I recently had the pleasure of talking to and interviewing Winemaker Tom Rochioli from Rochioli Vineyards and Winery. I love interviewing winemakers and hearing about their creative processes and journey’s to making the wines we love to drink. Follow along below to see My Interview with Winemaker Tom Rochioli.
As someone who grew up in Sonoma, you must have many first
memories of wine. Was there a moment that you remember when you
knew that you wanted to be a winemaker?
I grew up in an Italian family that always produced homemade wine. My grandfather had me punch down, wash barrels and help with racking when I was 10 years old. I also worked with my father at a very young age in the fields. This set the tone for my future.
What was your first wine job?
I returned home after a short stint with Bank of America. I was hired by B of A for their ag department. I worked with numerous wineries and I got the idea that our family vineyard would be a great candidate for a small winery. That is how it began.
As a winemaker you taste (and spit) lots of wine, what wine do you
feel bad about spitting because you love it so much?
All of them but I still do it!
What was one of the biggest mistakes you have made in your
“I thought I made a mistake once but I was wrong”.
Plenty! That is how you learn. None fatal.
Who has been the most influential mentor in your career?
My father as far as growing grapes. Burt Williams and Steve Kistler were great advisors as I started to develop my style.
Coming from a brand which has some of the most well-loved, and
highly regarded wines in the region how do you continue to make
wines in a style similar to your father’s but also leave your mark and
possibly do something new that may not have been done before?
The grape growing philosophy remains as my father did. I was the first to make wine here and I just developed a style I like to drink. I attempt to produce wines that are well respected and hopefully world class.
Consistency is the key. Our property is diverse and over time we learned to bring out the distinction from each block. We have farmed this land since 1938.
What is something you’d like to share about Russian River Wines that
many consumers may not know, or have a misconception about?
Just about everything has been said about this valley. The RRV is very diverse. The wines from our area (Middle Reach) are distinct and our area really put Pinot Noir on the map for Sonoma County. My father was instrumental in the beginning of Pinot Noir craze.
What is your favorite after work drink?
Warmup with an aged Chardonnay. Then on to Pinot Noir!
What is your favorite local spot in Healdsburg?
Too Many to list. In alphabetical order that we frequent:
Dry Creek Kitchen
Tell us something that would surprise people about you?
I am an open book. No surprises!