The grapes are the composer. Their variety and terroir establish the melody. The vineyard is the orchestra, the plants waking up each morning to the sounds of Mozart or Brahms. When they get in full swing, it’s a Beethoven.
He loves Sangiovese, but says it’s a challenge because many people aren’t familiar with it. Once you tell them it’s the principal grape in Chianti, they get it. He loves the fact that it’s a “triple threat”, meaning you can produce a red, rosé or sparkling wine from it.
I looked forward to trying the new 2012 Pinot from Frost Watch in Sonoma County, after being blown away two years ago with a barrel sample of the 2010 vintage. The 2012 was also extremely impressive. It was also a treat to meet and visit with Monty Paulsen, son of the late Pat Paulsen, who is carrying on his dad's legacy as winemaker and promoter for Pat Paulsen Vineyards.
His wines will be made for the market, but at the same time to his palate. He believes there's a place for sweet wines and rosés, as long as they're done right. He wants his wines to be food friendly, easy to drink and not out of reach on the budget.
Kevin Willenborg also comes to Paso from Napa and his resumé includes Petreus, Louis Martini and Francis Ford Coppola. His says the high diurnal variance in addition to the soil makes for a "creamier" wine. There's more roundness of the tannins in Paso he notes.
Recently, Sandi took a stack of clay pigeons, put them in the dishwasher and served the family dinner on them. John's wife Eloise exclaimed "We used to shoot those with guns!" Eloise, now 93, is an avid golfer, but Sandi says you'd best not play slowly in front of her. "You'll hear her bitch all night."