Monday, April 30, 2012

4/30-Michael Horn talks with Mark Carter & Zachary Rasmuson

Mark Carter - Vintner, Carter Cellars

The origins of Carter Cellars began in the mid 1980’s when the historic Carter House Victorian was built.  When this small bed and breakfast became too popular for the crowd from the cities up and down the west coast the Hotel Carter was added and a restaurant (the highly regarded Restaurant 301) was needed for the guests.  For the guests at the restaurant Mark Carter began compiling what has become (since 1998) a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list.  He began sourcing the best wines the world had to offer from first growth Bordeaux to the top Napa Cabernet and even the high quality, little-known gems that helped the wine list stand out.  Because of the great recognition of the restaurant and its wine list Mark was able to host winemaker dinners with the likes of Dan Duckhorn and Nils Venge.
Mark and Nils became fast friends at these dinners while sharing their all encompassing passion for great wines.  Mark wanted to expand his love of wines and start a new age wine label devoid of a brick and mortar facility but sourcing only the best fruit from the most renowned vineyard in Napa.  His goal was to create the best Napa Cabernet that could be made.  Nils Venge, the superstar winemaker responsible for receiving the first “perfect score” on a domestic wine from Robert M. Parker Jr. while at Groth in 1985, seemed like the perfect match on this quest for perfection.
Carter Cellars first vintage was in 1998 sourcing grapes from the steeply terraced Coliseum Block of the Hossfeld Vineyard.  In continuing to source wine from top Napa vineyards Mark and Nils made a svelte Fortuna Block Cabernet from the ancient red volcanic soils of the Fortuna Vineyard in 1999.  In 2000 Carter Cellars began a long and deeply rewarding relationship with the most iconic vineyard in the western hemisphere: the Beckstoffer portion of the original To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville.  Thus began the rise of the famed and highly rated Carter Cellars Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet, a wine that to this day continues to receive top scores from critics worldwide. 
In 2001 Carter Cellars deviated from solely making large and powerful Cabernet when they acquired Merlot fruit from the Truchard Vineyard in Carneros.  This vineyard has varied soils and a marine-influenced climate which makes the ripe and rounded fruit which goes into our lush and ultra-premium Merlot.  In 2004 Carter Cellars expanded again when they began sourcing Cabernet fruit from the Revilo Vineyard in St Helena right next door to some of the highest rated Napa Cabernet and farmed by Reg Oliver of El Molino.  The Revilo Vineyard fruit makes for large and austere Cabernet with incredibly smooth tannins which benefit from some bottle age and will greatly reward those with the patience for fine wines. 
Mark and Nils began looking for a permanent home for Carter Cellars and for a small Napa Winery at which they could produce wines from estate grown fruit.  In 2006 they founded Envy Winery on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga.  This 17 acre property would specialize in Estate grown Merlot, Cabernet and Petite Sirah and would become the new home of Carter Cellars. 
In 2006 Carter Cellars expanded again.  Still with an extremely small case production they made the Hossfeld Red Blend also from the Hossfeld Vineyard in Soda Canyon.  This Predominately Merlot blend contains Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot and is modeled on one of Mark’s Favorites: Chateau Petrus with a uniquely Californian side.
As Carter Cellars continues to create amazing wines from some of the best vineyard sites in Napa and Envy begins to receive recognition for its high quality hand crafted wines Mark finds his time increasingly split between his Hotel/Restaurant, the inspiration for his love of wine and pursuit of perfection and the Vineyard and Winery which requires much attention.  At this point Mark has one of the longest commutes around, generally making the drive from Napa to Eureka every other week.  He does this happily knowing that it is this kind of dedication and constant attention to detail that brings satisfaction to those who drink his wine and enjoy his hospitality.

In the story of great winegrowing appellations, there are always a few individuals who help to raise the bar and chart the course for a region. As the winemaker for Goldeneye since 2003, Zach Rasmuson has spent a decade helping theAnderson Valley achieve its full promise. While doing so, he has contributed to the valley's reputation as one of the world's preeminent locations for growing cool-climate Pinot Noir and established Goldeneye as one of North America's great Pinot Noir wineries.
In many ways, the path that led Zach to make Pinot Noir in the Anderson Valley paralleled the evolution of Goldeneye. Just as Dan and Margaret Duckhorn sought out the Anderson Valley in their search to make a Pinot Noir of equal stature to their Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlots, Zach also came to Mendocino County searching for Pinot greatness. After beginning his career at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Zach found himself fascinated by the challenge of producing Pinot Noir. During a trip the Anderson Valley in the late 1990s, Zach tasted through many of the area's Pinot Noirs. While he found the execution of the wines to be hit or miss, he was deeply impressed by their phenomenal potential. He also fell in the love with the valley.
Though he knew he was taking a big career risk leaving the center of California's winemaking universe for the then little-known Anderson Valley, he moved his family to Mendocino and became the winemaker for Husch Vineyards in 2000. There, he further refined his Pinot Noir philosophy before joining Goldeneye three years later. At Goldeneye, he dedicated himself to creating what has become the valley's most diverse and expansive estate Pinot Noir program which today includes over 200 vine acres and more than 20 distinctive clones. This estate program also helped to establish new standards of excellence in the appellation through the introduction of cutting-edge viticultural practices. Zach also began a thoughtful evolution of the Goldeneye style, moving away from the big, ripe wines that marked the winery's early offerings to a more terroir-inspired expression of Pinot Noir that balances depth and power with Pinot's natural elegance.
"I wanted the essential Anderson Valley-ness of our wines to shine through," says Zach. "I didn't want it lost behind too much oak and ripeness. So we started picking at lower Brix and dialing back the amount of new wood." This measured fine-tuning took place over a decadeĆ¢€”a decade in which Zach earned a reputation as a master Pinot Noir winemaker. He also established himself as a respected member of the Anderson Valley community and an advocate for ethical and sustainable practices. Under his stewardship, Goldeneye was one of the first wineries to earn the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing distinction from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. Zach also spearheaded the building of Goldeneye's state-of-the-art Pinot Noir winemaking facility, which was only the second winery in California to achieve LEED Gold certification. Beyond Goldeneye, Zach has played a key role in developing a pioneering program to build farm worker housing on winery land, and he is the vice president of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.

Monday, April 23, 2012

4/23-Michael Horn talks to Larry Schaffer

Larry Schaffer - Tercero Wines

The idea for tercero wines surfaced a number of years back. Larry Schaffer had been in the educational and trade publishing industry for a number of years and had achieved all he had set out to do. It was time for a change . . . . but to what? Christie MacDonald, Larry’s wife, suggested wine . . . but not wine sales. She suggested that if one is to make a change, go big and all the way . . . She ‘gave her blessings’ to Larry to go back to school and achieve a second degree, this one in Viticulture and Enology. Now one must understand that there are only a few schools offering a degree like this, and none of them were within driving distance of where they currently lived . . . and top that off with the fact that they had two young children at the time (and a third coming along in the not so distant future)! Christie continued to suggest this concept, knowing that it would make for a challenging couple of years, but hopeful that the end would justify the mean . . .
Fast forward four years . . . and Larry begins his new career in earnest as the Enologist for Fess Parker Winery, a well-respected winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. Why here? The winemaking community is willing and wanting to help each other, but more importantly, it is simply an incredible place to raise children!
Fast forward another year, and Larry and Christie are ready to ‘take the plunge’ and start buying grapes to make their own wines! It’s scary and challenging at the same time – no matter how much you read about it or do it for others, it’s quite different when it’s ‘your own baby’ . . . But it’s also a way for Larry to ‘marry’ his past with his present – to use his sales/marketing skills along with his technical winemaking skills to see what he and Christie can produce . . .

Monday, April 16, 2012

4/16-Michael Horn talks with Jim Fiolek & Alessia Botturi

Jim Fiolek - Executive Director Santa Barbara County Vintners Association 

Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival Weekend - April 20, 21, 22, 23. The annual Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival Weekend attracts wine lovers from near and far for an opportunity to meet member vintners, taste their wines, and enjoy great food and music over a long spring weekend. The highlight of the weekend is the Festival itself, where every one of our 110+ member wineries gather to present their wines, often poured by the winemakers themselves. The Festival also presents some of the best local food from restaurants, catering companies and gourmet food creators. The Festival takes place on Saturday, April 21st, from 1 to 4pm at The Carranza, just outside Los Olivos. This weekend, wineries also present their own events, ranging from Winemaker's Dinners through library tastings and sales to new wine releases and barrel tastings. Check back here to see a full listing of events as they are finalized. A favorite feature of the weekend is the Vintners' Visa - your passport to twelve winery tasting rooms - use the Vintners' Visa to explore new wineries - or revisit old friends.

Alessia Botturi - Italian Wine Sommelier

Alessia Botturi is a professionally qualified sommelier of the Italian Sommelier Association, with an additional master in professional wine tasting techniques.
She was born and raised in Italy, where she started her career, working for various years in event planning, cooperating with restaurants, hotels and catering companies.
She speaks several languages, including English, Italian, German and French and has traveled in four continents, always researching and learning from the different traditions and cultures. 
In 2006 she relocated to Los Angeles where she co-translated the book Food&Wine into English for the Italian Sommelier Association: the book is used worldwide by the association for courses and seminars.
She is the Southern California Sales Manager for a boutique wine importer, also featuring her own Italian wine selection called "Alessia Botturi Selections".
She teaches Italian wine seminars in Los Angeles, collaborating with the Wine House, the Italian Chamber of Commerce West and Disney.
In addition, she is the President of the newly founded North American Sommelier Association, that provides iinternationally recognized & awarded education, consulting, services and professional qualification as well as reselling a wide array of products and literature in the American territory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

4/9-Michael Horn talks to Lorenzo Mottola & Tony Glorioso

Lorenzo Mottola - Montcalm Wines
As an importer, we bring to the United States the wines of Le Tenute di Genagricola as well as other independent wineries. These wines, from all regions of Italy, have been chosen based on their high level of quality. We believe there is an important story to be told behind every wine. Our company roots are deeply planted in the business and appreciation of wine, and our many experiences have made us expert storytellers. So take a seat at the table as we share these stories with you and invite you to enjoy all the wonderful wines we have to offer.

Tony Glorioso - National Sales & Marketing Director, Spring Mountain Vineyard
Spring Mountain Vineyard is an 845 acre, privately owned wine estate situated on the steep slopes of Napa Valley’s SpringMountain. Its 225 acres of vineyard are planted primarily to Bordeaux grape varieties, and farmed organically using a variety of innovative methods. The vineyards, which were first established in the 19th century under the names Miravalle, Chevalier, La Perla and Alba, are now one vineyard producing exclusively estate wines. SpringMountain Vineyard is known for distinctive, long-lived red wines - its signature Bordeaux-style blend, Elivette, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Limited production Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are also produced.

Monday, April 2, 2012

4/2-Michael Horn talks to Dana Merrill

Dana Merrill-Owner Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery                                                        
Dana Merrill’s family dates back 7 generations on California’s Central Coast to the Spanish rancho days. After growing up and farming in the Santa Ynez Valley, he obtained a degree in Ag Business Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He later entered the vineyard management business,  starting Mesa Vineyard Management, Inc. in 1989. The firm provides management services to growers and wineries.

In 2008,  Dana and wife Marsha, son Matthew and wife Nicole created the Pomar Junction brand featuring estate wines from their 120 acre Templeton vineyard and other vineyards they manage. A tasting room was opened as well in November of 2008. The brand is managed by  Matthew and Nicole oversees the  wine club. Son Keith handles the website and label design. The brand features the SIP Sustainable Certification commencing with some of its 2008 wines.

Dana has been active in industry groups including serving as  Chairman of the California Assn. of Winegrape Growers , as a charter member of  the Central Coast Vineyard Team and as a board member of  the  Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.  He was voted San Luis Obispo’s Agriculturist of the Year and Grape Grower of the Year in 2005 and his firm was awarded the IPM Innovator of the Year award by the California Dept of Pesticide Regulation in 2002 for its efforts to promote sustainable farming systems at Pomar Junction and elsewhere. 

Andrew Apodaca-Pyrennes Winery
Apodaca family’s commitment to the superb quality of their wines is evident in its excellent quality and distinction. Pyrenees Vineyard and Winery pulls many of its influences from the Basque country of northern Spain where the Apodaca’s Heritage was originated. Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars brings to you their many varietals of wines from the finest Oregon grapes influenced by the textures of the rich soil, the abundant vegetation and mild climate of the Umpqua Valley.

Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars sets along the South Umpqua River surrounded by 30 acres of lush grapes and rolling hillside.  You will find sitting out on the vineyard’s deck overlooking the river extraordinary, while you take pleasure in one of our indescribable wines. Come walk through our long rows of beautifully intertwined grape vines and smell the aromas in the earth and wind that you find as welcoming on your palate as you take each sip of our Vino.
At Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars we have a wonderful group of people who will welcome you as old friends and take you through our majestic wine selection. A place where relationships are created that last life times and memories will be made that last through-out countless generations!