I’ll Drink to That: Kelli White of Press Restaurant

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Episode 307 of I’ll Drink to That! has been released and it features Kelli White, the head sommelier of Press Restaurant in St. Helena in the Napa Valley.

Kelli White is a wine buyer for Press Restaurant in St. Helena, and after taking up that job she starting delving into back vintage California wines. Instead of focusing on the newly released wines that were available she went in long searches for dusty cases and old bottles dating back to the 1970s, 1960s, and 1950s. As she started to sell those old wines and open those bottles she found really captivating, she discovered wines that she wanted to know more about. But finding reliable information was as difficult as sourcing the wines in the first place. There wasn’t much available from books, as many of those that addressed the subject were long out of print and out of date. Nor was there a lot of information on websites, as she found that many wineries preferred to focus on the current day, instead of the history. So Kelli decided to publish her own research on the subject of these wines, and selected many wineries to examine in depth. The result of that project, which was several years long, is the book Napa Valley, Then & Now, which is about to be released. This interview with Kelli focuses in on what she found along the way as she hunted out the history of the place that she had moved to. If you are curious about how the context for Napa Valley wine production was shaped, this is a good interview to listen in on. It also delivers a lot of surprising information that you may not know. For example: when did the Napa Valley decide to focus on Cabernet Sauvignon as the dominant grape variety planted in the area? Kelli tells us that this change happened as recently as 1992. Before that, other grape varities had the lead by acreage in Napa. Asides like that from Kelli help to give a fuller sense of how Napa Valley got to be what it is today, and when.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine