963, Louis graduated from Notre Dame University with a degree in Finance & Business Economics. Aside from his studies, Louis excelled in track and made his best attempt at Irish football. After four cold Indiana winters, Louis headed back to California to join the family's table grape, wine grape, and almond business. Several years later, he embarked on a new venture, one that would mark him as a pioneer in the California Central Coast's wine industry. In 1970, he formed Tepusquet Vineyards with his brother George and partner Alfred Gagnon to become one of the first commercial wine grape growers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
In the early 1970’s, he worked with Jack Niven to form Edna Valley Vineyards and expanded Tepusquet to the Shandon region of Paso Robles. It was during these years where Louis tested all of the growing theories of the past and created some of his own. He spent several summers touring the finest wine regions of France, Italy, Spain and Germany studying their methods and systems. His conclusion was simple, as he states, " The best decision I ever made in the early 70’s was going against conventional wisdom by planting more vines per acre, adapting trellis systems to fit specific varieties, and instituting suckering, hedging, thinning and leaf removal programs. I had learned this from growing table grapes with my Father, and my travels in Europe confirmed these techniques were essential to growing quality wine grapes."
As the 1980's approached, a shift began to take place in the wine industry as a whole. Johannisburg Riesling had been the primary white, but Chardonnay was well on it's was to replacing it. Louis adjusted to this shift and converted most of his vineyards from Cabernet, Merlot, and Gamay Beaujolais to Chardonnay (only keeping the Pinot Noir). He also planted another vineyard in the Los Alamos Valley of Santa Barbara County. There he instituted the 'Geneva Double Curtain' trellis system for his Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. “This system [Geneva Double Curtain] produces a stronger more massive vine, elevating it off the ground with a large open canopy promoting greater production, quality, and health of the vine in general."
Louis’ current venture, Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards (L&L), has once again placed him at the top of his class. In 1996, he joined forces with retired Judge Royce Lewellen, with two of his existing vineyards, and together, they acquired several premium wine producing properties. These vineyards are located in the three principal wine grape growing regions of Santa Barbara County: the Santa Maria Valley, the Los Alamos Valley, and the Santa Ynez Valley, allowing them to utilize the 3 different climate zones that are unique to Santa Barbara's County's coastal climate. L&L vineyards experience warm days and cool nights with long, gentle growing seasons for their over 400 acres and 24 varieties of grapes. L&L is now in the process of planning a winery and tasting room facility in the Los Alamos Valley. In Louis’s own words: "Growing great wine grapes requires a great deal of work. It is a true labor of caring to find a balance between the soil, the vine and the climate. All of these things must occur at the right time and are critical for vine maturity, resulting in real quality yields."
Never too far away from his vines, Louis, his wife Jill and their two daughters live in Solvang, California overlooking one of their beautiful vineyards.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In Santa Barbara County, the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world class wines. The 50 miles stretch from Point Conception to Rincon constitutes the longest east-west traverse of shoreline from Alaska to Cape Horn. Here, the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains form a unique coastal range - the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes make the region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California. This means that the fruit has an unusually long "hang time" on the vine, allowing it to fully develop the acids, flavors and tannins needed to produce wines of distinctive character. Within Santa Barbara County there are several distinct winegrowing areas; there are four official appellations: Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. There are also several regions within the county that produce distinctive wines - these include the Los Alamos Valley region, between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley appellations, Ballard Canyon, the Los Olivos District and the Santa Maria Bench. Slightly less than half of the grapes grown in Santa Barbara County are used by local vintners, with the balance are exported to wineries outside the area.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Terry Culton - Winemaker - Adelaida Cellars