Inside Winemaking - the art and science of growing grapes and crafting wine

This episode features Jeremy Weintraub, who is making some of the most exciting wines in California's Central Coast.  Having worked at wineries in New York, New Zealand, Italy, Napa, and throughout the Central Coast, Jeremy is well suited to understand vineyard potential and the methods to craft wines that demonstrate what he finds exciting in each site.  Our conversation covers his path to winemaking, lessons from Antinori in Chianti, how to co-ferment Viognier and Syrah, meshing lessons from academia with practical farming, how grape clones might not be so important, the commercial reality of making and selling Nebbiolo, the illusions of ripe, brown seeds, his impressions after working with an optical sorter, and the importance of the winery crew being exposed to great wines from around the world.

Direct download: Jeremy_Weintraub_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:06am EDT

Fueled by tequila, and recorded naked in an ofuro, or Japanese soaking tub, this episode gave me the chance to exhaust my thoughts on flavor through grapes and winemaking.  Part science, part clinical experience, and part bad science veiled as expertise the thoughts presented range from highly technical to pure speculation.  I think the hot water and cold night air allowed me to relax and ultimately gives a peek inside my thought processes during grape ripening and the harvest season.  

Direct download: The_Naked_Flavor_Episode_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25am EDT

A friendship that spans the divide between California and The Cape in South Africa has manifest in the partnership that is the talented viticultural and winemaking prowess behind Wilson Foreigner.  After working the 2004 harvest together in South Africa, Dave Wilson and Chris Alheit, remained friends as they both gained experience working at some of the most prestigious vineyard and winery estates throughout the world.  In 2015 they produced a Valdigue from Rancho Chimiles, Dave's family's home vineyard in Napa, and also an Albarino from the Rorick Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills.  The Wilson Foreigner wines have a clearly delineated style, which Chris describes as a "nervous energy," and the hue of the Valdigue is "electric magenta."    This podcast captures the passion that this young partnership has for finding off-the-radar sites and showcasing their excitement for those vineyards with minmalistic winemaking.  



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Direct download: Wilson_Foreigner_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

After working among some of the top wineries in Napa, Aaron Miller took over the helm as winemaker for Plumpjack Winery in 2012.  Plumpjack sits on some of the most valuable real estate in the Napa Valley, with the estate vineyard planted in the iron-red soils of Oakville's eastern edge.  In this episode Aaron tells the story of Plumpjack and its relation to its sister wineries Cade Winery and Odette Estate, also operated by the Plumpjack Group.  Each of the three wineries has been created to express the unique qualities of its estate vineyard, each in a different district of Napa.  Our conversation in this episode covers Aaron's background, his observations of growing Chardonnay in the warm northern half of Napa, the characteristics of fermenting in steel, oak, and concrete tanks, the efforts to manage those different tanks, and Plumpjack's 20 years of experience in bottling the top Cabernet under cork and screwcap closures.  


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Direct download: Aaron_Miller_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58pm EDT

In a quiet nook off of Silverado Trail in St Helena District of Napa Valley, Boeschen Vineyards is hidden where the grapevines meet the oak hillside.  Cypress trees interplanted with the Sauvignon blanc vines was the compromise the Boeschens struck with their master gardener mother, Susan.  After a career as a strategy consultant for technology companies Doug Boeschen was compelled to take a viticulture job and learn about growing grapes and making wine.  That compulsion is what catalyzed the purchase of vineyards that would become Boeschen Vineyards and then the building of a winery within a cave to solidify the new estate brand.  I met Doug during our studies at UC Davis, but used the opportunity of this podcast to catch up and learn the stories of both his education in winemaking and the creation of the Boeschen wines.  

Our conversation ranges from the land stewardship certifications that the Boeschen earned, to the influence of the Porsche Carrera in his winemaking, and then to technical aspects of farming such as Pierce's Disease and shade cloth to protect grapes from the afternoon sun.  One of my favorite aspects of this episode is what Doug learned from working in a tough internship in Bordeaux.  Thanks for listening.  

Direct download: Doug_Boeschen_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51am EDT

This episode is the return of David Bos, a guru of organic, biodynamic farming, and one of Inside Winemaking's most popular guests.  For those that have yet to listen to David's initial interview ( #011 "Beyond the Cowhorn" from Februrary, 2015) I would suggest listening to that first.  During his round two we get explore compost, its creation, and how to source high quality material.  David gives a background on his early experiments with biochar, something that has a potential to aid compost in the soil and also describes rock dust, AKA Azomite.  

In the second part of our discussion we talk about the critical elements of running on organic spray program for grapes, specifically to control powdery mildew.  There is a lot of hippie information about "natural wines" out there and David gets frank regarding what he considers natural and how organic farming fits into the battle with powdery mildew.  Our conversation weaves in and out of technical farming and then even touches into some of the biodynamic preparations and how, and when, they are used in the vineyard.  Always one to put his words into action, you can check out David's own wines at and the new Wine and Swine Club.  


Direct download: David_Bos_Returns_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:26am EDT

035: Tyler Thomas, Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards

This episode of the Inside Winemaking Podcast is an exciting one for two reasons.  First, my guest, Tyler Thomas weaves us through the epic vineyard and winery estate that is Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards.  Second, this episode was recorded over Skype, and is the initial foray outside a previously limited geographic range of the northern California.  

From own-rooted vines, to the differential rates of flavor and tannin extraction, all the way to the 250-year plan that Star Lane Vineyards is built upon, this conversation with Tyler is a treasure trove of ideas for winemaking geeks.  

Direct download: Tyler_Thomas_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

As I prepare to bottle my 2014 red wines I've put together a working document of all the important aspects that have to come together to successfully wrap up wines' tenure in the cellar.  This episode of The Inside Winemaking Podcast is a peek inside my brain, and my planning for the end of the 20-month affair I've had with these grapes and wines.  With so much to prepare and a heightened level of consequence, winemaking becomes very technical on the route to the bottling line.  

Direct download: Bottling_Podcast_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27am EDT

After an education that spanned the Canary Islands, Barcelona, and Bordeaux, Anthony Weytjens has set roots in Napa as the Winemaker and Estate Manager at Edge Hill Estate.  It wasn't until Anthony left Tenerife, the main island of the Canaries, and went to law school in Spain that he found an interest in vineyards and winemaking.  In the podcast Anthony weaves through the trials that were a part of his viticulture and enology education at the University of Bordeaux, including his having to learn French from scratch.  After interning at some of the top Chateaux within the Christian Moueix group in Bordeaux, Anthony took the opportunity to work in Dominus Estate in Napa and thus began his career in California.  Now at Edge Hill Estate in the St Helena district of Napa Valley, Anthony oversees the grapes and rebuilding of one of the valley's most history wineries.  We recorded our podcast in the old distillery that was initially built in 1869 and was painstakingly re-constructed o that every stone was set in its original orientation.  We discuss the efforts Anthony is heading at Edge Hill to convert the vineyard to dry farming and  biodynamics.  

And the podcast would not be complete without some insight into the vineyards  and wines of the Canary Islands.  Although he has yet to make any wine on the Canaries, Anthony describes some of the cool aspects of growing grapes in volcanoes, cliffs, and wind-swept slopes.  There are spots with vines that are 200 years old, others that drape off of cliffs such that people have to wear harnesses to pick the grapes and use donkeys to pack them out.  Fortunately, some of these wines are being exported, so don't miss Anthony's recommendations.

Direct download: Anthony_Weytjens_Complete_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am EDT

This episode is all about the use of whole berry fermentation in red winemaking.  I used this opportunity to make a solo podcast and go over what whole berry fermentation is, the reasons a winemaker would want to employ this technique in a winery, and also the multitude of challenges that it presents.  For each of the challenges, I address the methods I have adopted in order to overcome potential issues.  

Direct download: Whole_Berry_Fermentation_Complete_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19am EDT

After an extensive string of internships spanning New Zealand, Napa, and Australia, Laura Barrett made a list of her top ten women winemakers that she hoped to work with and landed herself a job with a superstar, Mia Klein.  After working with Mia at Fisher Vineyards, Laura was the winemaker at Casey Flat Ranch before taking on her current winemaking post at Clif Family Winery.  Based in Napa, Clif Family gained notoriety for their line of snack bars popular with endurance athletics before branching out into the wine business.  Under Laura's stewardship, Clif Family is producing a stellar line-up of wines, including Bordeaux varieties from their organically-farmed estate on Howell Mountain.  

Laura showed up prepared for this episode of the podcast, notes and all.  Don't miss her trials with Grenache-based rose, and the unpopular belief she employs in the winery.  

Direct download: Laura_Barrett_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50am EDT

After a three week garage sale in Dallas, Texas, Jason sold everything thing he owned in order to move to Napa and tread his own path that involved learning how to make wine and creating Modus Operandi, the project that arose from this quest.  Jason recalls the efforts that were involved and the way he chose the mentorships over technical studies.  If you like stories of hustle, networking, and the passion to pursuit new ideas, this podcast with Jason will be a hit.  Make sure and catch the tale of how his wine, Antithesis, was conceived and then manifest in the winery.  


Direct download: Jason_Moore_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31am EDT

I sat down with Dave, explained what a podcast was, he took off his worn John Deere hat, I hit record, and 70 minutes later I left grinning with the anticipation of sharing this episode with the Inside Winemaking listeners.  

Dave recounts the experiences that brought him into winemaking and the early days of the Orin Swift wines, while working at Robert Mondavi and Whitehall Lane, including the lessons learned from the difficult 1998 vintage.  Our conversation leads from assessing vineyards to blending and the "perception of sweetness."  In 2010 Dave sold two of his brands; The Prisoner and Saldo, but continued to build the Orin Swift brand and went on to create Locations Wine after the idea struck while stuck at Charles de Gaulle airport.  Locations Wine is now producing individual wines from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, California, Oregon, Washington, Corsica (great story of the label here), and soon to add Portugal.  

Not content just to oversee the winemaking, Dave is the creator of all of his wines' labels, a collection that has been inspired by world travel, simple observation, and a desire to give his fans something they can't find anywhere else.  The labels are too cool for me to do them justice - check out them out  Dave tells the stories behind the Machete, Abstract, and Mercury Head wines.  We finish out our conversation with his story of how the Orin Swift tasting room floor in St Helena came to be furnished with pages from "pamphlets of Maoist propaganda."  Don't miss Dave's answer to the question. "What do you believe that nobody else does?"  

Listeneners may recall that Amy Warnock, who was the guest in Episode 7 is the director of viticulture for, and Zeke Neeley from Episode 14 is now working with Dave Phinney at Orin Swift.  

Direct download: Dave_Phinney_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18am EDT

Overlooking Howell Mountain and some of the greatest vineyards in Napa, Kent and DJ Nielsen operate a unique culinary experience for those interested in not just a great meal, but being a part of its creation.  Cooks, Books, and Corks is a dining experience that they operate out of their home, a home complete with a near-commercial kitchen.  In this episode of The Inside Winemaking Podcast Kent and DJ describe the fates that brought them to food, to cooking, to wine, and to their version of a cooking school and destination in wine country, all while their four German Shepherds circle us on their patio.  Though not winemakers, these two know wines very deeply and give some great suggestions for pairing a variety of wine styles with dinner options.  

This episode is not about technical winemaking, but it provided the opportunity to share the story of Cook, Books, and Corks, and to allow DJ to share the incredible story of her surprise run-in with the yellow smoke on the water and the British Navy.  


Direct download: DJ_Nielsen_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:26am EDT

This episode is focused completely on Riesling.  Scott Sisemore, who is the man behind Waxwing Wine Cellars, began making only Pinot noir and Syrah, then when the time came to add a white wine to his portfolio made a very deliberate decision to make Riesling.  Unlike many other white wines, Riesling requires a vintner to strategize a intentional style of final wine, and then a plan for its vinification.  After tasting through the full range of styles of Riesling, particularly focusing on the level of final sweetness and its balance with acidity, Scott set out to create his Waxwing Riesling.  During our conversation Scott recounts the methods and challenges that he has encountered during the initial vintages of his experience struggling with Riesling.  A good winemaker can create a sound winemaking plan.  A great winemaker can assess the realities of a difficult situation and adjust at every step of winemaking.  This episode is full of Scott's experiences grappling with the fickle varietal that is Riesling.

Make sure and listen to the end where Scott offers Inside Winemaking listeners an exclusive deal on the Waxwing Wines.  

Direct download: Scott_Riesling_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50am EDT

You'll never mindlessly pop a cork out of a bottle of wine after hearing this podcast.  Greg Hirson, who is the Technical Services Manager for Cork Supply USA, takes me in depth through the meticulous processing from tree bark to wine stopper.  Its Greg's job to educate wineries on best practices for selecting appropriate closures and implementing sound bottling practices.  He describes how it is not until the third harvest of tree, after almost 60 years of growth, that the bark is of a quality suitable for wine bottles.  Subsequent bark harvests come every 9-11 years and a tree can give 10-15 harvests over the span of its production life.  

Our conversation begins with a background and history of how wines have been ruined by TCA (tri-chloroanisole) - "corked" wines.  The entire cork industry has taken great efforts to identify the sources of TCA and then to develop processing procedures to reduce its incidence.  These efforts have spurned great leaps forward in delivering better quality corks to wineries worldwide in the past 20 years.  Greg mentions the Cork Quality Council, which is an industry non-profit group that was created to promote education regarding cork stoppers.  The final part of our conversation covers some of the best techniques and procedures for bottling wines with both corks or capsules.  

Direct download: Greg__Hirson_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36am EDT