How did you get interested in wine?
Growing up my dad was always cooking good food and drinking wine, in a since I was always aware of good food paired with good wine. When I was 20 years old I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. Traveling Europe is when I had my first real taste of wine. However, I never thought about the process of making wine, nor did I think that type of profession was within reach. I had this notion that you had to be a professional to know good wine and that making wine was best left to the experts. In 2009 everything changed. I have a friend whose brother was a wine maker in Santa Barbra. My friend worked two harvests for his brother and would tell me his stories, and his experiences. He really educated me in the process. I listened intently and admired my friend for his knowledge and experience in wine. At the time I was taking a lot of business classes and decided to take a viticulture class for fun. Being so new to the wine/viticulture world I thought viticulture would mean I got to taste wine in class. I was dead wrong. However, I stayed in the class becoming fascinated by the intricate process of simply growing grapes. This class opened the door to the next chapter in my life. By the time the class was over my friend was working at Trinchero Family Estates and had suggested that I apply for a job. I could not pass up the opportunity. I moved to Napa and as green as I could be, I started my first Harvest in 2011.
Is this your first harvest?
2012 will be my second harvest. Last year I learned that to be a good harvest worker you have to be able to clean, clean some more, and then clean again. A harvest worker has to be dedicated just to wake up every morning. For me the most important trait that I have that makes me ready for harvest is my interest in wine. I don’t just come to work for another job. I come here because I want to see what happens next in the wine making process. I enjoy seeing the juice ferment and knowing that my two and half hour pump over is going to make that wine taste so much better. I love when we send the wine to barrel because I know it is almost ready. I love taking samples and reading the results and seeing how a wine moves from its infancy to its adolescents, to the final ripe age of drinkability.
What is the craziest thing you’ve done so far for harvest?
The craziest thing I have done for harvest so far would be scanning the entire barrel room. That does not sound very excited or crazy and frankly its not. It consists of walking up and down each row with a bar code scanner much like the one you see at grocery stores. This does not seem like a big deal but when you have 10,000 barrels that need a position in the barrel room it becomes a seemingly never ending process.
Where do you hope to get out of your harvest experience with Napa Cellars?
Last year I was just happy to be working in a winery. I was unsure of what I was doing but knew that it was interesting. By the end of last year’s harvest I had a pretty good idea of what it took to make a classy bottle of wine. This year I would like to be able to follow the grapes from vineyard to bottle. I would like to see what vineyard the grapes came from, how they did in the fermentation tank, how they taste when they go to barrel, and finally how they tasted when they come out of the bottle. I know this process is going to require patience, but it will be well worth the wait.
Do you intend to stay in the wine industry after harvest?
I do plan on staying in the wine industry. I have decided this is my career. I find that the wine industry has something for everybody. If you are into science, then wine has chemistry and biology. If you are into art, there is designing labels and displays. If you are into business, there is plenty of that. If you are into cooking, engineering, or farming, all of that can be found in the wine industry too. The wine industry has a job for everybody.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
It is pretty hard to describe myself in three words. So here is my choice of words: I sing songs, spin stories, love, laugh, and drink wine. Ok that is like 10 words but you get the idea.
When you’re not drinking wine, what’s your beverage of choice?
Well if I am not drinking wine you can usually find me drinking a beer. When people ask me what my favorite kind of beer is I usually say “An open one.” Recently I have discovered the sour beers of Russian River. If you have not had a sour beer from Russian River Brewing Company, let me tell you… You really should.
What is your favorite song?
My favorite song happens to be The Wine Song, by the Cat Empire. This has a little story behind it. My friend and I had the opportunity to see them in concert. (Not easy considering they are an Australian band) It was their tenth anniversary tour. We decided to give them a bottle of wine with their Cat Empire logo on it. Long story short, we were able to score two magnum bottles, one with Chardonnay the other cabernet sauvignon. When we arrived at the concert we gave them directly to the band members, they were completely blown away, they loved it. After hanging out with band for a little while getting T-shirts and autographs we went into the concert. About half way through the concert the band thanked us for the wine and dedicated the wine song to us. It was a really cool experience. Since then it has been the go to song of choice.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I have always thought the power of flight would be really cool. But the more I think about it, the ability to teleport would be even cooler. Get off work, had a long day, instead of jumping into your car and driving home, just teleport to a beach in Hawaii. Wish you were at some really cool event going on, no problem just think about it and poof your there. No waiting in line, no jet lag, no expensive tickets, never again wish you could be there, or wish you could have seen whatever. Yeah Teleporting would be my superpower of choice.