Weekly Interview: John Freeman

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-29-2014

waterbrook - john freeman - photoEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring John Freeman, the winemaker at Waterbrook Winery, a beautiful property in the Walla Walla Valley.

Eric Rindal founded Waterbrook in 1984 as Walla Walla Valley’s fourth winery. Needless to say, back then, Eric was one of a very small group of pioneers who believed in Walla Walla’s potential. Eric in particular knew that the Walla Walla Valley could produce world-class Merlot.

Waterbrook was the perfect match for John, who fell in love with Walla Walla Valley and joined Waterbrook as Assistant Winemaker in January 2003. This wasn’t John’s first job in the wine business – John had already spent twelve years in the industry at Franciscan Vineyards and at Miner Family – and it wouldn’t be his last, either. Two short years later, John was promoted to Winemaker at Waterbrook.

January 2015 will be the ten year anniversary of that milestone in John’s wine career. He and his family are now settled into the picturesque Walla Walla community. On most days, if you visit the winery, you’ll be able to see John walking the vineyards with his dog, chatting with growers about vineyard management, or experimenting with new winemaking techniques.

Check out our interview with John below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Marti Macinski

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-22-2014

standing stone - marti - photoEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Marti Macinski, the winemaker at Standing Stone Vineyards, a bucolic family-run winery in the Finger Lakes Region.

Both Tom and Marti had established careers prior to entering the wine business. Tom was working at IBM; Marti was practicing law. They were both incredibly dedicated to their respective jobs, logging in long hours day in and day out. But that must have meant that they couldn’t spend much time together. They wished that they could log in the long hours together as a husband-and-wife team. So, in 1991, after weighing several business options, they decided to found the Standing Stone Vineyards.

While Standing Stone was new, the vineyards were not. Standing Stone’s land had been planted to Riesling and Chardonnay in 1972 by preceding vintners. Emboldened by that history, and armed with the conviction that their vineyards could produce world-class Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Tom and Marti bottled their first vintage in 1993 – and never looked back. This weekend, they are celebrating and reflecting on Standing Stone’s 20th anniversary by pouring some of their first wines from 1993 and 1994.

Check out our interview with Marti below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Trent Ghiringhelli

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-15-2014

Trent GhiringhelliEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Trent Ghiringhelli, the winemaker at Heibel Ranch Vineyards, a family-run winery in Pope Valley.

Born and raised in St. Helena, Trent left Napa Valley to study business at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After graduation, he returned home and began his wine career in 1998 at ZD Wines.  He worked as a wine educator there until he took the leap and decided to make his own wine at his family’s historic ranch, which Trent’s grandfather George Bennet Heibel had purchased in 1945.

Check out our interview with Trent below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Bibiana Gonzalez Rave

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-08-2014

RPH-131018-Pahlmeyer-8157Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Bibiana Gonzalez Rave, the winemaker at Wayfarer, the newly launched project from Pahlmeyer on the West Sonoma Coast.

Bibiana’s first foray into wine took place when she was just 16; she put grapes in a 5-gallon jar and tried to make wine in her bedroom closet in Columbia. The effort failed, but two years later, she headed to France to learn how to make wine.

Bibiana’s next few years were spent studying — first in Angoulême, where she earned a technical degree in viticulture and enology, and later at the University of Bordeaux, where she received a diploma of oenology.

Her experience landed her positions in Bordeaux (at Château Haut-Brion), Burgundy, Côte-Rôtie, Bordeaux, and Alsace. Once she came to California, though, she decided to stay. On the Central Coast, she worked at Au Bon Climat and Qupe. In Sonoma, she worked at Peay Vineyards and later Lynmar.

She joined Jayson Pahlmeyer in 2012 to help launch Wayfarer. The wines have been getting rave reviews thus far, and I can’t wait to try them.

Check out our interview with Bibiana below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Marcelo Papa

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-01-2014

Sara Matthews Photography, Brooklyn New York, USA, www.saramatthews.comEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Marcelo Papa, the winemaker behind Concha y Toro’s Marqués de Casa Concha and Casillero del Diablo range.

Marcelo started studying wine in the 1980s, when Chile’s wine industry was struggling. But by the time he graduated — armed with a degree in agriculture and a postgraduate degree in oenology – the industry was on the upswing, so he was able to find a job at Viñedos Emiliana. After a few years, he joined the team at Kendall-Jackson, where he worked two harvests a year – at Viña Calina in Chile and one in California. In 1988, Marcelo joined the team at Concha y Toro.

Check out our interview with Marcelo below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Francis Hutt

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 07-25-2014

francis huttEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Francis Hutt, the winemaker at Carrick Wines in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Francis joined the team at Carrick in 2010 as a viticulturist after deciding that he wanted to make wine in Central Otago. In the summer of 2011, he was named the chief winemaker.

Before joining Carrick, Francis spent nearly a decade at Martinborough Vineyard. While there, he worked northern hemisphere harvests in Burgundy at Domaine de l’Arlot and Oregon at Shea Wine Cellars.

Check out our interview with Francis below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Elena & Karoline Walch

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-27-2014

Karoline Walch, Elena Walch, and Julia Walch

Karoline Walch, Elena Walch, and Julia Walch

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Elena Walch and her daughter, Karoline Walch, proprietors and visionaries at Elena Walch in Alto Adige.

Born in Milan, Elena had been an architect before marrying into a winemaking family in 1985 and moving to the Alto Adige. When she first arrived, Elena says she “became famous in a quick way,” as there were not many women in architecture at that time.

To add to her new neighbors’ curiosity, she then transitioned out of architecture and began to overhaul and make changes at the family’s winery. “Twenty five years ago,” she says, “being a woman in winemaking was very ‘suspicious.”

When Elena took the reins, Alto Adige was making a lot of red wine, namely Schiava. However, Elena started to plant more of the whites – at first, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Bianco. She also drastically lowered yields, made investments in different trellising, implemented higher density plantings, and began using high quality clones.

Over dinner with Elena and her daughter, Karoline (who manages U.S. marketing), their wines all showed beautifully. My favorite was the Pinot Bianco Kastelaz 2012, which comes from the steep hilly vineyards behind the local church. The wine is crisp and clean with depth and lovely floral notes. Elena says, “I find this wine more expressive than the Pinot Grigio, but it is not more loved. It’s like a hidden beauty.” Her Pinot Grigios (as recently called out by Lettie Teague) were also excellent and distinctive. Adding to Elena’s grape resume, she’s also been dubbed the “Queen of Gewürztraminer” by Gambero Rosso after accumulating so many bicchieri.

Get to know Elena and Karoline in the interview below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Chatting with Virginia’s 3 Top Winemakers

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-23-2014

EDC-Cover-PageWine critics everywhere are starting to pay serious attention to Virginia.

After a recent visit to the Old Dominion, celebrated British wine authority Jancis Robinson suggested that Rutger de Vink of RdV Vineyards has “a good chance of putting the state on the world wine map.”

De Vink’s name is almost always mentioned alongside Jim Law of Linden Vineyards and Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards, two key figures in Virginia’s wine industry. Bottles from these producers would convert just about anyone who doubts the state’s potential.

In mid-May, I visited Linden Vineyards with Sebastian Zutant of The Red Hen to chat with de Vink, Law, and Paschina about the future of Virginia wine.

We were out there to interview the winemakers for Edible DC, a brand new magazine that hit newsstands last week. It’s free, so be sure to pick up a copy.

If you can’t wait for a hard copy, please check it out online!

Weekly Interview: Mike Officer

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-20-2014

Mike Officer CarlisleEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Mike Officer, the owner and winemaker of Carlisle Winery and Vineyards.

Mike fell in love with wine when just 19.

One night, his older sister hosted a small dinner party and offered him a glass of amber-colored wine. It was a late-harvest Riesling, and for Mike, it was life-changing.

He promptly dove into the world of wine, attending tastings, collecting wine, and reading every publication he could find. After graduating from college, he embarked on a career in software development. But after just five years, Mike realized that his heart wasn’t in it. So he began making wine at home – and the hobby quickly grew out of control.

By 1997, Mike and his wife Kendall were producing over 300 cases of “garage” wine and garnering critical acclaim for their efforts.

Today, Carlisle has a reputation for making some of the nation’s best Zinfandels alongside a number of Rhone-inspired wines. He is also a founding member of the Historic Vineyard Society.

Check out our interview with Mike below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: John Hilliard

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 06-13-2014

hilliard bruceEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring John Hilliard. Together with his wife Christine, John is the owner and winemaker at Hilliard Bruce in the Sta. Rita Hills.

When John and Christine met, they had both already built successful careers and were ready for something new. So they began taking wine classes together at Rice University and studying gardening at Texas A&M and the University of Arizona.

In 2002, they purchased a 101-acre ranch in the Sta. Rita Hills where Christine could grow an equestrian practice and John could focus on the soil. They soon planted 21-acres to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and began taking classes in the viticulture and enology extension program at UC Davis.

Today, they help run the property together, with Christine heading up Chardonnay production and John focusing on Pinot Noir. Check out our interview with John below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »