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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Weekly Interview: Dan Wampfler

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-30-2015

Dan Wampfler

Dan Wampfler

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week we continue our series of features on Walla Walla winemakers by interviewing Dan Wampfler, the winemaker at Dunham Cellars.

If you have been following our series on Walla Walla closely, you may recall that Reggie Mace explained how Dan initially got Reggie involved in the wine industry. We’ve observed similar dynamics over and over again in our interviews of Walla Walla winemakers. No doubt it is a testament to the cooperative atmosphere that Walla Walla winemakers have continually reported. Throughout its expansion, it seems, the place as remained a close-knit community.

Dan embodies that warm, welcoming community. As you’ll see, his personality shines through his responses to our questions.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Paul Gregutt

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-23-2015

Paul Gregutt (credit: Karen Stanton-Gregutt)

Paul Gregutt (credit: Karen Stanton-Gregutt)

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week we continue our series of features on Walla Walla winemakers by interviewing Paul Gregutt.

If you follow the wine world closely, you don’t need an introduction to Paul. His accomplishments in the wine industry — both as a writer and more recently as a winemaker — are too many to list.

Paul is currently a contributing editor at Wine Enthusiast; a weekly columnist at the Seattle Times; the author of Washington Wine and Wineries published in the University of California Press; and a guest contributor to various wine publications including the Wine Spectator and Decanter.

On top of all of that, Paul recently took on winemaking responsibilities in his hometown of Waitsburg, Washington (Walla Walla County) as the Wine Director at Waitsburg Cellars. It is primarily in that last capacity that Paul was interviewed. But as you’ll see, Paul tells us not just about Waitsburg Cellars but also about the very history of winemaking in Walla Walla.

We were very glad to feature Paul this week. Check out the interview below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Marty Clubb

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-16-2015

Marty ClubbEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker; and in the past couple of interviews, we have featured Tanya Woodley and Reggie Mace — two relatively new Walla Walla winemakers.

This week, we’re featuring Marty Clubb, the owner and managing winemaker at L’Ecole.  Marty has been been making wine in Walla Walla since 1989, when nobody quite knew that great wine could be made there — except for a handful of pioneers like Marty.  L’Ecole is the third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley.

Needless to say, Marty has a unique historical perspective of the Walla Walla Valley that few people have.

Check out our interview with Marty below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Reggie Mace

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-09-2015

Reggie Mace

Reggie Mace

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Reggie Mace, the winemaker at The Mortal Vintner. With Reggie, we continue our on-going series of interviews of Walla Walla winemakers.

Reggie is no traditional winemaker. For one, besides making wine, he also makes mead, fermented honey. Fermentation aside, Reggie is also a musician, an artist, and a lot of fun to interview.

As you’ll see, Reggie has a noticeable voice of a new generation of winemakers.

Check out our interview with Reggie below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Tanya Woodley

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 12-19-2014

Tanya Woodley

Tanya Woodley

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Tanya Woodley, the winemaker at SuLei Cellars.

Regular readers will remember that we interviewed John Freeman at Waterbrook in August. John mentioned Tanya as a new winemaker that he was excited about.

With Tanya, we hope to kick off a series of interviews of winemakers based in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. The bold paradigmatic reds of Walla Walla seem to fit the time of the year; and when compared to Napa, the region receives much less attention in the wine press.

Below, Tanya discusses her career path to winemaking, what makes Walla Walla special, and the 2013 vintage.

Check out the interview below the fold!

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Weekly Interview: Steve McIntyre

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 12-05-2014

Steve McIntyre

Steve McIntyre

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Steve McIntyre, the proprietor of McIntyre Vineyards, where he is also involved in winegrowing and winemaking.

Steve is one of the most experienced wine growers in the Central Coast, even setting aside McIntyre Vineyards. He was a founding member of Monterey Wine Company and for the past three decades, he and his wife, Kim, have owned and operated Monterey Pacific. Today, they farm 11,000 acres in Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, San Bernabe and Hames Valley for some of California’s most prestigious producers. Steve alone has planted more than 20% of the SLH AVA!

Check out our interview with Steve below the fold.

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