Get the Dirt from Scott Shapley of Flywheel Wines

17 Oct

Flywheelpeeps1. What was your first vintage year? 2012

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? 200-300

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No tasting room, but tasting can be arranged by appointment – via phone or e-mail.

4. If not you, who is your winemaker? I am with my partner Laura Hoover.

5. How did you get your start in the winemaking business?
I signed on as Siduri’s first non-family employee for Harvest 1999 as a “Cellar Rat” and I got the bug. No previous winemaking experience, but Adam and Dianna Lee were great teachers and very patient as I learned the ropes.

6. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery?
To be honest, it may have all started from seeing the Rapazzini billboard on Hwy 101 in Gilroy as a kid on family trips way back when – that guy looked like he was having a lot of fun! Didn’t know where it was headed at the time, though, and there have been so many inspirational wines since then…

7. What varietals do you work with? Why? We’re making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Rosé at Flywheel so far. I’ve made more Pinot Noir than anything else over the years, but I’ve loved working with a lot of varietals – Grenache and Mourvèdre have been really fun recently, and I think Syrah is incredibly under-appreciated.

8. What vineyards do you source from? We’ve chosen to concentrate on the Chalone AVA and Monterey County for Flywheel. I grew up in Monterey, and Laura and I love the Pinnacles, but it was the soils and climate that drew us to the Chalone AVA for our fruit. I’d had the pleasure of working with Brosseau Vineyard for a few different wineries over the years, and that really helped us to develop a taste for the region. We’re now sourcing small lots from Brosseau Vineyard, Boer Vineyard, and Naylor Ranch. It’s a relatively small AVA with a great group of growers.

9. What type of oak treatment do you use? We go light on oak – neutral barrels on Chard and the Rhônes, and about 25-30% new on the Pinot. I think Chard can handle a good amount of oak, but I like the way Brosseau Chard shows its minerality in neutral oak. However, we’re not “no oak” purists… I’ve made wines with a lot of new oak, and it’s all about what style you’re going for and getting to that happy zone that supports the fruit and lets the vineyard shine through.

10. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special?
For the fruit, I’d say it’s the minerality – there’s lots of limestone in the Chalone AVA, and that translates into the wines. We also like that it’s a tight community up there near the Pinnacles, and it feels like everyone knows what’s going on with each other – we like that intimate quality to the region. Plus, there were California Condors reintroduced there!

For the winemaking, San Francisco has a really great variety of terrific Harvest lunch options… ☺ Plus it’s a great city with access to a lot of fun opportunities to interact with wine lovers.


11. What’s the story behind your name/label?
That’s a long story, but the short version is that a Flywheel is an industrial piece of equipment, but with what one might call a fanciful name… Industrious/Fanciful – we think those 2 qualities work well together! A Flywheel stores energy and then lets it out with a bang, and the word itself conjures up a wide variety of things for different people – that lets everyone relate to the name in their own way. The color of the label all started with a roll of light blue masking tape…

12. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? There is a capital BUSINESS in wine business! You can make the best wine in the world and fold because you couldn’t take the bureaucracy of doing business or didn’t want to go out and sell. Also, don’t eat too many grapes on the sorting line…

13. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine? Is it considered bad form to dip into your inventory? I don’t think it’s bad form to drink your own wine… we drink a lot of ours, but it can add up to bad business if you drink through your profits! Still, I think it’s important to check in on your wine and see how it’s developing in bottle.

14. Do you still have a day job?
Yes. I am a winemaker for a couple of other labels, with facility management at the winery in San Francisco. Laura’s day job is in the non-profit world in the development department for the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in Oakland. Of course, starting our own label often feels like the non-profit world as well… ☺

To get more information about Flywheel Wines, please visit their WEBSITE.

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