On Diane Teitelbaum

dianeteitelbaum                        “So I hear you’ve lost your mind and want to go into the wine business?” Diane remarked as she shifted toward me. A mutual acquaintance had organized a lunch meeting between Diane Teitelbaum and me, thinking she might offer some helpful career advice.

“Pretty much,” I answered.

I had achieved the title of Certified Sommelier almost a year ago, and was preparing for a trip to Perú where I would launch a project for the Dallas-based non-profit Personal Philanthropy. Upon my return stateside, I hoped to land a position in wholesale or restaurant wine sales and establish a network that would eventually allow me to leave Dallas.

I sat back, full of doubt and confusion from many conversations with my parents and then girlfriend about my lack of direction. “You should be proud of your accomplishments,” Diane declared reassuringly. “The last person I saw like you was James Tidwell.” My eyes widened in disbelief at her comparison of me, an upstart working at a tea and coffee shop, to one of Dallas’ two Master Sommeliers at the time. We had not even received our appetizer yet and she saw more in me than anyone in recent memory.

Over the next two years, she took on a mentor role, inviting me to tastings, and answering my many questions with a rare combination of honesty and forthright graciousness.

Upon returning to Dallas in 2010 and getting ready for some job interviews, she sent me an email that read: Advice of the Day, for tomorrow: Be Humble. No applicant or seller should presume, or appear to presume, to be the equal of the potential buyer or employer, even if you are. To achieve a goal promote your gratitude for the potential opportunity to learn from the mentor, company, etc. Try to appear sincere but not sappy…Some mentors might be offended or threatened by any nuance of arrogance. The exception to this rule might be New York

Diane’s name meant nothing to me when we first met, and it was not until her death last month that I began to learn how the impact she had on me was an extension of many whom she knew. The news was surprisingly difficult for me to swallow. Our last correspondence was over two years ago, but so much of her advice and the time I spent with her shaped the direction I tried to take in my career, both directly and indirectly.

I wanted to do something unique, where my desire to know the story and share my knowledge about any given bottle of wine would bring its flavors to life, and make me an unlikely asset to distributors, importers, and restaurants. It surprised me when I found an avenue for this desire through tea rather than wine, with an opportunity that brought me to my current Seattle home. This blog is my remaining outlet to explore my relationship with and curiosity for wine. How fitting that Diane was the first person to whom I sent my inaugural blog post (on Chateau Musar no less, whose winemaker died a few weeks ago), to let her know I had come up with a focused way of showcasing my writing about wine. Thank you, Diane. I will think of you every time I click “submit” on this site.

When the Trade Trades: Part I

I would not initially characterize myself as a betting man, but a chance encounter on my final night in Dallas yielded an irresistible opportunity.  It was late in the evening, my stomach full of stellar sushi and beef soup from my favorite sushi joint Yutaka, and my girlfriend and I were at Strangeways for a final night-cap with friends.  I sipped my cider, and my friend Kevin Trevino, Sommelier at Oak, walked in the bar unexpectedly.

He joined us with a snifter of barrel-aged beer, the name of which escapes me.  We discussed my departure and his upcoming trip to Oregon, where I would be spending the next month training for my new job.

“When are you leaving?” he asked.

“Tomorrow,” I replied.

“What time?”

“The morning.”

“Yeah, right,” he smirked.

“No.  We won’t leave any later than noon.”

“You’ll be leaving by 2 pm or later.”

“No way.  No way.”

“I will bet you a bottle of my 1993 Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”

“All right.  Easy bet to win,” I said, clinking my glass of cider to his beer.

He turned to Carla, my girlfriend.  “You make sure he texts me when you actually leave,” he emphasized.

“If we leave after noon and you win, I’ll open something special.  I’m just not sure what yet.”

At 9:44 AM the next day, I texted Kevin:

“Hittin the road Jack.  Looking forward to taking a trip back in time to 1993 with ya soon.  I will open a bottle of Morrison Lane! :-)”

Kevin was flying into Portland a little before 1 AM this past Friday night.  He spent the weekend at Pinot Noir Camp in Newberg, taking seminars and enjoying lavish meals of crab and salmon baked over outdoor fires.  He remembered to bring the wine, a bottle of Chateau La Nerthe, from 2003.

“I thought you were bringing a CDP from 93!” I exclaimed.

“Turns out I forgot that I never had a ’93.  The 2003 just had 93 points from Robert Parker.”

It was about 1:30 by the time we arrived at my apartment.  I pulled out a hunk of Mt. Townsend Red Alder Toma, and removed the cork from the wine bottle.  One side of the wood had a string of wine that had nearly soaked to the edge, confirming the bottle’s passage into adulthood.  I poured short pours into two glasses and held one to my nose.  I recalled a moment of shoveling dirt in front of my second Dallas house, the day I spent laying the foundation for what became my first successful garden.

The wine tasted heavy yet balanced, slightly warming on a late and wet Portland night.  It quieted us as my tongue swam through soft flavors of fresh berry conserve akin to the local marionberries and strawberries I have seen so often in the Pacific Northwest.  At such a late, tired hour, my taste buds felt as if they were genuinely budding and new, just trying to absorb the wise prophecies of an elder who had remained quiet for nine years.

We toasted, and spent the next two hours wandering through conversation.  As I reach this point of the story, I remember the moment Kevin and I first met three years ago at the Texas Sommelier Conference, and how that instance was one of many chance parallels drawn together with wine as their point of intersection.  We both found ourselves on the job market shortly after having lunch with a winemaker a couple years after meeting one another, and it was a wine event that brought him to my new one-month home.  Ultimately, we shared these many bonds through a bottle of wine.

All that said, I have a promise to keep, one we were too tired to pursue at 3:30 AM.  Kevin and I will meet again one day, and I will open a bottle of Morrison Lane, so I can write Part II of this entry…

The Element of Fungi

Sometime after midnight at my ex-girlfriend’s apartment last year, I was about one third of the way through my friend’s copy of Paul Stamets Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms can Save the World.  Stamets described an experiment where he and his team inoculated diesel-contaminated soil with oyster mushroom mycelium and witnessed the soil’s health turn around with striking speed.

I sent my friend an exuberant text message about this powerful tool to eliminate pollution.

“Mycopesticides,” he responded, alluding to an upcoming chapter in the book where Stamets inoculated wood in his house with a cordyceps.  Carpenter ants consumed the wood and became infected, at which point they climbed out of the wood and sacrificed themselves as the cordyceps fruited.

Days later, we were at an undisclosed location hunting for oyster mushrooms.  They always turn up at fallen dead trees.  “It’s like nature’s band-aid,” he said.  “The mushrooms are trying to repair the things that break.”

As I began working for Whole Foods on the Wine Team, these concepts kept turning in my brain.  Could mycelium have any correlation with the earth-like flavors we encounter in certain wines such as Burgundies, Barolos, and Oregon Pinot Noir (all locations marginally known for their available truffles)?  How could mycelium become useful as a fertilizer or natural pesticide in viticulture?

At the beginning of this year, I finished reading Katherine Cole’s book Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers, and the question re-emerged upon reading a statement from Montinore Vineyards proprietor Rudy Marchesi: “we are now through biodynamics introducing beneficial mycorrhizal fungi that are crowding out the pathogenic fungi.  They are making the soil more aerobic.  Pathenogenic fungi like soils that are anaerobic.”

I contacted Stamets’ company, Fungi Perfecti, for answers to my questions, and received the following response:

Hi Adam, thanks for your question.  Mycorhizal fungi can be added to the row of grapes to increase specific microorganisms that attach to the roots of the grape plant.  These can be helpful in soils of various conditions, depending on how they are treated.  They can help improve disease resistance and nutrient uptake for the soil.  It will also increase water uptake.  Here is a link to an article on grapes.

 

It has been awhile since my last oyster mushroom hunt, and my girlfriend and I have kept busy with an oyster-mushroom growing kit from Back to the Roots.  They have the same mineral-driven raw flavor that becomes nicely rich when sautéed, as I did this morning with the most recent flush.  Their bounty and beauty, however, is unmatched in comparison to their wild brethren.  It is this strange enigma that fuels my incessant curiosity for every possible benefit mycelium can offer us, and how the protection they offer wine grapes translates into what we taste in our stemware.

Our homegrown oyster mushrooms

I ran into my old friend David Anthony Temple at yesterday’s Chefs for Farmers event, and he had prepared morels stuffed with goat cheese and jalapeño over Mexican-style elote, a celebration of the ending morel season.  As I prepare for relocation to the Pacific Northwest, a land known for all kinds of wild mushrooms, I am filled with a longing desire to throw a morel-stuffing party when the season begins next spring.  I am imagining a bounty of Washington and Oregon wines and mushrooms stuffed with game and locally foraged greens, a moment of rejoicing over the flavor of all elements coming together.

Chef DAT’s Goat Cheese and Jalapeño Stuffed Morel over Mexican Elote at Chefs for Farmers

Drinking Wine out of a Highball

Ever since starting this blog I had intended to visit Scardello Artisan Cheese Shop during one of their late nights that occur the first Friday of each month.  I first dropped by the shop about two years ago, and was struck by their use of highball glasses for wines they served by the glass.  It seemed to promote an image free of pretension, a place where anyone could feel relaxed.  I could only recall stemware as the preferred medium since I began drinking wine regularly.  Businesses such as Scardello that serve wine and charge money for it often invest an inordinate amount of time and capital for what they consider the ideal glassware.  But in this small cheese shop, wine is a best friend that their cheese needs to keep around, even though it may have a life of its own outside of Scardello.

Foregoing expensive stemware, the preferred wine consumption vessel at Scardello is a basic highball

I finally had some spare time this past Friday evening, and I drove straight from work to the shop.  I approached the live jazz trio, when Ali Morgan, a short brunette employee with a bright demeanor, approached me.  “Hey Adam!” she said with gusto, hugging me.  “How are you?”

“I’ve been doing well,” I remarked.

“It’s Rich’s birthday.  Come sit with us.”

Cheesemongers Rich Rogers and Ali Morgan relaxing with a bottle of wine

Rich Rogers had left a career in the film industry to open this unique and personal vision of a cheese shop years ago.  It represents what he wants to share with the community, with a sense of enthusiasm that filters into the friendly smiles of his employees, some of whom were relaxing with him for their night off.

Rich poured me a glass of 2008 Teira Zinfandel from Sonoma, basic, big, and expansive, and a great partner for the piece of creamy Jersey Blue cheese he let me taste.  Someone mentioned that the winemaker, Dan Donahoe, was a friend of Rich’s.  “He’s a cool guy and he makes great wines,” Rich said.

I began fiddling with my new camera, snapping pictures in between sips of Corino Nebbiolo Rich let me taste.  Having just arrived from work, a couple glasses of wine were causing my memory of the familiar jazz tunes to elude me of their exact titles, but they were nonetheless relaxing to my pleasant state of revelry.

Teira Zinfandel and Colino Nebbiolo, with some special cheeses

I had invited an old friend’s current girlfriend, Gretchen, who had just moved to town.  In spite of her lactose intolerance, the mention of half-price wines by the glass and live jazz convinced her to join us.  I bought us each a glass of Malbec and told her about my week full of mishaps before Thanksgiving.

As the jazz trio packed up their instruments, Rich gave me and Gretchen a taste of the Iron Horse 2007 Wedding Cuvee Blanc de Noirs.  He explained how they were among those who had petitioned for Green Valley’s American Viticultural Area status in Sonoma back in 1983.  I inhaled the cherry blossom aroma percolating out of my highball, and sipped it as I browsed Rich’s small yet eclectic wall of wines.  On the bottom shelf in the center, I noticed an Italian Carménère-based blend.  The grape almost always originates from Chile, and this was the second time I had seen it from elsewhere, (the first time was from one of my favorite Walla Walla wineries, Morrison Lane,) so I was no doubt curious about the bottle in front of me by Inama.  Surely it’s not approved for us to sell at Whole Foods, I thought.

The interior of Scardello late night

I told my colleague about it at work the next day, and arrived yesterday to an open bottle to taste and a full case to stock our shelves.   I love being wrong at moments like these, because I had the opportunity to taste something new.  Soft, lush, relaxing, the wine was welcoming me into its home, a place with no frills where I could unwind amongst company.  In that spirit, I made sure my coworkers tasted it, and told them how the grape was nearly lost to the industry and is mostly only available in Chile.  Now we have something familiar that will allow me to introduce more people to Italian wine, and therein lies the most exciting part of what I do: the possibility of relishing my taste with others.

Channeling the Ancient

“Call me Dionysus,” my friend Matt proclaimed, adjusting his aviator sunglasses lower on his face.  Our friend Gus filled Matt’s coffee mug from one of many milk jugs of wine he had brought after his one-day stint bottling at a Walla Walla winery.  Matt’s statement forecasted a unique night of revelry that ensued, leaving me with what I consider an authentic association with the ancient Greek god.  Nietzsche described Dionysian intoxication as “nature overpowering man,” whereby a night of consuming naturally-fermented fruit juice resulted in unrestrained behavior akin to the acts of Dionysus’ followers, the kind of acts that got me kicked out of a bar for the first time.

It was the summer after taking a course in Ancient Theatre, a course where I studied the meaning of tragedy with a special focus on Dionysus, the supposed creator of wine in one of its most ancient forms.  To this day he evokes confusion within me, a figure at once wild and worshipped, capable of inspiring both happiness and madness.  It was through this lens that I began wondering about what wine meant to ancient cultures such as Egypt and Greece, a beverage that inspired both intellectual discourse and debauchery, sometimes simultaneously amongst its users.

In ancient Egypt, wine seems to have an association with the dead, the elite, and most notably gods.  Depicted in a red dress with cow horns, Hathor was the goddess of love, motherhood, and music among other things.  When she received word of the potential assassination of Upper Egypt Pharaoh Ra, she transformed into the hostile and vengeful war goddess Sekhmet.  It was through consuming wine and becoming drunk on the blood-colored liquid that her former, more kindly identity as Hathor reasserted its presence.  In the Festival of Drunkenness, communities came together and paid tribute to this tale of Hathor by becoming thoroughly intoxicated.

The goddess Hathor

I remain struck by this ceremonial homage to inebriation, something also common in Ancient Greece, where another festival called Anthesteria celebrated the beginning of a new vintage by dedicating the newly opened wine to Dionysus.  What intrigued me most, however, was the concept of a symposium, which literally means “drinking together.”  These most important of social gatherings between the Athenian elite began with a small feast before transitioning into heavy drinking of wine mixed with water and spices.  A symposiarchos would moderate the amount of wine consumed, determining the level of drunkenness on these all-night affairs, while flute-girls, or auletrides, provided musical and sexual entertainment.  The mixing of wine with water was a sign of class, while consuming undiluted wine was a habit associated with barbarians, believed by some Spartans to have caused the insanity and death of King Cleomenes.

“There it is,” says Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, “right in the middle of the word intoxication, hidden in plain sight: toxic.  The bright line between food and poison might hold, but not the one between poison and desire.”  But what does this perennial desire for personal adulteration tell us about the way we treat wine versus the way our Greek and Egyptian brothers treated it?  The same desires and debates present themselves in different ways, whether it is how we drink in moderation or the use of bottles instead of two-handled clay amphorae vessels for storing the wine.

A scene depicting Dionysus with two satyrs on a Greek amphora used for storing and pouring wine

Over the years I found myself curious about how wine was consumed before the French redefined and codified our understanding of its use, and knew the topic would manifest itself amongst the earliest posts of this blog.  When I told my colleague Bianca about this post and how much time it was taking me, she responded “you could spend the rest of your life researching that.”  I chose an image of Dionysus as the icon for this blog to show my interest in digging deeply into unknown, intangible and at once fascinating concepts tied to wine.  His figure represents the quintessence of what we seek to understand, yet are eluded for the very reasons we desire it, the eternal mystery.

If You Could Have Dinner with One Winemaker…

We walked toward the entrance of Victor Tango’s, concerned for a moment that we were running late.  As we neared the door, our hosts for the evening appeared, Chuck Weintraub (Owner and Broker for Wineright Inc.) and Randal Grahm (Owner and Winemaker for Bonny Doon Vineyards).

Randal smiled as he introduced himself to me.  “Nice hat,” he said, pointing to a large black beret I was wearing with the name of his red wine “CONTRA” written on it.

“I knew he’d wear the hat,” Chuck remarked.

Weeks into my position as Associate Wine Specialist for Whole Foods, Chuck visits the store with wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard.

“I just can’t quite tell you how great it feels to be selling these wines again,” he proclaims.

There are few California wines I regard as beyond the crowd-pleaser category, so my eyebrows go up with intrigue upon tasting these wholly original wines for the first time.

“Adam, you seem quiet,” says Chuck.  “I’m wondering what you think.”

“I’m really impressed by this rosé,” I respond, referring to the Vin Gris de Cigare.  It has a surprisingly dry and crisp flavor profile I have not experienced since my first tasting room job.  Vin Gris is the pink version of Bonny Doon’s flagship wine, Le Cigare Volant, a reference to a 1954 decree that no flying saucers can fly above Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Here was the alien Californian cleverly concocting a Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend and a rosé version of the wine.

I dive into these wines head first, with a chance encounter days later of Randal Grahm’s collection of newsletters Been Doon So Long at Half Price Books.  I had kept an empty bottle of their European Syrah Domaine des Blaguers in my house, not recalling it as a Bonny Doon wine but more interested in the label drawn by Ralph Steadman, the focus of a previous Why Wine? post.  As I read the book, Randal Grahm sounds like a kindred spirit, someone outside the norm in his home of California and its wine business.

Six of us sat at a table toward the back of the restaurant and the night began with two different bubbling beverages.

“Randal has brought a bunch of wines that are not available in Texas,” Chuck began, “so this should be fun.”

He poured glasses of sparkling cider made from apple, pear, and quince, and finished it with a splash of dessert wine to add sweetness.  The cider tasted like dry champagne without heavy-handed yeastiness.

“Are you growing the fruit for this cider yourself?” I asked him.

“Not yet but we’re hoping to grow the pears and quince.”

Then came sparkling riesling.  I took my glass and smelled, and immediately turned to Bianca, my superior and the buyer at our store.

“Bianca I could sleep in this glass,” I said.  In retrospect, a glass of liquid lends itself more to swimming rather than sleeping.

“Yeah, we need this wine,” she responded.  “New Year’s resolution for the store.”

Food began arriving, and kept arriving throughout the night as the restaurant manager and wine buyer joined our table.  We tasted an Albariño, Dry Muscat, Syrahs, a Nebbiolo, and many more.

At one point the topic of stelvins came up.  Most people I know refer to “stelvins” as “screw-tops,” but the simplistic designation of this term bothers me as much as the term “foodie,” for which I prefer to say “epicurean” as I prefer the word “stelvin.”

“Wine ages better with stelvins,” Randal declared.

“Really?” I asked, my eyes widening.  “Because I have always told customers the exact opposite.”

“Oh no.  We have done experiments.”

After dinner, Bianca asks if I am not too tired for a nightcap at the Libertine Bar.  We sit at a stool as she drinks a digestif, me with a Deschuttes Stoic Ale in front of me.

“So what about the whole cork versus stelvin thing?” I ask.  

“There’s a lot of information coming to light about it,” Bianca notes.

“Because I have seriously told customers a stelvin means the wine is ready to drink and a cork means it should be aged.  But tonight Randal told me the exact opposite.”

“Well what we want with wine is controlled spoilage.  There’s a book called To Cork or Not to Cork that tells the whole story of each closure method.”

Toward the end of dinner, my boss Casie asked Randal how he went from sweeping the floors of a winery to the owner and winemaker for one of California’s most respected vineyards.

“Well, I came from a very privileged background…”

Casie brings up his comment afterward, and points out the perception that people think those with Trust Funds never need to worry about money.

“I distinguish between someone with a privileged background versus someone with a trust fund,” I say.

“What’s the difference for you?” Casie asks.

“I’ve been privileged growing up,” I explain, “but once I became an adult, there was not much money to my name.  Someone with a trust fund has that luxury.  It was also hard doing things my parents didn’t understand when they were financing my education.  Strangely they’ve been most supportive of my career in the wine industry.”

“I think your parents realize you’re serious about what you’re doing,” Bianca says, “and they see their persistence and work ethic reflected in your struggle, so they respect you more for it.”

“Interesting,” I respond.  “I can see how that may be the case.”  I think about how our conversations have made tonight’s main event seem more significant for all of us.

Last Week at Owen Roe

The air is laden with clouds and light rain, the most common weather in this part of Oregon.  I am getting closer to St. Paul, about an hour outside of Portland, passing roadside produce stands and fields of peppers and corn.  My destination is Owen Roe Winery, a boutique winery that sources grapes from Washington and Oregon to make artisanal wines with wide Texas distribution through Glazers.  Texas broker Chuck Weintraub suggested I visit them during my trip to the Pacific Northwest, as he sensed I would be drawn in by the location and his longtime friend, winemaker and former Dallasite Aaron Berlin.

The winery is tucked away with a small black and white sandwich board of a sign.  I am introduced to Aaron upon my arrival.

“So you’re coming from Dallas?” Aaron asks rhetorically.  “You look like you’re straight out of the Pacific Northwest.”

I scratch my chin, my face unshaven after three days at my college reunion in Walla Walla.  “Yep,” I remarked.  “Texans don’t know what to make of me, because most of them I know don’t make it up to the Pacific Northwest.”

We walk toward an alcove with a table of wines to taste.  When he pours a glass of Kilmore Pinot Noir, I ask about the origins of the winery name.  Named after Irish Gaelic soldier Owen Roe O’Neill, Irish owner David O’Reilly was inspired by O’Neill’s loyalty to his kin, a mindset he strives to utilize at his winery.  Aaron describes examples of this generosity, such as the opportunity for staff to make their own wine using the facilities, and lunch prepared by an on-site chef each day for staff and visitors.

Owen Roe O'Neill, Irish Gaelic soldier and source of the winery's namesake

We taste the remaining wines, ending with the recent release of 2010 Sinister Hand, a Grenache-based blend that shows with a restrained and juicy gentleness, just emerging from its shell with youthful vigor.  He asks if I want another glass of something before he shows me the production facilities, and I revisit the Kilmore Pinot Noir.

“I’m excited you like that one so much,” he remarks.  “I was nervous about this vintage…”

2010 Sinister Hand, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre

We remove bungs from barrels of white wine, mostly chardonnay.  The odor is initially overwhelming, an ammonia that numbs my entire palate for the glass of wine in my hand.  Intense aromas of banana, overripe mango, and passion fruit come through, manifesting themselves restrainedly together in the bottle, free of lees and wood, when we return to taste some newly opened bottles from the production facility.

He shows me projects from former on-site chef Jesse Skiles, now crafting wines for his label Fausse PisteOne vat holds grapes macerating in their own juices, and another is equal parts Syrah and Viognier piled in individual layers as an experiment to see how separating them in such a way will affect the flavor.  I taste raw viognier grapes, juicy syrah grapes, and somewhat more rough-skinned merlot, all of them sweeter than I would have predicted, hinting at the concentration that may come through as they ferment.

We hop in my rental car and drive ten minutes to one of their vineyards producing grapes that currently go into their Sharecropper Pinot Noir.  Aaron is worried many of the grapes have been consumed by birds and pests, since they had not covered the vineyard with netting yet.  He is pleasantly surprised when we arrive.  The grapes are tart, not quite ripe, and few seem to have been lost to the unwanted predators.

One of Owen Roe's nearby vineyards with Pinot Noir grapes

We head back, and I taste the Sharecropper Pinot Noir with a lunch of pasta mixed with brussel sprouts, corn, and braised pork shoulder.  I then head downstairs to speak with Aaron one last time before I depart.  I ask him what prompted him to leave Dallas for Oregon and how he specifically became the winemaker at Owen Roe.

Unable to survive solely as a musician, he explained, he eventually took a job at specialty wine store Pogos and started reading some magazines about wine.  “I thought ‘this is cool,” he said.  “People drink good wine often; they eat well.  I’d like to be a part of it.’ ”  He left Dallas in 1998 and took a job at Argyle Winery for three years before securing his current position at Owen Roe.  Though it took awhile to regain financial stability, he explained, “I’m happy now.”  Twenty minutes passed quickly, and I shook hands with him and headed to the airport.

 

“So,” Chuck said as we took our seats at a table with Randal Grahm (of Bonny Doon Vineyards, the focus of my upcoming post), “how was Owen Roe?  I bet it was nuts with production going on…”

“It was actually very laid back,” I responded.  “A very casual visit.”

“I want to hear all about it.”

As I reach the end of this chronicle, I wonder what I can tell Chuck that will intrigue him so.  My visit felt relaxed and everyday at its core, with no big surprises or monumental stories.  Perhaps Aaron’s comment when we first met alludes to my slight confusion about what excites people so much.  In all my college years living in wine country, many of the wineries do not lend themselves to tours, and merely want to produce good wine and sell it all on-site.  Owen Roe is an exception insofar as their wines have wider exposure, yet their facility feels like a departure from their unique packaging.  The winery and its team are a no frills bunch simply trying to get the most out of what they do, and bring that same spirit to one another, day by day.  Perhaps this mentality seems natural to me, but may be more unusual than I realize.