Some days ago we experienced a couple of snow days in the plains states. Schools, government and business closed as a blizzard settled into my small town. As a teacher, snow days are something very special. One whole day without plans. They aren’t like other days off, full of errands and activities. A snow day is free.
Snow day food is different, too; perhaps a day of snacking, or a slow, Sunday style meal, prepared on a Thursday. This snow day included a hearty beef stew. I had about six pounds of trimmed rump roast, carrots, onion, garlic, tomatoes (fire roasted, sun dried and paste), and button mushrooms. I also found a few springs of fresh thyme and a jar of crushed hot paprika chilies. There was also red wine.
It has been a busy few weeks and my recent wine club box sat unopened next to the wine rack. I hauled it to the living room and sat on the floor exploring each bottle. It was like the adult version of lining up Hot Wheel cars or Barbie dolls. I settled on the Peterson Il Granaio and what a great choice it was. The richness of the stew complemented the sweetness of the wine in a way that lifted both the beef and the cherry flavors. The heat from those preserved chilies lifted the wine for an amazing compliment. My only regret is that I used a cup of the wine in the preparation of the stew and that was two less glasses to drink. I’m going to drink this wine a lot in the future; particularly with a hearty dish that finishes with a kick.
I wanted to let Locals fans get to know the origins of some of our winemakers. This will be a sporadic series based off of availability of the winemakers.
What was your first experience with wine? I was in my 20’s. Mostly drinking white wine, red wine gave me a headache. I drank mostly chardonnay. Then I started drinking some of the smaller winery wines, noticed I didn’t have the same problem with them as I did with the mass produced wines. They had the lower sulfates.
How did you get into the wine industry? Back in 1994 I moved up here to Sonoma County and met David Coffaro. He had just won a gold medal for his zinfandel. It was unlike anything I have ever tasted before! Dave found out me and my wife were in the catering business and had us cater a small dinner for them. Dave invited the Peston family among others from all throughout Dry Creek. I saw them sitting around a table drinking wine and talking and thought I want that. I want to be over there drinking and talking about wine every day. Also the passion of David Coffaro, it is infectious. His passion for wine and movies and music. He would invite me over to his house for dinner once a week. He would open 10 bottles of wine with dinner then take me out to taste barrel samples.
How did you start making your wine? I had the opportunity in 2004 to make wine at Dave Coffaro’s facility- a Bernier zin field blend, and the 2004 cuvee in honor of my daughter Leslie. For the cuvee Dave let me go to any barrel and make a blend. The first cuvee had Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignone, and Touriga Nacional. There were 100 cases of cuvee and 50 of the zinfandel. I started entering them in competitions and I won silver from the Chronicle for both. At that time Dave started to let me do some custom crush at his facility.
How did you go from making wine to selling wine? One year, back in 2004 I realized I made too much wine to drink myself. I looked at the different licenses and decided to get a winery license over a distributor license. Then in 2005 I planted my estate vineyard right next to highway 128 on the hillside.
Anything else you would like to mention? Well I have won 50 awards out of 54 for my wines. I am a nice guy, fun to talk to. Also you make great bacon toffee for your late harvest! Ha ha ha. You’re right.
When the new Praxis Gewurztraminer came into the room I was amazed by the bottle shape and the dark color of the glass bottle. I had seen this shape before in the Peterson Bradford Mountain Rose, but that was a clear bottle not a dark olive color. I asked Bill Arbios “Why is the bottle so dark?” He told me that Gewurztraminers were known for coming in the darker bottles. I knew from personal knowledge that other alcohol like beer is put into the darker glass to help bounce off the ultra violet rays. But do ultra violet rays affect wine?
Wines that are exposed to natural light can be affected. It is a condition called lightstruck. This means the wine has either a “wet cardboard” or “wet wool” smell and taste. Red wines normally are not as affected by ultra violet light because the phenols in the wines protect it from turning. The wines most affected are white wines or sparkling wines. This is why most sparkling wines are in green or olive glass colored bottles. Most of the time the average consumer does not have to worry about wines becoming lightstruck; just be aware of this issue if any of your white or sparkling bottles are being exposed to direct sunlight.