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I recently sat down with winemakers Bibiana Gonzalez Rave, owner and winemaker of Cattleya and Alma de Cattleya, and Jeff Pisoni, winemaker of Pisoni Vineyards. The two winemakers are married but work on their own projects. However, they decided to make a wine together and created Shared Notes, which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and share here. *****************************************************************************
Many winemakers say that their job is to simply usher the grapes through the process of fermentation and into the bottle. But even a winemaker who focuses on minimal intervention has hundreds of decisions to make along the way.
There are decisions to be made in the vineyard, questions of when to pick, whether to destem or whole cluster, whether to use stainless steel or oak and so much more. And talk to any winemaker and you will find that while they are always learning and willing to experiment, they are also very confident in the choices they made to create the final product.
It is this confidence that can lead to differing opinions when two winemakers work together. And add to the mix when the winemakers are married to each other. Sounds like the possible making of a disaster but instead it has resulted in the Shared Notes between Bibiana Gonzales-Rave and Jeff Pisoni.
Last summer, I was invited to judge for my first time at the Central Coast Wine Competition 2018. When it came time to the final round, we were voting for the Best White Wine and ended up selecting a Grenache Blanc. After the competition was over, we all went into the back to see what the wine was that won. It was the Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc that won “Best in Show” for white wines. The label was quite eye-catching but none of us had ever heard of the winery that was owned by Janu Goelz. That was because it was the first vintage of Alara Cellars. Fast forward more than six months and I met Janu and Jason Goelz for lunch when they visited Los Angeles and they shared their story of how they met and about their two individual wine labels which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here. When you think of wine production in Northern California, you likely think of Napa or Sonoma. Of course, there are other wine regions in Northern California, such as Mendocino and Lake counties.