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Now, a guy who calls himself “John Fucking Caldwell” is likely to be brash…probably be a risk taker, and likely one of a kind. In John’s case, yes, he can be described by each of those descriptors, as well as pleasant, inventive, philanthropic, and one who can make the best of a situation.

So it may come as no surprise that he’s the kind of person who would consider, and accomplish, smuggling grapevines into the U.S.

And that’s just half of the story of John Fucking Caldwell of Caldwell Vineyard.  In this interview he also talks about his wine, the cave and his barrel-aged Apple Juice (bourbon) and tequila. Tasting 4 samples of each was a nice surprise I wasn’t expecting.

Join us in the kitchen of his south Napa Valley home as John shares the compelling tale he’s told many times…because it’s one worth hearing.

 

John during the interview.

Rocket Science Proprietary Red. Members of this club receive Intelligence Briefs about science and technology. Every year they donate wine to raise funds for the Astronaut Science Program.

2015 Caldwell “Silver” Proprietary Red Blend

 

One of John’s newest ventures, tequila. The Añejo on the left was aged in a used Cabernet barrel. All 3 Añejos and the one Silver were smooth and easy to drink. I want more!

Most of the world’s well-known wine varietals derive their name from the location where they were discovered or made famous. Not Merlot.

The name traces its meaning to a word of the dialect of Occitan called Gascon. This relatively obscure Romance language is closely related to Catalan and still spoken in a few regions of France. The Gascon word merlau refers to a ‘little blackbird.’ Whether this refers to the color of the Merlot grape or its popularity while on the vine with small birds is an open question.  Be sure to bring that up the next time your sharing a bottle with friends.

The Origin of the Name "Merlot"

I’ll bet a bottle of wine you haven’t heard a story about a successful pilot deciding after retirement to move his family to a rural area to raise his family who, without expectation or a plan, became a wine baron. This podcast is the story of Rombauer Vineyards.

In 1972, Napa Valley was a quieter agricultural area but just a few years later the region was thrust upon the world stage…and it’s been growing ever since. And like many, the wine bug bite the former pilot, Koerner Rombauer. On today’s podcast I talk with his son, K.R., and winemaker Richie Allen about their great success. You’ll also learn of a surprising development that occurred just a week following the interview. I’ll leave it at that.

And if you have heard a story about a former pilot who became a wine baron, reach out to me for your bottle of wine.

For more details on the winery click here.

Rombauer Vineyards

K.R. Rombauer, upper left – Richie Allen, upper right

Rombauer Vineyards

K.R. Rombauer and daughter Sheana

South of the town of Sonoma, in the southern end of Sonoma Valley, is a wide open plain with farmland, vineyards, and the flat and wetlands of San Pablo Bay. Nestled back against the tip of the Sonoma Mountains, in the midst of unexpected lush surroundings, is Cline Cellars. It’s a favorite wine and destination for many across the U.S. For 15 years the director of winemaking, Charlie Tsegeletos, has been crafting a great number of wines back behind that oasis, which also includes the Italian varietals for Cline’s other property, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Fortunately for him, the winery sits across the street. Both are enjoyable to visit but are individually unique properties. I reached out to Charlie during a busy harvest but he managed to carve out some time for me.

cline Cellars

The lush surroundings at Cline Cellars

Cline Carp

The descendants of America’s first carp