Get the Dirt About Irie Wines from Justin Murphy

20 Oct

iriejustinIrie Wine began with three barrels back in 2006 and has continued to be a passion of mine. Beyond crafting a wine that knocks your socks off with exceptional body, aroma and mouth-watering taste, my goal with Irie is to bring you an experience that comes with sharing a great bottle of wine with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. My free-spirited, relaxed approach to wine is about making you feel good. Isn’t that what wine is all about in the end? I encourage you to pop the cork and experience the Irie feeling.

1. What was your first vintage year? 2006

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? About 500

3. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? While I grew in a wine-family, I never pictured myself making a career of it when I was younger. It was not until I received a seasonal job as a cellar rat at a large-scale winery in San Luis Obispo. After only a couple months I was hooked. I eventually found another position at a Paso Robles’ winery and worked myself up to assistant winemaker, before starting my own brand in 2006.

4. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make?  Over the years I have been lucky enough to work with so many varietals from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir to Souzao… and everything in between. I have chosen to start my brand with a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. Zinfandel was always intriguing to me because of living in Paso Robles. This being such a competitive market for Zinfandel, I wanted to make something that could stand up to the rest but be different enough to find my own style.

Irie-Winemaker5. What vineyards do you source from? Why? If estate, why did you choose the spot you’re in? If I’m completely honest, I didn’t start out with much choice. Small guys can have a tough time picking exactly what they want when they are only looking to grab less than 8 tons of a varietal. But, I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door with a Paso Robles grower who had stellar fruit. My Zinfandel was sourced from La Vista Vineyard on the west-side of Paso Robles and the Petite Syrah came from Solana Vineyard off Hog Canyon Road.

6. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? I have chosen to use about 25% new French Oak to enhance the aromas and palate characteristics in the wine.

7. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? Vineyard to vineyard variation, climate and altitude, long warm days and cool nights. Everything comes together to make it possible for me to make unique wines and possible to make a wine from the varietals I love. It’s also one of the best places where I can actually kick back in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine while manning the BBQ.

Irie-2012-Zinfandel8. What’s the story behind your name/label? “Irie” has many definitions, but for me it’s really about its Rastafarian roots of having no worries. After you take out all the pretentiousness surrounding wine, it becomes easier to remember that wine should simply make you feel good. Irie is that feeling you can have when sharing a second glass of wine with family and friends. But before my brand, Irie was the name given to my right-hand man and best working buddy, my Australian Shepherd.

9. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? I was told a lot of things… including not to do it.

10. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Is it considered bad form to dip into your inventory? While I love trying as many wines as possible, it’s never bad form to dip into your own inventory. It’s much easier to stand behind a product that you actually believe in and enjoy to drink yourself.

11. Do you still have a day job? Yup.

For more information about Irie Wines please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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