I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, a little east bay suburban town, at least at the time, called San Ramon. My parents were wine drinkers and connoisseurs so wine was a staple in our home from an early age. I have many memories of visiting wineries in Napa and Sonoma as a boy with my folks when things were a little "looser" at those wineries and the crowds were sparse. Back when we could run and play amongst the barrels and tanks while my parents tasted and no one batted an eye. The smell of the cellar was imprinted on my brain.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself moving in with my big brother in San Francisco shortly after high school. He got me a job at a local pizza place and what was supposed to be a two month stay in the city for a high school graduation present became a 5 year journey in the culinary arts and the San Francisco nightlife. Where I was exposed to many amazing wines and my interest in wine and winemaking started to come to fruition. So in 2000 I moved to San Luis Obsipo to do a harvest at a winery that a family friend was connected to and start attending some Junior college to prepare and finish some core work in order to get a degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Fruit Science. While working on my education, I continued to work at this small winery in the northern Santa Barbara county town of Santa Maria. Unfortunately that winery is no more as my mentor and all around neat guy, Ardison Phillips has since passed away, but I learned so much in those four years I worked along side Ardison and his son Bailey. This is also when my passion for Rhone wines took hold. I drank every bottle of rhone varietals I could get my hands on and then moved on to the actual Rhones when I could afford them. I was hooked. At this point I had the bright idea that if I ever got to create my own label, I was going to concentrate exclusively on Grenache as many Pinot makers were doing and still do. But it was not yet time.
In 2004, I was excepted to UC Davis and in August of that year I moved from what had become my beloved central coast to the central valley. Before school even started, I was feeling hesitant about more school, more god darn college after four years already! I went and looked at the job board in the library and there was a flier for a harvest internship at Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, heart of the Napa valley. I figured I would at least apply, why not? And I got a call back for an interview shortly after and I was offered the job at said interview. School could wait a few months... Eight years later I left Cakebread and started working for the good folks at Obsidian Ridge Wine Co in Sonoma were they allowed me to make my own wine at the facility I helped set up and was tasked with running. It was time. My dream of a label dedicated to single vineyard Grenache Noir was within grasp.
So with a few credit cards and what little money I had at the time, in 2013, I starred my own wine company. And here we are. I found some great spots that I feel showcase what various clonal selections and terrior can do for this ever so versatile grape and as time has gone on, I've evolved in my wine making to 100% whole cluster on all wines. Native yeast, no to little intervention and clean, balanced, thought provoking wines made in a natural wine making style. However, I am not a "natural wine" guy in that I reserve the right to shepherd my wines through the process as with any natural process, things can go sideways from time to time. And subscribing to trends and fads in anything is inherently not authentic.
I am still a one man show. And THAT is authentic. I do it all here. I drive the trucks, I crush the fruit. I answer the emails, the phones, I run the books, write invoices, everything. I cold call brokers and distributors, hoping that we can get that one more account. I write the text, built the website, designed the labels, run the social media and all the nitty-gritty things that go on with running a small business. There is no part of this company that I have not built and my hands have not touched. And I hope some day, this damn company will pay me. But that's not why I'm here (although it would still be nice). I'm here because I love it. I am a wine crafter.