Get the Dirt about Gondak Cellars with winemaker Will Gondak

4 Apr

WillGondak1. What was your first vintage year? 2015 was the first vintage for Gondak Cellars.

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? Roughly 75 cases of Collective Efforts Syrah / Viognier co-ferment and 50 cases of Grenache. 125 total.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No tasting room but private appointments at the production facility may be arranged.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? After studying wine and agricultural business in college I travelled a lot, working for various wineries. Harvest internships in Napa, Santa Cruz, Australia, New Zealand, Bordeaux, and South Africa really enriched my understanding of how fun and interesting wine production can be. These experiences persuaded me to continue to pursue winemaking at an even more serious level.

5. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? Syrah, Viognier, and Grenache. I source Syrah and Viognier from the same vineyard in the Knights Valley and ferment them together. Grenache is fermented on its own and kept to a 100% varietal expression. Honestly, they are both fun to make. My favorite wines to make are wines that not everyone is making. I’m trying my best to be a little bit different.

GondakVineyard6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? If Estate, why do you choose your location?

Syrah and Viognier come from Lawer Vineyard from the Knights Valley of Sonoma County. This is in a subregion of the Knights Valley called the Franz Valley. This is a great place for Syrah because there is plenty of heat during the middle of the day yet the mornings and evenings are much cooler for a longer period of time than in surrounding areas. This allows for full physiological ripening of the fruit while maintaining a great acid profile.

Grenache is sourced from the Campbell Mckinney Vineayrd of the Russian River Valley. This site yields Grenache bright, refreshing, and not overripe. The hillside planting and eastern exposure of this site allow for good concentration of flavors while not letting the fruit get baked by the sun close to harvest.

GondakLabel7. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special?
Sonoma County has an incredibly wide variety of microclimates which allows people to make great wines from so many varietals. It’s essentially a candy shop for winemakers.

8. 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? Being small allows me to stay focused on the craft. I am undistracted by a complicated company and a long list of wines to produce. Being small is also a necessity at the time being. I have a full time winemaking job for another brand which only affords me so much time to sell my wines.

9. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Small-lot winemaking will always be the most interesting. Mass production is inherently not sexy because there is nothing rare and or exclusive about it.

10. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? Santa Cruz.

To learn more about Gondak Cellars, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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