Episode 466 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Joe Rochioli, Jr. of J. Rochioli Vineyards and Winery in the Russian River Valley of California.
Joe Rochioli, Jr. begins this interview talking about how his family grew hops, and ends it by expressing astonishment at the sheer number of vineyards that have been planted in the area around his home. In between is the story of California wine in the second half of the twentieth century, as family farms dedicated to cash crops like beans, apples, and hops were replanted to vines. While that march may appear inevitable in hindsight, Joe suggests that it didn’t seem all that preordained while it was going on. He talks quite a bit about the disagreements that he had with his father and other family members, as they wanted to plant crops that would give quantity, while Joe wanted to emphasize smaller yields of grape varieties known to give the best wines. He also explains how the establishment of small wineries in Sonoma changed the landscape for what it was possible to sell as grapes: moving away from the jug wine, bulk mentality and embracing the higher quality fruit that went into wines with a single vineyard on the label. There are plenty of surprises that Joe shares in this interview as well, from unexpected family dramas, sports successes, and legislative battles. In the end, this episode is a reminder that a set of sweeping changes in a society can also be explained as a personal story.
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: @leviopenswine