Get the Dirt about Dracaena Wines from owner Michael Budd

2 Jan

DracaenaPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2013 was our first commercial vintage.

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? About 425 cases annually.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? We do not have a tasting room; however, appointments can be made to taste our wines with us in person.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? I am the wine maker with Jeremy Leffert as our consulting winemaker.

5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? 1992 Ferrari Carrano Alexander Valley Chardonnay was our Ah Ha wine moment. This is the wine that turned Lori and I onto drinking wines with meals and enjoying wine with friends and family. During a trip to California wine country, we were exposed to a 1991 William Harrison Cabernet Franc. This was our first ever Cabernet Franc, opening our eyes to the varietal and resulted in an annual hunt to try Cabernet Franc based wines. This is a wine we taste in our memories while making Dracaena Wines.

6. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? Cabernet Franc and a Rose of Syrah. Cabernet Franc is our favorite wine (see above) and because we like to make wines we like to drink, it was our logical first wine to produce.

DracaenaVyd7. What vineyards do you source from? Why? If Estate, why do you choose your location? Wines are made in the vineyard and our wines are made by Plummer Vineyard grapes. Joe Plummer is an exceptional grower on the East side of Paso. Before contracting with Joe, we tried several wines that use his fruit and loved the underlying color, aroma, and flavor profiles. Joe interviewed Lori and I prior to selling his fruit to us. He wanted to preserve his reputation as a fruit source and we loved that aspect. He is continuously learning and experimenting, sharing his knowledge with us about his vineyard and how to modify our vine rows to improve our wines’ profile.

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? Most of our oak is 1 year French Oak previously used for white winemaking. Our reserve wine uses up to 50% new French Oak, depending upon vintage. Our goal is to complement a wine with oak, not an oaky wine.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? The Paso Robles community is all about paying it forward to the future generation. Everyone openly shares their knowledge and experience with each other, striving to make the area and its’ wines better.

10. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? Dracaena [druh-see-nuh] is the genus name of the plant better known as the Draco plant. The taxonomy name allowed us to combine our scientific backgrounds while honoring the memory of our adored weimaraner, Draco in our winemaking endeavor.

DracaenaBottlesOur weimie, Draco, received his name in honor of Draco, the Dragon which is a constellation in the northern hemisphere. We were sitting in a movie theatre watching Dragonheart, a 1996 American fantasy adventure film directed by Rob Cohen. It starred Dennis Quaid as Bowen, a dragon-hunter, and the voice of Sean Connery as the dragon. During the movie, Quaid and Connery form a partnership to defraud local villagers with staged dragon-slayings. Being friends, Bowen wanted to give the dragon a name and decides to call the dragon Draco, as a tribute to the constellation of stars. We heard the name and both knew this was going to be his name.

When our beloved Draco passed away on May 12, 2011 after 14 years of making our lives wonderful, we needed to find a way to help us with our grief and keep his memory alive in our home. Our solution was to purchase a Draco Tree and keep it in the place where Draco ate. Every time we look at the plant, his memory carries on. When we decided to begin our venture into winemaking our maid of honor, and my best friend, Sonja Gerard hand drew the label and placed Draco in the middle of a vineyard. Deciding on the winery name required a different kind of creativity. We wanted to keep Draco as the namesake but additionally wanted to merge our personalities into the name. Considering we both have scientific backgrounds, Lori with a B.A. and M.S. in Biology and Michael with a B.S. and M.S. in Food Science, it made sense to us to have a scientific name as our winery name and Dracaena allowed for this amalgamation. We fell in love with the name; hopefully you will fall in love with the wine!

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? Starting a business is hard, starting a winery is very hard. The capital expense from equipment to fruit to wine barrels is more than I could have imagined, and we are so happy we still have our full-time jobs.

12. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? Flexibility and being true to your purpose. We love hand selling our wines and listening to consumers talk to us about our wines. We never want to be so big that we cannot speak with our customers and meet their customer service needs. Big wineries will never be in a position to hand sell their wines.

13. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Small wineries will play a role in delivering something different to the consumer. Small wineries are able to experiment and learn from their customer, improving their wine making and experimentation. While big wineries can experiment, their ability to talk with customers is limited at best.

14. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? If we could not be in Paso Robles or the Central Coast, I do not think we would be making wine. Paso Robles/ Central Coast fits our personalities and creates the wine we want to produce.

To get more information about Dracaena Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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