Get the Dirt about Lepiane Wines from winemaker Alison Thomson

22 Jan

LepianeAllison1. What was your first vintage year? 2013

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? About 225

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No, but people can visit by appointment.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? Barolo

5. What varietals do you work with? Why?
Nebbiolo, Barbera, Grenache. Nebbiolo is my favorite because its so challenging, but so rewarding when it’s good. From the perfumed aromatics to grippy tannin structure, it’s unlike anything else.

LepianeGrapes6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? I source from Sisquoc and Alisos Vineyard for Nebbiolo because I’ve worked with this fruit in the past and love it. Some of the best most varietally correct components. Barbera from Walker Vineyard because there is very little really high quality Barbera in SBC. Walker is farmed by by Francisco Ramirez and Steve Clifton and it is some of the best in the County. Black Oak Vineyard for Grenache because it is a small and little known vineyard, that has a really great planting of Grenache in an exciting area just south of Los Alamos. It gets the cool maritime influence during the ripening season, but is just far enough inland to ripen the fruit with warmer midday temp.

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? I use all neutral French oak barriques and some 600L demi-muids. I really personally enjoy these varietals because of their purity of fruit, liveliness, and nuanced expression. I feel like new wood tends to mask those three components. Also, I can’t afford new barrels ;)

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? I love the diversity of the region, the natural beauty, the ocean and, of course, the weather. There are so many things, but what I think makes it truly special are the dedicated, hard working, creative people that I am fortunate to work with.

LepianeLabels9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? My winery is named after my great-grandfather L.A. Lepiane. He was a winemaker back in the early 1900s. He started his own winery L.A. Lepiane shortly after prohibition ended. Unfortunately, he passed away just 3 years after getting it up and running from cancer. I use his name to honor his legacy and my own Italian heritage.

10. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery?
Start networking with wine buyers early on.

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 do everything myself. Every decision and mistake is mine to own. I can experiment creatively, take bigger risks and not have to worry about reporting to anyone but myself. Also, it’s really valuable to be able to learn all the facets of the business so as I grow I better understand how the creative winemaking, technical winemaking, business and sales components work together.

12. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? I have a really optimistic view for the future of small-lot winemakers. I think more and more consumers are realizing the value and quality that comes from very small producers.

13. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? Piedmont, of course!

For more information about Lepiane, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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