In my small wine world, I certainly depend on the kindness of winemakers. I feel honored, privileged, yet altogether humbled by the opportunity to taste an expressive Pinot Noir sourced from the prestigious Platt Vineyard, produced by the renowned David Ramey.
David Ramey is a name known all around our Napa/Sonoma Wine Countries — and I’m sure everywhere else as well. After completing his Masters in enology from UC Davis, David started his young career by traveling abroad to France. He names his first job with Jean-Pierre Moueix in Pomerol and his time cellar-ratting in Burgundy as some of the major highlights and influences of his early winemaking life. Back in California, David moved on to work for such major players as Simi, Matanzas Creek, and Chalk Hill. But it was his decision to become the first winemaker for Dominus Estates (owned by Christian Moueix, of Pétrus) that made him realize all that he had learned and all that he was capable of. “I never dreamed of owning my own winery,” David says. Oh how dreams do change.
In 1996 he and his wife Carla founded Ramey Cellars, after Moueix agrees to let David “make a little Chardonnay on the side.” Sourcing from Hyde Vineyards, the couple celebrates their first harvest, custom crushing at Luna Vineyards, and producing their first 260 cases. Today Ramey Wine Cellars produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet, and even a bit of Syrah — producing, well, much more than 260 cases.
A former photographer for the SF Chronicle, Eric Luse, founder and winemaker of Eric Ross Winery, stumbled into his passion on his way to a Wine Country photoshoot in the 1980s. Since that time, he’s dedicated the same kind of care and attention to detail in his winemaking as he does with his photography. “Photo-journalism insisted a respect for the people that allowed me into their lives,” Luse says. Similarly, he prides himself in “respecting the growers, their fruit and making the wine based on the uniqueness,” and making wines that showcase his “respect for the quality fruit and (his) desire for you, the consumer, to ‘Taste The Vineyard.'” The journalist in Luse makes him crave realism and, as such, we’ll only find “real” fruit qualities in his wines — no filters or photoshop; no heavy-handed oak or excessive, forceful fermentation. Respect. Honesty. Realism. Quality.
“My mom always wore rose colored glasses. Life does look good through rose colored glasses. This is to you.”
– Cindy Cosco, Passaggio Wines.
I actually didn’t see that quote on the bottle the day I decided to drink Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé. What I did know was that I was in for a long hard day and when I got home, I was going to want something cool and refreshing, but something out of the ordinary. Something that could simultaneously comfort and stimulate me. So, before I left for work, I put this out-of-the-ordinary rosé into the cellar to chill. And, yes, it was the perfect “welcome home” gift to myself. This is to you, Cindy. Cheers.
Robert Sinskey is my kind of winemaker — a native Californian who has his BA in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design in New York City. He’s not science-y, or mathematical, or calculating; he doesn’t have a degree or certificate in horticulture, enology or even biology. In fact he’s never received a “traditional” winemaking “degree” of any kind. He’s an artist who brings his artistic abilities to his craft as a vintner.
Sinskey’s goal is to create “pure wines of character that pair well with cuisine,” and believes that good wines are the wines that “sneak up on you, seduce you, and evolve in the glass and in the bottle.” I told you, he’s my kind of winemaker.