Show 553, November 25, 2023: Switchback Ridge Winery, Calistoga, with Sommelier Pierson Ryan Part One

Ryan Pierson of Switchback Ridge

Switchback Ridge winery produces handcrafted estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah sourced exclusively from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Calistoga, Napa Valley.” In recent years they have added a non-estate Sauvignon Blanc (with meticulously sourced premium fruit) to broaden the line.

“In 1914, Eliza and Mads Peterson purchased a 100-acre property located on the floor of the Napa Valley at the mouth of Dutch Henry Canyon. Both Eliza and Mads had immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s–Eliza from Ireland and Mads from Denmark–and headed westward as so many did at that time, seeking a place to call home.”

“The property, located just off the Silverado Trail between St. Helena and Calistoga, hosted a small Zinfandel vineyard. With the onset of Prohibition in 1920, prunes quickly became the cash crop in Napa Valley, and the Petersons planted a plum orchard to help provide for their large family. Caring for the orchard, as well as a large vegetable garden and numerous farm animals, was a full-time job for the whole family, including the six boys and three girls.”

“When the time came to pass the property on, the daughters, and not the sons, took the responsibility. Vera, Carrie, and Mae worked to preserve the family legacy, maintaining the buildings, plum orchard, vegetable garden and livestock. Vera worked the land, Carrie managed the books and Mae returned each summer to help the harvest. Vera’s son, John Peterson, grew up working the farm and, in turn, taught his children, Trish, Kelly and Johnny, the reward of hard work. The inspiration sparked by Mads’s dream, set a true legacy in motion.”

“Slowly the plum orchards transitioned to vineyards, and by the 1990s grape vines were thriving on the property that once hosted plums. The soils with plenty of drainage and a warm, sunny climate made the area perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah. There are currently 21 acres under vine, which includes a sixty-plus year-old block of dry farmed Petite Sirah that John Peterson helped plant as a young child.”

“The inspiration to embark upon a family wine project first came to Kelly (representing the 4th generation of Peterson Family ownership) in 1995 with the death of her great aunt, Carrie. Auntie, as she was affectionately called, emphatically insisted that her old vine block of Petite Sirah, or “Pets” as she called them, “not be touched” when the property was replanted in 1990. At the time there was little respect or interest in Petite Sirah and total acreage in California was down to an all-time low of only 1,700 acres. After her death, there was a renewed interest in the variety and Kelly vowed to make a Petite Sirah varietal wine in her honor. That dream became a reality in 1999, with the help of family friend and winemaker Bob Foley, when Switchback Ridge produced its first vintage.”

“Switchback Ridge is named for the winding trails in the hills above the vineyard that John explored as a child. Today Kelly Peterson continues the legacy that began with her great-grandfather, Mads, over a hundred years ago.”

Certified Sommelier Pierson Ryan who is the National Sales Director for Switchback Ridge joins us to pull the cork on all that is Switchback Ridge.

Show 553, November 25, 2023: Switchback Ridge Winery, Calistoga, with Sommelier Pierson Ryan Part Two

Ryan Pierson of Switchback Ridge

Switchback Ridge winery produces handcrafted estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah sourced exclusively from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Calistoga, Napa Valley.” In recent years they have added a non-estate Sauvignon Blanc (with meticulously sourced fruit) to broaden the line.

“In 1914, Eliza and Mads Peterson purchased a 100-acre property located on the floor of the Napa Valley at the mouth of Dutch Henry Canyon. Both Eliza and Mads had immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s–Eliza from Ireland and Mads from Denmark–and headed westward as so many did at that time, seeking a place to call home.”

“When the time came to pass the property on, the daughters, and not the sons, took the responsibility. Vera, Carrie, and Mae worked to preserve the family legacy, maintaining the buildings, plum orchard, vegetable garden and livestock. Vera worked the land, Carrie managed the books and Mae returned each summer to help the harvest. Vera’s son, John Peterson, grew up working the farm and, in turn, taught his children, Trish, Kelly and Johnny, the reward of hard work. The inspiration sparked by Mads’s dream, set a true legacy in motion.”

“Slowly the plum orchards transitioned to vineyards, and by the 1990s grape vines were thriving on the property that once hosted plums. The soils with plenty of drainage and a warm, sunny climate made the area perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah. There are currently 21 acres under vine, which includes a sixty-plus year-old block of dry farmed Petite Sirah that John Peterson helped plant as a young child.”

“The inspiration to embark upon a family wine project first came to Kelly (representing the 4th generation of Peterson Family ownership) in 1995 with the death of her great aunt, Carrie. Auntie, as she was affectionately called, emphatically insisted that her old vine block of Petite Sirah, or “Pets” as she called them, “not be touched” when the property was replanted in 1990. At the time there was little respect or interest in Petite Sirah and total acreage in California was down to an all-time low of only 1,700 acres. After her death, there was a renewed interest in the variety and Kelly vowed to make a Petite Sirah varietal wine in her honor. That dream became a reality in 1999, with the help of family friend and winemaker Bob Foley, when Switchback Ridge produced its first vintage.”

“Switchback Ridge is named for the winding trails in the hills above the vineyard that John explored as a child. Today Kelly Peterson continues the legacy that began with her great-grandfather, Mads, over a hundred years ago.”

Certified Sommelier Pierson Ryan who is the National Sales Director for Switchback Ridge stays with us pulling the cork on all that is Switchback Ridge.

Show 427, May 29, 2021: Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 50th Anniversary Part One

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman of Summit Lake Vineyards

“2021 marks Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery’s 50th year (located on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley) and it is still family owned and operated. Founders Bob and Sue Brakesman’s three children, Heather, Brian, and Danny were all raised at Summit Lake and have worked hard to continue their parent’s legacy. Sue passed away in 2003 but you can still find Bob working hard repairing equipment and tending the vineyards. Brian has taken over the winemaking, Heather is the general manager and Danny caretakes the property.”

“In addition to Zinfandel, Summit Lake Vineyards produces estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel Port, Petite Sirah, a red blend and rosé. All are named for Bob and Sue’s granddaughters; Emily Kestrel, Clair Riley, Sophia Lynn, and Blythe Susan and grandsons Ben and Shane.”

A day of festivities to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Summit Lake is set for Saturday, August 7th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Summit Lake website.

“The story of Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery began some 50 years ago when Bob and Sue Brakesman, the original owners and operators, met at Jordan Junior High in Palo Alto, CA. In college Bob began brewing his own beer when a neighbor suggested he try “brewing” wine. After liberating some grapes from the surrounding areas and crushing fruit in open-top fermenters (new plastic garbage cans), their winemaking days had begun.”

“Post college Bob began to question if he wanted to be an engineer or to explore his growing passion for wine and winemaking. On Nov. 12, 1971 Bob put a deed to a property in Sue’s birthday card. It described 28 acres of land, eight planted in pre-Prohibition Zinfandel (their favorite varietal), fruit trees in the orchard, a chicken house, garage, redwood barn, and a house built in the 1880’s. Sue thought she was getting paradise!”

“On Christmas Eve, Bob and Sue packed up their lives and travelled to the new ranch. As they entered the gate and drove down the driveway, her heart sank. The deed had failed to mention the property had been abandoned for over 30 years, was completely overgrown and in disrepair. The next morning, they awoke to a fresh coat of snow which had transformed the place into a beautiful wonderland. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work on top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.”

“The gradual transformation and revitalization of Summit Lake couldn’t have taken place without the help of family, friends, and neighbors who rallied to help with planting, harvest, bottling and finally coming together to build a new winery in 1985.”

“In 1978 Summit Lake Vineyard’s first commercial release won the coveted double gold medal at the California State Fair. It sold out in just eight days. Summit Lake has 18 acres planted from which it now produces about 2,000 cases a year.”

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman join us to pull the cork on Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery.

Show 427, May 29, 2021: Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 50th Anniversary Part Two

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman of Summit Lake Vineyards

“2021 marks Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery’s 50th year (located on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley) and it is still family owned and operated. Founders Bob and Sue Brakesman’s three children, Heather, Brian, and Danny were all raised at Summit Lake and have worked hard to continue their parent’s legacy. Sue passed away in 2003 but you can still find Bob working hard repairing equipment and tending the vineyards. Brian has taken over the winemaking, Heather is the general manager and Danny caretakes the property.”

“In addition to Zinfandel, Summit Lake Vineyards produces estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel Port, Petite Sirah, a red blend and rosé. All are named for Bob and Sue’s granddaughters; Emily Kestrel, Clair Riley, Sophia Lynn, and Blythe Susan and grandsons Ben and Shane.”

A day of festivities to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Summit Lake is set for Saturday, August 7th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Summit Lake website.

“The story of Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery began some 50 years ago when Bob and Sue Brakesman, the original owners and operators, met at Jordan Junior High in Palo Alto, CA. In college Bob began brewing his own beer when a neighbor suggested he try “brewing” wine. After liberating some grapes from the surrounding areas and crushing fruit in open-top fermenters (new plastic garbage cans), their winemaking days had begun.”

“Post college Bob began to question if he wanted to be an engineer or to explore his growing passion for wine and winemaking. On Nov. 12, 1971 Bob put a deed to a property in Sue’s birthday card. It described 28 acres of land, eight planted in pre-Prohibition Zinfandel (their favorite varietal), fruit trees in the orchard, a chicken house, garage, redwood barn, and a house built in the 1880’s. Sue thought she was getting paradise!”

“On Christmas Eve, Bob and Sue packed up their lives and travelled to the new ranch. As they entered the gate and drove down the driveway, her heart sank. The deed had failed to mention the property had been abandoned for over 30 years, was completely overgrown and in disrepair. The next morning, they awoke to a fresh coat of snow which had transformed the place into a beautiful wonderland. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work on top of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.”

“The gradual transformation and revitalization of Summit Lake couldn’t have taken place without the help of family, friends, and neighbors who rallied to help with planting, harvest, bottling and finally coming together to build a new winery in 1985.”

“In 1978 Summit Lake Vineyard’s first commercial release won the coveted double gold medal at the California State Fair. It sold out in just eight days. Summit Lake has 18 acres planted from which it now produces about 2,000 cases a year.”

Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman pour a glass of their 2016 Zinfandel and continue with us.

Show 161, February 27, 2016: Craig Larson, Winemaker, Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Andrew Gruel of Slapfish and Graig Larson of Callaway Vineyard and Winery at the Pechanga Wine FestivalTemecula’s historic Callaway Vineyards & Winery has come a long way since it returned to local ownership in 2005. Callaway is recognized as the first winery in the Temecula Valley. Case production on the planted 70-acre vineyard estate is now a more modest 13,000 cases a year. It’s all sold from the renovated winery tasting room (with magnificent vineyard views), online, and via their loyal wine club.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery currently grows seven different varietals. The winery property now has 20 acres of Estate vineyards planted with Viognier, Syrah, Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Grenache, Roussanne, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Lin family owns an additional 200 acres of property at the corner of De Portola Road and Monte de Oro, of which approximately 50 acres are currently planted with Chardonnay, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Muscat Canelli and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Craig Larson has been the distinguished Winemaker there for the last eight years. We’ll meet him.