In previous entries, I supported an upcoming event that had been organized by the Sonoma County Wine Library’s Bo Simmons. I gave this my full support, because in my working day it’s usually the other way around. As a publicist, it is I who needs the support of the writing community, since I’m a link between wine companies for which I advocate and writers. To be able to flip the table’s a rare joy.

Promotion is promotion, and even writers need an occasional spotlight shone in their direction… Especially when they’ve authored a book, and it’s gone into the publicity stage.

Honestly, I cheerlead for the things that I believe in, and because Steve’s such an excellent writer, promoting his upcoming event was a natural blog entry.

Kendall-Jackson Winery and Sonoma County Wine Library presented Steve Heimoff, author of New Classic Winemakers of California, as he lead a panel of Sonoma County’s winemakers. Most had been previously interviewed and were now featured in his newly released book.

Featured winemakers participating on the panel, in the order of their presentaitons were the following:

  • Randy UllomKendall-Jackson
  • Eric CinnamonRancho Zabaco
  • Michael TerrienHanzell Vineyards
  • Greg LaFolletteDeLoach and Tandem
  • Merry Edwards – of Merry Edwards

Randy Ullom was recruited by Jess Jackson, and together they built the reputation and quality of the Kendall-Jackson wine portfolio. Randy’s also helped Kendall-Jackson develop their South American wine holdings. Randy shared that he’s responsible for the production of about 5 million cases of wine a year. He does it with passion, that’s clear, and yet has remained very humble in his process.

Although Eric Cinnamon of Rancho Zabaco isn’t in this current edition of Steve’s book, with a twinkle in his eye in his introduction, Steve alluded to Eric perhaps being a follow-up edition. Clearly, Steve respects Eric’s ability, which was demonstrated by Eric also on this panel. The SCWL created the event with K-J’s help, and Steve recruited his panel members.

Eric Cinnamon, of Rancho Zabaco, is one of Sonoma County’s Zin Masters. At the tender age of thirty–something, Eric has already shown that he’s a winemaker of extraordinary talent and vision. I began a professional relationship with Eric in the early days of the Foppiano Vineyards’ Petite Sirah Symposium, and also have great respect for his talent.

Even though Michael Terrien of Hanzell Vineyards has only been at Hanzell for three of their 50 years, he’s already made a name for himself. Michael was quick to learn from Bob Sessions the skill of innovating within Hanzell’s established traditions. Michael arrived early in the evening, and we had a brief introduction. I commented that this evening was going to be very interesting, and Michael quietly acknowledged that he agreed. For me, the panel that Steve presented was a group of extremely talented winemakers who have – in their success – not lost sight of their own humility factor, my true measure of a successful person. Michael Terrien easily fits into this category of making extraordinary wine an every day occurrence, because there’s no other way.

Greg LaFolletteDeLoach and Tandem. Greg grew up in Europe and adheres to the doctrine that wine is raised and not made. He has worked for Beaulieu, Kendall-Jackson’s Hartford Court, and Flowers. If ever there were a person – man or woman – that could take the art of making wine and turn it into immediate poetry, it’s Greg. We hung on his every word, as he explained his craft. I asked him after the panel discussion if I could have some of his time. I hadn’t brought a note pad, I had brought my camera. I’m one of those people who can’t chew gum and tap dance at the same time. I either have my writing cap on, and miss great images; or, I have my camera, and miss great words. Either way, I’m sure to have regrets, but it’s better than tripping off a curb in Union Square, ever again. I was lucky I didn’t go under a bus, so I now decide… Paper and pen or camera? The camera had won out for the night, so there’s my great regret of the night. Fortunately, Greg’s very agreeable to meet with me, so you know what a future blog is going to hold…

Last, but certainly not least (there was no least in this group) was Merry Edwards. Merry, whose Merry Edwards Pinots and Sauvignon Blancs win passionate acclaim, because she creates wines of great purity. Her desire for creating wine that precisely represents her work is controlled by having her own vineyards and working very closely with others for whom she sources fruit. Merry has history that includes an apprenticeship at Villa Mt. Eden, she was mentored by Joe Swan in the early 1970s, and she’s worked at both Matanzas Creek and Laurier. Today, her wines reflect her exacting passions.

Steve Heimoff, true to the manner in which he wrote New Classic Winemakers of California, took a self-effacing back seat to these winemakers at this book signing event. Steve was responsible for creating an extraordinary evening that everyone couldn’t help but enjoy.

As a host, K-J provided great appetizers from their Executive Chef Justin Wangler. All winemakers’ wines were poured by each of the panel members, and the evening offered a perfect venue that brought this collegial group together.

For a moment, we all felt like we had been flies on the wall when Steve originally collected these great interviews.