IDTT Wine 490: Patrick Campbell Pruned Mountain Vines on Crutches
Patrick Campbell was the owner of Laurel Glen Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain in California, a winery he sold in 2011. He began the Tierra Divina Vineyards company, which encompasses the Terra Rosa, REDS, !ZaZin, and Tierra Divina wine labels, among others. The Tierra Divina Vineyards brands include wine labels from Lodi in California, from Argentina, and previously from Chile.
Patrick talks about growing up in Southern California in the 1950s and 60s, and his early experiences drinking wine with his family as a teenager. He talks about visiting wineries in the Cucamonga Valley of California during the period of the time when that was a prominent appellation for California wine production. And he sums up the kind of wines that were being made in the Cucamonga Valley area at that time.
Patrick talks about his increasing engagement with his religious feelings, which would eventually lead him to study the Philosophy of Religion at Harvard University, and to then join a Zen Buddhist Center in Sonoma, California. He makes a connection between religious feeling and farming, and talks about his work pruning old vine Palomino at the Zen Center. When a vineyard then came up for sale near the Zen Center on Sonoma Mountain, Patrick bought it and expanded the acreage. In the process he learned about the history of immigration to Sonoma Mountain, spoke with many of the interesting characters who called the Mountain home, and took an increasing interest in wines from the area.
Patrick describes the vine growing conditions of Sonoma Mountain, and discusses his early days as a grape grower in the late 1970s. He talks about learning how to prune. He contrasts his business experiences with Chateau St. Jean with the more positive outcome he had selling grapes to Kenwood Vineyards. He discusses the vintages of the 1970s and 1980s on Sonoma Mountain, some of which were more successful than others. And he details his shift from just selling grapes to then making wine and selling it under his own label.
The grape material at Laurel Glen and the Laurel Glen clone are discussed, and so are the market preferences for California wine in the 1980s. Patrick talks about the setup of his winery in the early days, and details his use of punching down to maximize contact between juice and skins. He also stresses the importance of tannin management when dealing with Mountain Cabernet. He emphasizes that he is not a university trained winemaker, and talks about winemaking as a process of controlled spoilage. He explains facets of his technique, such as his approach to maceration, pressing, and cooperage at the time. And then the conversation takes a turn, as Patrick describes his increasing interest in bulk wine, in marketing bulk wine from California, and then subsequently developing projects in Chile, followed after that by a long period of working with wine from Argentina.
Patrick talks about Argentina as a relatively little known wine region at the time he first visited it, and shares his experience of first trying a wine from Malbec. He then covers the situation for winemaking in Argentina during that period, and the social, economic, and political realities that he witnessed as well. Patrick contrasts the wine culture and society of Chile at that time with what he witnessed in Argentina, and then describes the boom period for Argentinian Malbec in the global wine market, as well as what happened next. Patrick enunciates a philosophy in step with and taking cues from local winemaking traditions, while also being frank about his embrace of modern winemaking techniques and methods. He further discusses the market for the wines.
Patrick's involvement with the push for expanded direct shipping of wine in the United States comes into the discussion, and he talks about the numerous strategy sessions, the different partnerships, and the approaches that were developed in the run up to a United States Supreme Court verdict on the question of direct shipping from wineries to out of state customers. He then addresses the ramifications of that 2005 decision on the wine market of today,
There is a forthright discussion about Patrick's decision to sell Laurel Glen Vineyard, as well as some sage advice for young people just starting out in the winemaking business today. Patrick also speaks about the severe illness that left him partially paralyzed for life, with limited mobility.
Erin Scala also describes in this episode the background to Granholm v. Heald, the US Supreme Court decision which had large ramifications for direct shipping of wine inside in the United States after it was decided in 2005. This was the court case in which Patrick Campbell was involved, along with a group of other people who were looking for the expansion of direct shipping opportunities for wine.
This episode features commentary from:
Mike Chelini, formerly winemaker at Stony Hill Vineyard
Ray Coursen, founding winemaker at Elyse Winery
Randall Grahm, founding winemaker at Bonny Doon Vineyard
Joel Peterson, founding winemaker at Ravenswood Winery
David Rafanelli, A. Rafanelli Winery