wine maker interview

Interview with John McLoughlin, winemaker Bitter Creek Winery

I recently made the trip from Phoenix up to Jerome to meet with Jon McLoughlin, winemaker at Bitter Creek Winery.  It was nice to get away from the summer heat, and up into the mountains.  Jerome is built on the side of a mountain and is situated at 5,246 feet.  I emailed John some questions and he responded, and I also interviewed him on camera,  First the emails:

Weekly Wine Journal:  How has the weather been so far this year and how is the 2010 crop doing.

John McLoughlin:  So far luck is with Dragoon Mountain Vineyard!  Early in 2010, we had two days of a late freeze!   Not good when the vines are just starting to “push”.  Many of the vineyards in the State were hard hit.  Dragoon Mountain Vineyard was fortunate, our land is pretty flat, and that allows the air to move across the vineyard.  When there are depressions in the contour of the ground, the cold air will settle in the low points and that is when frost can occur.

Weekly Wine Journal: Which varieties are doing the best.

John McLoughlin: Right now the Big Reds are doing very well!

Here is the video:

More Videos at the Weekly Wine Journal’s YOUTUBE Channel

Women in Wine: Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, Verdad Wines

I recently met Louisa Sawyer Lindquist at a dual wine tasting at AZ Wine Company in Scottsdale Arizona. I say dual because along with her wine company, Verdad Wines, we were also tasting her husband’s wines, Qupe. A husband and wife dynamic wine duo, sounds like the perfect relationship right? Her husband is Bob Lindquist, one of the “Rhone Rangers”. Louisa really knows her stuff, she is not just a salesperson parroting the wine makers comments. At this tasting she was quizzed by some skeptical consumers and someone actually doubted her! She but it bluntly and something to the effect of “I know what I’m talking about, and I know how this wine was made, I MADE IT MYSELF”. I love it when wine snobs get put in their place.

Here is a short video of Louisa, enjoy!

Lizbeth Congiusti, aka The Sassy Somellier, tastes some Arizona Wine

I first met Lizbeth Congiusti over a year ago at a Cameron Hughes Wine tasting event. I found her to be extremely knowledgable and friendly. We arranged to meet at the Arizona Wine Grower’s tasting event. She tasted and talked about the wines, and I held the flipcam. Lizbeth is a level II Sommelier, and has published her own book: Sip Swirl Savor. For more info on Lizbeth click on the link below the video.

In this first video she talks with Rod Keeling of Keeling-Shaefer Vineyards, and tries out “His Best Wine!”

In the second video Lizbeth tastes Kief-Joshua Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Click here for Lizbeth Congiusti’s Website

Interview with Gary Loring, Loring Wine Company. Part 3

This is part 3 of a 3 part series of an interview with Gary Loring, partner and winemaker for Loring Wine Company. In this segment Gary talks about how much of an influence Terroir plays, and how much of an influence clones are. He also tells us about some very special projects on the horizon, like a 300 case production Chardonnay and an even smaller production Cabernet Mouvedre blend.

Featured Personality: Brian Loring, Loring Wine Company, Part two

Here is part 2 of a 3 part series on Loring Wine Company.  In this segment Brian Loring talks about the Loring Wine Company’s style.  How much fruit, how big and bold, what they are meant to pair with, and how much oak the wines get.  He also talks about Garys’ Vineyard.  Yes that’s apostrophe S, not a misprint, and he explains why.

Featured Personality: Brian Loring, Loring Wine Company part one

I recently sat down with Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company.  Sandy from a previous episode (Greg Grazianno interview) helped conduct the interview.  I have broken this interview down into three parts here is the first part:

In the first video Brian talks about why he chose to make Pinot Noir, and about how Loring Wine Company got started.

Featured Personality: Robert Lindquist, Qupe Wine Cellars

I recently met Robert (Bob) Lindquist at a wine tasting event at AZ Wine Company in Scottsdale Arizona.  I found out that he was one of the first people in the United States to concentrate on the Rhone varietals.  Earning him a place in wikipedia as one of the “Rhone Rangers”

And there’s big news about a Qupe Tasting Room…

Qupe Wine Cellars Website Here

Interview with Greggory Graziano, Proprietor / Winemaker at Graziano Family of Wines

I recently had the opportunity to meet Greg Graziano,  proprietor and winemaker at Graziano Family of Wines.  We met at the Orange Table Cafe in Scottsdale Arizona and were introduced by local sommelier Sandy Wasserman.  Just a little background information about the Graziano Family of Wines before we click play on the video:

The Graziano family has been growing grapes and producing wine in Mendocino County since 1918 and Greg is a third generation wine-maker.  The Graziano Family of Wines consists of four brands in 26 different styles!  Here is a list:

Saint Gregory:  Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Reserve, Pinot Meunier, Pinotage, Pinot Blanc

Monte Volpe: Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Peppolino, Primo Rosso, Sangiovese Rosato

Enotria: Cortese, barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Moscato, Barbera, Dolcetto Rosato

Graziano: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel Rose, Carignane, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Coro Mendocino,  Chenin Blanc Late Harvest

You would be almost a quarter of the way to joining the wine “Century” club by trying out all of Greg’s wines!

Visit the Graziano website

For You Tube time limit purposes the interview is going to be split up, here is part one:

Part Two:

Part Three

Interview with Jeff Mangahas, wine-maker Hartford Court Wines

The Weekly Wine Journal was lucky enough to catch up with Jeff Mangahas, wine-maker for Hartford Court Wines at a recent tasting at AZ Wine Company in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Jeff Mangahas Wine-maker

Jeff took over as chief wine-maker in April of 2006 and since then he has managed a seamless transition.  The 2007 Land’s End Pinot Noir and the 2007 Velvet Sisters Anderson Valley Pinot Noir both received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.  The 2007 Arrendell Vineyard received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast.  The 2007 Four Hearts Chardonnay received 96 points from Robert Parker.  These are some seriously impressive results from a fairly shy and very humble guy.  I wanted to use my brand new shiny flip cam for the interview, but Jeff was a little camera shy, but he kindly allowed me to record the audio of our conversations so I could transcribe them later.  He did allow me to film his address to all the attendees of the wine tasting, which you will find directly below.

How did you get into wine?

“… growing up once I got out of college I started to earn some money, started to eat out at restaurants in Seattle and it was just sort of a natural extension…both my parents were great cooks so I leaned how to cook at a young age, and going out to restaurants with my then girlfriend, now wife…we would go out to eat and order wine…and having a scientific mind I said “wow this is cool I can taste these different flavours and it was very interesting so started to dig deep a little bit more and started to read wine magazines and at that point I just said “wow I want to learn more and more about the process” and I became more and more interested..that kind of developed over 9 years, and I would go up to Woodinville and taste different wines from Washington and then began investigating Oregon Pinot Noir and all these other wines that were nearby.  And then I started to collect wines and actually travel more…the great thing about moving out East was the great wines available in the great restaurants of New York City and being exposed to the whole world of wine.  Not just the Washington State wines but all the wines.  Not long after I graduated from college I travelled to France and I went to Bordeaux! To taste wines! And I was 22 years old!  So basically I had a real sincere interest in wine.  I had a good career as a researcher, published papers ect but then decided I needed something a little bit more…I thought what else can I do…I love wine, love food, love eating and decided to go back to and get a degree in wine making in about 1999/2000 and my wife and I moved to California, and I got a masters degree.

Did you find your Biology background really helped?”

Jeff: Absolutely, really really helpful actually.  The UC Davis program where I went is very scientifically orientated and you need a lot of biology and chemistry in order to get into the program.  And I had all of that but I needed to learn about the craft and get out into the world and work the harvest and learn about real wine making.  And even today I’m really into the numbers, but the more and more you get into it, it’s more about the craft of wine making.  If anything, having a science background has taught me to have a very detail orientated approach, making these wines is very detail orientated, and that’s a good trait to have.

Explain the concept of High risk high reward

Jeff:  That’s a term that we use that’s sort of akin to people in the sense that sometimes you have to undergo some kind of adversity to be who you are today, in order to grow as a person and be wise

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Jeff:  Ya exactly. And high risk high reward is along those lines, where when the grapes grow in very risky places like where a lot of our vineyards are…very cold, wind swept, challenging, low vigor, and out of that you can make some of the very best wines

So if it works then it really really works, and if doesn’t then just don’t use it

Jeff: Exactly.  I like using that analogy of people, where you’ve got to struggle to create character and it’s totally true in wines, and Pinot noir is along with Chardonnay, one of the greatest variety’s to be, that can be so expressive of place.  Certainly the structure of Pinot noir, its not super big with dark fruits

So that leads me into my next question, do you think it’s a characteristic of the grape, the Pinot Noir, or is it more to do with the location…that that location is the only location the Pinot will thrive?

Jeff: It’s definitely the area and the soil because, there are so many different effects, for example if you’re in a cold spot the fruit set can be very different, and how much drainage there is in the soil can determine how concentrated the fruit can be. Soil has the biggest influence in quality of the wine and the personality of the wine, by far.  And my job as a wine maker is to listen to what that particular vineyard has to say based on all its influences, its Terroir, and listen to what it has to say express that and not mask it with my skills as a wine maker

So your job is to sense the Terroir and go with it instead of trying to force into a direction you want it to go

Jeff: Exactly and each year it’s different, the weather and the soils and the climates are a little different depending on how much rainfall we get in a particular year, all those things can influence the vintage

Has there been a lot of rainfall this year?

Jeff: This year we’re actually normal, the past 3 years have been extreme drought years, that’s changed the complexion of the wine, subtly, but enough that I can taste that in a wine

Would you like more rain?

Jeff: Great wines are about low vigor and getting concentration in the wine and generally we don’t want overly rainy, it’s great when we get a lot of rain in the spring time but you don’t want rain in the summertime, bottom line is you want stress on the vines to make the best possible quality

Besides wine, what other adult beverages do you enjoy?

Jeff:  I enjoy a lot of things…during the wine making process we drink a lot of beer…there’s a saying that it takes 5 gallons of beer to make 1 gallon of wine…

You drink beer to..?

Jeff: It’s refreshing

Clears up your palate a little?

Jeff: No its more just for fun,  I also like a lot of Bourbon’s, single malt’s.

So overall how did the 2007 vintage go?

Jeff:   The growing conditions throughout the season were perfect, it was a drought year, 2007 was a drought year, there was moisture in the ground, but not an incredible amount.  There were no issues with flowering so we had good fruit set, we had an ample amount of fruit on the vines, not too much, not too low.  The early growing season was perfect, it was a long season, there was no rain through the growing season and during the harvest there was no rain, so basically we could pick when we wanted to.  Typically there are actually some heat spikes in the beginning or end of August or early September where it’s like you panic a little bit and you don’t want the fruit to become too too ripe…so when you don’t have these huge fluctuations in temperature you can harvest when you want to in the most optimal and most pristine conditions.  That’s what made the vintage spectacular, the growing conditions, the harvest conditions, everything was ideal across the board.

Visit Hartford Court Wines here