Recently in Wine Country Personality Category

Wine Country Personality: Jon Emmerich - Silverado Vineyards

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Jon Emmerich has always worked in the wine industry.  In 1985, Jon interned in the Cognac region in France.  After graduating from The University of California, Davis in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fermentation Science with an emphasis in Enology, he worked a harvest at Stags Leap Wine Cellars.  He then spent a year at Conn Creek Winery and Sebastiani Vineyards before joining Silverado Vineyards as a Lab Technician in 1990.  As it turns out, Jon's lessons took place not only in the classroom, but also in his dorm room. He and a dorm mate, whose family owned a small farm and winery in Lodi, decided to use some of the family fruit to make wine in their dorm room. It was a red lend and, at that point, Jon realized that if he could make decent wine in a dorm room, then he could make really good wine out in the world.

Wine Country Personality: Steve MacRostie

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steve.jpgSteve MacRostie of MacRostie Vineyards

Since beginning his winemaking career almost 35 years ago, Steve MacRostie has developed a reputation as one of California's most respected veteran winemakers. At the same time he has helped to pioneer the use of fruit from both Carneros and the Sonoma Coast. As the founder and original winemaker for MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, Steve has earned wide acclaim for crafting balanced wines, with an emphasis on Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

A native Californian, Steve was born in Pasadena and raised in Sacramento. In the process of preparing for medical school, he earned a degree in biology from Washington's Whitman College in 1968. Following his time at Whitman, Steve served in the U.S. Army, which trained him as a cryptographer and deployed him to Vicenza in the Veneto region of Italy. While in Europe, Steve took advantage of the opportunity to travel to France, Germany and Spain. European wines were an epiphany for him - far surpassing the few American wines he had tasted - and he quickly fell in love with wine, and the idea of winemaking.

Wine Country Exclusive: Domaine Carneros' Eileen Crane

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eileencranedccredit1.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Champagne Taittinger's American outpost is helmed by a dynamic woman bent on improving opportunities for women in wine and putting Napa on the worldwide sparkling wine map.  Part of the founding team that literally built Domaine Carneros from the ground up, CEO/Winemaker Eileen Crane is one of Wine Country's brightest stars.    

Herein, her responses to our most pressing questions.

WineCountry.com Personality - Kathy Glass

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wcPersonalityPlatypusKathyGlass.jpgA Northern California Favorite with a Southern Accent

When you think of all the best things about the South, gentle conversation, gracious living, and good food come to mind. Nothing is hurried and everything is savored.

That southern tradition adds an extra element to Wine County exploration when you meet Kathy Glass, of Platypus Tours. She imbues the California past time of wine tasting and winery tours with a little southern accent. When you hear the soft lilt of her Alabama upbringing; you know that hospitality and home cooking will be as much a part of your experience as will talking about terroir and grape varietals.

Kathy's first big career was in the financial sector in New York. While Kathy loved her life in the city, 18 years later she traded in her panty hose and pumps for jeans with a taint of vineyard dust and sneakers. She met and married her husband Don and together they started Platypus Tours, a wine tours company, in 2004. Don, who was always in the food and wine industry, found a bus on eBay that was located in St. Louis. He purchased that bus and drove it back to Napa to begin offering specialized tours to meet growing demand. 

Wine Country Personality: Steve Noble Ledson

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wcPersonality_LedsonWinery_SteveNoble.jpgSteve Ledson has always taken pride in doing a good job. While still a young child, he helped his father on the family farm and learned the business like any other proud, hard-working Sonoma County resident...by getting his hands dirty. Early on in life, Steve knew he was destined to dream in details, he achieved success right out of high school by starting a residential development business but soon yearned for something more. After being instilled with the importance of carrying on traditions; Steve Noble Ledson adopted his father's passion for growing grapes--as well as his grandfather's and great-grandfathers before him--and decided to start a winery of his own.

Steve started by planting 17 acres of Merlot in the heart of Sonoma Valley on property on which he hoped to build his dream home surrounded by vineyards just off of Highway 12. In 1993 when his Merlot was ready for its first harvest, Steve had started to build his 16,000 square foot dream home complete in Gothic style, reminiscent of a French castle in Normandy. However, when cars kept pulling into the driveway to look at more than just the vineyards, Steve realized his fantasy home may be better suited as a showpiece perfect for housing tasting rooms, lavish gatherings, and picturesque views.

Wine Country Personality: Gina Gallo

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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!

Wine Country Personality: Winemaker Bill Anderson

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wcPersonalityChateauJulien.jpgThe Chateau Julien team has included Winemaker Bill Anderson since the Wine Estate opened in 1982. After studying enology at UC Davis, Bill joined Chateau Julien Proprietors Bob & Patty Brower with release of the first vintage of Chateau Julien wine - 1982 Merlot & Chardonnay.  Experience and consistency over the years highlight the essence of Chateau Julien wines. Today, over three-quarters of the winery's portfolio consists of its flagship Merlot and complementary Bordeaux varietals. Winemaker Bill Anderson has balanced the art of winemaking and a commitment to quality with each of the nearly thirty Chateau Julien vintages produced since 1982.

Bill's passion for the winemaking process began at the early age of eleven. Bill was fascinated by early childhood stories of his father making wine with friends during the prohibition period. One fall afternoon at his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bill eagerly set out to experiment with the fermentation process using apricots from their newly acquired family orchard.  He found an old porcelain 10-gallon crock in the garage, gathered apricots from the backyard and started mixing sugar, apricots and small packages of Fleishman's yeast. While the results tasted awful, the initial aroma of fermenting fruit never left his memory and ultimately led Bill to the study of enology twenty years later. 

His philosophy today continues to be as simple as the elegance he achieves in his wines. "Elegance is what I keep in mind in winemaking. Simple, straightforward, clean; the truth is evident without frivolity. If you have good grapes and treat them well, do all the details every day and let them do what they will naturally do, you will have a good product." 

Chateau Julien Wine Estate
8940 Carmel Valley Road
Carmel Valley, CA 93923
831.624.2600



CharbayPosterScan CroppedPostcard 4x6.jpgCharbay makes wines? Wines, Ports & a new Green Tea Aperitif. Miles is a 12th generation winemaker/master distiller from Yugoslavia. Trained in Europe as an Enologist & Viticulturist, it's what comes naturally to him and now to his son, Marko Karakasevic, too. Miles' life is a multi chaptered story with all that has happened since leaving his homeland. These days he lives beside his winery & distillery on top of Spring Mountain where he ferments, distills & bottles the unusual with the usual.

After he left his home, he studied in Geisenheim before heading to Canada where he was a chemist & a diver for Uniroyal. He was brought into America as an enologist to make wine in Michigan. There he met his wife, Susan, and they headed to California in 1970. He made wines & champagnes for United Vintners in Madera & Escalon California, (the company that owned Italian Swiss Colony). He fermented in one week as much wine as Napa Valley used to make in a year. Those were his big tank years.

Wine Country Personality: Remi Cohen

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personalityMerryvale.jpgMerryvale Vineyards - Vice President of Vineyard Operations


Remi Cohen has been a winegrower and vineyard manager in the Napa Valley since 2001. Remi oversees Merryvale Vineyard's grape growing operations, emphasizing wine quality, sustainable farming practices and green certification on their estate vineyards. 


Remi has worked closely with the Napa Green Farm Certification program and Fish Friendly Farming to develop environmentally friendly farming plans.  Sustainable practices include utilizing permanent cover crops for erosion control, utilizing compost to recycle nutrients, attracting beneficial insects through the use of insectaries, and adjusting canopy management practices to reduce disease pressure. 

Chatting with ... the Producer of Bottle Shock!

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Bottle Shock stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine,
Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku.
Catch the movie now - on DVD.

We caught up with Brenda Lhormer, producer of the charming wine-soaked movie, BOTTLE SHOCK, to get some inside scoop about the making and distribution of the film. And naturally we wanted to know whether BOTTLE SHOCK stars Alan Rickman, Chris Pine (the new "Captain Kirk" from Star Trek), and Bill Pullman got hooked on our Napa and Sonoma wines!

First off, tell us a little about how the movie came about. Where did the script come from?

BRENDA:  My husband Marc and I received the original script (written by Ross Schwartz) from a great friend of ours, Todd Harris, a Hollywood-based producer, in the fall of 2005. Ross (an entertainment lawyer turned screenwriter) was captivated by the Napa Valley back in the '60s and '70s and witnessed the transformation that occurred when Napa Valley wines beat the French in a blind tasting in 1976 (the famously coined "Judgment of Paris"). Chateau Montelena had the winning Chardonnay, and Stag's Leap Wine Cellar had the winning Cabernet Sauvignon. It blew the French away and put Napa on the map. So, twenty years later, Ross, and his wife Lanette, thought it would be a great idea to make a movie about this historic event and how it changed the world. Ross interviewed many of the major players involved in the wine industry at that time and wrote his script for Bottle Shock, focusing primarily on the characters at Chateau Montelena. 

Wine Country Personality: Eva Bertran

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Like Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Executive Vice President Eva Bertran is a dynamic blend of Spanish style, California charisma and Sonoma Carneros sparkling wine expertise. Part of the original team who helped to launch Gloria Ferrer, Bertran left her native Spain--where her own family was in the wine business--and settled in Sonoma 20 years ago. Since 1986, she has passionately promoted Gloria Ferrer wines, expertly leading diverse aspects of the business as enthusiastically as if it were her own family winery.

"There's a real Spanish sense of family here," explains Bertran of Gloria Ferrer's close-knit, collaborative team. "We pride ourselves on taking care of our employees." It's a tradition that began more than a century ago at Freixenet, which proudly employs people who are the third and even fourth generation of the same family to work for the sparkling wine house.

Wine Country Personality: Rodney Strong

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RStrongHIGHRES.jpgFifty years ago, Rodney Strong started a winery that would ultimately become his namesake Rodney Strong Vineyards, in the northern Sonoma County town of Healdsburg.  It didn't start out that way, first blending wines and selling them with his wife, Charlotte from their home next to the Tiburon yacht club.  Their first wine was actually labeled Tiburon Vintners.

They did move here, though, and Rod became a significant influence in Sonoma County's budding wine industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  It's a fact, as dancer in his younger years, attending the School of American Ballet in New York and traveling to France to dance at the Lido, that neither he or anyone else would have predicted.  When he arrived in the county, the name changed to Windsor Vineyards, then to Sonoma Vineyards and eventually to Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1982.  Along the way, Rod was one of the first to plant pinot noir in Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay and the first make a single vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County from Alexander's Crown in Alexander Valley

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.

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....

Wine Country Personality: Bruce Cohn

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Bruce-and-Moose.jpgBy Robert P. Farmer

Music and wine have been living together in harmony since the beginning of music and wine. The iterations are both subtle and obvious. Wherever you find good wine, you will reliably also find good music. For one man in Sonoma County, the combination has provided the philosophical basis for a life that has spanned successful careers in each field. And today at B.R. Cohn Winery, each of those careers live in the kind of accord that can only be cultivated by someone who knows what it takes to create a good two-part harmony.

Part I -One Man's Rocking Wine Country Odyssey
Part II -Listen to the Music (And Drink the Wine)

Part I: B.R. Cohn Winery

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Bruce-Cohn-Photo-tn.jpgOne Man's Rocking Wine Country Odyssey

By Robert P. Farmer

For Bruce Cohn, life has been harmonious. Sitting with him over a casual lunch not long ago, on a poolside patio next to his winery's tasting room and just a few steps away from his own gracious abode, it was clear even to the casual observer that Cohn is a man at peace with life. He speaks easily and eagerly about things related to wine--this year's production, progress on this year's crush, getting new barrels delivered. And he speaks just as easily, if sometimes wistfully, about the interesting road he traveled to get to this comfortable poolside place. It's a story about wine that involves music. It's a story unlike any in Wine Country, which is saying a lot considering the myriad unique storylines in this part of the world.

Part II: B.R. Cohn Winery

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BRCohn_Logo.jpgListen to the Music (And Drink the Wine)

By Robert Farmer

Reading books on buses yielded a new career path for the Manager of the Doobie Brothers. Before long, Cohn's interests were divided between the wellbeing of the rock-and-rollers and the health of the vines on his newly acquired land. Cohn had an idea that the olive trees might have some value, but hadn't really considered the vines on his land had the same worth. "I knew people in these parts were making wine, but I just figured that was done by Sebastiani and other people making jug wine at the time." In fact, Cohn originally saw cash from his grapes by selling them to Sebastiani, entering into a contract with to sell to the mega-winemaker his grapes exclusively.

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