WAS THERE A MOMENT THAT YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO BE A WINEMAKER?
My first vintage was an internship at William Harrison winery in St. Helena. Somewhere between my first inoculation and first pump-over, I knew I was done looking for a career. Becoming a winemaker became my mission at that moment.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WINE JOB?
My first wine job was in a retail shop stacking cases when I was sixteen. The gentleman that ran the department insisted that I become informed about wine and what I was selling. When salespeople came by, we all tasted, and I had a spittoon labeled “illegal.” It was an excellent early wine education.
CAN YOU SHARE MORE STYLISTICALLY ABOUT CHAPPELLET?
Chappellet’s wines have been grown high on the rocky slopes of Napa Valley’s famed Pritchard Hill for more than 50 years. Our mountain terroir offers a rare combination of climate, soil, and elevation that make our vineyard particularly suited for Bordeaux varieties, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon. Our job at Chappellet to embrace the power and concentration our vineyard delivers, while crafting elegant, complex and age-worthy wines.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT NAPA VALLEY THAT MANY CONSUMERS MAY NOT KNOW OR HAVE A MISCONCEPTION ABOUT?
Napa is a valley filled with generational knowledge and wisdom about growing grapes and making wine. Though the multifaceted terroir of Napa Valley is rightfully famous, it is pioneers and multigenerational wine families like the Chappellets whose leadership and cultural knowledge of wine have helped to pave the way for those who came after them.
AS A WINEMAKER, YOU TASTE (AND SPIT) LOTS OF WINE. WHAT WINE DO YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT SPITTING BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH?
Since I know exactly how much time and care are required to make a great bottle of wine, I actually feel bad about spitting most wines. That said, on days where you taste all day, spitting is survival.
WHAT WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU HAVE MADE IN YOUR WINEMAKING CAREER?
Communication is critical. Almost every action of winemaking is an irreversible step. Even with clear intentions and clear communication, I still make mistakes. Sometimes we must make a mistake to learn, so I focus on that.
WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MENTOR IN YOUR CAREER?
Phillip Titus, no question! I have been incredibly fortunate to work alongside Phillip for fifteen years now. Not only has Phillip taught me how to make great wine, he’s taught me a great deal about life as well. A tenet we share is to never stop learning.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AFTER WORK DRINK?
Champagne or a gin and tonic.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL SPOT IN NAPA VALLEY?
Morenita Market for tacos a la plancha
TELL US SOMETHING THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOU?
I could not smell much as a child, but once my nose was rebuilt as a teenager, the world became a bouquet, another of many unanticipated events that led me to wine.
What do you think?