Author Archives: jonnycigar
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.
The “next generation” of winemakers, vintners and marketers are setting the stage with fun new projects aimed at a younger, hip, in-the-know audience. Josh Phelps and Carlo Trinchero are two of the these Napa NextGenners and their brand “Taken Wine Company” is an inspired project. Both hail from serious winemaking families and have decided the family business is something they want to be a part of. Listen, enjoy and be elevated.