Too often in our industry the grower, perhaps the most critical link between a good vineyard site and a great wine, is forgotten. This is a damn shame as growers have some pretty great stories to tell. The menagerie of personalities that we work with on a constant basis provides, outside of folks loving the wine, the greatest joy of running a small winery. Some, like Dino Amantite and Frank Evangelho, are the current advocates in a string of generations taking care of their vines. Others have come to it after enjoying other careers. There is a Texan with a French mother who got buried in her beloved bikini, one of the groundbreaking female viticulturists in California, a contractor who saved a vineyard and house as only a man who knows construction can do, the son of a Napa cement truck driver, a couple of fellow second generation wine brothers, an organic guru with a penchant for quoting beat poets, and even the man who invented the wine cooler.
To bring to life this rather incredible group of people, we decided to turn to our old friend, David Darlington. David, who is a James Beard award winning author, met me as a five-year-old while writing Angel’s Visits—probably the best book ever written on Zinfandel. His most recent work, An Ideal Wine, offers a penetrating look at the generation of winemakers that oversaw the rise of California wine through the '80s and '90s. We are absolutely thrilled that he agreed to take on the project and even more excited with the result.