Many years ago, when I was starting as a winemaker, I wrote something that still embodies my guiding principle for making wine. I wrote, “My greatest satisfaction comes when I see a smile and hear the simple comment, ‘This is delicious." Wine for me is a sensual experience, and my goal is to provide as much pleasure as I can.
All the great wines I’ve enjoyed have a few features in common – richness, complexity, harmony, balance, and most of all, they invited you to come back and discover something new with each taste. I love wines that are elusive, wines that you can’t explain or put a finger on completely.
Those are the ideas that guide my winemaking. I have great respect for tradition, and I rely mostly on intuition and, of course, taste, to guide my decisions. I try to intervene as little as possible in a wine’s evolution, and I do know that if you hover over a wine, you make the wine nervous.
- Peter with Assistant Winemaker Tim Dolven
It’s become a cliché, but it is also absolutely true, great wines come from great vineyards. And because of my decades in Napa Valley and the 30-plus years I’ve had to explore the region and meet the people there, I’ve had the opportunity to identify and work with the best vineyards in the region. The excellence and character of those sites guarantee that I will get the highest quality fruit possible every year.
It’s become a cliché, but it is also absolutely true, great wines come from great vineyards.
Stewart Vineyard is in Carneros, Napa’s cooler, southern section, and that’s my source for Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Chardonnay and Merlot. It is a unique site, impacted by a degree of saltwater intrusion that has a magical impact on the vineyard. I have worked with this vineyard for over 20 years.
I encountered Mount Veeder for the first time 40 years ago. So different I thought from the rest of Napa Valley--rugged terrain and a striking beauty while its inhabitants shared a certain wild and individualistic spirit. It was the home of my first job, working in the vineyards on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, and every year since, my wine career has been entwined with this special appellation.
Since 1991 I have had the privilege of producing Zinfandel from the acclaimed Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder. These magnificent dry-farmed wines are over 90-years old. The field blend is roughly 90% Zinfandel, and 10% Mourvèdre, Charbono, and Carignane --an atypical Zinfandel with layers of complexity.
In 2016 I come full circle to my earliest winemaking roots with our first Cabernet Sauvignon from Brandlin Vineyard. I think it safe to say that the Zinfandel and Cabernet emerging from this site are as good as it gets from Napa Valley -- that's decades of winemaking experience talking!
"Wine for me is a sensual experience..."
Lake County lies just north of Napa Valley, and in that region there’s a unique sub-appellation called Red Hills. The Fore Family Vineyard there is 3,000 feet up on Cobb Mountain, and the Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache it produces rivals the best of any region in California. This is the source for our Red Hills Red, our Rose, and, soon we’ll make our first Zinfandel from there.