Looking southwest from Kamen Estate Vineyard

Vineyard Sunset on Moon Mountain

A few years ago I decided I wanted to make a coffee table book that explored the wine makers of Napa and Sonoma. I wanted to give people the behind the scenes view of what goes into making a wine from start to finish.

I started that project, but I never finished it for a variety of reasons. In starting the project, I got to know some lovely people who took the time to welcome me into their lives and professions. Helen Keplinger met with me on two, maybe even three occasions. Aaron Potts invited me out to take part in a truly one of a kind experience sampling juice and exploring possible blends with his team.

Thanks to you both for answering a random email from some dude in San Francisco. I haven’t forgotten.

I’m lucky to have stayed in touch with The Coturris (Phil, Sam and Arden), specifically Sam.

Sam’s smile is so infectious. It fills up any room and just about any vineyard.

I remember the first time I met them, a long time before thinking about doing a book. We had dinner at Harvest Moon in Sonoma. It was magical. Later in the year I got back in touch with Sam about talking to his dad about growing. If you’ve had a wine from Sonoma or the surrounding area, I’d say there’s a 70% chance it was farmed by Phil and his team. From what I can tell, Phil is approaching (if not already there) legendary status when it comes to growing and farming. He’s spent the last 35 years pioneering organic and biodynamic wine growing in California. My favorite description of Phil is “the ubiquitous wizard of sustainable winemaking” by Sonoma Magazine.

Wonderful people. Absolutely delightful and accomplished each in their own respect. As a quick example, Arden is a lead member of the California Olive Oil Council taste panel certifying California oil as extra virgin. Think about that?!

A few weeks ago Sam and I were texting about how he’s marketing their personal wine brand, Winery Sixteen 600. He invited me up for an afternoon of chatting about marketing, the wine business and maybe a few sunset shots.

Sam taking in the views

We met at their newly opened tasting house and hopped in the Subaru to head up to their place. Sam navigated the windy, dirt roads as we passed one gorgeous vineyard after another. As we approached their home Sam says to me, “I don’t think we’re going to be high enough. Let’s go see Uncle Bobby”. If you happen to farm as much property as Phil does, you get pretty good access to some of the best views in the area.

As we climbed higher, the cloud cover started to clear. When the clouds separated, I knew we would be in for a treat. At this point, I’m starting to get pretty damn excited. Looking out the windows like a kid waiting for Santa Claus. We pulled up to the gate and began wandering through Kamen’s Estate Vineyard.

The grapes of 2015 were already harvested so I tried to focus on what fall looks like in a vineyard. I was amazed at how much green still remained. The setting sun illuminated the reds and yellows of the grapevines.

We were shooting for about 15 minutes before being greeted by Uncle Bobby. Robert thought that it might be Sam, but since we didn’t call, he was unsure and decided to check. After a brief chat, Robert invited us up to his house to watch the finale and taste a few of the reds he was tasting. Here’s the money shot!

If you haven’t been to wine country — email me and come visit.

If you can’t make it and want to experience the best of the best — join the wine clubs at Sixteen600 and/or Kamen.

If you can’t make it and want to pretend like it’s in your living room — contact me for a print!

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Thanks for reading!

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