Get the Dirt about Fallon Place Wine from winemaker Cory Michal

2 Apr

FallonPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2012

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? We generally produce about 600 cases per vintage.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? Yes. We have a tasting room at our shared winery space in San Francisco that is appointment only. Appointments can be made at Fallon Place, 2455 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? I was not always obsessed with incredible vineyards, caves of barrels, and cool fermenting Pinot noir and Chardonnay. When I was in my late 20s I was fortunate enough to live and travel in Europe for a time and this is where my obsession with wine began. While in England I lived near a charming old wine bar and shop which I regularly frequented trying wines from many regions I’d never heard of. It was here where I was exposed to some incredible wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany and the Loire Valley. I still remember vividly the first time I tried a Brunello di Montalcino, Château Pavie, and an exquisite Volnay Premier Cru from the Côte de Beaune. I’m not really sure how to describe what happened, it just changed me, forever. From that point on I knew I wanted to deeply understand how these wines were produced, visit the places they were made, and learn the history and culture that lies beneath them. To this day I still take time out to travel to these amazing places and experience the wine and culture whenever possible.

5. What varietals do you work with? Why? Surely Pinot noir and Chardonnay are my favorite varietals. Their subtle elegance and ability to communicate the specifics of the terror in the finished wine is truly amazing.

FallonVineyard6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? Russian River – Black Oak; Carneros – Herbitage Vineyard; Sonoma Coast / Petaluma Gap – La Cruz, Chalk Hill – Land Vineyard and Pine Mountain – Tin Cross. Basically any unique sustainably farmed vineyard in Sonoma County I can find where I can produce an amazing single vineyard designate wine utilizing minimal intervention winemaking techniques.

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? Always French oak, mostly completely neutral to 30% new.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Sonoma County is an incredible region for growing grapes and making incredible wines. There are so many different AVAs with beautiful microclimates and different terroir which are well suited to many different varietals. As a winemaker this gives me the opportunity to get beautiful fruit at optimal ripeness and leverage minimal intervention winemaking techniques to make truly amazing single vineyard designate wines with a sense of place and time.

FallonBottle9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? When I moved to San Francisco I was lucky enough to find a great flat in an old building from 1917 in the Russian Hill neighborhood. This area is known for its old stone walkways, like Macondray Lane, and for its incredibly steep stone staircases. My building on Taylor Street had an old empty cellar below it with a rickety staircase which opened directly on to the brick landing of the stairs at Fallon Place. I often looked at the brick landing and thought how it resembled a small winery crush pad. One day when chatting with the owner of the building I asked if it would be possible to rent the cellar area to store wine. She approved and the Fallon Place project was born. My friends and I spent the next few vintages getting a half ton of grapes each harvest from a vineyard in Sonoma and making a barrel of wine on the old stone staircase at Fallon Place. We had some great times making and drinking those wines at Fallon Place, and enough memorable experiences to fill a book. While working on label designs some of the pictures from Fallon Place inspired a drawing and wooden stamp. This later became the Fallon Place wine label you see today.

10. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? That making wine is much easier than selling it :)

11. 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? I pride myself on the fact that I taste every barrel and touch every bottle of wine. I’m deeply involved in all aspects of production, sales, marketing and finance. Being primarily direct to consumer focused without leveraging distribution I love that I get to meet the vast majority of the consumers of my wine. It’s tremendously fulfilling to see folks enjoying a wine you shepherded through the entire creation and sales process.

12. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? I feel that the model will continue to shift towards smaller producers as consumers grow tired of the poor quality wines they’re currently purchasing through the distribution network. Most of these wines have no soul and are produced by people who like making money more than making wine. I feel there will be a wine movement much like the craft beer movement and small-lot winemakers will prosper.

13. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? Burgundy. The amazing culture and history and incredible wines are what dreams are made of. I’d love to make a great burgundy one day, even if only a barrel.

For more information about Fallon Place Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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