Monday, March 26, 2012

3/26-Michael Horn visits with Barrie Lynn & Linda Schwartz

When former advertising executive turned cheese educator Barrie Lynn Krich says that she's passionate about artisanal cheese, it's not just an offhanded comment. Barrie Lynn, aka The Cheese Impresario, did something that many of us dream of - she made a life-changing career move to pursue her passion.
Just a few years ago, Barrie Lynn was enjoying a successful career as a product launch specialist in the advertising business and like most executives, she entertained clients frequently. Being a food and wine lover by nature and an ardent member of the slow food movement, she thought it might be nice to treat a client to an artisanal cheese tasting one evening instead of the conventional dinner meeting. That evening was a turning point for Barrie Lynn. She was so taken by the flavors of cheese, the craftsmanship involved in the production process and the dedication and passion of the cheese makers that she became obsessed with learning everything she could about artisanal cheeses.

Fort Ross Vineyard is a necklace of 28 small mountain vineyard blocks that cling to a sunny coastal mountain ridge overlooking the ocean. Less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean, Fort Ross Vineyard is one of the closest, if not the closest vineyard to the ocean in all of California. The vineyard rises in elevation from 1200 to 1700 feet above sea level. Ranging in size from one-half to two acres, each small vineyard block has its own particular terroir and is planted with rootstocks, varietals, and clones or field selections best suited to reveal the terroir, varietal typicity and clonal attributes. 
During the growing season the vineyard is almost always in bright sunshine during the day, yet subject to the tempering influence of the fog that often hugs the coastline far below. Temperatures rarely drop below 55 °F or rise above 85 °F, the range in which grape vines are physiologically active.
At night the ocean fog sometimes rolls up and over the vineyard only to recede back down to the ocean again with the morning sunrise, leaving the vines to do their best work in the long bright sunny days.
The yields are kept low. While most of the vineyard naturally produces less than one to three tons of fruit per acre, on the rare occasions where weather conditions and berry set encourage higher yields, fruit is dropped to ensure concentration and typicity.
Consequently, the vines have a yield and growing pattern that allows the berries to slowly and evenly ripen to complete physiological ripeness with increased varietal distinctiveness and a desirable acid balance.

Monday, March 19, 2012

3/19-Michael Horn visits with Tobin James

Tobin James - Tobin James Cellars

Tobin (Toby) James grew up on a vineyard in Indiana, worked in a wine shop in Cincinnati and knew at the age of 18 that he would own a winery. He apprenticed at the Estrella River Winery, eventually being hired on full time and becoming their cellar master. From there, he headed to Eberle Winery to eventually make their wines with Gary Eberle.
When Peachy Canyon started, the owner needed a winemaker. A deal was struck so that Toby would become the founding winemaker and also have the opportunity to continue making Tobin James Cellars' wine at the same facility. The very first wine Toby made won a spot on the coveted "top 100" wines of the year with the Wine Spectator. Toby's reputation continued to grow, and in 1993 decided to build his own winery on highway 46 east of Paso Robles.
Lance Silver met Tobin James in 1996 on a quest to either buy an existing winery or start a new one. The two quickly clicked, and knew that a partnership would answer both their dreams. The two make a perfect match between winemaking and business expertise.
Lance, a self confessed "certified wine snob", brought his own touch to the Tobin James Cellars' winemaking style, adding even more intensity and depth to the incredible lineup of wines. Awards and 90+ scores have been rolling in, and with Lance and Toby's commitment to excellence, there is no end in sight!
Claire Silver, Lance's wife and Toby's "prettier" business partner, handles many of the business operations of the winery. She really enjoys connecting with tasting room guests, offering them true Paso Robles hospitality while they experience and savor Tobin James' incredible line-up of wines.
Claire grew up in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She and Lance met while they were attending UNLV and married shortly before graduation. They moved to Whittier shortly after the birth of their twin daughters. In 1997, the Silvers moved to Paso Robles to pursue the winery business.
Monica Martin, Manager- A native Paso Roblan, Monica started with Toby when the current facility opened in 1993, and has become the heart and soul of Tobin James Cellars. Handling everything from accounts payable to Zinfandel, Monica is indispensable to the day to day management of the winery.

Monday, March 12, 2012

3/12-Michael Horn talks to Wes Hagen & Jeff Faber

Wes Hagen  -  Winemaker, Clos Pepe Vineyards
Wes Hagen: Vineyard Manager, Winemaker.  Wes has run the show here at Clos Pepe since 1998.  He manages the vineyard and the crew, communicates with our producers and fine-tunes viticulture to suit the stylistic needs of their winemaking.  Involving himself in every aspect of the planting, growing, harvest, crush, fermentation, aging, bottling, shipping and marketing (jncluding the photography and text in the website), Wes is passionate about his life's goal -- producing and celebrating world-class Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  From 1997-98, Wes researched and wrote the petition that established the Santa Rita Hills American Viticultural Area with help from Bryan Babcock, Richard Sanford and other local wine personalities.  The 'Santa Rita Hills AVA' was approved in 2001, and the name was changed a few years later to 'Sta Rita Hills AVA'.  In his quest to promote the wines of Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Rita Hills in particular, Wes created and served as Director of the Santa Barbara County Fair Wine Competition from 2002 until 2004.  As a result of his hard work promoting the region and penning the AVA Petition, Wes was awarded the Central Coast Winegrower's Association 'Grower of the Year Award' for the 2001-2002 growing seasons.  Wes writes a bi-monthly column for WineMaker Magazine called 'Backyard Vines', and has written content for the L.A. Times Magazine, guest blogged for the Wine Spectator and, articles for the Sommelier Journal,'Burgundy-Report', WestCoastWine.Net, and other small publications.  In his free time Wes consults on establihsing small vineyards (hillside Pinot Noir only), and has judged the L.A County Fair Wine Competition for eleven years, Riverside International for twelve, and the Long Beach Grand Cru for thirteen years. Wes also lectures on subjects such as the history of wine, backyard winegrowing, and general topics of viticulture and wine education.

Jeff Faber - Sales Manager Opolo Vineyards

Driving through the impressive entry gates off Vineyard Drive, you follow a long driveway with neat rows of Zinfandel vines on your left. Opolo make lots of Rhone, Bordeaux, Burgundy and California varietals-- and they have a lot of fun while they do it.
The name Opolo comes from a light Rose style of wine from the Dalmatian Coast where the family who owns the winery originated from. Tucked back out of sight from the main road, the winery operation sits amidst their west-side vineyard growing Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay.
The climate here is influenced by maritime air from the coast and is particularly well suited to the varietals grown. Another estate vineyard is on the warmer east-side of Paso Robles and grows Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat Canelli. Some of their Rhone grapes are sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara Country. All the wine is made on the premises and the style of winemaking is fruit forward and flavorful. The winemaker uses French and American Oak for aging and for subtle bouquet.
The tasting room has a real "winery" feel, as it is located in the "cellar", and is well positioned to provide barrel samples of your favorite varietals. Informal tours are available so just ask. The simple tasting counters are made from wood planks over wine barrels. There is logo clothing, wine decanters, and picnic baskets for sale. In addition to wine stacked along the walls there are large format photographs of the annual “Grape Stomp” parties, which frequently include ethnic folk dancing and gypsy serenades.
On most weekends there is a BBQ lunch ($10). The mood here is fun and the clientele frequently lively. A winery expansion is in the works to include a larger winery and tasting room facilities plus a bed & breakfast.

Monday, March 5, 2012

3/05-Michael Horn talks with Stepan Baghdassarian & Peter Cargasacchi

Stepan Baghdassarian - Pres & CEO Rio Joe's Brands Inc.

Rio Joe’s Brands, Inc., established in 2005, is an importer and distributor of fine wines.
Based in Valley Village, CA, with distribution centers in North Hollywood, CA and Napa, CA, we distribute
our wines to fine wine retailers and restaurants throughout California.
We are always looking to talk with reputable distributors throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Our portfolio of wines includes the following:
  • Cas’Almare™ - is our global brand of wines from South America and Europe. Cas’Almare wines are
    made from the finest winemaking appellations in the world. Cas’Almare brings together luxurious and affordable wines under one brand that people will recognize and enjoy. Whether it is a Malbec from Argentina, a Carmen√®re from Chile, a Grenache from Spain, or for that matter, a Pinot Grigio from Italy; these are all wines of impeccable pedigree that people enjoy every day and on special occasions. Each of our hand crafted wines are true expressions of their appellations and meet the standards of the increasingly discriminating public who are demanding wines that are not only easily drinkable but also make great accompaniments to food around the table with family and friends.

    Peter Cargasacchi  -  Cargasacchi Wines

    Peter Angelo Cargasacchi is the fifth generation of his family in California, but the first born in California. His great, great grandfather came from Italy to California, but then disappeared. His Great Grandfather founded a restaurant and hotel in San Francisco the Saint Gotthard, which was destroyed in the fire and earthquake of 1906. Subsequent generations, though born in Italy, lived and farmed in the California Central Coast since the early 1900’s.
    Peter planted Cargasacchi vineyard in 1998 in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, and began planting the subsequent Jalama vineyard in 1999.
    Julia Manuela Cargasacchi is also the first generation of her mother’s family to be born in California. She has fond memories of helping her grandmother with the vendemmia (grape harvest) in Italy, where she spent many summers. It was from her grandmother that she developed an interest in cooking, wine and a love for Italy.
    The roots of the Cargasacchi winemaking philosophy are found in the Italian traditional pairing of food and wine at mealtime. Both Peter’s and Julia’s families have been making wine for consumption with food for many generations. This tradition continues in California.
    Using estate fruit, Peter and Julia produce two Pinot Noirs under the Cargasacchi label and one late harvest Pinot Grigio. They also produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Syrah under the Point Concepción label from estate and purchased fruit.