Step 2 in the writing of a winemaker biography

After the questions and answers from yesterday’s story, along with all extra research that has been digested, the next three steps of the four-step process begins.

Reminder of the four-step process:

  1. DONE: Thinking, planning, and researching your subject, in order to begin writing
  2. Writing
  3. Editing
  4. Rewriting (as many times as it takes, to get it as perfect as possible)

The following is what was written.

Winemaker John C. Kane

John Kane grew up in America’s vegetable garden, known as the San Joaquin Valley. Because he was surrounded by agriculture his entire life, by the time he was 12 years old, John started working summers in packing sheds. He stacked fruit pallets of any kind, so he could have spending money. He saw two great benefits to this: the physical work and the “all you can eat fruit” policy. His next employment was to work all of the aspects of ranch and farm positions.  When John looks back, he realizes that this solidified his love for being and working out of doors. This work ethic continued into his college years, with a wide array of jobs.

In San Luis Obispo, while working as a chemist’s assistant in a pharmaceutical laboratory, Kane caught the biochemistry bug. That’s when he decided on what he really wanted to do with his life. While in San Luis Obispo, John was also introduced to the wine scene. He remembers a chemistry class, when the discussion turned to wine and its chemistry. John thought, “I could actually work outside, have a job that involves chemistry, and make something I love?” He went to Fresno State in order to study biochemistry, and graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Enology. John also completed the U.C. Davis Executive program in 2008.

The Winemaker Emerges

When John graduated from Fresno State, he met Jeff Cohn at a tasting, where Jeff was presenting Rosenblum Cellars wine. Cohn told John that he should intern at Rosenblum. At that time, he returned to the Paso Robles area to find small winery and vineyard work. Intuitively, though, he knew this wasn’t going to be long term. He took the internship at Rosenblum Cellars after meeting Kent Rosenblum, who owned Rosenblum Cellars at the time. When John saw how many wines they were producing from all over the state, John realized one important thing: to be working with over twenty different varieties from every AVA meant that the learning experience was going to be vast.  He also didn’t want a lab position. John wanted to work in the cellar and learn everything he could about running a winery.

  • He segued into a bottling room in 2001
  • Became an associate winemaker in 2005
  • Moved to winemaker in 2008
  • Became senior winemaker for Rosenblum in 2012
  • Continued as senior winemaker for Diageo

John Kane has a determination to succeed, stemming from his impressive early work ethic. Dedication to agriculture, his background in relation to wine, plus working with farmers, has given him a complete understanding of how to run an agricultural business.  For John Kane, “When you work in agriculture you have to understand the whole process, not just your function.”

Jeff Cohn (Jeff Cohn Cellars) and Kent Rosenblum (Rock Wall Wine Company) became John’s mentors and continue to be John’s resources. Of Kent Rosenblum, John says, “Kent showed me how to get the most out of the wine industry and how important it is to be a sales person, not just a winemaker. Jeff showed me how to push the limits on winemaking, and to forget some of the hard rules I learned in college about wine making.” He’s learned to appreciate not only being at the winery, but also the adventures of travels. He admits to loving working the streets with salespeople, and being on panels. Another activity that keeps him busy is being a member of the Orange County Wine Society as a judge.

The Winemaker Ethos

Interested in agriculture, John understands the connection between food and wine. “The enjoyment it can bring to gatherings or dinner…  Most of all it’s not something a robot can do.  You still have a lot of hands-on labor and small techniques; this makes a huge difference in my final wine product,” States John.

JCK Wine Company

John is enjoying his new challenges as general manager and winemaker of JCK Wine Company. His work changes from day to day, finding that working for a company is night and day from starting your own company.  He still ponders the balance between having made a move years ago, to realizing that he would not have the knowledge, had he not worked for Rosenblum Cellars and Diageo. He also doesn’t completely embrace lots of innovations, preferring to do things the artisanal old and hard ways.  He believes that most new things in the industry are making a lot of wines simply taste the same.

JCK Wine Company is John Kane’s single most significant accomplishment in his career to date. It has always been a dream, and he’s fulfilled it. Now his dream is to hand an established wine company to his kids, to run, and to enjoy the same life that he’s currently enjoying.