Monthly Archives: November 2011
In the first week of my stay in Napa, I was invited to join Jesse Fox and his wife for a picnic in the town of Sonoma for the Sonoma Farmer’s Market, which is anything but your ordinary Farmer’s Market thanks to the open bottle policy! So we parked ourselves in the park, bought some food-truck delights and sipped on Rose. A mutual friend from New York put us in touch. Fifteen minutes into meeting the world seemed incredibly small: Jesse, it turned out, was hired to be the Assistant Winemaker at Ram’s Gate Winery, a brand new “Zarathustra” on the mountaintop winery perched on a hill in Sonoma/Carneros with 360 degree views of the rolling hills of Southern Sonoma. And consequently where I had been hired to consult on social media and events. Jesse and I became fast friends and over the course of my stay in Napa had many a drink, dinner and conversation pow-wow. Jesse was headed for a career in the restaurant world, having come to Napa to work at The French Laundry. His story of transition to the wine industry is a great tale. You’ll get a real sense of place thanks to Nature’s underscoring soundtrack… After listing to the interview, if you’re curious to read about my personal experience working with Ram’s Gate, visit Winetology. Listen, enjoy and elevate your afternoon.
Winemaker, Chris Phelps, was an elusive and mysterious presence to me the first several weeks I was hosting by-appointment only tastings in the Swanson Vineyards Salon. I had met his son, Josh Phelps (who I interviewed previously) and had been tasting and talking about Chris’s wines with guests in the Salon, utterly unsure if the man truly existed. Finally, we met one brisk Napa morning as grapes were coming in and as harvest activity picked up, he was around a lot. Not that he isn’t around – he’s simply around the grapes, the tanks, the vineyards and not so much the salon. His bio includes a laundry list of high-pedigree mentors and wineries, namely Petrus, Dominus and Caymus. He’s a Francophile and purist at heart and uses words like “Iron Fist” and “Velvet Glove” to describe his covereted Merlot. I hope you enjoy Chris’s fabulous stories of the ’82 epic Bordeaux vintage, his first! among other wonderful insights. He also makes a wine called Ad Vivum, which we’ll discuss in a later podcast. After listing to the interview, if you’re curious to read about my personal experience working the 2011 Harvest in the Swanson Salon, visit Winetology. Thanks for listening.
I met Jean Hoefliger on a July day just after tasting his wines. He’s a complex character with a keen sense of humor, though his wines are serious, stunning, enviable. 750mls full of drinkable art. Alpha Omega Winery is a boutique brand with a very limited production and I had the privilege to work the 2011 Harvest in their cellar. The day we met, Jean casually mentioned I could work harvest a few days a week if I wanted – he didn’t realize he would be getting a guy who wears three-piece suits to work. I may not have been the ideal candidate but I performed punch-downs and worked the sorting table with grace. Sixteen minutes of profound conversation, reflections and amusing revelations awaits you…then visit Winetology to read about my experiences and see photos.
In the earlier days of the summer, I visited Kelly and Colleen Fleming of Kelly Fleming Wines. Their winery is nestled into the side of Mount Saint Helena, near Calistoga, CA just off Silverado Trail. Their property is pristine – purchased in 1998, a 300-acre parcel of land much of it too rugged to plant but some of which is planted to Cabernet. The winery is family run and I had a great time chatting with mom and daughter, exploring the caves and tasting their 2005 and 2007 Cabernet. Delish! Listen, enjoy and be elevated.