The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more
Do you know the rich and royal history behind Zinfandel? How does the air in a vineyard affect the flavours you taste in its wine? Why did Zinfandel become such a sensation in North America? What does mythology have to do with Ravenswood wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with the Godfather of Zin, Joel Peterson, founder and winemaker of Ravenswood Winery.
In 1976 Joel founded Ravenswood in partnership with fellow wine lover Reed Foster, a Harvard MBA who handled the green stuff while Joel oversaw the red stuff. In the ensuing years, Joel had dual careers, working nights and weekends in the lab as he built the winery during the daylight hours. In 1977, he’d left his job in San Francisco and moved to Sonoma to work in the clinical lab at Sonoma Valley Hospital. He didn’t quit that job until 1992, a few years after the winery turned its first profit and Robert Parker pronounced Ravenswood wines “first class – bold, dramatic and complex.”
Today, Joel works with 100+ northern California growers who provide grapes for Ravenswood, consulting on irrigation methods, cultivation practices, cropping levels, and a slew of other vineyard management issues. This attention in the field, coupled with the fact that Ravenswood is one of the few wineries that has had the philosophical and winemaking skill of one winemaker for over 30 years, contributes to a consistency of quality and style rarely found in California.
Joel is a current member and former president of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance (S.V.V.G.A.) and is on the Board of Directors for the Sonoma County Vintners. He is a founding Board member and former two-time President of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (Z.A.P.). Joel is also a Senior Vice President with Constellation Wines US.
A rakish raconteur (and provocateur) whose erudition and down-to-earth enthusiasm make him an articulate spokesman for the winery (and sometime-heckler of the wine industry), Joel is a stylistic trendsetter who helped make Zinfandel the runaway phenomenon it is today. Along the way, the raven maven (dubbed “the Godfather of Zin” by one media wag) has built a legacy of enjoying wine with grins and gusto.
To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the https://www.nataliemaclean.com/104.
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