I missed the release window and want/need some Road 31, do you really not have any?
Basically correct. I only make 800-900 cases each year, and in years when mother nature is playing hardball, that can be as low as 500. It goes fast. That said, I save back a stash for restaurants, as well as a library, and that’s not an exact science. If it is outside the release window, and you really need a Pinot fix, it’s worth emailing me to ask...
Do you like nuts in your chocolate chip cookies?
No, it’s blasphemy. Zero tolerance. Chocolate chip cookies were invented when the woman in the toll house ran out of nuts one day and substituted chocolate chips. Knowing this, surely you can understand that you really shouldn't use both.
How exactly does the release window work?
I send a letter/email to you in March letting you know your allocation and how to log on and claim/buy it. You have until an early April deadline to do so. Then I ship all the wine at once just before tax day, because, well, everyone needs a little fine wine to take the edge off at tax time.
How do you assign allocations?
There’s probably some app with an algorithm for all this, but I basically just do it on the back of a napkin. I take the number of cases I have available that vintage, and I try and spread it evenly across loyal Truckers and new Truckers to maximize Trucker happiness. In general, if you buy your full allocation one year, you’ll get an increase the following year. If you didn’t buy it all, your allocation will stay the same or shrink. If you brought me treats when you visited the caves, or once coached my daughter’s gymnastics, you may find you have a larger than average allocation. Some vintages are more bountiful and people seem pretty satisfied. In super-low yield years, everyone is mad at me. All that said, if you get your release notification and you feel your allocation is too low, it’s worth emailing me and I’ll take a look; napkins are hard to write on.
Do you prefer creamy or chunky peanut butter?
Creamy, absolutely. And Peter Pan brand whenever possible. Also, when making a PB&J, make sure to put the peanut butter on BOTH sides of the bread before applying the jelly; it helps prevent the jelly from soaking into the bread (gross).
I don’t see an address for your caves?
True. I don’t own my caves, and they aren’t designed to be open to the public, so I don’t want to risk people just showing up. If we can set up a time that works for both of us for your visit, I’ll send you the exact directions then. But for general planning purposes, I’m off Silverado Trail, in South Napa.
Can I bring my dog to the caves?
You can, but the pecking order is strict: the proprietor’s dog, my dog, and then your dog (and the coyotes lord over all). And bring a leash. If your dog doesn’t like the sound of that, best to leave him behind. And if you want to bring your cat, well … that would be something to see. So, sure, bring your cat.
If you are unavailable for a tour and tasting, anywhere else you’d recommend?
Yup, email me and I’ll send you a list of some fellow small-batch winemakers. I also highly recommend trekking in Nepal. And a quick tip if you do: if one of the locals points at the menu and says, "don't eat the yak" ... listen to him; he knows what he's talking about.
Are your vineyard and cellar practices sustainable?
The answer is yes, but this is a tricky question. I do everything I can to promote soil health, promote general biodiversity, reduce or eliminate pesticide use, and conserve water. I also operate off solar at the office. But I have not gotten officially certified organic, nor hired a biodynamic consultant. You can learn a lot from both of those approaches, but I find those certifications/labels unnecessarily expensive, and ultimately, I find them restrictive for doing what I truly think is best for the humanity, plants, and planet.
How many animals do you have at home?
Let’s just say, if your future wife works for the humane society, consider making her sign a prenup that says she will never bring home more animals than you have bedrooms in the house.
Do you sell your wine outside the US?
Sort of. I have some wonderfully zealous overseas Truckers that pay the shipping and duties to get wine to Europe or Asia. It’s a crazy sum of money, but of course I’ll do the work on my end if someone is willing to go to such lengths. I particularly don’t mind doing the extra work to ship to Canada, because once, when I was traveling through Asia, I bought a used backpack that had a Canadian flag on it. It took me a couple days to realize why—suddenly—everyone was so much nicer to me (it was a lesson in what those abroad think of Americans). I ultimately just went with it and now feel like I owe Canadians for being a poser.