— We place our value in hiring wonderful people, purchasing great grapes and making great wine.
Duckhorn Vineyards was my first opportunity to work in a winery setting after graduating from UC Davis. I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right winery. I owe them a lot. It was 1995, Dan Duckhorn and Alex Ryan at the helm were masters in marketing and selling their wine. Winemaker Tom Rinaldi really understood how to scale up while maintaining quality, making great wines. They were the “it” brand. It’s there where I learned how it all works, how to get your wine in the hands of people.
My first harvest in Napa Valley was 1993 at The Hess Collection Winery. Stephanie Putnam was the winemaker. I lived in Deer Park and commuted to Mt. Veeder every day. Crossing the valley, I would often stop for a bite at Mustards Grille in Yountville or Tra Vigne in St. Helena. I really got to know the valley and its people. It was a year of explosive growth, more and more people moving here to make wine. Napa Valley cult cabernets were just starting to take off. Being a part of that and witnessing that growth, it was a very exciting time.
2020 was a brutal vintage for so many people, but the way people came together reinforced why I live here. We circle the wagons well in times of crisis. Everyone was calling and checking in on each other, asking if they were okay, asking if they needed help or production space. That was the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Another favorite memory is the positive effect of building a winery from the ground up like we did at Cade. That is a deeply rewarding experience.
Name another region that’s so close to a hub of creative energy like Silicon Valley and the Gold Rush mentality of California. All of these uber creative, driven minds, creating world class wine brands. People who are driven every day to make the best quality product. We are 60 minutes from a leading economic center of the world. This creativity is in the water, in the blood, in the wine. That’s what makes Napa Valley so special.
We look for great sites and let the sites speak for the wines. I want phenolic ripeness, not over ripeness.
If wine didn’t get in my blood early, I would probably be in the music industry creating soundtracks for movies. I’m fascinated by music theory, how music actually works, animating the chords.
Old California wines from the 1950s, 60s and 70s with white truffles. One of my favorite restaurants was Paul Bertolli’s Oliveto in Oakland. He had some great sommeliers on staff and we would host white truffle dinners. The old California wines’ acidity, like Barolos or Barbarescos, stand up to white truffles’ rich earthiness.
Rick Rubin (although he doesn’t drink), so Mozart (he loved to drink), Miles Davis and Linus Pauling (to discuss the science behind all of it).
I love EDM. I’m a diehard fan of EDM.