Hometown: Santa Maria
What made you realize you wanted to work in the wine industry?
I became the bar manager and wine buyer of the Casmalia Hitching Post in 1977. It was the beginning of modern winemaking in the SYV, and the quality and potential was yet to be realized. It became my dream and goal to make local wine and serve it in my family’s restaurant. When that began to work, I realized I’d always be in the wine and restaurant business.
Who is the person you most admire in the SYV wine industry?
Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat is one of the most successful and most outspoken winemakers in our region. He is a self-made entrepreneur and has always stood by his principles to make wines of substance and balance.
What is your favorite part about being a winemaker?
It is an honor to be a part of changing grapes into wine, a process that takes years. But the best part is to share a well-aged vintage with friends.
What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?
The best pinot noirs have always been made in Burgundy, France. And the best are examples of power and grace and are a silky and seamless experience to taste. We are still striving to achieve the highest wine quality to give that level of ethereal enjoyment.
What is one of your favorite wines or vintages that you have made?
Our favorite vineyards are the Sanford & Benedict and Fiddlestix in the Sta. Rita Hills. We like them best when they have aged in the bottle for several years. Of late we have really enjoyed the 2001s and 2002s, but we think the newer vintages — 2015, ’16, and ’17 — are some of the best we have ever made.
Do you have a hidden talent?
When it comes to talent, I think I am fairly ordinary. But sometimes I listen well, and can pick up great ideas from the people around me. I’m pretty good at making those ideas come to life. Maybe my talent is surrounding myself with good people.
For information about VisitSYV Restaurant Weeks, go to www.dinesyv.com.