Get the Dirt about Piezo Winery from winemaker Atsmon Shahar

2 Apr

PiezoPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2015

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? About 450

3. Do you have a Tasting Room?  Not yet, but we are hoping to add later this year.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker?  I am the winemaker and my wife helps with running the business. We have no other employees and we do not use consultants.

5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? It actually wasn’t a particular wine. My wife and I have always had a shared connection for wine and discovering small wineries together. We really enjoyed meeting the winemakers, seeing their passion for making wine and enjoying the fruits of their labor. We enjoyed it so much that it eventually led to us deciding to start our own small winery.

6. What varietals do you work with?  I work with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

My favorite wine to produce is Pinot Noir. It truly showcases the differences between vineyards and clones and always has a mind of it’s own in the winery. You can’t force it into a particular style. This really rewards winemakers who chose the right vineyards, are very diligent about vineyard sampling and pay close attention during vinification.

PiezoVineyard7. What vineyards do you source from? Why?  Black Knight vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA, Gypsy vineyard in the Mendocino AVA, Block Six vineyard in the Chalk Hill AVA and Antonina’s Vineyard in Fountaingrove District AVA.

We source all of our grapes from small, independent growers. They are small business owners like us that love working with small wineries. It has allowed us to build long-term relationships, and even friendships, with the growers and work closely with them to produce truly great wines.

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? All of our wines are aged in French and American oak barrels. We don’t like a lot of new oak in our wines as it can mask some of the wonderful nuances of the different varietals, so most of our barrels are neutral. We typically only add a few new barrels each year.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? What I love about Sonoma County is while it’s one of the oldest wine regions in the US, everyone in the industry still has a great sense of camaraderie and they are always willing to help. What makes Sonoma County so special is that it is a winemaker’s paradise. It has so many microclimates that almost any grape varietal you desire is available for purchase, and the grapes are always of the highest quality.

PiezoLabel10. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? The word Piezo means “pressure” and it is derived from the Greek word for “press tight” or “squeeze”. We chose the name Piezo Winery because it relates my previous profession as a scientist, where I used piezoelectric microscopes to analyze surface topography, to my new career as a winemaker, where the press is the oldest and most important tool for making wine.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? How much time I would spend dealing with the regulatory aspects of producing and selling wine.

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? The best thing about being a small winery is that you are connected to every grape you harvest and every single drop of wine you produce. For most small wineries making wine is a lot more than just a business, it’s about a shared love of wine with our buyers. Most people who buy from small wineries have a true passion for wine and an appreciation for small-lot winemaking.

Being small allows me to have much tighter control over everything that is going on with my wines and react quickly to any potential issues. This is critical for making a high-quality product and really distinguishes small wineries from the large wine producers, who treat wine more like a manufactured commodity.

13. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? The future is bright for small wineries, but it will not be an easy road. While we make up a large percentage of wineries in the US, our voices are usually not heard. Large wineries and distributers are very powerful and will continue to protect their decreasing share of the market. If small wineries work together we can reshape the American wine market just as microbreweries have changed the beer market over the last 15 years.

14. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? Anderson Valley. I absolutely love the flavor and structure of the wines produced there.

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

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