What Is Your Wine Profile/Biography?

I was in Cellartracker (CT) earlier, updating my “Biography” as it has been a while since I had revised it. It got me thinking…I’d like to enjoy hearing about some other profiles of those around the Wine Berserker community. In part, I raise this for discussion and an invitation because I also want to encourage others inside the WB community here to post. Part of what I am seeing lately inside the WB Wine Talk thread is what appears to be a lighter response/participation. I see # of the same posters sharing their opinions, voices, TNs and other things, but really a ratio that seems a little upside down: lots of views in a variety of threads but not many posts. This is my perception, whether it’s right or not.

I hope the topic here will encourage more of you to get beyond just viewing this thread, and take the extra step to post your biography, to participate actively. Share what drives you about the hobby, the wines you drink, what motivates you to stay on this cool journey. Here is mine:

After a palate shift from about 7 years ago it seems, I have settled into what like, who I buy and drink. I’ve developed a real love for Champagne–the acidity, freshness, low alcohol and the artisan emphasis by the grower producers, both for the land and their craft, is what thrills me to keep trying more and more bubbly. I buy as much bubbly now as I do still wine, nearly 1 for 1 it seems these days. I still love CA Pinot Noir, especially the wines made much like Champagne, where an artisan approach and commitment to quality is the driver–low alcohol, less focus on wood and elegance with acidity. Still love Zin, especially what Mike Officer continues to craft, and I have a special place in my heart for Chenin Blanc from the Loire, as well as Petite Sirah when it is made with power yet managed alcohol. Finally, I remain strongly focused and supportive of the role for everyone’s voice to be a wine critic. I dislike and push back against the tendency for the small circle of critics to influence this hobby. I do not use points for my TNs, I do not believe in them. Instead, I write TNs based on what I sense, trying to stay to with a tasting vocabulary that is simple, honest for what I experience. While this may not be everyone’s approach, this is mine.

I have made so many terrific friendships in this hobby, both in the winery sphere as well as the tasting community. This is the greatest gift this hobby has given me, one that I am truly grateful to enjoy.

Great topic idea, but Frank, you are normally really good at this, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

My journey in wine started early on with trips to Santa Barbara area, and I joined a few ‘wine clubs’ in the process. All wine was new to me, so that was a ton of fun, trying to narrow down what I liked, what I didn’t like, though I confess I liked most things, which makes buying and drinking the wines much easier! I started to ‘collect’ (VERY small scale, maybe 3-4 cases for aging) Bordeaux during the push for the 2005 vintage, though I wasn’t as into Bordeaux at the time, not like I am now. I bought some Burgundy over the years, but really don’t ‘get it’, and the only Burgundy I seem to like I can’t really afford. The 2004 vintage of Barolo/Barbaresco had me buying a few cases to collect, as the launch of that vintage was extraordinary - the nose of those wines was so complex and fresh, and the structure of all the wines obviously showed it would last nearly forever.

I still have and hopefully always will like old school styled California Syrah, and I’ve found recently I adore mountain fruit for Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m biggest on Bordeaux, and Champagne (which has been a long and mostly uninterrupted relationship), but my love for Nebbiolo has waned a bit.

Frenchie, thanks for accepting the invitation to post your biography. I must say that you are amongst a small handful of influential people that have impacted my wine experience. Both in starting this forum back in 2009, and your suggestion to join the Envoyer mailing list, these have been two significant impacts to what wine means to me. Thank you for posting and for the influence you have made upon how I experience, buy and as importantly, the people I have met on this wine journey. Appreciate you, man.

Who else is going to share? Before you read and click out of the thread here, please post. Don’t be a spectator.

I grew up with no background in wine, but it all changed over a business dinner in London. The interplay between wine and food just elevated the experience of both. Moved to New York and being busy with work and a very active lifestyle (multiple marathons) didn’t get too much in to wine. But made me focus on quality vs quantity. Well, if I get to drink one bottle of wine in 3 months it better be good!
But over the last several years, I have enjoyed discovering the world of wine with my partner; attending plenty of tasting events, traveling to countries and reading various blogs/ wine boards. I seem to enjoy wines with balance, elegance and class, complexity is not a requirement however being delicious is!
Just like life, its about the journey and I’m enjoying the ride!

Good thread. Growing up in a blue collar family in Wisconsin, wine was something that was consumed on Thanksgiving or Christmas and was generally a sweet red or white. Really special occasions meant Cold Duck.
I eventually left Wisconsin and started to travel more. Italy was my first European experience and that trip I was able to sample Chianti for the first time in something other than a straw basket bottle.
When we returned to the states, I found myself craving that flavor that took me back to Tuscany.
Future trips to Bordeaux, Portugal, Italy several more times, California…just broadened my appreciation for wine.
After a long period of drinking a lot of Syrah and Zinfandel, I now find myself back in the exploring mode captivated by Pinots, Aglianico, Cabernet and Cab Franc.
I am buying less, but enjoying more, if that makes sense.

Posting anything requires a level of “commitment” that seems above-and-beyond what people are willing to do these days, rather like participatory democracy. I’ll share:

Broad exposure to many types of wines through the years, but being of European extraction, I tend to prefer wines from there as opposed to here in the New World. I like wines that have a uniqueness of place or of character: syrah from granite or limestone hillsides in France; nebbiolo from the fringe areas of it’s range; rieslings from slate-slopes…etcetera. I could keep going. But a wine should figure in your imagination; because I’ll never physically go to many of these places, the bottle has to serve as ambassador. I can’t say I’ve had sea-changes in regards to style, but am less tolerant of alcohol, oak, heat, imbalance, and boredom. Many of the wines I used to be able to buy I no longer can afford (Chave, anyone?), so there is a constant tension between familiarity of knowing a producer and then having to go out and explore one who hasn’t risen into the ranks of the cult.

I started getting into food/cooking during undergrad where I met my wife. We don’t have much in common but food and wine brought us together. During grad school we’d take weekend trips to Temecula, Santa Barbara, and Paso Robles. We ate out as much as our budgets allowed. We got married after I graduated and we spent some time in Napa/Sonoma during my residency year in Norcal (eleven trips that year to be exact). In between those trips I took a few beginners classes with the Wine House in LA and did some tastings with the Wine Club and the old Winex in OC (I really miss those automated wine dispensing machines).

Most of my experience is with California wine. I studied in Florence one summer but didn’t drink much wine at that time. And before we had our three year old son we took an amazing trip to Burgundy that I wasn’t fully prepared for. Initially I was into the typical Napa cabs. My wine epiphany was a glass of 1996 Beringer Napa Cab Reserve that my cousin shared with me. Then I got into Pinot Noir and my palate is shifting to more acidity/elegance.

For my modest cellar I’ve focused on 2008 vintage for my wedding anniversary and 2014 for my son’s birth year. Leaning more Napa with 2008 and now Bordeaux for 2014. I’ve realized that I prefer age on Cab but prefer my Pinot Noir relatively young so I don’t intend to age them beyond 5-8 years.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how some people can see what a wine will taste like in the future. I understand some of the characteristics to look for if the intention is to age, but I feel like a have such limited experience with seeing a specific wine changes over time. So far I’ve only had a couple of wines that I’ve bought a half cases of to see how it changes over a short span of 5-10 years.

I still find myself enjoying those wines, but I’m trying to branch out to other wines like Chinon, Beaujolais and Barbaresco (which this forum has helped with). I’m a part of Wine Lab’s club which has some random stuff thrown in sometimes so it forces me to try things outside of what I normally buy. When I first started I was influenced by scores and prices in the past but I feel like I’m less affected by those biases as I’ve learned about wine. I wouldn’t turn down a glass of Screaming Eagle but it’s not a burning desire for me at this time. In the curve of diminishing returns I’d like to find myself below the bar of when prices rise exponentially, but I do appreciate being able to live vicariously through members that do post about those wine experiences.

I’m also finding that I’m trying to strike a balance of being able to analyze/learn vs relaxing and just drinking and enjoying the damn wine. I’m still working on learning “typicity” and want to drink more classic wines to calibrate my palate. For example, Produtorri or a bottle of Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rose the other week at Republique that I really enjoyed.

I’m trying to be less introverted and to contribute more to this community since I’ve learned so much here. Also, most of my friends aren’t into this wine “hobby” (more into beer and whiskey) so it’s nice to hear from like minded people out there.

I started to get interested in wine in college because I did not like beer and could not sit around drinking cocktails all the time. I would go to the wine shop and pick up a few bottles at their recommendation and try them out. There was a Pouilly-Fuissé i loved but have no idea now what it was. At $6 a bottle 22 years ago, I was big time. I once spent $25 on a bottle of red that was great, but again, I have no idea what it was. I thought i was crazy to spend that much.

After college I bought the odd bottle of wine but started finding beers I liked so I switched back and forth. I decided I was going to start making beer so I tried that a few times and enjoyed it and it was tasty. Then I decided to make wine, from concentrate. Living in Charlotte at the time, there were no good grapes to be had so the concentrate was what I had to accept. It was a Chardonnay and was good if it was straight from the fridge. I cannot imagine how it would taste if I tried it now.

After marrying in 2001, my wife and I enjoyed the occasional bottle here and there but the beer options were again getting better so wine was not had often. Our real journey into wine started around 2008 when we began going to a few wine shop tastings with friends. I quickly realized I like wine more than beer and starting searching Internet forums to learn more.

In 2012 we joined Scott Brunson and a cadre of others in Charleston for a Cellar Tracker offline. That was the real beginning of the end. My palate went from fruit forward CA wines (which I still like sometimes) to wines with more balance. My cellar exploded and my wallet got thinner. We have traveled to Paso Robles, Walla Walla, Napa, and Willamette Valley for wine trips. Most of our international wine has come from recommendations from others but we did hit a few wineries when in Italy a few years ago.

While we are still particularly fond of CA cab and Syrah, I have been drawn to OR Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the last couple of years. WA Syrah has dropped off a good bit, and Paso wine is pretty much out unless I hit the Saxum list. For Europe we have been drinking more Italians lately so I am trying to build that up. I tried the Burgundy thing for a while and liked it, but could not find enough that I liked and could buy consistently. I love Bordeaux but it is usually pricier than I can spend for what I want.

I think our palate is evening out some and we know what we like better than we did a few years ago. I am trying to not get stuck in a rut though and will be going o a Spanish wine tasting in a few weeks just to try it. My US purchases will probably shrink while my European increase, and hopefully find a balance.

Through groups like WB, CT and some local friends, I hope to continue our journey through wine and meet more wine minded people.

I grew up in a European family that had emigrated to New Zealand a couple of generations ago, wine was usually served with a meal to enhance the food, no one ever bothered to talk about the wine or comment on it, New Zealand wines 30 years ago were pretty average, over cropped and under ripe and uninteresting.
I moved to Australia when I was about 22, I took a girl out for dinner and ordered a 1992 Zema Estate Cabernet off the list… BOOM, it was like sunshine in a bottle, fully ripe and a whole different world of wine opened up to me. A case of that wine was my first “cellar” purchase (I drank the whole case within 5 weeks),
I was pretty happy collecting Australian wine until I tried some very good aged French wines around 1999, my big downfall was picking up a case of 1978 DRC for an absolute song, I am haunted by the greatness of those wines.
I drank my way to the very top and at one point was on the Vintage Cellars tasting panel for DRC, once a year we would convene for dinner and open the entire range and produce notes for their Cellar Press publication(everything at their expense)
I found that I was losing my enjoyment for wine and it was becoming like a job and I was always hypercritical of any wine that you put in front of me.

I stepped back from wine when my Daughter was born (nine years ago), we had just moved back to New Zealand and I archived that part of my life so that I could concentrate on providing a solid base for my family
now I can enjoy the simple pleasure of wine again, the wines I seek are medium bodied with good acidity and a good sense of place, life is too short to drink bad wine

Great thread as usual Frank.

My journey began, ended and began again. In between I raised two children. Back in the early '80s I was a fan of Cab (Jordan, Freemark Abbey) and Jadot Pouilly Fuisse. My Mom always had Mondavi Fume Blanc on hand. Things changed to beer when I became a Father. It wasn’t until 2005 that my last child left the nest and I started to explore where my palate was.

Turns out it was Pinot, Syrah and Zinfandel. Ridge Lytton Springs and Seghesio Sonoma County were go to along with a local Syrah blend that was around for a few years called Fire Engine Red. It was bottled by and proceeds benefitted the Gold Ridge Fire District here in West County.
I quickly became a Williams-Selyem fan due to a friend being a list member. I signed up and started buying allocations in 2007. My first mailing list!

Soon I found myself immersing myself into wine on the internet. One thing lead to another, I found Cellartracker and read lots of user notes looking for palates that aligned with mine. That’s where I found you. You were the first person I followed on Cellartracker. I loved the way you brought the experience to life and we seemed to enjoy a lot of the same wines. In the meantime I was signing up for dozens of mailing lists. Turley, Carlisle, Switchback Ridge, Robery Foley, Donelan, Wind Gap etc… Then the inevitable happened. You mentioned Wineberserkers in one if your tasting notes. My life has never been the same and it’s all your fault! [snort.gif]

My palate too has changed over time but I still enjoy fruits of the past along with the ones of my present. Hopefully that won’t change but I find myself moving further and further away from big wines and closer to more restrained examples. Everything still has its place for me though.

Seriously though, through WB I have found dozens of wineries I enjoy and nearly dozens of people I enjoy conversing/drinking with. [wink.gif] Sharing my enjoyment of wine with all the great friends I have made through this site and others continues to enrich my life. Touring vineyards, winemaker lunches/dinners, working harvest, getting sticky and eventually doing private tastings for some wineries when they need help. It just keeps snowballing. Every time I host a get-together/offline it’s special and memorable. The number of ITBs I am now friends with enhances the enjoyment I get from this hobby. People like Mike Smith, Hardy Wallace, Robin Akhurst, Paul Gordon, Pax Mahle, Morgan Twain-Peterson, Mike Officer, Tegan Passalacqua and many others have been so inviting, passionate and generous. I can honestly say that some of my closest friendships are a result of my passion for wine and the wine business. So many generous and down to earth individuals. People from all walks of life, tax brackets, cultures, ideologies all coming together to celebrate a common love. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. grouphug [cheers.gif]

Growing up in a Jewish household, we drank wine from when I was a kid. I just decided when I was in college to get better wine. First bottle was a St. Emilion and went from there. For a long time it was only European but new world wines for me began in the early 80’s. Now I drink from everywhere. it is difficult to say which region or country I prefer the most. It has been a long journey.

Growing up, I thought wine was disgusting. My dad was an alcoholic and drank Franzia, sometimes straight from the box. Some early sense-memories were of sour Franzia and sweat. I avoided wine (and generally alcohol) in my college years, preferring harder stuff.

Late in my twenties, I found myself really getting into Belgian style beer and farmhouse cider. The first time I had a Cantillon, it was the most amazing thing. My wine epiphany was 12 years and 2 days ago, at Rialto restaurant in Cambridge MA. It was our 5th anniversary. The hubby has always had an adventurous palate, and asked for a funky wine. Jody Adams herself brought us a bottle of Tondonia Rosado, and a whole new color palate exploded in my brain. The wines of Lopez de Heredia were my first love, and will be my last. Since then, my palate has gravitated towards traditional rioja, nebbiolo, loire reds, loire whites, wild syrahs, volcanic wines and bordeaux. And good sherry is a beautiful thing. Hubby’s palate is quite AFWE, long before I knew that was. Mine is slightly more catholic, and I enjoy some riper stuff as well. Perhaps because my gateway to fine drinking was Belgian sours, I’ve never had a problem with bretty wines (at least to a point!).

Thanks to WB, I have discovered the amazeballness of Bedrock, Carlisle and other zin board favorites. I also enjoy trying new stuff that I’ve not had before. Recent infatuations include wines from the Jura and furmint sec. I have yet to meet another WB’er but look forward to perhaps doing so one day and sharing something delicious. [cheers.gif]

god, what a great thread this is growing into. So many cool stories. I am blamed in one, then I see introversion mentioned in another (I can identify with that, given my ISFJ profile, for those of you into MBTI and those kinds of things).

What I also enjoy too is seeing some old timers posting, yet some folks who I have not seen as often also posting.

Telling our stories brings us together, it mitigates the separation and binary nature of what the world has become. I encourage you to bring your story here.

Great thread! Growing up, I was never exposed to wine as no one in my family drank it. Neither did family friends. Probably because West Virginia wine is not terribly good! My teens and early twenties were filled with copious amounts of (cheap) beer and liquor.

Post-law school, I started dabbling in wine based on bottles partners would give associates for Christmas. Mostly Chilean Carmenere and Cab Sauvignon, and Cali Pinot, Cab Sauv and Chardonnay. Did not drink wine often, but was intrigued enough to visit Napa (Cakebread!) and the wineries surrounding Santiago (Concha y Toro) during a backpacking trip to Chile.

Really started focusing on wine upon moving to Seattle in early 2007. Shifted focus to WA and OR wines while exploring cheaper French, Spanish and Italian wines. Visited the Willamette Valley and Walla Walla and realized I greatly preferred their wines and more laidback atmospheres over Napa. Instead of buying wines for immediate consumption, started buying wines to keep (at least for a few months). Stopped drinking liquor and greatly minimized beer consumption as I increased my wine exploration.

Visited Burgundy and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in 2009, and by 2010 was buying and drinking way more wine than I ever imagined. Was buying and drinking mostly WA Rhodes and Southern Rhones with a smattering of OR Pinots. As the story usually goes, was way too involved in mailing lists/clubs and overbought before a palate shift in 2013, after my second visit to CDP and a quick visit to Bandol.

The palate shift coincided with a renewed interest in craft beer, especially sours, farmhouse ales and lagers. As I moved on from Rhones, I bought and drank more OR Pinot and Chardonnay (a varietal I had sworn off years earlier due to the ripe, buttery styles I had experienced), Loire reds and whites (Brett is good!), and German Riesling.

Began visiting the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge more often, usually a few times a year. Those trips not only exposed me to many different great producers and varietals I had ignorantly shunned in the past, but also allowed me to meet and spend time with the many wonderful people involved in the wine industry, many of whom are frequent contributors to this forum. I would not have met most of them without this forum. As much as I enjoy going down to drink great wine and beer, it is the kind people we’ve met on our travels to the WV and Columbia Gorge that brings us back as often as we can.

Visited a few different wine regions on the North Island of New Zealand in 2014, and Barolo and Barbaresco earlier this year. Both amazing places and introduced me to wonderful wines and producers.

Will continue to explore the vast wine world, but pretty happy with my current pattern of buying and drinking wines from Oregon, the Loire, the Piedmont, Beaujolais, Germany, and Champagne. Although at this point my purchases are equal between whites and reds, with whites trending upwards. Not to mention some NZ Pinot and Chard from smaller producers if I can find at a decent price stateside.

Great thread and I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.

Are up in a household with out any exposure to wine. A 6pack of beer would last for months and I still think my father is still drinking from the same bottle of Chivas. Went to college in VT (94-98) so majority of my time was spent drinking local craft beers or bud bottles… Spent the next few years in SF and upped my game to cocktails and occasional bottle of Malbec or Rioja with dinner. Took a few trips out to NAPA / Sonoma but don’t recall where / what.

Moved back east and off to more school and even less time / money. Similar drinking patterns but during residency started to drink more wine with dinner (2nd cheapest red off the list) and started a single malt tasting group. It was during this last endeavor that I began to find enjoyment in the subjective contemplation of a beverage. I was finally making some $ and my epicurean exploits started. Natural progression was adding wine to these meals.

But it was not until fellowship while watching Conan one that that I stumbled upon GaryV. I started cranking through his WineLibTV videos and jumped into the forums. It wasn’t long until I was buying a bunch of wine from WL based on his or forum suggestions. I felt like a 12 yo buying / collecting baseball cards again. I vividly remember one of those early eye opening moments and it was a simple Australian Syrah-Viogner from Kangrilla Road. I have seen it a few times since and refuse to try it again as not to ruin that moment for myself. I was living in New Haven so I was fortunate to make it to several offline in NYC and more locally in CT. It was these offlines and exposures to the WLTV forums that really got me started down this path. During these I was able to taste a wide variety of fantastic domestic and foreign bottles.

As most, initial purchases were heavy in domestic Cab / Syrah , too much clio than I am willing to admit and some limited Italian and BDx. I soon transitioned into california pinot (usual suspects) and zin, mostly because of ease of attainment and understanding. Now 5-7 years later, I’m drinking as much varied stuff as possible but find myself drawn towards focused, energetic wines with a sense of self/purpose. My wife still likes the typical full bodied, smooth reds so drinking together at times can be hard.

I am excited to see where things go from here.

My wine biography actually starts in third grade when my school district started teaching kids French. As I got older, I ended up in honors French class and we used to learn French culture and French history as well as the language. In 1967, just after 10th grade, I was on a train from Lucerne to Paris with my family and everyone gets a split of Beaujolais with lunch. I knew what it was from French class and it was pretty good. Then we get to 11th grade and we go the NYC to see La Comedie Francaise with our teacher. We had lunch or dinner at Au Tunnel, a French restaurant in the theater district. We spoke French to the proprietor and he returned the favor by letting us drink some French wine. It was all down hill from there. In 12th grade, I remember buying a bottle of late 1950s Chateauneuf for $2.57 from Readers Liquors on Willis Avenue in Albertson, which is still there. I was 17, which was close enough, since the drinking age was 18.

The next year, it was full on gallop to perdition. I hated beer. I was at the University of Michigan. Ripple and Boones Farm were not to my taste, so I went with Blue Nun. One day, the guy in the room next to me said he had discovered a great new wine but it was 20 cents more than Blue Nun. We scraped together enough to buy a bottle of Liebfraumilch.

By the time I got to law school, it was the good stuff. I particularly remember a bottle of Climens that we drank with escargot and a bottle of Ausone. The Ausone was something like $9 a bottle.

My first case was 1974 Fetzer Cabernet, bought in 1977 from WM Sokolin in NYC for $30. That’s $2.50 a bottle. I bought it because I was the “wine guy” and my friend asked me to get a case of wine for their wedding. We drank most of it and I saved the rest. I had a bottle with the couple in 2002 for their 20th Anniversary. Not dead but dying. I still have one bottle left.

My wine biography is more shaped by the people than by a palate shift. My first exposure to wine was from my great-grandfather. He used to make his own wine and had a barrel or two in his basement. He offered me some ice cream from the corner market if I tried a sip, before a Sunday dinner. I think I was 8 or 9. Needless to say, it made me sick to my stomach. But I did get the ice cream after dinner! After that, I did not drink wine at all until I met my wife.

My wife and I became engaged 3 months before the Loma Prieta earthquake. She had some bottles of Cuvaison and Rafanelli Cab and I had a 1978 Beringer PR and Montelena Cab, courtesy of a friend who was formerly in law enforcement in Napa. He had given me those two bottles for helping him find some baseball cards for his son. The earthquake killed a few bottles of the Cuvaison, and we drank the Beringer Cab during the World Series a few days later. It was awesome! After that, I discovered Zins from a few of the “R” producers, such as Ridge and Ravenswood. Those Zins, especially from 1990-1993 were just fantastic and I have been a Zin fan since. My late Uncle opened a bottle of 1983 Mouton for us after we were married, and that is how I became a Bordeaux lover.

I still have a lot of California Cabs from the likes of Montelena, Monte Bello, Spottswoode, Forman, etc. Still buying Zins from Ridge, Carlisle, Rafanelli and Turley. And still buying Bordeaux. What has changed is that we are enjoying and buying more Italian wines (Tuscany and Sicily) as well as Champagne. We like to buy the baby bottles of Champagne, because sometimes a glass is enough, as well as the other formats. We have a little Port and Sauternes, but each is around 5% of our total bottle count.

What hasn’t changed is that wine is just part of the equation, along with friends and food. Wine is ok without one or the other, but wine is so much better when one is with friends. We are fortunate to have met a lot of great people due to the common love of wine.

Great topic, Frank! Thank you for starting it. Cheers.


I had to update my outdated CT profile:

I have only been into better wines for about 18 years. My wife Laurie took me to Napa when we first got together in 1999, and I was hooked. My palate has changed over these years, migrating from the really huge fruit bomb Zins (like the Joseph Swans of the 1990’s) and some Cabs (and absolutely no taste for Pinot) at that time, to mostly Cabs, Pinots and California Rhones (Syrah and GSM) now. Pinot and Cab are more than 75% of our cellar, yet ten years ago I thought Pinot was a “tasteless wimpy wine.” With 400 bottles of California Pinot in the cellar I don’t feel that way any more. We have gone from storing a few cases under the stairs, to a 55 bottle wine chiller, to a 180 bottle cellar, and now to a custom-built wine room. Who would have believed it!

Wine has become such a big part of our lives that most of our vacations are spent in some wine region; of course, living one hour to Santa Barbara (1 1/2 hrs. to Santa Ynez) does not hurt. While I have ventured and tried Old World wines, my focus and preference is definitely California wines. Certainly we have some Oregon Pinot, a couple of bottles of Brunello or Sangiovese, but the only a few French wines - Sauternes and Burgs.

My retirement plans include playing some part in the wine business: whether that be a hobby vineyard making 25-50 cases a year, to a larger operation, is unknown at this time.

Who would have thought that a food product could become such a passion in my life? If you asked me that 18 years ago, I’d have said you’re crazy. The best part are the new friends made over wine. From winemakers like Mike and Leah Smith and Craig Haserot, to fellow Berserkers, or even causes which use wines as an attraction (our favorite is obviously Falltacular), we have many new friends made over bottles of grape juice.

I grew up in a beer and cocktails family of the 60s, but when I was 18 my Dad was transferred to Paris for an engineering project that was supposed to last six years. The project ended up getting cancelled after four months, but that was enough. I came home from college for Christmas to wine on the table with dinner for the first time that I could remember (I don’t even want to think about the glassware!). My Mom loved the wines of a new California producer at the time, Robert Mondavi, particularly his Johannisberg Riesling.

Once I graduated from college and was living in Portland, I was introduced to the fledgling Oregon wine industry. I used to buy 1.5 liter bottles of white and red table wine (the white was much better than the red) from Dick and Nancy Ponzi in the late 70s. While many of the wines were only so-so, there were enough very good to great wines to keep me interested (and a bit of a shill for the locals). I met a number of friends at work who were also interested in wines, which expanded my horizons to California Cabs and Zins, and, finally, to Burgundy. Back in the late 80s/early 90s the dollar was very strong, and good Burgundy was much more affordable than it is today, so I drank a lot of Premier Cru and Village level Burgundy (when I can buy Ecard Premier Cru cheaper than Willamette Valley, I’m buying the Ecard). As the dollar weakened against the Franc (and Euro) and red Burgundy became more expensive, I came back to Oregon and also ventured into the world of White Burgundy.

Over the last few years I’ve been migrating more and more to white wines in general, and Chardonnay in particular. My biggest current issue is reducing the cellar space devoted to Pinot so I can buy more White Burgundy and Oregon Chardonnay. Throughout this journey I’ve met and become friends with a lot of great people, from my old pal John Paul, Doug Tunnell, David (and Jason) Lett, Doug Tunnell, Bill Hatcher, Rob and Maria Stuart, and too many others to mention here. It’s been a lot of fun, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon.

Interesting thread. Many of us don’t really like the idea of talking about ourselves (but actually like doing it!), and, since you’re asking us to do it, I’ll play …

ahhhhh, my wine journey … it started in college. I seem to recall buying $12 bottles of Montinore - WV Pinot Noir. Loved 'em. Quickly realized that my college budget couldn’t support that (and the occasional foray with the $18 bottle), so wine was shelved in favor of King Cobra malt liquor ($3.54, after tax and deposit, for two 40’s!! Hey, it got the job done. Slowly, I delved into the world of fine beer (British and American craft (including IPAs before they were “cool”)), but that’s a rabbit hole for another thread …

But, clearly, those $12 bottles of Oregon Pinot made an impression. Eventually, I came back to wine. 2004. I packed all my belongings into my Chevy Blazer and drove 2.5 days from Eagan, MN to Redondo Beach, CA, where my future wife had setup shop. I managed to sneak all the way to her apartment door without her knowing I was coming; the look on her face when she opened the door was priceless. And so began my CA life, which was the primary impetus behind my re-acquaintance with wine.

How can one who likes wine, and lives in CA, not drink wine? I’m pretty sure that’s an impossible rhetorical question. … we started with wines from Trader Joe’s. One that caught our particular attention was a CdR from Perrin & Fils. We bought more Cotes du Rhone bottlings. Our interest grew. We upgraded to shopping the on-sale bottles from Vons — or so I thought. I quickly came to realize that just because a bottle cost $20, or was supposed to cost $20, did not mean it would be more enjoyable than that $8 Cotes du Rhone. I made the decision to educate myself. Subscribed to Wine Spectator, which I read religiously. Started writing tasting notes, and scored wines on a 5 star system. Basically, we started paying attention to what we were drinking and what we enjoyed (and what we didn’t enjoy).

Bought our first wines “to cellar” over the XMas holiday in 2006. That was the beginning of the end, so to speak.

Since that time, we’ve been through the expected palate shifts. We started with Rhone and CA Rhone wines (and still enjoy those to this day), but we’ve gravitated away from Paso and CdP in favor of our favorite CA Pinot producers (Arcadian and Rhys) and Burgundy, Loire, and Bdx. … just a few nights ago, I commented to Ashley that it’s funny how we ultimately landed squarely in France as far as our wine preferences basically go. I do my best to drink a varied selection of wines, and try not to get sucked into hype. I try to focus on drinking what we like as opposed to drinking what we should like. I doubt we’ll ever have a “baller” cellar, as that’s not really what we’re in this for, but I always love what I’m looking at when I do the wine addict stare-at-your-CT-cellar thing.

Ashley and I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunities to visit countless wine regions (Paso, Napa, Sonoma, Rhone, Champagne, Priorat, CdP, Bdx, Burgundy, Douro …) and form many lifelong memories thanks to wine enthusiasm. My participation in various wine forums has literally altered my life … mostly for the better! Like most of us here, I’m sometimes amazed at just how much more I (we) know about wine than do folks whose professions depend on such knowledge! And I (we) have the rest of you to thank for that. [thankyou.gif]

Finally, and most importantly, many of our best friends are folks we met thanks to wine. I love that fact that when we hang out with many of these friends nowadays the topic of wine never comes up; we don’t even always drink wine!

Life is terribly busy for Ashley and I these days, with two young kids, and time-demanding jobs; as a result, I feel that our participation in the wine community has drawn-back some in recent years, but I know our passion and desire remains.

Thanks for having me. Thanks for tolerating me. And here’s to many more! [cheers.gif]