In 1983, Nancy and I moved to Napa Valley, I worked the harvest that year at Mount Eden Vineyards in Sara toga, starting at the bottom, picking grapes and digging ditches. After the harvest, we moved to Napa Valley and worked at a B&B. Nancy ran the place and I tended the gardens and planted a vineyard. I then worked at Tonella Vineyard Management, where the owner taught me why you need to prune, trellis, train, and generally coddle grapevines, and the vineyard workers gave me on the job training.
Next I worked at Whitehall Lane Winery. Though I started in the tasting room, the winemaker, Art Finkel stein, took me under his wing, put me in the cellar, and eventually promoted me to winemaker. Art taught me that the secret of great wines is in the blend. In 1987, we started Elyse Wines with 286 cases of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard, which is still one of our primary fruit sources. For a decade we were nomads, buying grapes and crushing at various custom crush facilities, and then in 1997, we finally bought a small winery on Hoffman Lane.
When I make a wine, my tastes and techniques will influence the process, but whats most important is the fruit. The fruit dictates what the wine will be. Were fortunate to work with an amazing group of growers and vineyards, whose fruit keeps taking us to wonderful places. We started out making Zinfandel, then expanded into Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. No doubt those will continue to be the focus of our winemaking, but now weve made a tiny quantity of Chardonnay, and soon well be releasing our first Pinot Noir. What wines we make after that will depend on the fruit thats available, because I just can’t say no to wonderful fruit.
360106 L’Ingenue White Rhone 12/750
360046 C’est si Bon, Sierra Foothills 12/750
360086 York Petite Sirah 12/750
3600126 Nero Misto 12/750
360016 Korte Ranch Zinfandel 12/750
360026 Dry Creek Zinfandel 12/750
360036 Morisoli Zinfandel 12/750
3600136 Holbrook Mitchell Cabernet 12/750
360066 Morisol Cabernet 12/750
360037 Forte Dessert Wine, Napa Valley