In the fall of 2006 I flew to France for my first harvest. I spent the next few months working in the small Roussillon village of Maury picking grapes, hauling boxes, processing fruit, and learning cellar work. The experience I had there with old vines, steep schist slopes, and of literally getting up to my elbows in fermentations convinced me to move to Napa on my return to continue an apprenticeship in winemaking. Even now, after a decade working in wine, I still feel more like a student of wine than a winemaker.
Since 2008 I’ve had the opportunity to work for the Kongsgaard family and to continue to learn winemaking and the business of wine. With their encouragement and support I started Ferdinand in 2010. Though my first experience in winemaking was in France, it was in the Cathar and Catalan country just across the Pyrenees from Spain. There, in Maury, the grapes are Grenache and Carignan, known in Spanish as Garnacha and Mazuelo. Setting out to make my own wines I looked again towards Spain and was fortunate to be introduced to two great growers of Spanish varieties. My first vintage I started with just one ton of Albariño (a white variety indigenous to Galicia in north-west Spain) from Markus Bokisch’s Vista Luna Vineyard. In 2011, I began to make Tempranillo (another of the great Spanish varieties) from Ann Kraemer’s Shake Ridge Vineyard.
As a young winemaker, my philosophy has to be to surround myself with great mentors and to try to work with great growers. I am very fortunate to have been able to find both.