Monday, October 31, 2011

10/31-Michael Horn talks with Jean-Pierre Wolff & Matt Young

Jean-Pierre Wolff Ph. D. - Owner and Vintner Wolff Vineyards
Wolff Vineyards Winery is located on 125 acres of ecologically friendly property just minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo, scenic beaches and major tourist attractions.

The vineyard was planted 30 years ago by one of the Edna Valley's winegrowing pioneers, Andy MacGregor. World-class awards were earned by wineries that used MacGregor Vineyard Chardonnay grapes (such as Mount Eden). The new owners, Jean-Pierre and Elke Wolff, renamed the vineyard in 1999 when they expanded the vineyard and added their artisan winery.

The vineyard includes 55 acres of Chardonnay and 37 acres of Pinot Noir grapes. Twelve additional acres are planted in Teroldego, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Riesling. The 30 years old Chardonnay blocks are dry farmed, giving the wine a site-specific "terroir" characteristic.

The Pinot Noir blocks are planted on four Dijon clones. The vines are situated on steep slopes with maximum southern exposure. They are grafted on two different root stocks best suited to our specific soil conditions, sun and wind exposure. These clones are sometimes referred to as the new "sexy" clones, which have produced some outstanding Pinot Noir wines in California and Oregon.

The Syrah blocks are planted on steep slopes with an ocean breeze cooling influence. the two Northern Rhone clones benefit from this cool climat by developing a thicker berry skin with good color, soft tannin and pepper notes extract.

Our Petite Sirah is the first planted in the Edna Valley. This unusual cool climat Petite Sirah has quickly gained national review and recognition, as well as popularity with our customers.

Our grapes are sold to Ultra-Premium wineries who enjoy wide acclaim for their wines. "Our own very-limited production is hand-crafted using traditional Burgundian wine-making methods. French new oak, barrel fermentation, sur lie and batonnage are a few of the techniques applied to our wines," according to Jean-Pierre Wolff, winemaker.

Matthew Richard Young (born August 9, 1958) is a former American Major League baseball player. Young played for a variety of teams over his career, and is best known for his unofficial no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians while a member of the Boston Red Sox. Young would pitch for the Red Sox for two seasons before being released days before the start of the 1993 season. He became part of baseball history during his tenure with the Red Sox. On April 12, 1992, Young faced the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a doubleheader, allowed two runs on seven walks and an error by shortstop Luis Rivera en route to the fourth no-hitter by a losing pitcher. On that day Roger Clemens pitched a two-hit shutout in the second game of the double header, giving Young and Clemens the Major League Baseball record for the least number of hits (2) allowed in a doubleheader.

Young was born in Pasadena, California in 1958. He attended the University of California Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners, in the second round of the 1980 amateur draft. He would make his major league debut three years later with the Mariners, eventually winning 11 games over 2031/3 innings, with a 3.27 earned run average, good enough to rank in the top ten for ERA that season. He represented the Mariners in the 1983 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, where he pitched a scoreless 8th inning facing Johnny Bench, Darrell Evans and Pedro Guerrero.

Professional career

Young, however, struggled to replicate that success, underwent "Tommy John surgery" and was traded twice, from the Mariners to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then to the Oakland Athletics in a three-team trade with the New York Mets, appearing in a game in relief during the 1989 American League Championship Series. Eventually, Young hit free agency and signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Young would pitch for the Red Sox for two seasons[1] before being released days before the start of the 1993 season. He became part of baseball history during his tenure with the Red Sox. On April 12, 1992, Young faced the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a doubleheader, allowed two runs on seven walks and an error by shortstop Luis Rivera en route to the fourth no-hitter by a losing pitcher (see No-hitter#No-hitters in a losing cause). On that day Roger Clemens pitched a two-hit shutout in the second game of the double header, giving Young and Clemens the Major League Baseball record for the least number of hits allowed in a doubleheader. While Young sent the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, Major League Baseball, in a rule created prior to the season, did not recognize the performance as a true no-hitter, as Young, playing for the losing team on the road, only pitched eight innings in his complete game loss. According to Seymour Siwoff, who was on Baseball's Committee for Statistical Accuracy, the feat could not be listed with the "pure" no-hitters because "Young didn't get the chance to go out and pitch the ninth...who knows what would have happened if he did." Had the no-hitter been officially recognized, it would have been the first no-hitter by a Boston pitcher since Dave Morehead did so in 1965, also against the Indians, and was the fifteenth time, at that point, that a Red Sox pitcher had completed a game without allowing a hit.

Young would be released by the Red Sox in 1993, appeared in 22 games for the Indians in 1993, spent a month on the Toronto Blue Jays roster before being released a final time in September 1993.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10/24-Michael Horn talks with Becky Gray & Claiborne (Clay) Thompson

Becky Gray - Executive Director, SLO Vintners Association

South San Luis Obispo County, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has earned worldwide recognition and respect for the exceptional quality of wine grapes produced in this ideal viticultural area. The area includes the Ed
na Valley, the Arroyo Grande Valley, each a designated American Viticultural Area, the Avila Valley and Nipomo.
Wine growing in San Luis Obispo County stretches back to the missionary days of California viticulture, when the first grapevines were planted by the Franciscan padres who settled California in the 1880s. Today, because of this region’s ideal world-class microc
limate and soils, wine grapes are the leading crop in San Luis Obispo County.
There are over 3000 acres of vines in South San Luis Obispo County, and more vineyards are being planted. The climate and soils have been proven to provide the perfect environment for growing and producing ultra premium quality wines.
Due to the unique geography of the South Central Coast, the valleys have east-west orientations and are distinguished by the extensive
maritime influence on the climate and soil. The soils are dominated by marine deposits left millions of years ago when the valleys were under water. Loam and clay topsoil overlay calcareous marine deposits promoting complex flavors.
The climate is tempered by marine air flowing directly into the valley from the Pacific Ocea
n. This cooling influence creates an unusually long growing season resulting in greatly intensified varietal flavors. All of these elements produce wine grapes and wines of complex flavors and intensity found only in the world’s greatest wine regions.

Claiborne (Clay) Thompson - Co-Owner Claiborne & Churchill Winery

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family-owned winery founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill. Former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the couple left the "Groves of Academe" for the vineyards of California in 1981 in order to start a new life in the wine industry. Clay began as a "cellar rat" in a local winery, learning the business from the ground up (actually underground), and soon the two were encouraged to start their own wine production in that host facility. With its first crush in 1983 Claiborne & Churchill announced its special focus, producing 565 cases of Dry Gewürztraminer and Dry Riesling, modeled on the fruity but dry dinner wines of the French province of Alsace. Claiborne & Churchill now produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year, purchasing grapes from vineyards in the cool maritime valleys of California's Central Coast. About two-thirds of these wines remain our signature wines, the Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer, which are sold all over the country (and abroad) by a network of brokers and distributors. A variety of other wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other wines in the Alsatian style (Pinot Gris, Dry Muscat, and an Edelzwicker), are produced in small lots and can be ordered directly from the winery. In 1995 Clay and Fredericka completed construction on their new and permanent winery building. This structure, a noteworthy example of environmental architecture, is a "straw bale building," the first of its kind in California. With sixteen-inch thick walls made of bales of rice straw, the winery is so well insulated that it maintains a constant cellar temperature, without the need for mechanical cooling or heating. At Claiborne & Churchill traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation and barrel-aging (even with Riesling and Gewürztraminer), minimal manipulation of juice and wine, "natural" or spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeast, and limited use of SO2, all in the belief that the winemaker's task is to bring out the flavor and character that is latent in the grape. Our aim is to create pleasurable dinner wines in which there is a harmonious balance of fruit and oak, structure and texture.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/17-Michael Horn talks with Michael Young & Randy Ullom

Michael Young - Sales & Marketing Director Stephan Vineyards/L'Aventure

Stephan Asseo, owner and winemaker at L'Aventure Winery, began making wine in 1982, following his education at L'Ecole Oenologique de Macon, Burgundy, France. In that same year, Stephan established Domaine Courteillac in Bordeaux. He and his family later purchased Chateau Fleur Cardinal, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, and Chateau Robin, in the Cotes de Castillion, Bordeaux. Over the next 15 years, Stephan developed into an artisan winemaker of fastidious craftsmanship, and gained a reputation as a maverick vigneron. However, his true desire was to be more innovative than AOC law would allow. In 1996, this led him on a quest for a great terroir, where he could pursue his ideal as a winemaker. After searching for over a year among the world's great wine fields, ranging from South Africa to Lebanon, and Argentina to Napa, Stephan found Paso Robles. Stephan immediately "fell in love" with the unique terrior of west side Paso Robles. The rolling topography of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the deep calcareous soils, and the maritime influence of the renowned Templeton Gap all combine to produce a world class wine country, with the potential to craft some of the world's greatest blends. It is here, in Paso Robles, that Stephan began his adventure, "L'Aventure".
In order to maximize quality in our harsh terrior, Stephan has established a high density plantation scheme of 2,100 vines per acre. A meticulous regimen of leaf pulling, shoot thinning, and cluster dropping result in benchmark yields of two to two and a half tones per acre. This equates to one bottle of wine per vine. In addition, Stephan's drive for fully mature fruit allows our grapes to fully express their character, in the form of intense, concentrated wines. After the painstaking labor in the vineyard, we continue quality selection by hand sorting the grape bunches as they come in. The grapes are then destemmed, and vinified in small lots, to maintain the integrity of each source or parcel. Thermostatic control enables us to manage premaceration and fermentation flawlessly, with silky, rich wines as the result. Furthermore, aging in French oak, and a minimal racking program contribute much to Stephan's artisan, handcrafted style.
The spirit of L'Aventure is most evident in Stephan's "Paso blends", such as Optimus and Estate Cuvée. Both wines are Cabernet Sauvignon /Syrah blends. In these wines, as well as in our Rhône blend Côte à Côte, the blending of premium varietals increases the authenticity, complexity, and balance of the wines. In this adventurous spirit, we find the future of Paso Robles wines…great, balanced red blends.

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."

Monday, October 10, 2011

10/10-Michael Horn talks to Mikhail Gishizky & Craig Haserot

Mikhail Gishizky - Owner / Apprentice Winemaker,

The Spotted Owl Vineyards story began years ago on a warm Napa Valley summer evening. While enjoying dinner in their vineyard high on Mt. Veeder overlooking the Valley floor, Jill and Mikhail were astonished to see a rare spotted owl fluttering in the moonlit sky. As the tiny owl swooped down from the surrounding forest they became mesmerized watching him survey the vineyard then perching himself on a near by vine as though he was a dinner guest joining them with his meal. Overtime the spotted owl became a fixture among the serene vineyard, guarding the vines that have come to be known as Spotted Owl Vineyards. Since becoming a member of the Vineyard Family he is affectionately referred to as "Chuck" the vineyard caretaker.
Jill and Mikhail Gishizky are wine growers who have sold their prized fruit grown in the legendary appellation of Mt. Veeder for many years. In 2004, they decided to create a special wine, "Alexandria's Cuvee", to celebrate the birth of their daughter. This wine was extraordinary, receiving high praise and being called "Sensational" by Wine Spectator. This response confirmed what Jill and Mikhail had thought about the fruit grown on their unique vineyards and convinced them to create an enterprise that would continue their family passion and provide an opportunity for their daughter to experience how nature, science, art, and business come together to make a positive impact in this world.
At Spotted Owl Vineyards we are dedicated to crafting world class wines that respect our environment, support our community and help our patrons enjoy the wonderful gifts that nature has to offer.

Craig Haserot is co-founder and proprietor of Sojourn Cellars. He oversees sales, marketing, and operations, and he also plays important roles in the finance and winemaking functions of the winery. And while he enjoys his work in all of these different facets of the winery, his favorite part of his job is spending time with customers at release parties, wine events, and Tasting Salon gatherings.
During his nearly ten years in the wine business, Craig has immersed himself in all the aspects of the winery business. On the winemaking front, he has served as unofficial assistant winemaker, planted our estate vineyard (Home Ranch Vineyard), and managed grower relationships at a total of 14 vineyards in 2009. Craig’s main responsibility, however, has been to lead Sojourn’s sales and operations, and his success in these areas has enabled Sojourn’s production to grow to 5000 cases.
After growing up in San Marino, California, Craig attended Humboldt State University and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. He began his 16-year sales and sales management career in computer software with Ashton-Tate and left it in 2001 after working at Micromuse. Sojourn produced its first Cabernet Sauvignon in 2001 and Craig planted the Home Ranch Vineyard in 2002.
Craig lives in Sonoma with his wife Ellen and their four-year-old daughter Natalie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

10/3-Michael Horn talks to Jon Phillips & David Vicini

Jon Phillips- Inspiration Winery

Can you believe that we have been actively producing wines since the turn of the century?

Slight exaggeration, but actually true. Although it has only been since 1999 that Barbara and I started producing wine for friends and family, our fascination with wine goes back a long way. In fact, wine is what brought us together. We met while I was working at Mirassou Winery's tasting room in San Jose, California. It may also be possible that my interest in wine is in my blood. My great-grandparents owned vineyards in San Martin, California in the early 1900s (see photo below).

After leaving Mirassou, my knowledge and interest in wine continued to grow. I began independently teaching wine appreciation classes on the San Francisco Peninsula. Subsequently, I took classes through UC Davis Extension in Enology and Viticulture. Then in 1999, Barbara and I produced our first wine, one barrel of Contra Costa Zi
nfandel using grapes purchased from Rosenblum Cellars.

As production expanded and the medals started validating our efforts, we became more and more aware that steps needed to be taken to move our home winery operations into a larger facility that could be bonded and licensed to produce a commercial product. So in 2001 our dreams came true and we bought a beautiful 6 acre property in Sonoma County, complete with 4.5 acres of vineyards.

In 2002, while waiting for our permits, we contracted with another winery facility where we could produce our first commercial wines. In June of 2003, we announced our first release, and by fall our official winery operation began on-site, with the production of approximately 500 cases.

By 2009 our production had grown to approximately 2000 cases and it was time to look for a larger space to produce and sell our wines. In September 2010, we moved our winemaking operations and opened a tasting room in the Pinecreek Business Park where alongside several other well known wineries, we are now open daily for tours and wine tasting.

These are exciting times for our winery! Thank you for visiting us today. Please check back often for new developments and information about our current and future wine releases.

David Vicini - Trecini Winery
David is our all around guy. Pretty much anything we think of or have to do, he does. Good time
s. All in all, he's just happy to be here. From web design, tastings, shows, managing sales, etc.. etc... he is involved with it all. If you see him don't be afraid and say hello, its his job to be nice to everyone and engage in all forms of communication. He may even offer you a glass of one of the award winning wines from Trecini Cellars.