I’ve followed winemaker Janu Goelz for quite some time—admittedly mostly on social media. What I immediately recognized was a young woman passionate about building her brand and business. Located on the outskirts of San Jose in Gilroy, California, Alara Cellars is one of a handful of boutique wineries in the Santa Clara Valley. Most folks forget about this piece of California wine country, and I love how she embraces it, pouring her wines at both local Silicon Valley hangouts and, now, at regional shows and competitions.
Oh how her brand has grown into such a success.
After interviewing her for a feature in our magazine, I finally got to meet her a few weeks ago at my company’s annual Bottle Bash party during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. She is just as friendly and delightful as her wines suggest. So I feel privileged to review one of her wines here on my humble little website.
I reviewed the Shafer Vineyards 2015 TD-9 last year and enjoyed it so much, I had to do a vintage update. One of the things I love (besides the taste) is the story behind the name.
At 50 years old, John Shafer left his business shoes and commuter trains behind in Chicago, trading them in for a pair of boots and a TD-9 tractor. Without a green thumb to speak of, he picked up his family and purchased his first piece of Napa Valley property. On that property were old sheds and ancient farming equipment — among them an International Harvester tractor from the 1950s. One of his first challenges was learning how to drive the rickety old beast — but he loved every moment of it.
I can very much relate to this story: shifting gears, changing trajectory — that’s really what life is all about isn’t it. And when you find success in that new direction, so much the better. So cheers to you, John, and the Napa Valley legend you created by making that decision.
Emeritus is a new winery for me, but has a 10-year Sonoma-based history. Emeritus was founded in 1999 by Brice Curtrer Jones after he purchased the 115-acre parcel named for previous owners, Don and Marcia Hallberg. The land was planted as an apple orchard, but Curtrer knew the value of the land in terms of grapegrowing and saw the potential for beautiful Pinot Noir.
Hallberg Ranch is located in the cool, Green Valley region of the Russian River Valley—an AVA that, in my opinion is an up-and-coming one, and one that is producing some of Sonoma’s most interesting Pinot Noir as of late.
There’s been a lot going on and, yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I didn’t realize people would notice until, well, people started to notice. So thank you to those of you encouraging me to keep my private writing space up and running.
A lot has been changing over the last year. I’m now a full-time wine writer—so I am traveling, tasting, and writing a whole lot more. I’m busy constantly learning about all sectors of the wine industry, from the vineyard to the tasting room. I love it.
Please check out my updated About page. I’m also currently working on a page linking back to my professional work. For now, please Connect with me on LinkedIn where you can find current and past clips.
So, what exactly does all this personal stuff have to do with the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir?
I tasted the Delille Cellars 2014 D2 Bordeaux blend and absolutely loved it. So I was thrilled when the winery sent me the next available vintage this year. Wine geek that I am, of course I wanted to take my notes blind and compare my tasting notes. Oh what a difference a year makes…
PS Just read the 2016 became available earlier this month…*hint hint…please and thank you*