“Every region is different. Every grower is different. It's always new out there.”
John's role, as Grower Relations Representative at Coppola Winery, focuses on relations between the grape growers and the winery; which takes time and attention. Vineyards can be growing and selling grapes for on wards of 30 years. Coppola has been with growers for over 10 years.
As with any relationship, the goal is to be honest and open. Coppola Winery fosters ongoing dialogues with vineyard teams about what kind of fruit they are looking for. It's a discussion not a monologue.
“We want both sides to get what they're looking for,” John shared. Winemakers seek premier fruit and a good price per ton of grapes. Growers look for the volume to pricing they need to keep their businesses thriving.
The wine industry is a tight knit community. For John, it's about building and keeping the relationships growing between the winery and growers. In the vineyard, he can be an extra set of eyes and a resource for growers. Not a police. He keeps notes all year long on the health of the field: monitoring weather and bud break. He collaborates with the growers to look at pest management, pruning, vine balance, and fruit yields.
It's about bringing the growers in so they are a part of the winemaking process. Coppola Wines looks for growers they can work with in California, and into Oregon.
Imagine you grow produce for a local restaurant for a living. Once the produce leaves your field, typically, the farmer doesn't have any say on how the produce is cooked, served, or tastes.
But Coppola wines bridges the gap. Their “Grower Feedback Tasting” is a merging of strengths. The Coppola team and grape growers meet for wine tastings to share feedback; from the grapes to the glass.
While typically hands-on and in the soil, John also focuses on the wine industry at large. I had the chance to talk with him at North America's Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, and at the national ASEV conference. When not in the field, John keeps tabs on current wine trends and knowledge, as well as the chance to collaborate with wine industry peers.
Fostering relationships makes for a better family, and makes for better wine.
From the soil to the production room, John, and others like him,
play a supporting role in crafting your favorite wines.
A toast to those who build kinship!
A bit of science helps wine enthusiasts find better quality wines. Visit my feature on the ASEV.
This feature is the first in a series, on winemakers and what's ahead for wine in 2019.
The Unified Wine and Grape Symposium is North America's premier wine gathering.
It's three days of sessions, tastings, and an overview of the State of the Industry. (Link.)
Hosted in Sacramento, it's the place for the wine industry to converge and
discover where the wine world is headed in 2019.
I had the pleasure of chatting with three of our Santa Cruz County winemakers.
Each craft their own wines.
Each came with a wealth of experience, yet, also with an open mind to learn more.
Welcome to the first in a series.
Barry Jackson of Equinox Wines, Santa Cruz
Humble crafters make for some of the best products. Barry Jackson crafts some of the finest Champagne-method sparkling wines in California. Champagne is often equated with a high end, luxury lifestyle. But if you passed Barry on the street, his casual jeans, t-shirt, and understated manner would make him approachable to all.
At events, Barry often hangs out with the caterers and waiters. Even though he makes Champagne, he works hard to maintain a sense of reality, respect, and humility with others.
Generous and hospitable, Barry and Jennifer (his wife) often donate and share their wines at local charity events. Barry makes his own line of still wines, as well as a line of Champagne-method sparkling wines. Personally, I think Equinox sparkling wines are among the best in California. Period.
With California's thirst for exceptional Champagne/sparkling wines, Barry's been sought out for his wine making services. But, he shared, he looks for good business partners. People he wants to work with.
Barry crafts sparkling wines for his tasting room in Santa Cruz, as well as for other wineries. One of his clients, Wente Vineyards in Livermore, makes their own wine, then will have Equinox make a Champagne style sparkling wine for them.
In the wine business, there is a small family entity. In the early 80s, Barry made his wine at the Storrs' winery. And with 40 years of relationships in the wine industry, he now finds himself working on projects with the 2nd and 3rd generations of his first winemaker-peers. He shared, "it's an interesting and somewhat emotional, or moving, aspect."
“The wine industry, as a whole, is mostly in California,” shared Barry. “There's really not that many of us.” Barry started his wine career at Paul Mason decades ago, but he can walk into a winery and often know someone. When his daughter announced she was interested in the wine business, Barry said, “Here's a scrub brush.” Every aspect of the business is important. And “the people she meets in college, she will know for 30 years.”
For him, the Unified was a great networking opportunity. He ran into people he knew from Fresno State 40 years ago. It was also a place to for him to look for bottling equipment.
The next in our Unified Series is Jerold O'Brien of Silver Mountain Winery.
So here's to our local winemakers! Cheers,
For more local tasting rooms, visit my Santa Cruz Wineries page.
City living is often about doing as much as you can in the space that you have. Revolution wines is an urban boutique winery and bistro, with wine making and production on site—and doing it well.
So what's the big deal about making wine in a city? Well, Revolution Winery is Sacramento's first urban winery since prohibition. Second—there's the issue of land. The winery is smack dab in the city. Hence, Revolution purchases their wine grapes within 50 miles of the winery from local growers in the greater Sacramento region. Their wines are made with the intention to showcase the Sacramento terroir.
Revolution tends toward a “less is more” focus on their wines. Less oak. Less time with the wine on the skins. In fact, you won't find an industry or trade link on their site with detailed information on each wine. A bit of mystery in today's age of over information is refreshing. But feel free to ask questions on the wines during your tasting. Revolution is family owned and the staff are friendly and only too happy to share about their wines.
The tasting room and bistro is city-casual and is open to hosting events, weddings, meetings, and gatherings. Try their wines in a tasting flight, by the glass, or a bottle in the bistro. Wines are available to take home via bottles, through the wine club, or their Rex Growler—a refillable glass wine jug.
Revolution Wines is located in a trendy corner of shops. I've included some pics of the area
since it's a fun place to frequent.
Join me at California Wine