Wine 101: Interview With Louis M. Martini Winery’s Director of Winemaking, Michael Eddy

This episode of “Wine 101” is sponsored by Louis M. Martini Winery, where an 85-year legacy of making Cabernet Sauvignon is still going strong. Everything Cabernet Sauvignon is celebrated at Martini: the history, the winemaking, the wine. Visit the Martini tasting room and sip a Cab inside, outside in the cabana, or underground in the cellar. Or, try a full culinary exploration from the in-house chef. I’ll be there. The people at Louis M. Martini Winery are serious about Cab. Taste it and you’ll know why Cab is King.

On this episode of “Wine 101,” VinePair’s tastings director Keith Beavers chats with Michael Eddy, director of winemaking at Louis M. Martini Winery. In this final installment of our Sonoma-Napa series, the two discuss Napa Valley, California’s fine wine region.

The area is rich with history, and the founders of Martini are a part of that. Eddy goes into this history and reflects on the changes in Napa that will propel the region into the future of winemaking. Tune in to learn more.


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Keith Beavers: My name is Keith Beavers. I’ve been told recently that I say “awesome” too much, which is awesome because the awesomeness of the word “awesome” has such awesomeness to it. It’s just awesome.

What’s going on, wine lovers? Welcome to VinePair’s “Wine 101” podcast. How are you doing? It’s time to take a magnifying glass and go deep, deep, deep into Napa. We’re actually going to go deep, deep, deep into a wine cellar and talk to a winemaker. It’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be full circle, Sonoma, Napa, and getting to understand it, know it, and embrace it. Let’s do this.

OK, wine lovers. Here we are at the fourth installment of our Sonoma-Napa Deep Dive series. And just like in the second episode of the Sonoma series, we are here going to have an interview. And just like the interview with Brenae Royal, this is also an epic, information-heavy, awesome interview. Adam and I went to Louis M. Martini Winery just off of Route 29. We talked about it in the last episode. And we went down to the wine cellar, and we talked to Michael Eddy. He is the current head winemaker at Louis M. Martini. What’s cool about this interview is, just like with the Brenae interview and the Sonoma episode, we saw this kind of future of Napa happening in real time. The great thing about Michael Eddy is that he’s the first winemaker at Louis M. Martini that is not a family member. So this is awesome. The first half of this interview is mostly just talking about the history of the family, how they got here into Napa, and how they became part of the fabric of the winemaking industry in Napa. And then, we get into Michael himself, how he became the winemaker here, what his story is, and what he’s trying to do in the future. There’s some really exciting stuff. And what’s great about this story is the connection between the Monte Rosso Vineyard that Brenae makes awesome and the Louis M. Martini family. You guys got to hear this. So without further ado, enjoy Adam and I hanging out with Michael Eddy.

I know that Martini is a very important part of the fabric of Napa and everything coming in the 1930s and doing all that. So I guess I just wanted you to riff, if you could. Tell the story.

Michael Eddy: As you could guess, I’ve told this story a few times. Luckily, I still really enjoy telling it. So I don’t think it’s gotten stale. Because for me, it is one of those classic American dream stories. I think most of us will agree that we still have a lot of work to do to make the American dream more accessible to more people. But as a conceptual thing towards which we aspire, I think this story is a great example.

K: Hi, guys. Real quick. So the audio is going to change a little bit. It had a bit of a microphone issue, but I wanted to keep that piece in because I think that’s very important to the story going forward. OK. It’s going to sound good, I promise.

M: So Louis M. Martini, our founder, grew up near Genoa, Italy, and his dad was a fisherman. And at some point, his dad came over to the States and settled in the San Francisco Bay area, where he was building his fish business. At some point he decided he needed a hand and called for his young son Louis M. to come join him. We think around the age of 13, Louis traveled via boat across the Atlantic and came through Ellis Island by himself at 13.

K: 13?

M: Yeah, it’s crazy.

K: You have to think about that.

M: Right? If you let a kid do that today, you’d get arrested.

K: Exactly.

M: He travels via rail all the way across the country and joined his dad and helped him out with fishing. There was an Italian-American community there in San Francisco and they were still very traditional and did a lot of bartering. And so they would trade things. Refrigeration wasn’t what it is today. So you’d have leftover fish, and you’d trade that. And they also made a stew that you guys may know: cioppino, which is actually not an Italian dish. It was created in San Francisco, but it’s Italian-inspired. It was a mixed fish stew. So they would trade that for bread, meat, whatever. And at some point they were able to trade for some wine grapes. And of course, wine was a part of their culture back home.

K: But they weren’t even thinking really about that. They were thinking about fish.

M: Exactly, yeah. To me, that’s one of the kernels of the American dream, is having a personal vision and passion for where you want to take your life.

K: Right.

M: So Louis M. made some wine out of those grapes. And of course, we don’t know exactly what it tasted like, but if my first homemade wine is anything to suggest, it probably wasn’t great. It was enough to light that spark within him and for him to decide, maybe he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Eventually, he goes back to Italy to get a little more technical training and comes back to California and makes wine throughout various parts of California. Eventually in 1933, he lands in St. Helena, almost smack dab in the middle of Napa Valley, and builds this winery we are sitting in the underground cellar of right now. These were the early days of Napa Valley, or Napa Valley was not the world-famous, iconic place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon.

K: Right. It was just a couple of dudes out there with vineyards and houses, trying to make it happen.

M: You still had orchards. You had some row crops, more on the valley floor. And grapes were more on the benchlands. But even just five years later, he bought the Monte Rosso Vineyard, which I know you guys are aware of.

K: That thing is spectacular.

M: It’s a pretty special place.

K: It’s almost hard to wrap your mind around how beautiful it is. The position and the place in the Earth that it is, and the many different varieties that thrive there instead of just one, it’s a very American story. That one vineyard in itself is an American wine story, and it’s amazing.

M: Yeah, it’s hard to impress upon people who haven’t been there. I’m glad you guys have been able to get up there. Even if you took the vines away, it’s just a special place.

K: Yeah, it’s majestic.

M: Some people have their special places, the mountains or the ocean, whatever. But that is one of those places where you just feel a different vibe.

K: It’s amazing.

M: Almost surreal or spiritual in a way. And then, of course, there are amazingly old vines. And that vineyard puts quite a distinct fingerprint on all the wines that are grown on that site. It really has its own very unique personality. It’s one of those places where everything comes together.

K: That’s amazing. Brenae’s killing it.

M: Yeah, she does a fantastic job up there.

K: Yeah.

M: He bought that in ’38 because it happens to sit on the other side of the county lines in Sonoma County. But really, it’s not very far from the Mt. Veeder AVA.

K: It’s a political line anyway, man.

M: Well, that’s the thing. In the ’30s, they didn’t care.

K: Right, right, right. Of course.

M: He was just looking for killer sites that made good wine. He was able to purchase fruit off of Monte Rosso a couple of years before he bought it. So he knew the potential there. Louis M. is the one that I know the least about of the Martini gentleman. But from what I’ve gathered, he was kind of a scrappy, opportunistic, very entrepreneurial, spirited, very gregarious kind of guy.

K: When I’m reading the history of this place, this was really funny and it makes complete sense because he came in the ’30s. There are people already here doing it. So he had to come into a place where things were already happening and he had to be scrappy and sh*t like that. He needed to. That’s great that he was. He’s like, “OK, let’s do this. I’m here.”

M: Yeah, exactly. He was an outsider, just came and planted.

K: It’s awesome.

M: He had quite the success. You and I were talking earlier. He helped found the Napa Valley Vintners Association. He was a very influential person in starting to build that kind of nascent wine industry that was here. Eventually, though, he passed it on to his son Louis P. Martini, and Louis P. was a very different guy. He was a very large, tall man, but had a very soft personality, a “gentle giant” kind of guy. But he was very technically wise. I would say, of the three Martini gentlemen, he was the “most scientist.”

K: Sure.

M: He was a real innovator. He brought the first temperature-controlled fermentation vessels.

K: That’s an innovation.

M: That’s interesting.

K: Agoston Haraszthy is like, “Good job.”

M: Yes. And also from his time in the war and seeing propellers on planes, he helped develop the first wind machines for frost prevention that you still see. They’re not used at every site, but you still see them.

K: There it is again — the wine industry taking something from another industry. A lot of that we talked about at the Frei Winery with the quarry technology being used for distribution of varieties and stuff into tanks. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.

M: No, you’re right. Like the belts. That’s really what innovation is. Innovation isn’t always coming up with something completely new. Sometimes it’s taking old things and applying them differently. Louis P. was really technically sharp, but carried on some of the family inclinations, if you will. We’ve always been a fairly red-focused house. I think starting with Monte Rosso, it had this kind of connection to mountain sites. So Louis P. made California Mountain Barbera and California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon for a number of years.

K: Mountain Barbera? I love it.

M: But of course, he eventually passed it on to his son, Michael Martini, who I worked with for a decade. Michael, yet again, is a bit different, putting his own fingerprint on the winery. He went to UC Davis, which is where I got my master’s degree as well. So he studied, but the angle and his vibe was more artisanal. And he actually brought more traditional French techniques.

K: Interesting.

M: Before Mike brought in small barriques — the small barrels that we use today — all the family’s wine had been made in casks and tanks. So Mike brought in some more of these traditional techniques. He started extracting the wines more thoroughly. If you look at how his dad, Louis P., made wines, they’re very short macerations. They’re keeping the wines fresh and vibrant. And I think some of that might have been due to fruit handling. Before fruit handling equipment got really sophisticated, you couldn’t extract very thoroughly or you would get really aggressive, bitter wines.

K: That makes sense. So giving you almost a claret was a little bit easier.

M: Exactly. Mike, with newer tools, was able to start exploring building bigger-structured wines and aging them a bit longer, etc.. He also plays in a band. I wouldn’t quite call him a hippie, but he’s got a hint of the ’60s and ’70s to him.

K: I dig it.

M: He’s a fun guy.

K: That’s cool. I’m curious about the story of Cabernet Sauvignon; it is a very unique one. I think that the Martini family, along with the Mondavis, everybody was making things out of Barbera and whatever they had here. But you could see throughout history, slowly and steadily, that the press and the people are writing letters a lot. Cab kind of just worked its way into the hearts of winemakers. I’m just wondering when did Martini make that transition? Was there even a transition, or how did that work?

M: It was pretty early. After acquiring the Monte Rosso Vineyard, Louis M. planted Cabernet up there. I want to say that was in the ’40s. That’s some of the earlier Cab. But of course we know Cab was around. I mentioned that my first winery out of school was Beaulieu Vineyard, which is really just down the road from where we’re sitting. It was founded in the ’30s, and they had Cabernets in the ’30s. It just wasn’t necessarily the dominant variety, right? You still had a lot of others.

K: The Barberas, the Dolcettos, and stuff like that.

M: Probably Zinfandel.

K: Of course.

M: Some more Italian California varieties. It took some time before Cabernet really became dominant. But it’s been around for a while.

K: Just seeing the aging potential and how these wines are structured, I would imagine as the Martini generations moved into the future, it seems like science became more and more of a priority. Eventually one of the Martinis made their way to UC Davis and then came back to the winery with the knowledge and the skill they have to build wines. Realizing that Cabernet Sauvignon, to build a wine to age in this place, it just makes sense. I can imagine, “You know what, guys? Cab’s the way to go. Cab is the best for what we are doing.”

M: No question. And I think his dad even saw that with this California Mountain Cab. I think that’s probably where Cabernet became more firmly seeded as a point of focus. That was in Louis P.’s time. But again, Louis M. was planting it and making it so it wasn’t brand new. It was just that kind of evolution towards a focus point.

K: Yeah, I just find it fascinating.

M: Oh, it totally is.

K: We’re here in the cellar. We have these old vats around us. Is this the original?

M: Well, I don’t know about the original, but they are very old. I actually don’t know the exact age of these casks but they’ve been around for a while. We don’t use them anymore, obviously.

K: Right.

M: This would have been part of the cellar area down here on the original day.

K: It’s so cool. I love what you’ve done with the place.

M: Oh, thank you. It wasn’t me.

K: I’m sorry I interrupted the timeline here. So we’re up to Mike, who you worked with?

M: Yes. He and I were together for 10 years and he was quite a resource. Because obviously as the third generation in Napa Valley, he really knew this place. He knew properties, he knew families, history. He really was able to give me more of an emotional-psychological connection because I am the first winemaker without the last name Martini.

K: Really? The first? Wow.

M: Yeah.

K: That’s some stuff right there.

M: Yeah. It’s a double-edged sword because, in some sense, it’s a bit of a burden to carry on a family legacy. Obviously, that’s not your family.

K: Right.

M: But on the other side of it, I figure, if I don’t have the last name Martini, I guess that means I earned it.

K: Absolutely. I keep on bringing this up. This is also an American story here. We have generational moves. But also this person is good at what they do. They’re going to be good for our family and we need to let this person do the work.We want to see where it goes with this skill set of humans. It’s just awesome. I love it.

M: That’s something I’m quite proud to be connected to. When I got out of school, I would have never told you. “Oh, I want to work at a place with a bunch of history.” I didn’t even think about it.

M: Right.

M: At that point, I was a young winemaker, and I wanted to work with great vineyards and make cool wines.

K: That’s awesome.

M: But I started at B.V. and heard stories of André Tchelistcheff. He was like, “Oh, this is actually kind of cool.”

M: Yeah.

M: Being connected to and part of a storyline is meaningful. It may not inform the “what” you do, but the spirit with which you do it. And the inspiration that you can draw from that definitely creates a different vibe with how you’re going about your work.

K: Awesome.

M: It was pretty cool. But really I think the modern era of Martini, if you want to call it that, started before I even started working with the wines in 2002. The Martinis partnered with the Gallo family.

K: Right.

M: That really ushered in capital that the family didn’t have. This is a tough business that we’re in. It’s very cyclical. And the family had gotten a little tight on cash flow and were struggling to reinvest and upkeep. That’s where the Gallo family comes in. Actually, it’s pretty cool. When we get a bond to be a winery in California, you get assigned a bonded winery number. And the bonded winery number for the Martini family was the one right preceding the bonded winery number for the Gallo family.

K: Oh, really?

M: Yeah. They literally got their bond in sequence.

K: That’s crazy, because didn’t they both kind of get their start at the same time? In the 1930s.

M: Yes, exactly. Right out of Prohibition.

K: Yeah, that’s crazy. That’s amazing with the timing. It’s just ridiculous.

M: Well, you see these cool full circles in the stories, I think in other places, too. But we definitely have them at Martini. Partnering with the Gallo family was definitely one of those kinds of full circles.

K: Right.

M: Connecting to families who had some similar times.

K: Very cool.

M: But Gallo brought in a lot of capital. And Bob Gallo, one of the first things he did is go to Mike Martini and say, “What do you need to make the best Napa Valley Cabernet possible?” That immediately led to the building of our micro winery cellar 254, which is where we now make all of our small-lot wine club tasting room exclusive wines, as well as some that are in limited distribution.

K: So it started as a testing facility.

M: Not really testing. I mean, we certainly do trials there. But it really started as a minor winery.

K: I’m sorry, the term micro winery is pretty cool and I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t fully understand what it meant.

M: It just means smaller.

K: Small winery, OK.

M: Smaller lots.

K: OK.

M: It gives us the capability of bringing in portions of blocks, so we can really dial in ripeness. It gives us a tremendous amount of control over fruit integrity and berry integrity, which improves our ability to extract and build the structure of the wine with great precision. And that’s where we make the Lot 1 that we’re going to be tasting today sitting in front of you. In fact, Lot 1 began in 2003. Bob Gallo asked Mike, “Hey, what do you need to make the best Napa Valley Cabernet?” They quickly built, with Gallo Capital, the micro winery. And then in 2003, they launched the Pinnacle Wine that we still have today.

K: Wow.

M: It was actually named in homage to Mike’s dad, Louis P., who for a period was bottling special-selection wines and they would be, Lot 3, Lot 7, etc.

K: Oh, cool.

M: So it was named in homage to that production.

K: That’s cool.

Adam Teeter: So I have a question. You can edit my voice out.

K: Never.

A: We talk about Napa as an idea, as a place. You are a winemaker that went to Davis, probably the premier winemaking university in the country. You could have gone anywhere to make wine. Why did you choose to come make wine in Napa? What is it about Napa?

M: It probably is less thrilling a connection than you think. I don’t know that I was dead set on Napa, but I actually got my undergrad degree from Humboldt State University, which is north of here. It’s not the last county before Oregon, but it’s the next to last. I worked in a restaurant while getting my undergrad degree. For four and a half years, I worked in this restaurant and the owners were really cool and they started exposing me to wine at the same time I was studying microbiology, organic chemistry, and all this stuff. And I started homebrewing beer because on a student salary, beer was more accessible than wine at that time.

K: I’m going to make my own beer.

A: Winemakers love beer.

M: I could also buy five beers from different parts of the world, different styles, and bring them in on a slow night and we’d all taste them together. That’s where I kind of started to fall in love with talking about a beverage, understanding it, connecting to people over it. But when I started homebrewing, that really connected my more abstract academic interests in the sciences to something that was concrete. Because I had always, from a very young age, been interested in consumables, food, and beverages. And suddenly all that stuff came together. But the owners of the restaurant really exposed me to wine, and I was like, “This stuff’s pretty cool.” So I started traveling down from there, down 101, you end up in Sonoma County. That really was my first experience in wine country. I came over to Napa as well, but that was kind of the plan. I said, “Well, I’m going to go to Davis. I think I’ll end up in Sonoma County.” Because that’s where I first came to wine country. But of course, Napa is closer to UC Davis. For those who don’t know, it is much closer to UC Davis than Sonoma County. That’s where my first internship was. I interned at Trefethen Winery.

K: Oh, cool. Right down the road here.

M: Exactly. They did such a great job with an internship because you literally did almost everything. I mean, you sanitized the bottling line. You run analysis in the lab, run a filter.

K: Wow, everything.

M: You sample vineyards. It was really a very inclusive experience. So it was natural, then, to look within Napa Valley. And that’s when I landed at BV after getting my degree.

K: That’s awesome. When did you start with Martini?

M: Well, in ’05, I started with assisting on our Sonoma County Cab, helping Mike with that wine because that’s our largest volume. It gets a lot of attention paid to it because frankly, from a lot of drinkers’ perspective, that’s how they know us. That’s what most people drink, right?

A: Because it’s nationally distributed.

M: Yeah, broadly available. It’s easy to find, correct. So that was in ’05. And then, Mike officially retired in ’15. He had been starting to step away a little bit, although I will say he was always very engaged and very present during harvest to the end. He officially retired in ’15, so we kind of worked together for that decade.

K: So I guess in making wine for this family and when you’re brought on to do something like this, do they say things like, “Just go for it, man.” Then your philosophy of Cabernet Sauvignon, your philosophy of building a wine to age, is it on a level to theirs? Do you parallel them? Are you bringing something different or anything like that?

M: Well, I mean, they kind of say to just go. But also, “Hey, this is really expensive fruit.” Go, but go right. I like to think that history, like I said earlier, inspires what I do. I’m not trying to replicate any of the wines of the past.

K: Right.

M: Lot 1 was an opportunity for us to forge a distinctly new wine style. And while it is named in homage, there’s some inspiration there. It’s, I think, a more modern style. It’s refined and elegant, but a little more modern.

K: Beautiful oak, good acidity. But framed differently.

M: Yeah. But there are ideas still in the hopper. Barbera’s not, from a market standpoint, a terribly popular variety, but it’s something. I go to grand tastings, for critics or whatever. And I still have people come up to me and say, “Oh, man, I remember the Barbera in the ’60s, man. That wine was so amazing.” So I think with that emotional connection, there could be something there, it would be kind of fun to do. Maybe it’s just a wine club and tasting room, but to do a Barbera.

K: There it is. You guys are crazy. I love it. I was kind of going there. Are there other varieties like the varieties of the past that this family has worked with that you are excited about? To have a Barbera from Napa, I would love to try that. I don’t even know. I had an Italian restaurant for 10 years. Barbera’s been sort of part of my diet for a long time.

M: Yeah.

K: Just to have a Barbera from Napa would be really cool.

M: There are some other concepts there, too, because we were lucky enough to have a wine club member who had a ’68 Barbera.

K: Oh, wow.

M: He brought it in to taste with us. We were like, “Oh, that’s so generous.” I remember tasting that wine, and it was unbelievable. It was chewy and tannic. And I’m like, “Wait, this doesn’t taste like Barbera to me.” Barbera’s usually vibrant acidity, not a lot of tannin. We literally just tasted this three or four years ago.

K: OK.

M: It was monstrous. I was so confused. I mean, I was impressed by the wine, but very confused. So I talked to Mike Martini sometime later and he said, “Oh, yeah, well, back then the variety labeling laws requirements were different.” You only had to be greater than 50 percent. He said that Barbera was usually 40-something percent Petite Sirah.

K: There it is.

M: Right. So I think doing something like that, there’s a cool story to tell there.

K: I think that’s so great. Making sound wines in the tradition of how places like this came up would be so cool. When we first walked in here, we’re looking at the advertisement of Chablis and dry Sauternes. You looked at me like, “I want to do that,” and that’s cool. I know we can’t call it Chablis if we ever do a white. But to emulate the styles of back in the day while using modern technology — when you say modern technology and wine, it’s always a caveat — while respecting the techniques of the past that still work. And meshing with the technology and all that stuff.

M: I mean, the way we make wine is still very much traditional. We have tools, but it’s still a pretty traditional process.

K: Yeah, it’s just fermentation, some racking.

M: Crush some grapes up. Ferment, rack, clarify, it’s pretty basic.

K: This wine’s beautiful. Is there anything about this wine that’s special to you? Is it the favorite wine you’ve made or anything like that?

A: Do you have any favorites?

M: I do have a favorite, a very distinct favorite. I will say I have a little trouble enjoying the wines that I work on. I don’t know if you guys have ever worked on your own house or anything, but you walk into the room, and there’s a tile in the corner.

K: I can’t tell you how that just bothers me.

A: That’s why I don’t really read the stuff I write after it publishes or listen to my podcast.

M: Exactly.

A: Cool, it’s out there. Sweet.

M: Nobody else sees that tile but man, you walk into the room and it’s the first thing that you see.

K: The damn tile. I hate it. We just bought a house and we haven’t even lived in the house for a year. And there are certain things and it’s just not there. I know exactly what you’re talking about.

M: So the wines are a little like that for me because what motivates an interest that excites me is how to do better the next vintage. Where are we going? That’s what really drives me. But I will say, year in and year out, I adore the Gnarly Vines Zinfandel off of Monte Rosso,.

K: All right.

M: The dynamic on the palate, because it is a fairly high-alcohol wine, you get this rush of sweetness. Alcohol sweetness and fruit sweetness, but then all the wines off Monte Rosso are very low pH and vibrant. So it cleans out and it has this dynamic on the palate that I love.

K: I should try that. I can’t believe I haven’t tried that.

M: I think you did try that.

A: We had it yesterday in the vineyard.

K: Oh, that’s right.

A: That’s the one we had when we were at the vines when we had the Cab at the top of the vineyard. Among the vines, we had the Gnarly Vines.

K: OK, I didn’t know it was a Gnarly Vines. It was delicious.

M: It’s made exclusively from vines planted before 1900. They are 129-130-year-old vines.

K: Super cool. Amazing.

A: I want to say it’s a stereotype. I think it’s an opinion or a feeling that most consumers probably have, which is that you’re a winemaker, you want to make your own label, you have your own winery. But I think there’s a lack of understanding that a majority of winemakers are actually working for other wineries. Did you have that thought when you were leaving Davis? Were you like, “I want my own thing,” or “I want to go work for someone?” What is that sort of push and pull as a winemaker that people think about? And where do you think that that idea comes from, that winemakers are only making their own labels?

M: It’s an interesting question because I’ve been asked that many times. Oh, do you want to do your own thing? And I’m like, “Hell no.” I see the business side. I just want to make it, that’s gratifying. But there are plenty of winemakers who do want to put their name on it. To be fair, there’s a sense of authorship and ownership of having your own thing. And I’m more just into the process. Actually, this goes well beyond wine for me. I home-roasted coffee for several years. I had goats and made my own cheese. To me, it’s the connection of, let’s call it terroir. The kind of intrinsic elements of where a thing is grown, raised, whatever the climate, the feed of the animal, whatever it is, and then the process. There’s what you do with it. And you can take the same milk from the same animals on the same feed and do different stuff to it, making very different cheese styles. The same thing with grapes off of the same vineyard block, right? You can do different stuff. It’s that understanding of the intrinsic elements, the terroir, if you will, and then how you can modify that through technique. I love the connection to that. It’s the same thing with coffee. Even just the drying of the beans, whether it’s wet processed or dry processed, can have a huge impact on how the coffee tastes. But then there’s also roasting, obviously. That’s a process and you can really shift the coffee style that way. So that’s what excites me about winemaking. I don’t need my own. I mean, I’ve made wine at home a number of times…

K: That’s cool. And honestly, you’re the winemaker.

A: This is yours.

K: You’re touching this process and have your thumbprint on the wines going forward. And those wines want to sit in people’s cellars for however long and then when they pop it you’re going to say you made that wine and that’s awesome. You may not have your own, but you were able to do it. That’s awesome.

M: I work with younger winemakers. I don’t mean young in age, but earlier in their career. And I think there’s this impression that at some point, you get to a place where you make all the decisions. I don’t know that that really ever happens, because you always have business considerations. You have the market. What do people actually want to buy and drink?

K: It is a business.

M: Again, unless it’s a home winemaking project. Then you can do whatever the hell you want. But when I make wine at home, I really miss the tools and things that I have at the winery. I’m like, “Oh, man, I wish I had temperature control” and those kinds of things.

K: Right.

M: And frankly, as I’ve matured in my career, the things that excite me more are working with the team because I can’t make this wine on my own.

K: Right.

M: It’s about how you educate and collaborate with people. Particularly, like I said, I have winemakers on my team and am mentoring them and learning from them. Because, frankly, there’s nobody who knows everything about wine. We all have different experiences and perspectives, but being able to teach them but also learn from them and work together and to be able to help chart the vision but then work together to get there, is what excites me in my career now.

K: This is an awesome conversation. Thank you for taking the time to do this. This is really incredible. So there you have it, wine lovers. That is the future of Napa. I don’t want to have the Chablis as a Chablis. I want to have the Chablis as what it was. But we can’t call it Chablis. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go ahead and listen to my American Wine History series, and I got all that stuff in there.

Next week, we’re going to start getting back into regions. We’re going to dive into Washington, we’re going to go to Oregon. We’re going all the way to the East Coast of Virginia. So get ready. “Wine 101” keeps going because of you guys. I’ll see you next week.

@VinePairKeith is my Insta. Rate and review this podcast wherever you get your podcasts from. It really helps get the word out there.

And now, for some totally awesome credits. “Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours truly, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair headquarters in New York City. I want to give a big ol’ shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most awesome logo for this podcast. Also, Darbi Cicci for the theme song. Listen to this. And I want to thank the entire VinePair staff for helping me learn something new every day. See you next week.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.