Monday, April 1, 2013

4/1-Michael Horn and Nicole Nielsen talk with Dan Morgan Lee & Steve Peck

Dan Morgan Lee - Winegrower - Morgan Winery

With more than thirty years’ experience, Dan Lee and the Morgan label have been synonymous with artisan, vineyard-centric wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey.
Coming from a small town in California’s Central Valley, Dan Morgan Lee had prepared initially for the study of veterinary medicine at the University of California, Davis.  It was late in his college career that he discovered enology satisfied his interest in both science and agriculture. Immediately enrolling in the graduate enology program, Dan completed his studies and was hired as winemaker at Jekel Winery in Monterey County.
After serving his apprenticeship at Jekel, Dan moved up the road to Durney Vineyard where he continued to make Monterey wines. While making wine full-time for Durney, Dan aspired to craft his own label.  It was at a meeting of the Monterey County Winegrowers Association that he shared his vision with a banker. In addition to becoming his business advisor, that banker would also become Dan's wife.
In 1982, Dan and Donna Lee opened the doors of Morgan Winery. Their very first Monterey Chardonnay earned a Gold Medal at the LA County Fair and a Platinum Medal from Wine & Spirits Magazine. Since then, Morgan has become one of the Central Coast’s most recognized labels, earning “Winery of the Year” honors from Wine & Spirits in 1996 and from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2003. In 2005, Dan introduced a second label, Lee Family Farms – intended to provide a fun outlet for his exploration of “alternative” varietals.
Able to pick and choose fruit sources from around the state, Dan eventually turned more of his attention to the Santa Lucia Highlands and single vineyard releases.  Dan and Donna invested in their belief in the Highlands with the purchase of the Double L Vineyard in 1996. Today the Double L is one of the best known vineyards in California. Dan’s leadership and expertise in the district led to his being named the first Board President of the newly formed Santa Lucia Highlands’ winegrowers association in 2005.
Dan and Donna Lee reside in Salinas. Twin daughters Annie and Jackie (the inspiration for the “Double Luck” vineyard moniker) are in college; son Josh is in high school. 

As the red winemaker for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Steve Peck combines a gifted palate, a passion for viticulture and a comprehensive technical knowledge of winemaking practices.
Born and raised in California, Steve began cultivating his love of viticulture and winemaking as a teenager while traveling to vineyards and working alongside his uncle. A dedicated home winemaker, Steve’s uncle taught him the importance of hands-on attention to detail at every step of the winemaking process. This early exposure to vineyards and winemaking inspired Steve to enroll at the University of California, Davis. While studying chemical engineering and fermentation sciences, Steve put himself through school as part of the team at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. This three-year experience augmented Steve’s academic studies with a practical understanding of premium Napa Valley winemaking methods.
After earning his degree, Steve pursued opportunities in the biotech industry, working for Merck and Co. and Genencor International. Throughout this period, Steve remained dedicated to the art of winemaking, crafting his own red wines nearly every vintage, including several Cabernet Sauvignons made from Paso Robles grapes. Eager to return to a career in winemaking, Steve joined Five Rivers Winery as winemaker in 2001. In addition to his role as winemaker for Five Rivers, Steve was also responsible for producing the red wines for Jekel Vineyards beginning with the 2004 vintage. In these capacities, Steve had the opportunity to work with an extensive array of vineyards in Monterey County, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County, and was responsible for orchestrating harvest scheduling for dozens of growers. During this period, Steve consistently earned acclaim for his red wines.
In 2007, Steve was appointed winemaker for the full portfolio of J. Lohr red wines including J. Lohr Estates, the J. Lohr Vineyard Series and the J. Lohr Cuvée Series, as well as red wines for Cypress Vineyards and Crosspoint. Working with Senior Vice President of Winemaking Jeff Meier, Steve strives to maintain the flavorful character of each wine by focusing on the natural characteristics embodied in J. Lohr’s estate vineyards. “Steve is inquisitive and intuitive,” says Jeff,” which are fundamental qualities in a superior winemaker. On top of that, he’s a genuinely personable leader with a great technical mind and a real passion for winemaking.”


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