Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Kevin Morrisey, the winemaker and general manager at Ehlers Estate.
Kevin’s winemaking career begin in 1998, when he landed at job at Stags’ Leap Winery armed with a master’s in enology from UC Davis. Over the next five years, he rose through the ranks to become the estate’s associate winemaker, leaving in 2003 to serve as the winemaker and director of operations at Etude Wines. In 2005, Kevin returned to Stags’ Leap Winery to take over as winemaker and general manager. He joined Ehlers Estate in 2009.
Ehlers Estate is unique in that it’s owned by France’s Leducq Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that funds international cardiovascular research — and 100 percent of the proceeds from wine sales go to supporting the foundation.
Check out our interview with Kevin below the fold.
What’s your general winemaking philosophy?
Wines reflect a sense of place. They need to be balanced and well structured, layered and complex. In order for the wines to reflect the terroir, they must be well-made, not over-extracted, not overly ripe and porty, not overly-alcoholic, not over-oaked, etc. I prefer that the winemaker’s presence (and influence) be invisible – that the wines appear to have made themselves from the great land where the grapes were growing.
What’s open in your kitchen right now?
A 2003 Etude Pinot Noir
Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?
Jean-Claude Berrouet, Tony Soter, and Jean-Laurent Vacheron. I’m fortunate in that they’re all friends.
What new winemakers are you most excited about, and why?
I’m not really interested in new winemakers; I’m more interested in terroir.
How do you spend your days off?
Chasing kids mostly! We have a bustling family life at the moment.
What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?
A 1985 Chateau Pommard, maybe. Or maybe a 1989 Chateau Trotanoy. Too many great wines out there — I love Champagne, too. I recall many moments with great wines, but not necessarily the exact wine or vintage… as it should be.
What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?
I’m a winemaker, not a collector.
If you had to pick one red and one white to drink for the next month with every dinner, what would you choose?
I have no idea! Probably my own Sauvignon Blanc and the best Burgundy money could buy.
What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?
Getting myself to stop tweaking the final blends before bottling!
What’s your favorite wine region in the world — other than your own?
I haven’t been to all of them yet! I love going to the southern Cotes du Rhone, of course Burgundy. I love the Loire Valley also. Champagne’s great, too…
Is beer ever better than wine?
Yes! Wine only with meals – beer, anytime you’re thirsty. Also in restaurants, I often can’t find a wine by the glass that I want to drink, so I’ll order a nice premium beer.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Gosh, I don’t know. Perhaps that I was the Director of Photography on “Killer Tomatoes Eat France,” “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” and other equally riveting cinematic masterpieces! I was also a cameraman and lighting tech in Los Angeles and worked on shows such as “Land’s End” starring Fred Dryer, which aired in the mid-90’s.
If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
How do you define success?
Being happy while on the road to being successful.