Get the Dirt about Caldera Cuvee from winemaker Sammy Papert

17 Oct

calderalabel1. What was your first vintage year? 2009

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? Made 112 in ’09; 262 in ’10 and expect there to be a little less of the ’11.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Completely virtual, but if folks are in one of the retail establishments Caldera is available in Cambria, we’ll taste all day long!

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? Would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Greg Cropper of Carmody McKnight makes sure I don’t foul up too much.

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? Owner of Carmody McKnight, Gary Conway suggested it, but I was living in TX at the time, so discounted the idea. Attending the Garagiste Sunday “How To” seminar several years ago convinced me there was a better way!

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? It was the ’97 Justin Isosceles that we poured at our wedding and drew us to visit the Central Coast, so that has to be the culprit.

7. What varietals do you work with? Why? Since I use estate juice from Spring Hill Farms Vineyard (Carmody McKnight), I only have access to cab, cab franc and merlot. Chance I’ll have some petite verdot for the ’11. I make a Bordeaux-style blend because that’s what I prefer to drink, period.

calderavineyard8. What vineyards do you source from? Technically Spring Hill Farm Vineyards. Original vines, ungrafted, non-GMO, no chemicals at all, no sulfites, and best of all, thanks to the volcano that was once there, the limestone soils have been morphed in to calcium monmorillonite, the finest for growing grapes in the world. Mother Nature kissed this spot.  It chose me.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use?  Neutral French oak, by design. Too many associate oak and toast with the taste of wine and I want to avoid that.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? See #8. I think I stumbled on to one of the premier vineyards in the world that just happens to have a teeny bit of extra capacity that I eagerly gobbled up. Unique just barely describes the location and the wine it produces.

11. What’s the story behind your name/label? Caldera is the collapsed cone of a volcano. Cuveé means “blend” here, so the name is “volcanic blend”. Gary Conway, the owner of Spring Hill Farms is also an artist, so he and I collaborated on the label with it taking about 30 iterations to create an image we were both happy with and was unique.

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? How freaking weird the rules and regs and compliance issues are.

13. What do you love about small-lot winemaking? Anything you DON’T love about it? It’s been a complete BLAST. See #12.

14. Do you still have a day job? If so, do you mind sharing what it is? By day I sell a couple of rocking pieces of software that will help save the newspaper industry, or, at least give it more life than most expect. Yep, I’m single-handedly trying to save democracy in this country and love that, too!

For more information about Caldera Cuvee, please visit their website.

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