Tag Archives: wine

Podcast: Robert Foley of Robert Foley Vineyards

Simply put, it was mere happenstance in the fall of 2007 that inspired my thirst to learn more about the wine industry: the owner of a store in Shelburne, VT demanded I try a Merlot from Engel Family Vineyards. The bottle cost more than I was prepared to spend, but the reward was priceless. A Merlot that was silky, full-bodied with resplendent dark fruit, a wine I wanted to gulp – I had to know who made it (the internet revealed nothing!) Thankfully the owner of the store knew: Robert Foley. I jumped at the chance to try his own label, Robert Foley Vineyards, and my first was his 2005 Merlot, which for me, raised the bar on winemaking into the wine stratosphere of brilliance. “Bob” Foley is an iconic winemaker whose roots run deeper than most vineyards in Napa. He’s built numerous wineries including Markham, Pride and his own. He’s dug several caves and can boast a career of nearly four decades making wines that have become cult-classics. I had the opportunity to visit with Bob at his winery up in Angwin, California. I was honored and humbled to speak with the very winemaker who inspired my foray into the world of wine.

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Podcast: Jesse Fox of Ram’s Gate Winery

Jesse Fox of Ram’s Gate Winery

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.


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Podcast: Chris Phelps of Swanson Vineyards

Chris Phelps (photo from Swanson website)

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.

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Podcast: Jean Hoefliger of Alpha Omega Winery

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.



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