The Inside Winemaking Podcast with Jim Duane (general)

Tyler Thomas, who is the director of winemaking at Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyards, was the guest on the very popular Episode: 35 of The Inside Winemaking Podcast.  In this episode Tyler returns in a solo format to give color to his thoughts on what it means to be a winemaker and then results from some of the vineyard and winery trials that he has taken on.  There are numerous academic studies of how yield affects wine quality, but Tyler's trials with Pinot Noir might surprise you.  How about the importance of pumpovers?  Perhaps there is a task with a higher value return.  Can you make a decent wine without using SO2?  Is it worth the microbiological risk?  Maybe, but the grape better have the inherent characteristics to protect from oxidation.  Tyler is very forthcoming with his experience in the vineyards, cellar, and his attempts to question the basic principles of winemaking.  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind

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Direct download: Tyler_Thomas_Solo_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27pm PDT

Tom Rinaldi

I had the privilege to sit down and talk with one of my professional heroes, one of the most requested winemakers for this podcast, Tom Rinaldi.  After a long career including building the Duckhorn brand from the ground starting in 1978, Tom then went on to launch and direct the Provenance and Hewitt brands with the Chalone group.  Tom is now retired from full-time work, but continues to consult on small winemaking projects in Napa and Washington state.  Our conversation ranges from what Napa looked like four decades ago, to advice Tom gives for young winemakers.  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind

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Direct download: Tom_Rinaldi_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27pm PDT


This episode features author, Ann Reynolds, and her book The Inside Story of a Wine Label.  Ann's business, Wine Compliance Alliance, is focused resource on navigating the sea of the TTB's federal regulations for everything from grapes to bottling.  Ann's book details all of the regulated items on a wine label from brand name, alcohol content, to the specific nuances of appellation and the items that are not required on a wine label.  After years involved with wineries large and small, I learned that even I was not fully aware of all the details regulated on a wine label.  Winemakers rarely have a comprehensive education in the minutia of TTB regulations, but the feds are serious about the laws when it comes to an audit, and The Inside Story of a Wine Label is a way for winemakers to pull the guide off of the shelf in order to stay on top of each facet of a wine label.  Make sure and check out the Wine Compliance Alliance Youtube channel, which has lots of free videos that cover everything from getting a winery bond to the differences between custom crush vs. an Alternating Proprietor (AP).  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind

The Inside Winemaking Podcast on iTunes

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Direct download: Ann_Reynolds_COMPLETE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm PDT

This episode features Philippe Melka, one of the most renowned winemakers in California.  Joining us is Meghan Zoebeck, who is one of the winemakers that make up the small Atelier Melka workshop, which is responsible for the consultation to some of Napa's leading wineries.  I have received many requests for a discussion of managing native fermentations and I felt Philippe's experience would be ideal for this topic.  After Philippe shares the mishap of feeding red pomace to the winery cows at Seavey Vineyard back in 1995 we get right into the thick of fermentation management including both philosophical and technical aspects.  This episode gets deep into the weeds of red wine fermentations and we also cover the practice of extended macerations.  We wrap up with a discussion of Philippe and Meghan's recent forays into Pinot Noir winemaking.  I had a great time recording this episode and I'm excited to share it with all the Inside Winemaking listeners.  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind

The Inside Winemaking Podcast on iTunes

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Direct download: Philippe_Melka_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57pm PDT

Austin Peterson decided that he wanted to become a winemaker his father, also a winemaker, tried talking him out of it.  Winemaking may not be the most lucrative career, but it is rife with people choosing passion over payment.  Austin, now winemaker at Ovid Vineyards in Napa’s Pritchard Hill, brings a relentless passion to the vineyard and winemaking processes at Ovid Vineyards.  

Austin and the rest of the Ovid team might have one of the most spectacular daily commutes.   Resting above the main valley of Napa Ovid is situated on Pritchard Hill perched on its western slope.  It’s this slope that allows cool air to flow out from the vineyard and leave the vines out of frost’s harm. 

In this episode of the Inside Winemaking Podcast we discuss:  

  • Organic practices for weed control
  • Winery design and gravity flow at Ovid
  • The difference between sugar measurements Brix and sugar-per-berry
  • The method Austin uses to measure sugar-per-berry and the results they have observed in their vineyards
  • The advantages of barrel fermentation for red wines
  • How sugar accumulation is not correlated with anthocyanin synthesis in grapes during the growing season
  • Results from their experiments with vineyard shade cloth.  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind

Direct download: Austin_Peterson_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59pm PDT

From experiments with co-fermentation, harvest timing, and shade v. sun-side canopies Robert Hunt has a contagious curiosity for the endless pursuit of refining his technical approaches to winemaking.  In 2016 Anderson's Conn Valley lost its founder, Gus Anderson, and thus I asked Robert to describe the founding of stories of the vineyard and subsequent winery.  Our conversation in this episode covers topics from estate winemaking and its gritty details, what a good winery lab job looks like, to the lessons of selective harvesting Robert learned from winemaking mentors.  Make sure to catch the final question where Robert discusses the fantasy wines he would love to make in Italy, as his travels and interest in Italian wines is impressive.  


I'm hoping to put together an episode where I answer listener questions about grapegrowing and winemaking.  Please email what's on your mind



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Direct download: Robert_Hunt_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37pm PDT

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: 11:06pm PDT

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: 11:25pm PDT

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: 9:01pm PDT

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.  


Questions?  Comments?  Let me know what you think:

Direct download: Aaron_Miller_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58pm PDT

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: 9:51pm PDT

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: 10:26pm PDT

Ep. 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: 9:00pm PDT

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: 11:27pm PDT

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: 9:46pm PDT

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: 11:19pm PDT

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: 10:50pm PDT

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: 11:31pm PDT

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: 12:18am PDT

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: 10:26pm PDT

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: 10:50pm PDT

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: 9:36pm PDT

As winemaker for Silver Oak, Nate Weis is the steward for one of the most prominent and recognized brands of Cabernet in the US.  In this episode of the Inside Winemaking Podcast Nate shares how what may be considered an old-guard brand of California winemaking, Silver Oak, is actually on the cutting edge of innovation and is now the first wine producer to have taken an oak barrel cooperage in-house.  After rebuilding the Napa winery due to a fire in 2006, Silver Oak has drawn from its experience in winery  design and is now building its Alexander Valley facility with the goal of being LEED Platinum certified by its debut in 2017.  Part of Nate's role is to oversee winemaking for the Twomey brand, which was created to produce Merlot, but now has a full range of wines including Pinot noir from Willamette Valley in Oregon.  

Those interested in working a harvest vintage in New Zealand are encouraged to apply to the Doug Wisor Memorial Scholarship, which provides funding and a job placement at Craggy Range Winery.  After working for Doug when he was in New Zealand, Nate now helps aspiring winemakers discover this opportunity to honor a man who was one of his own mentors.  

Direct download: Nate_Weis_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58pm PDT

Four winemaker friends came together and created The Living Wines Collective.  This conversation begins with Shaunt Oungoulian, in whose parents' basement is the winery where all wines are produced, and then Sam Baron joins us midway to hear help explain the Reverse Rose.  Shaunt, Sam, and their other partners met at UCDavis while studying viticulture and enology, went off to work at some impressive estates across the globe, and then returned to California and launched the Populis, Les Lunes, and Ama Cellars that now encompass the natural winemaking efforts that bind their efforts and aspirations.  

"What can I not do?"  Asking this question throughout all of the winemaking, Shaunt describes their definition and practical applications of natural winemaking.  We take time to wade through the methods employed to hold true to those intentions and the thoughtful ways they use SO2.   This young team is making wines from organically farmed, select vineyards, treating the wines as naturally as possible in the cellar, and releasing them to the the world at affordable prices, an uncommon formula which pits them with the perception of something less serious.   It is precisely the combination of these tenets that sets their wines apart and that hustle is very serious.  

Direct download: Shaunt_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54pm PDT

In this podcast Legendary winemaker, Dick Peterson, describes his recently released book as, "A history book of California winemaking as told by me."  "The Winemaker" is a must read for any wine geek or fan of California winemaking.  Dick began making wines with Ernesto and Julio Gallo in the 50's, took over at Beaulieu Vineyard after being chosen by Andre Tchelistcheff in the 60's, developed The Monterey Vineyard and the original Taylor California Cellars in the 70's, then dynamited and drilled caves to develop Atlas Peak Vineyards in the 80's.  In his eighties he is still consulting for wineries and makes his own wines from Wrotham Pinot, which he cultivated after finding a single old Roman vine in England.  More on Dick's background and accolades can be found on his website listed in the Inside show notes.  

Our conversation covers not only Dick's career of winemaking in California, but also has stories that didn't make it into the book, including how a spelling mistake helped get some of Piero Antinori's greatest Sangiovese budwood into the Napa Valley.  I had a wonderful time with Dick and was quite impressed with his both his honesty and detailed accounts of a long and storied winemaking career.

Direct download: Dick_Peterson_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38pm PDT

Soil science is a difficult subject to get your head around.  Years of making "housecalls" to visit with farmers throughout California has honed Kyle Truesdell's ability to translate complex topics of soil science and vine interactions in a manner that anyone can understand.  As an agronomist with Certified Crop Advisor and Pest Control Advisor licenses, Kyle runs the Wilbur-Ellis offices in Napa and Sonoma.  He still makes time to get out and visit vineyards, and that is how I met him this past October at Seavey Vineyard.  After peppering him with nearly every soil question I had ever thought of, I realized that our conversation could be helpful to many, and that lead to the recording of this episode.

Direct download: Kyle_Truesdell_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40pm PDT

A summary of my winemaking through the 2015 harvest season in Napa.  Heat, fire, and rain drove a fast and furious harvest in the vineyards and winery.  This episode of the Inside Winemaking Podcast includes a special interview with Rob Taylor, who tells of his experience living through the Valley Fire that erupted on Sept 12th and wreaked havoc through Lake County, north of Napa in California.  

Direct download: Harvest_2015_Wrap_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02pm PDT

After reading an article summarizing the 2015 vintage (up to September) that Matt Reid wrote for the Napa Register, I scrapped my own attempt and invited him to deliver that on a solo podcast episode on the Inside Winemaking Podcast.  Matt is the proprietor of PWR Wines, winemaker at Benessere Vineyards, and consulting winemaker at Burgess Cellars.  In case you missed it, Matt Reid was the first interview for Inside Winemaking back in August 2014.  

Direct download: Matt_Reid_Sept_2015_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:38pm PDT

With his father's suburban loaded up with 
Petit Sirah and layered with dry ice, David Grega, nearly asphyxiated on the highway before he got his grapes to the crusher on his very first day of winemaking.  As someone who has no interest in saying "no" to opportunity, David has taken a novel approach to his career with wines.  An Army combat veteran of Iraq, cigar enthusiast, self-made Tea sensory instructor, and now Cab winemaker by day and Rhone wine guy by night, it became clear during our podcast conversation that the unifying characteristics of David's success in a range of fields stems from his focus and hyper-disciplined self education.  We spent a good portion of our recorded conversation talking about David's path into all things wine and ended with his specific vision of what he hopes his impact to be on the winemakers that come after him.

Carlotta Wines is the brand that David and his partner created to focus of wines using mainly Rhone varietals.  David also works with winemaker, Jeff Ames, who is the creator of the Rudius Wines, and together they manage Jeff's clientele of high-end Napa Wineries including Tor Kenward, Boich Cellars, and Anthem Winery.

Direct download: David_Grega_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33pm PDT

Up in the Tahoe forest I had a chance to  catch up with the woman behind the gas mask.  A winemaker who omits the easy details in an effort to draw you in.

Enter, Sabrine Rodems, winemaker for Wrath WinesScratch Wines, and the woman behind the curtains of Wines of Danger.  With two feet in the winery and the phone on speaker, Sabrine is not interested in conventional winemaking.  The word "experimentation" came up constantly during our conversation about her endeavors to dial-in the vineyards that she is working with.

Direct download: Sabrine_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

In perhaps the most entertaining interview I've ever had in a vineyard, Jake Terrell from St Francis Winery and Vineyard, takes me through his experiences throughout California's prime vineyards.  This interview has it all: earthquakes, historic vineyards, old-vine Zinfandel, Cabernet from Russian River Valley in Sonoma, strategies for reducing vineyard irrigation, and an epic Cannibas plantation.

I was particularly interested in having Jake share his expertise in caring for old vines, something he defines as planted before 1950.  He did not disappoint and in our conversation he gives multiple tips on how to work with old vines with the goal of delivering the highest quality grapes, something for which Jake is focused at all points of the growing season.  Beyond old vines we discuss how timing is critical for all high-end grapegrowing and he names the two most critically time-sensitive vineyard practices.

As a farmer who drinks a wide variety of wines, and has a keen fascination with the Old World, Jake paints a vivid picture in detailing the style for which the St Francis wines are known.  The conversation finishes with an invitation to visit St Francis, which is in the Kenwood area of Sonoma.  Need more reasons to visit?  The winery's restaurant was rated number 1 restaurant in 2014 by Open Table, they are certified sustainable, and the North Bay Business Journal listed St Francis as one of the best places to work in the North Bay of San Francisco.

Direct download: Jake_Terrell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Having never set foot in a vineyard before packing her Subaru with orchids and all other possessions Ashley Anderson set out across US for Napa and didn't look back.

Now, 16 years later Ashley is the vineyard manager at Cain Vineyard and Winery  up 1,700 feet on Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley.  She knows intimately the 87 acres that she farms for the Cain wines, especially Cain Five.

During this episode of the podcast Ashley tells how she is adjusting her farming for the current drought conditions, explains how "tolerance" is a major aspect of organic farming (Cain is about to finish their organic certification),  she talks about the results after five years of trials with biodynamics, and most profoundly, Ashley describes why her and her colleagues at Cain are invested for the long term.  All 16 of Ashley's harvests have been with Cain.

Direct download: Ashley_Anderson_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52pm PDT

Master of bubbles, Tom Tiburzi, spares no effort to explain the intracacies of making spectacular sparkling wines in California.  The 2015 vintage will be Tom's 26th with Domaine Chandon, yet the excitement he brings to this episode of Inside Winemaking leaves no doubt that he is more passionate than ever.  

Our conversation explores what normal red-wine traits are "evil for sparkling wines," how to keep Pinot noir fermenting slowly, the characteristics of a great sparkling base, why the visitor's center staff may be caught scratching the inside of flutes, how CO2 amplifies all flaws, and how wine style leaves an imprint similar to the fashion of a specific decade. 

Direct download: Tom_Tiburzi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13am PDT

At my request Zeke Neeley, who you may remember from Episode 2: Champagne, Cucumbers, and Estate Winemaking..., to come back and record a solo post about something he is well-versed, the use of Sulfur in winemaking.

In 15 minutes Zeke lays out the historical use of sulfur, specifically sulfur-dioxide (SO2), some of the common misconceptions it has had publicly, it's role with bacteria and yeast, the paradox of not using it, and his own personal opinions on the best use of SO2 for commercial winemaking.

Like cooks in a kitchen, all winemakers have different approaches to the use of SO2, and it's key to remember that Zeke's practices are a summation of his studies and practical experience.  Nothing can rile up a room of winemakers like the discussion of SO2.

I think anyone interested in serious winemaking will come away with new insights from Zeke's post.  I'm very appreciative that he was willing to sit down and record his thoughts on this hot-button issue.

Let me know if you find short guest post episodes such as this valuable.


Direct download: Zeke_Neeley_on_SO2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11pm PDT

The first three years of Douglas Rennie's apprenticeship involved learning to make oak barrels using only hand tools.  These hand tools were treated with great respect, never placed on the ground, as they had been passed down from the men in his family.  Douglas is the fourth generation to become a master cooper in his family.

After making barrels for Black and White Whiskey in Scotland Douglas made his way to California and began a new career making wine barrels for the French cooperage, Seguin Moreau.

I traveled to Seguin to interview Douglas for the Inside Winemaking Podcast and had a chance to ask him all the questions I've been saving for a true expert of oak.  In this Podcast Douglas tells the story of his apprenticeship, what it means to be a master cooper, he describes the many differences between French and American oak, takes us through the process of assembling a barrel, and describes the importance of toasting the staves.


Direct download: Douglas_Rennie_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

This short podcast is a teaser episode for the interview with Douglas Rennie, Master Cooper from Seguin Moreau in Napa, California.  Listen as Douglas tells two short stories from his early days of apprenticeship in Scotland and then another about some "dodgy fishcakes" in Beverley Hills.  The entire interview podcast should be live by Monday March 9th.  

Direct download: Douglas_Rennie_Teaser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:19pm PDT

"God and the devil are in the details."  In this episode Cameron Parry, who is taking over the winemaking reigns at Groth Vineyards and Winery explains which details he views are most critical to ensure that each vintage of Groth wines are exceptional.

A highlight from our conversation include Cameron's description of the flavor and texture qualities that result from Sauvignon blanc's fermentation in neutral oak barrels vs. stainless steel tanks.

Cameron does a great job in dispelling the myth that winemakers have some sort of gifted sensory ability. Training is the key to develop one's abilities when it comes to smell and flavor recognition.  I like how Cameron works that training into everyday experience, especially with his kids and their time spent cooking and "developing their sensory capacities."


Groth is perhaps most well known for their Cabernets - all of which are from grapes sourced from the Oakville district of Napa.  Cameron tells the story of how the Groth Reserve Cabernet came about and the describes the most notable wines from the recent 30-year retrospective tasting that Groth put on as a press event.

Direct download: Cameron_Parry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48pm PDT

In this episode vineyardist, David Bos, brings a lot of enthusiasm for organic and biodynamic farming.  David learned farming on the ground while working for Grgich Hills Estate in the Napa Valley, which is known for their commitment to natural winegrowing and sustainability.

These days David runs his own small farming Company, Harvest Bos, and is known as a specialist vineyard consultant for those who have an interest in employing organic and biodynamic farming.  That said, David doesn't smell like patchouli, doesn't speak in flowery prose, and doesn't believe we should get sidetracked by the less practical aspects of biodynamics.


In great detail he explains "that biodynamics can give you better health, quality, vitality" and the four tenets that he deems critical towards that end are compost, observation, biodiversity, and the biodynamic preparations.  The bulk of our conversation is spent exploring those topics and how David incorporates them into the care of his vineyards.

Direct download: David_Bos_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03am PDT

Art Seavey is a man who slips comfortably between his water-based business Monterey Abalone Company and his family's devotion to farming grapes on steep hillsides for Seavey Vineyard.

Much more than just my boss, Art is the general manager at Seavey Vineyard, a small estate vineyard and winery in the eastern hills of Napa's Conn Valley.  In this episode Art discusses the path that led him to found the Monterey Abalone Company, which sustainably farms abalone on the commercial wharf in Monterey on California's coastline

Direct download: Art_Seavey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm PDT

Everyday on my commute to work I pass Miner Family Wines in the Oakville District of Napa.  I was quite fortunate to stop on my way home recently and have a conversation with my friend, and Miner winemaker, Stacy Vogel.  

Before we got talking about her post at Miner, Stacy detailed her experiences traveling and working France and Australia.  Given how much time I spend cleaning and sanitizing the winery where I spend my days, I was a bit envious when Stacy described the benign neglect that was part of her internship at Bouchard Pere & Fils in Burgundy.  

Stacy also did stints at Tahbilk winery in Victoria, Australia, Cain Vineyard and Winery in Napa, and Ledson Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma.  I'd recommend to anyone visiting Napa to check out Cain, it's a bit spectacular.  

There's no such thing as a short harvest at Miner, as they are working with Burgundian, Bordelais, Rhone varieties, and even some Sangiovese.  It's one of my favorite pass-times to pick on Pinot producers and I figured Stacy was game because Miner produces five Pinots and quite a bit of that fruit comes from Garys' Vineyard in Santa Lucia.  

Direct download: Stacy_Vogel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10pm PDT

I had a great time recording this podcast with my friend and consultant viticulturist, Garrett Buckland.  Our conversation gets deep into the technical weeds right off the bat, and thus I've split the podcast into two episodes.  Get your coffee, turn on your brain, and get ready to get schooled on what is involved in growing grapes for some of California's top wineries.  Garrett gives insight into:


Bringing grapevines into the US and what it takes to clean up the virus and certify new clones.


How grapegrowing has changed in the past 20 years.


The most critical aspects of caring for a vineyard designed to make iconic wines.


The effect of the current drought on graperowing and the 2014 vintage.

Direct download: Garrett_Buckland_Part_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27pm PDT

I had a great time recording this podcast with my friend and consultant viticulturist, Garrett Buckland.  Our conversation gets deep into the technical weeds right off the bat, and thus I've split the podcast into two episodes.  Get your coffee, turn on your brain, and get ready to get schooled on what is involved in growing grapes for some of California's top wineries.  Garrett gives insight into:


Bringing grapevines into the US and what it takes to clean up the virus and certify new clones.


How grapegrowing has changed in the past 20 years.


The most critical aspects of caring for a vineyard designed to make iconic wines.


The effect of the current drought on graperowing and the 2014 vintage

Direct download: Garrett_Buckland_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm PDT

Recorded just prior to the harvest season in August, 2014, this interview with Amy Warnock takes us through her journey to becoming a viticulturist (viticulturalist, for some), up to her current work with Orin Swift Cellars based out of Napa.  Amy is a technical specialist when it comes to growing grapes destined for high-end wines.  In our conversation Amy does a wonderful job of painting a picture in broad strokes to elaborate how wine styles are created by vineyard site and how, as a viticulturist, it is her skill to understand what style of wine a certain vineyard plot has the potential to produce.  

My favorite part of our conversation is when Amy tells the story of how Bruce Cakebread from Cakebread Cellars left a message on her voicemail with a simple piece of advice that would become the entree to her vineyard career.  

Direct download: Amy_Warnock_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am PDT

A look back at the highlights from the 2014 harvest. 

We knew it was going to be an early harvest this year. We didn't know that things were going to kick off with an earthquake. Our magnitude 6 shaking on Aug 24th took us by surprise, but didn't thwart the fast and furious harvest pace that characterized this season. This podcast covers the earthquake, surprise of supple tannins, and healthy yields that will characterize our memory of the 2014 wines.

Direct download: Post_Harvest_Wrap__Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm PDT

Direct download: Eric_Renaud_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm PDT

I met Russell Bevan last year as we had both done our time with the Jesuits at Gonzaga University.  Russell is a big guy with an even larger personality, which is only superseded by some of the critical review his wines have received.

He is a man to pull no punches.   That is what most excited me to bring him onto the Inside Winemaking Podcast.  Russell founded Bevan Cellars with his partner, Victoria De Crescenzo, in 2004 and in less than ten years has rocketed to the top of luxury wine lovers' most-coveted list.   In our conversation Russell lays out his disdain for "good, clean wine," and explains in detail his winemaking philosophy and the meticulous standards he and his team employ.  For example, Russell is preparing to make up to six yeast additions to his wines this coming harvest in order to re-create his version of a wild fermentation.  And this because, as he states, "There's no such thing as a true wild fermentation."  Most of Russell's ideas on winemaking challenge what I have learned during my own career and our conversation during this podcast left my head spinning in the way it does every time we meet.  I keep coming back for more.

Direct download: Russell_Bevan_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04am PDT

This short episode is an update covering the experience of the Aug 24th earthquake in Napa, CA.  I talk about the experience we went through at home and then provide a very brief idea of how local wineries were affected.      While it was a terrifying experience, we came through unharmed and are incredibly grateful that the damage to our home and those of our friends was mostly superficial.  

Direct download: Earthquake_Update_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm PDT

When you are the harvest coordinator, cellar crew, owner, and winemaker of a boutique winery and the grapes are going to be picked starting at 3AM, your day begins shortly after dinner.  Waxwing Wines is the creation and 0ne-man operation with Scott Sisemore at the helm.  

During this episode of the Inside Winemaking Podcast Scott joins me to elaborate on how his years of making wine throughout northern Californian, India, and Chile inspired him to focus his attention on small lots of Pinot Noir and Syrah.  

Scott runs a lean winery at Waxwing and he is forthcoming during our conversation regarding the equipment and practices that he feels are key for producing exquisite wines.  Waxwing Wines are a focused representation of their vineyard designated sources and Scott's dedication, so much so that every cork is branded with his phone number.

Direct download: Scott_Sisemore_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

Mike Dunn returned to his family's winery in 2000 and  in this Podcast tells the story of his journey outside of winemaking and how it ultimately lead back to Dunn Vineyards up on Howell Mountain in Napa.  Mike describes what Dunn looked like back when he was a teenager working for Randy.   He then goes over how some basic equipment upgrades in the early 2000's have streamlined the winemaking, saving time and everyone's back health, yet kept the winemaking simple and respected the tradition of Dunn Vineyards - massive in fruit and tannins.  

Having access to some gnarly old vine Petite Sirah, and the motivation to create something purely his own, Mike launched Retro Cellars in 2003.  During our conversation Mike gives a cheat-sheet for working with Petite Sirah both in the vineyard and the cellar.    He then ties Dunn and Retro in together and explains how time and patience are key to both of these very different wines.  

Direct download: Mike_Dunn_Complete.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm PDT

Direct download: Zeke_Neeley_Completed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31pm PDT

I couldn't be more thankful to have a good friend, Matt Reid, join me on the Podcast 
as my first guest.  Matt take us through his winemaking history and explains how a $2.98 book on the remainder shelf got his career fermenting.

Direct download: Matt_Reid_Final_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54pm PDT

This initial episode lays out what you can expect from the Inside Winemaking Podcast.  Host Jim Duane covers the show's intent, it's format, Jim's qualifications as a winemaker, his background, and the inspiration for creating the Podcast.

Direct download: Inside_Winemaking_Podcast_Overview_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02am PDT