Monday, March 25, 2013

3/25-Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen visit with Jeff Pisoni and David Fleming

Jeff Pisoni - Winemaker, Pisoni Vineyards
Jeff Pisoni is the winemaker. He earned a B.S. in Enology at California State University, Fresno, and got hands-on experience at premium wineries before becoming the Pisoni Estate and Lucia winemaker in 2002.

"The Pisoni Brothers (Mark and Jeff) are turning one of America's great vineyards into one of its great wineries." 
-Richard Nalley, Food & Wine

The Wine

The Pisoni Family produces one wine each year under the label bearing its name: Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir. Although actual quantities vary with fruit yields, typical production is a mere 500 cases annually.

Often noted for their deep color and intensity, wines from Pisoni Vineyards offer complex flavors and layers of undulating texture. The rocky mountain soil and the long, cool growing season provide the fundamental character of the wine, and the tannin and acid structure contribute to the age-worthiness.

The Philosophy

As Émile Peynaud once said, "Wine is both a reflection of the people who make it and the region that produces it …" In accordance with the legendary French winemaker, the Pisoni Family's ultimate goal is to create a great wine that represents this vineyard site and the passion of the family.

The Craft

Wines are made from several different blocks, harvested on different dates. Winemaker Jeff Pisoni vinifies small lots with a focus on artisanal methods and a non-interventionist style of winemaking: hand sorting, native yeast fermentation, hand punch-downs, no fining, no filtration. This philosophy retains the character of the wine and the vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands.


The Site

A special place, Pisoni Vineyards expresses the land and climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands and the spirit of the Pisoni Family. The site is a source of exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

First planted by Gary Pisoni in 1982, Pisoni Vineyards consists of small vineyard blocks arranged on and around the ridges of the mountainous landscape. Ranging in size from one-half to seventeen acres, the vineyard blocks perch at an altitude of 1,300 feet in the granite-laced mountains of the coastal Santa Lucia Range.

The Philosophy

Inspired by the Burgundy tradition of having several wineries source fruit from the same vineyard, Gary Pisoni has formed relationships with some of the most prestigious Pinot Noir producers in California. With agreements based on handshake alone, these wineries are guaranteed specific rows and blocks each year. They purchase grapes at a per-acre price rather than a per-ton price, which maintains the focus on quality and not yields.

In addition to supplying fruit to artisan producers of vineyard-designated wines, the Pisoni Family retains a portion of the vineyard for the production of Pisoni Estate wine.

The Practice

Vineyard management is meticulous. Under Mark Pisoni's leadership, a long-time permanent crew of 18 skilled individuals perform all the work by hand. Every decision implements sustainable farming practices and long-term considerations.

This commitment, combined with the rocky soils and cold Monterey Bay weather, produce serious and compelling wines.

Bibliana González Rave - Rave Vines & Wines
As a 14-year-old girl growing up in Colombia, the thought of making wine seemed to be an impossible dream. At age 16, I was determined to prove otherwise. 
I attempted to make my first wine, in a 5-gallon glass jar, in my bedroom closet without so much success. Nevertheless, the experiment marked the beginning of my career as a winemaker. 
With literally no more than a backpack and lots of expectations, I went to France to learn about wine. After five years of total immersion in all things French, I obtained a degree in Viticulture, a DNO of Enology (Diplôme National d'Œnologue) from Bordeaux and the experience of five harvests.

David Fleming - Winemaker, Paraiso Vineyards 
As the Paraiso Vineyards winemaker for more than a decade, Dave manages all aspects of winemaking and production. He is crazy-passionate about vineyard expression in his wines, and is very careful not to “over-make” them. Never satisfied with his extensive winemaking knowledge, he is an eternal student always looking to learn more. Married to Rich and Claudia’s daughter Kacy, Dave is a part of the Smith family. He spends his off-time with their three kids at various sporting events and volunteering in the local Monterey County community. Unless the Redskins are playing…then he’s in front of the television with a glass of Paraiso.

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