Weekly Interview: Lindsay Stevens

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-24-2015

Lindsay Stevens

Lindsay Stevens

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. We continue our focus on the Finger Lakes this week by featuring Lindsay Stevens, the winemaker at King Ferry Winery.

Located slightly off the beaten path, on the east side of Cayuga Lake, King Ferry Winery was founded in 1984 by Peter and Tacie Saltonstall. The winery is particularly known for its Chardonnays, in addition to the Finger Lakes staples, Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

As you’ll read below, Lindsay has a no-nonsense approach to winemaking that is highly practical. But it is also evident that she has thought extensively about what winemaking means to her. Consider the following excerpt: “Food is a form of love for me. Love is preparing a meal from scratch and being willing to live in the moment believing that it’s time well spent. Wine is just another part of sharing that love. It’s my hope that the time and effort that I put into making wines will translate into a part of that love being spread around your own table.” I personally reflected deeply on that and Lindsay’s other insights.

We hope you enjoy the interview. Check it out below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Mark Patterson & Barry Tortolon

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-17-2015

Mark Patterson

Mark Patterson

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we continue our focus on the Finger Lakes by featuring two winemakers: Mark Patterson and Barry Tortolon of Heron Hill Winery. Barry joined Mark at Heron Hill only about a month ago. They are now co-winemakers and collectively oversee Heron Hill’s entire portfolio.

Heron Hill Winery’s first vintage is 1977. By Finger Lakes standards, that puts Heron Hill squarely in the group of established wineries. John and Jo Ingle planted Heron Hill’s first vineyards in 1972, just a year after getting married. They started small — their first vintage consisted only of 5,000 cases — but they have grown tremendously in the past four decades. They now produce 18,000 cases per year and welcome more than 50,000 people per year.

 

Barry Tortolon

Barry Tortolon

Mark and Barry are both newcomers to Heron Hill. Mark joined in 2014; Barry joined just a month ago. So our interview comes at an exciting time of transition for Heron Hill. We enjoyed deviating slightly from our usual interview structure to accommodate the two of them in a single week and wish them the best in their new venture.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Steve DiFrancesco

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-10-2015

Steve DiFrancesco

Steve DiFrancesco

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Steve DiFrancesco of Glenora Wine Cellars. With Steve, we continue our series of interviews of Finger Lakes winemakers, following our interviews of August Deimel at Keuka Spring Vineyards and Peter Bell at Fox Run Vineyards.

Steve is a veteran in the region, with more than thirty-six Finger Lakes vintages under his belt. So we were particularly delighted that, in his interview, Steve gave us some historical background of the region as an important reason why the Finger Lakes is such a special community and viticultural region.

Check out the interview below the fold!

 

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Weekly Interview: Peter Bell

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 04-03-2015

Peter Bell

Peter Bell

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. After completing a set of interviews of Walla Walla Valley winemakers, last week, we began a new set of interviews focusing on the Finger Lakes. This week, we continue our focus on the Finger Lakes with an interview of Peter Bell, the winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards.

The upcoming summer marks Peter’s twentieth anniversary at Fox Run. By Finger Lakes standards, that puts Peter squarely in the camp of seasoned veterans, armed with more vintages than most.

Check out the interview with Peter below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: August Deimel

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 03-27-2015

August Deimel

August Deimel

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring August Deimel at Keuka Spring Vineyards.

With this interview, we are starting another series of interviews focusing on a wine region. Some of you will remember the recent series on Walla Walla Valley winemakers. Inspired by a recent trip to there, we now begin a series on the Finger Lakes.

And we are glad to kick off the series with August. While August is a relative newcomer to the Finger Lakes, as you will see below, he has strong ties to the region. And he discusses the place, the wines, and his story with admirable facility.

Check out the interview below!

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Weekly Interview: Valeta Massey

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 03-06-2015

Valeta Massey

Valeta Massey

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Valeta Massey at Clos de la Tech in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

At Clos de la Tech, Valeta and TJ have been making Pinot Noir for more than a decade.  And they have developed proprietary technology to aid their winemaking, which Valeta discusses.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Michael Richmond

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 02-27-2015

Michael Richmond

Michael Richmond

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we have the pleasure of featuring Michael Richmond of Bouchaine Vineyards.

In March 2015, Michael will be retiring from the wine industry after 40+ years in it. You’ll see below that Michael taken the interview as an opportunity to reflect on his entire career. So we offer the interview to you to enjoy, with minimal edits from our end.

Take a look, below the fold, for a reflection on the life and career of Michael Richmond!

 

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Weekly Interview: Kari Auringer

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 02-20-2015

Kari Auringer

Kari Auringer

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker.  This week, we are featuring Kari Auringer, the winemaker at Silver Trident Winery.

Kari began her career not in wine, but in graphic design.  That puts her squarely among the winemakers who, at one point in their first careers, deliberated decided to leave their burgeoning careers and jump into the world of wine. In our interview, she discusses her career move, her drinking habits, and Napa Valley.

Check out the interview with Kari below the fold!

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A Conversation with Terry Theise

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 02-18-2015

Terry TheiseRegular readers know that over the past few years, I’ve become obsessed with Champagne. Last week, while thinking about how popular the region has become — and what a debt we’re all in to Terry Theise — I realized that I didn’t know why, exactly, Theise started importing Champagne.

So we connected by phone and the discussion inspired my most recent Grape Collective column. We covered all sorts of issues — from Theise’s seminal trip to Champagne to what the future of the region will look like. It was fascinating. Check out our conversation below!

David White: How’d you decide to start importing Champagne?

Terry Theise: I was already bringing in growers from Germany and Austria. So my entire mentality was based upon working with small, family producers. The background of my history with Champagne is that when I came together with Odessa Piper — then my girlfriend, now my wife — we were long distance for quite a while. She had a restaurant in Madison; I had a child in the D.C. area. So neither of us really could move.

So, as happens in long-distance relationships, you have a lot of misery and heartbreak when you’re apart. But when you come together, it’s a big celebration. So we quickly ran through all the grower Champagnes that were available in the U.S. market and I found myself thinking, “Is this really all? There have to be more good growers than this.”

So one year, in 1995 or 1996, we just made a detour to Champagne. I had a list of interesting growers from Michael Edward’s first book and other research I had done. So I thought we’d take four or five days and just check out some of these growers.

This was all personal. All I wanted to do was to buy some Champagne to ship back to myself so I’d have stuff in the cellar to open up with Odessa. So we visited a number of producers. And I came away with my mind expanded — I had not realized the profound degree to which Champagne was a wine of terroir, just like every other wine of Northern Europe.

As we’re driving back — fishtailing all over because the trunk is full of Champagne — I’m thinking about how interesting the region is. I must have even observed that out loud, because Odessa then says, “You really ought to do this professionally.”

I say, “Oh, come on, I’m already pushing a rock up a hill with German wine and now I’ve just strapped a safe to my back with Austrian wine. How much misery do you want to put me through?”

And she says, “Do you think these wines deserve an audience?”

I said, “No question about it, they do.”

And she says, “Do you think that someone will be successful with them at some point?”

And I say, “Yeah, I think so, I think the right kind of importer will be successful with these wines.”

So she says, “How will you feel if that person isn’t you — and you had the chance and walked away from it?”

The only proper response to a question like that is, “Yes, dear,” and the result is that I began to import small grower Champagnes.

Once that decision was made, I went back diligently looking to put a portfolio together — and I had a lot of assistance from the producers, because you can get a chain reaction going with growers. If you taste with somebody and you like his wines and you’re personally simpatico, you can easily ask for other addresses to visit. The growers are perfectly happy to be collegial, so I got a lot of references from certain people. So in the first year, I put a portfolio together consisting of nine growers. That’s expanded and has now reached what I imagine to be its apex of 16 growers.

There were just 33 grower Champagnes in the U.S. market at that point. There are around 250 today. Of those nine you brought in, were any already in the United States? I don’t want to ask if you stole them from other importers, but were any already in the market? Or were they all brand new?

A couple of them — one or two — were here with either small local importers or national importers who weren’t doing a very good job for them. And when I surveyed the landscape, I saw a lot of good importers had a Champagne producer in their portfolio, or maybe two, but that struck me as tokenism. As an importer, you wouldn’t claim to represent Burgundy if you only had one or two Burgundy growers in your portfolio. You want to be comprehensive. And you want to show all of the manifold expression possible from Burgundy or, as I came to learn, from Champagne. So if I was going to tell the story that I knew needed to be told, I had to have Champagnes representative of a wide range of terroirs. As I often say, I wasn’t the first one to do it, but I was the first one to overdo it. Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on the Walla Walla Winemaker Interviews

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 02-06-2015

Walla Walla Valley (Wikimedia)

Walla Walla Valley (Wikimedia)

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a number of questions to a winemaker. Over the past couple of months, we have focused on the winemakers of the Walla Walla Valley: John Freeman at Waterbrook Winery, Tanya Woodley at SuLei Cellars, Reggie Mace at The Mortal Vintner, Marty Clubb at L’Ecole, Paul Gregutt at Waitsburg Cellars, and, most recently, Dan Wampfler at Dunham Cellars. What a lineup! We were glad to feature each and every one of them.

This week, instead of featuring a new winemaker, we propose to take a look back at our interviews with Walla Walla winemakers to tie up the series. We think we can draw a few generalizations about the place from some trends we’ve observed in the winemakers’ responses.

So take a look at our thoughts below the fold!

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