Results tagged “wine country personality” from Wine

Interview with Frank Vezer

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by Sipping Savant

Vezer Family Vineyards ~ Suisun Valley, CA

What attracted you to Suisun Valley?
vezerPersonality1.jpgMy first six years of life were in a mining town nestled in the Cassiar Mountain range near the westernmost Yukon border of Canada. At age six my family moved to a ranch in central British Columbia. The little town was called Fraser Lake and it is in the Omineca Valley. Omineca means 'slow moving water'. The Ominieca Valley is surrounded by the Fraser Mountains. Vezer Family summers were spent traveling to the Family's birthplace of Pecs, Hungary located in the Mecsek Mountains. My childhood memories of beautiful sheltered valleys and the scenes from the Sun's shadows on the hillsides enveloping the picturesque Valleys were re-ignited when I first visited the Suisun Valley some 22 years ago. Cradled on the west by the Vaca Mountains and at the north by the Twin Sisters Summit, Suisun Valley embodied all those memories. There was no doubt that Suisun Valley Is where my wife Liz and I should raise our children! Pronounced "Sue-soon" and meaning West Wind to the original Wappo Indian settlers.

vezerPersonality2.jpgThough not widely known, Suisun Valley is one of the older AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in North America and is approaching its 29th birthday. Suisun Valley boasted the largest winery pre-prohibition era in North America. Suisun Valley was also a favorite getaway of General Mariano Vallejo, closest confidants, and especially his daughter and her husband. The Blue Victorian Mansion was part of a land grant gift some 170 years by Spanish King Ferdinand VII for helping him settle the area. The Suisun Valley Village of Mankas Corners, originally Manka's Corner was established by the mining family Manka in 1846. The Mankas Corner had a general store with a Pony Express office and accommodations for weary delivery riders and other travelers. Today, Mankas Corner still has a 'general store', Mankas Café, Barista Café & Deli, Mankas Corner Vezer Family Winery and neighboring antique store, salon and more. Vezer Family and Staff are happy to share hospitality, time and local lore with visitors. The winery building is on the National Historic Registry and has a commemorative plaque about the Pony Express as you enter the Tasting Room, beautiful gardens and special event area for Concerts or Weddings.

Wine Country Personality: Gina Gallo

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Gina_Gallo.jpg
Gina Gallo: Winemaker for Gallo Family Vineyards.

By Claire Gabaldon

Gina Gallo followed the footsteps of her grandfather Julio Gallo to find her calling as winemaker for Gallo Family Vineyards. Today she creates award-winning wines from grapes grown by her brother Matt Gallo.

Read on for an intimate look into Gina's life, her earliest winemaking memories, wine she's most proud of, and what she does for fun!
richard barrel room cropped.jpgWinemaster Richard Arrowood
Born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Rosa, California, Richard started his winemaking career in 1965 at Korbel Champagne Cellars, after earning a degree in organic chemistry at California State University, Sacramento and completing graduate work in enology at California State University, Fresno.  From Korbel he moved on, first to United Vintners, the Sonoma Vineyards, and in 1974 was chosen by the founders of Chateau St. Jean Winery to become the first employee as Winemaster, and eventually, executive vice president.  Chateau St. Jean wines quickly received critical acclaim and Richard gained a worldwide reputation for producing superb wines, 

In April, 1990, after sixteen years with Chateau St. Jean, Richard once again moved on--to devote himself full-time to Arrowood Vineyards & Winery.  It is here that Richard has been able to achieve his goal of producing wines of singular, exceptional quality, without compromise.

His original plan was to produce reserve quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon only; however, Richard's drive and passion for making wine left him unable to resist working with unusual varietals and what he considered to be exceptional fruit.  The Arrowood portfolio has expanded to include limited quantities of Merlot, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Late Harvest wines, Malbec, Syrah, Gewürztraminer, La Rose, and a few special reserve wines.

Winemaker Ralf Holdenried

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Ralf Holdenried holding grapes.jpgWhen winemaker Ralf Holdenried was invited to craft William Hill Estate's wines in the summer 2007, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Ralf says, "The William Hill Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are classically styled Napa Valley wines."

Ralf acknowledges that William Hill Estate has a history of making world class wine from grapes grown in the prestigious Napa Valley.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for me to carry on an exceptional winemaking tradition."

Ralf was born into a German wine family and throughout this childhood and adolescence worked in his father's vineyard. Ralf studied winemaking and viticulture at the University of Geisenheim, prior to leaving Germany to attend the University of California at Davis. In 1997, Ralf worked his first California harvest at Franciscan Winery in Napa Valley, and shortly thereafter joined the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery's Sonoma County winemaking team. After returning to UC Davis to earn an MBA, Ralf joined the Louis M. Martini Winery winemaking team in Napa Valley as the winemaking director of Louis M. Martini's small lot wines.

Geoff Kruth ~ Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant Wine Director

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wcPersonalityGeoffKruthFarmhouse.jpgMaster Sommelier Geoff Kruth brings vitality, passion and extensive knowledge to his role as wine director of Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant.  Having worked at some of America's finest dining establishments, Kruth is on a short list of up-and-coming young wine professionals.  In 2008 he became one of less than 150 people worldwide to have earned the designation of Master Sommelier.

His current position at Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant is a home coming of sorts for Kruth. The former Sonoma resident graduated from Sonoma State University with a bachelor of science in computer science before moving to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in the technology industry. 

A blossoming wine hobby became an obsession that lead to his enrollment in the French Culinary Institute's Classic Culinary Arts program in New York, where he honed his palate to taste professionally.  While a student, Kruth started working part time at Balthazar as a cellar master, moving on to assistant wine director upon his graduation in 2003.

Randy Ullom - Takes It One Barrel At A Time

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RandyUllom5[1].JPGWinemaster & Chief Operating Officer
Kendall-Jackson Vineyards & Winery

A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Randy Ullom became interested in wine during a three-year stay in Chile, while on sabbatical from college in the early 1970s. His stay inspired a cross-country trek through Chile's vast wine-growing regions. It was an education in various climates and soils that has proved invaluable throughout Ullom's winemaking career. On his return to the United States, Ullom entered Ohio State University to study Viticulture and Enology. He received his degree in 1975.

Steve Leveque: Inside the Mind of a Winemaker

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HallWinesSteve.jpgAnytime you have an opportunity to talk with a winemaker it's a special experience.  Here is "The" person directly responsible for making the wines you love to drink. And . . .you can now ask them any question imaginable...

I had such a moment at the HALL Rutherford Release Party for their wine Excellenz.  Their new winemaker Steve Leveque answered every standard and zany question I asked.  Steve has been making wine for about 16 years. He began his career at Robert Mondavi Winery under the tutelage of Tim Mondavi for close to 11 years.  Eventually, he spread his wings and flew to Chalk Hill Estate Winery in Sonoma Wine Country where he served as Executive Vice President and Winemaker.

New to the HALL Wines family starting summer of 2008, Steve says he's found a place he's proud to call home. It sounds cliché, but Steve relates that Hall Wines is dedicated to making great wine. "The owners are committed to the winemaking process, passionate about the wine experience, and they have one of the best vineyards - Sacrashe - to produce from."  With all the right components in place, you might say the only thing missing was Steve Leveque as winemaker....

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