What was your epiphany to write Been Doon So Long?
I don't think that it was a particular epiphany that compelled me to write Been Doon So Long, but rather the realization that I had a ton of material already written and that it would be a real opportunity to collect it and organize it in a coherent fashion. I am a compulsive reviser, editor, and it was not lost on me that there was an opportunity in this book to slightly revise, edit and restate my own case. As is perhaps obvious in the book, I do like to joke/play around. Much of my winemaking career was in fact a sort of play - almost a kind of . For most of my life as a winemaker I really indulged my desire to explore and experiment with numerous , winemaking techniques and so forth. (There was also an opportunity to create scores of wine labels, an activity that brings me infinite joy.) As I hope I have conveyed in the book, I have "been doon so long," i.e. so utterly manic in this sort of experimentation, it is now time for a new phase, one of more gravitas and singularity of focus on that which is truly worthwhile - the pursuit of terroir. To do anything else at this point would be just extreme self-indulgence.
Can you describe a time you succeeded when the odds were not against you?
It is hard to really know that, because subjectively I have never really imagined that I was taking great risks (apart from the present). The universe has traditionally presented itself in a seemingly rational form (apart from the present moment): Rhone varieties were better suited to the climes of the Central Coast of California; why shouldn't they succeed? The sommeliers and wine writers were all lined up on the side of screwcaps and TCA was (and likely still is) an enormous problem; why shouldn't the American embrace screwcaps? Why shouldn't Riesling be the next great white wine, as it goes with fusion cuisine, the de facto norm? Thermodynamically these questions should all come out with the outcome I would expect, but then there is the question of kinetics, i.e. will these questions be favorably resolved within my lifetime? But, yes, I rather do like a sense of risk and enjoy being a contrarian, however, only when I feel that my cause is thoroughly aligned with the Tao.
Winemaking is an art; what “artist” (writer, musician, actor, visual artist) is your inspiration or kindred spirit?
All artists and risk-takers are kindred spirits, working in whatever media. I love , though probably he would not be the easiest person to hang with. As far as modern writers I love, they are legion - Grass, Pynchon, Garcia Marquez, , Barth, Roth are the ones that come immediately to mind.
Winemaking is a science; what scientist or concept, or technique are you?
. Wine is just so totally strange and seemingly connected to everything in all sorts of strange ways. If you had asked about a philosophic discipline, I would have said phenomenology. No one yet thinks about the enormous influence of personal history that one brings to an "objective tasting," (a complete fiction, b/t/w.)
What is your “rebel yell”- your thing you’re most passionate about?
Terroir; it is the Holy Grail as well as the Mystic Princess.
What’s the greatest challenge facing a vivacious vigneron right now?
Remaining financially viable.
What is your most memorable California Pinot Noir?
I've never had a CA Pinot Noir that really changed my life; I'm still waiting. However, I have had a great Australian Chardonnay that changed my mind both about Australia and New World . So, miracles are possible.
Bonus question: Most people don’t know that you……
Are not particularly crazy, though slightly eccentric.