It’s no secret to those that know me that wine is and has always been a big part of my life. From the time I was little, I can remember counting the bottles (and losing count) of the bottles in my parents wine cellar. They would make a few treks to Europe every year and restock the cellar at our home in Santa Maria. One of the first vacations I can remember was a trip to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. I can still remember riding on the barge on the the Rhine river and visiting the intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Even at the early age of eight, I can remember how steep the hillsides along the rivers were. I tried to imagine how hard it must have been to tend to the vines.
In my later high school years, I took classes at Hancock College in Santa Maria to study viticulture and enology. A close friend of mine, Matt – who now works up in Napa managing vineyards – had a greenhouse in his backyard and we would endlessly argue the merits of the various canopy systems in vineyards and the best practices for maximizing fruit production. Around the age of 17 or 18, we started visiting the wineries, tasting rooms, and caves on the Central Coast of California. I can recall visiting the tasting room at