Joel Gott wasn’t born a winemaker, of course. But it sometimes seems that way.
Born in Napa Valley, he released his first vintage over 20 years ago, and the roots of his winemaking heritage stretch deeper still. Gott is a fifth-generation California vintner. His 1997 Amador County Zinfandel earned the label widespread acclaim, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
Based in Saint Helena, Calif., Gott makes wines for his eponymous label with wife Sarah, using a blend of quality grapes sourced from around the state. On top of their Californian releases, they also produce a range of wines using grapes grown in Oregon and Washington.
Gott is also part of the Three Thieves wine brand with Charles Bieler and Roger Scommegna. Conceived through a shared desire to make “uncommon wine to be shared by all,” the label is known for its innovative packaging, including the 1-liter screw-cap jug in which they bottled their first release.
Apparently that wasn’t keeping him busy enough, though. In 1999 he and his brother Duncan founded Gott’s Roadside, a collection of burger joints featuring locally sourced ingredients. The drinks list include a California-centric selection of beers and wines hand-picked by Gott.
We caught up with the Californian winemaker and entrepreneur to find out what he sips at home, his death row wine, and his destination of choice when imbibing on the East Coast.
1. What’s the bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
Going way back, there were two bottles that my then-girlfriend, now wife Sarah and I had together. They were a ‘94 Pahlmeyer Merlot and a ‘94 Turley Sauvignon Blanc, both so good.
2. FMK three varieties: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay.
F: Pinot Noir, I guess I’d then M: Cabernet and K: Chardonnay.
3. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper wine?
Definitely a Special Select from Caymus, let’s go with the ’79.
4. You can only drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Sauvignon Blanc. Always a go-to at my house.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
Dante’s in New York!
6. What’s the best and worst wine on your rack (or in your fridge) right now?
Right now I’d say a ’17 Bedrock Rosé and the worst would be a Mendocino Rosé.
7. If you could no longer drink wine, what would be your beverage of choice?
If I could no longer drink wine? Mezcal. For sure.