Episode 370 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Aaron Miller, the winemaker at the PlumpJack winery in the Oakville sub-zone of the Napa Valley.
It is easy to think we know all about the famous hundred point wineries of the Napa Valley, and how they go about their business of winemaking. It is all cellar strategy, right? If you think that, you might be surprised at what Aaron Miller says in this interview, which is that the decisions that determine the wines at PlumpJack are largely soil based. Yep. The grapes grown in one part of the property turn out much different than those on the other side, and everything that follows, from the élevage to the aging to the labelling, follows from that difference. The harvest window at the PlumpJack vineyard typically runs 3 weeks long, Aaron informs us, and that alone speaks to the kind of diversity that is found there. It turns out that this vineyard has been divided into separate blocks for some time, as far back as at least the 1880s when it was the site of the original Villa Mt. Eden winery, and possibly even before that. So why the differences amongst the vineyard parcels? Aaron explains that the soil variations follow the location of the alluvial fan coming off the Vaca Mountains. If you want to better understand Oakville terroir, this is a great episode to check out, by the way, because Aaron breaks down how diverse the various areas of Oakville really can be. All in, this is an interview with someone who has clearly thought through what he is up to, and who is also open to sharing what he has found out. Think you already know it all about Napa? You will be surprised by how much you learn from this episode.
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