Lester and Linda Schwartz discovered their love of wine in their native homeland of Cape Town, South Africa. A lawyer and an artist, respectively, the couple found themselves living in California, and it wasn’t long before Lester got the itch to build himself a countryside home reminiscent of his roots. So they purchased a plot of naked land along the craggy cliffs of the Pacific Ocean in what would eventually become the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. The couple custom-built their own home, featuring traditional South African architecture; just a few years later they planted their first grapevine rootstocks and saw near immediate success. Alongside legendary winemaker Jeff Pisoni, today Lester and Linda craft beautiful Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and — as a nod to their heritage — Pinotage. (Fun fact: Lester and Linda were the first private grape growers to import Pinotage vine cuttings.)
The story of The Withers winery is one of a small-time dream turned big-time success. Across the board, The Withers wine portfolio is made up of single-vineyard bottlings from both the Sonoma Coast and El Dorado. While the two may seem quite disparate, it is for a reason. While some of the most nuanced Rhones come out of California’s inland El Dorado County, there’s no denying that Sonoma is home to some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Thus, they have a portfolio that — I would say — speaks of California’s greatest wine successes. And, what I particularly love, is because they’re all single-vineyard bottlings, one can really taste the fingerprint of time and place with each sip.
You know when you’re in that head space — the one that makes you feel like you just want to be alone, listening to music, doing your own thing? It’s that solitary seclusion from the rest of the world that somehow makes you feel more connected to it. I’ve got a wine pairing for that…
What do fast cars and fine wines have in common? If you’re Kevin Buckler — owner and founder of The Racers Group (TRG), TRG-Aston Martin Racing and Adobe Road Winery — then everything. A passionate professional race car driver, Buckler created TRG in 1992, and has gone on to win multiple awards including an overall win and 4 class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the title of 2002 Porsche World Cup Champion. But Buckler couldn’t leave his passion for wine in the dust — in 2002 he and his wife, Debra, opened Adobe Road Winery which has also gone on to score big points with big-named critics.
Like custom building the perfect race car, Buckler knows that crafting the perfect wines requires all the the right parts. This means, above all else, access to good grapes. “We work hard to make sure each bottle of Adobe Road wine showcases the best attributes of each individual vineyard,” says Buckler, “We choose the best parts of Sonoma and Napa Valley.” So far I must agree, because to me nothing says perfectly balanced Chardonnay than a handful of grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
I like prime numbers. A prime number is unbreakable — only divisible by itself and 1. Some may say they don’t play well with others; I say they’re strong enough to stand on their own. I find I have some kind of spiritual connection to prime numbers. We’re weird, we don’t fit into conventional puzzle pieces, a lot of people don’t “get” us, and even more people don’t even know what or who we are. We hide in plain sight and are the answer to “can you tell me which thing is not like the other?”
…I also find that meaningful things happen to me when I am a prime number age…
In 2011 — a prime year — the Russian River Valley experienced unconventional climatic conditions that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have worked. But it did — not for everyone, but for some vintners. And when I tasted the Crux Winery 2011 Zinfandel the first time I visited the boys in their warehouse winery, this was the wine I felt a deep, undeniably emotional connection to.