Monday, September 26, 2011

9/26-Mike Horn visits with Gary Pisoni & Randy Ullom

Gary Pisoni - Pisoni Vineyards

Winemaker Gary Pisoni is not normally a reserved man; ask anyone in the wine business and they will tell you that he's a larger than life character, with his cascading ringlets of hair and his booming voice.
Gary Pisoni comes from a long time California farming family; his parents started farming vegetables in the Salinas Valley, near Gonzales, back in 1946. With profits from a bumper celery crop in 1979, they made a down payment on a property high in the Santa Lucia HIghlands that would eventually become Pisoni Vineyards. Gary Pisoni started planting the vineyard in 1982 and, after a couple years, was selling grapes to other wineries. In 1998, he began producing and bottling wines under his own Pisoni label.

Randy Ullom - Winemaster Kendall Jackson

Personal Philosophy on Winemaking: Make wine that can be enjoyed by all, enjoyed without a PhD, wines that have a lot of forward fruit, are easy and enjoyable to drink, with long enticing finishes...that linger, beckon and entice for another sip.
Favorite Part of the Process: Walking the vineyards, tasting the grapes, then the excitement, anticipation and chaotic rush of the harvest! I love the family feeling and team effort of our winemaking group. And finally, watching a smile appear on someone's face as they sample and enjoy the wines we have made.
If you were snowed in on a mountain-top villa...what two wines would you want?
I'd have to go with our Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay and Stature.
Favorite wine descriptor? "Lush." "Rich" and "Velvet" are close seconds.

Randy's Creative Path: A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Randy became interested in wine during a three-year stay in Chile, while on sabbatical from college in the early 1970s. His stay inspired a cross-country trek through Chile's vast wine-growing regions. On his return to the United States, he entered Ohio State University to study crop production with a specialty in Viticulture and Enology and received his degree in 1975.

After six years as a vineyard manager and Winemaker in Ohio and upstate New York, Randy moved to California to become associate Winemaker at De Loach Vineyards in Sonoma County. He was promoted to Winemaker and Vice President in 1991. The wines produced during his tenure were consistent gold medal winners at wine competitions.

Hired by Jess Jackson in 1993 as Winemaker for some of our smaller and international vineyards, Randy was handed his most prestigious assignment in 1997 - Winemaster for Kendall-Jackson Winery.

"I look at all of the vineyards we own, and all of the individual lots of wines that we make, and the thousands of barrels we have sitting in our cellar and sometimes I think, you gotta be kidding me! After I've sufficiently recovered from my daily panic attack, I take off my coat, dig in my heels and take it one barrel at a time. It's a rewarding job that I love."




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