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What began as a hobby has now turned into an obsession!

In 2014, I decided that as a "gentleman", I needed to know more about wines; how to order them; how to pair them; what to look for in a wine and most importantly what I myself, liked. I had been taking my wine cues from what my friends drank to define my preferences. I was drinking big, bold, “jammy” California Cabs and rich Tuscan Chiantis, but I didn't understand what type of wine I really enjoyed or why. At that time, my wine choices were all about the name of the producer and based on what I had learned, I felt I couldn’t go wrong with anything from labels such as Opus, Silver Oak and Rombauer.

I was feeling disconnected from what I was drinking, so I enlisted the aid of a staff member at a local neighborhood wine shop who took the time to educate me on the basics of wine. The experience helped me to discover my palate and the types of wines I enjoyed the most. Not only did I learn to appreciate these wines, but I found I now had a new desire to taste wines I had not tried before and wanted to understand how words like "Terroir" made them so unique. I was hooked, and my dream unfolded before me. I decided that once I retired, I would move to New Zealand, buy some land, grow grapes, and make wine.

I had the opportunity in 2016 to spend two weeks working harvest at the Furthermore Winery in Graton, located in the famed Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California. I worked hard and learned as much about the production side of the wine industry as I could. I worked along-side some amazing winemakers, who not only became friends but later became consulting winemakers on my own wines. I discovered I didn't need to own my own vineyard - I could buy grapes directly from growers. Feeling excited about my newfound knowledge and network, I decided to make my own wine the following year, sourcing grapes from areas best known for their elevation and soil composition that resulted in "stressed" vines. It is said that "stressed vines make the best wines," because the harder the vine works to produce fruit, the more vibrant the flavor, the more balanced the acid, and the smoother the tannins will be.

Join me on my wine-making journey that was inspired by some of the most amazing wines I have had the pleasure of tasting around the world. It’s a journey that starts with just one sip of wine, lovingly produced from some of California’s truly amazing "Stressed Vines."

Rob Barney - Vintner