Chris Carpenter50 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

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Doug Shafer and Chris Carpenter

At nearly 30, Chris Carpenter moved to Napa, earned a viticulture degree at UC Davis, and went on to become winemaker at Lokoya, Cardinale, Mt. Brave, and La Jota here in the Valley and Hickinbotham in Australia. In this episode, Chris talks about what it takes to make wines of beauty and distinction on two continents.

For more visit: Lokoya.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug Shafer:
Hey everybody, welcome back to The Taste, Doug Shafer, I’ve got a um, special guest today, they're all special, but uh, this is one guy I've wanted to get in here for a long time because I really don't know him that well, even though our paths have crossed, it's Chris Carpenter from the Jackson Family empire and Lokoya and Cardinale, and on, and on, and on, welcome Chris.

Chris C:
Thanks Doug, thanks for having me.

Doug Shafer:
He's good to take the time, we're getting- getting ready to pick grapes pretty soon, so I appreciate him coming in. Um, I got to tell you Chris, a few years ago I never- I didn't- I never knew you, I never knew you were on, so I started- I run into you on these uh, Napa Valley vintner panels, there'd be these panels, the vintners hosts if there's a group of uh, importers, or trade from Japan, or Germany in town, they have different seminars, and they'd be- they'd round up four or five winemakers like Chris and myself to be on a panel to talk about Cabernet or Chardonnay or something like that. So all of a sudden I'm on these panels with four or five people, well one- one was this guy Chris Carpenter sitting down at the end of the table, it's like, "Wow, who's this guy? Where did he come from?" And um, but you know you'd have your chance to chitchat about whatever your subject was, it's like, "Hey, he knows what he's talking about, this- I like what this guy's saying." So it was like, "Cool." But that was it, and now I've been doing some research on you, this is what's fun about my job, and uh, you've been around for a while, but before he got to Napa, born and raised, where- where dot- where did it all start?

Chris C:
I was a very young man in Boston, and did my formative years in Chicago.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
So most- most of my uh, the years that I think uh, helped to create who I am were mostly Chicago based. I grew up in a small town about 40 miles northwest of the city called Cary, Illinois.

Doug Shafer:
I know Cary, I know Cary ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... but it was- but born in Boston ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... and your folks uh, w- were they in the business, food- w- food business, wine business?

Chris C:
No, not at all. Uh, one of the ways I got my throat- self through the University of Illinois in Champaign was tending bar, and when I left with a degree in biology, I moved up to Chicago with no job. So I continued to tend bar up there, and many of my new friends as I was progressing through growing up in that city of living that kind of life were people that worked in the restaurant industry ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... and that being a- a city of such magnitude in terms of the restaurant biz, and- and the kind of stimulation that you can find in a spinet town like that, I- I was- I was starting to get into it, and-

Doug Shafer:
Cool.

Chris C:
... uh, one of my buddies worked at an Italian restaurant down in Little Italy, a place called Tufanos, which is great if you ever get a chance to go there, it's- it's old-school Italian ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... red and white checkered tables, you got a table full of cops, next to the table full of Chicago Bulls ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... next to a bunch of yuppies dinks, or a bunch of blue-collar guys, next to some uh, people in- in the other side of law uh, and this guy was uh, really into wine about two or three years ahead of the rest of our gang of-

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... restaurant people, and started turning us on to wine, and that became something that uh, I started gaining passion for. I was looking for something to do beyond uh, the um, bartending work that I was doing, and- and something I could combine my- my degree with ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... and- and winemaking was that.

Doug Shafer:
But I'm- I'm kind of curious because again did a little research on you, for- as a kid you moved around.

Chris C:
A little bit.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
Yep.

Doug Shafer:
DC?

Chris C:
Well no, my parents left Chicago and moved to DC, and I stayed behind.

Doug Shafer:
Oh.

Chris C:
So I finished at- my mom and I were alone for many years ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... and she bounced around a lot, so we had- I was the new kid in like seven or eight different schools at any one time. Uh ...

Doug Shafer:
So high school was Cary, because I was southwest side, I was Hinsdale.

Chris C:
So did you to south or central?

Doug Shafer:
I went to central.

Chris C:
All right, yeah.

Doug Shafer:
I was central and uh, I graduated way before you, you're a young man, so ... but you played ball, so you were playing ball in high school, football?

Chris C:
I did, I did, yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Cool, and then uh, onto University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana ...

Chris C:
Yep, [inaudible 00:05:42] woo.

Doug Shafer:
... and you played there- and you- and you played there?

Chris C:
I did.

Doug Shafer:
Big 10, big 10 ball, so you were-

Chris C:
Back when Illinois actually had a team.

Doug Shafer:
They- they still-

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... have a team and they're doing fine. (laughs)

Chris C:
They have a team but they don't- they don't play that well.

Doug Shafer:
Well, I'm curious though, what position?

Chris C:
I was a defensive end.

Doug Shafer:
Defensive end?

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Because you're 6'5 now, so uh, I think I saw a picture of you somewhere back in the day, and you were ...

Chris C:
I was 6'5 back then too ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... it's interesting, yeah. (laughs)

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) Yeah, you stopped growing. Oh man, um, so and degree in biology right?

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
And then uh, on to m- to Chicago where you got your MBA?

Chris C:
Correct.

Doug Shafer:
And so you're tending bar, starting to get into wine ...

Chris C:
And I- and I also had a day job, and that day job was going really well, and ...

Doug Shafer:
What was that?

Chris C:
Yeah, I- I sold blood and urine analyzers to hospital laboratories, uh, and it was a good, I work for a great company, I- I was doing well, and as at that point after getting the MBA where I had to make a decision, they wanted me to move into their corporate office, and though the opportunity financially, career-wise, with this great company was- was wonderful, it just wasn't something that I wanted to do the rest of my life, and you know this- I took a trip out here in fact uh, one of my buddies had moved to the Bay Area and I- I needed to get my head on and ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... I did a walkabout uh, in California from the sou- Southern Coast up to North- Northern California, and he took a day off of work and came up to wine country, hung out, and you know you're- when you're in the wine country, and you're seeing all of the excitement around this business, you're talking to people in tasting rooms about-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
.. what they're doing, and- and what the winemakers are doing, y- you get caught up in that, we've all- we've all gotten caught-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... up in that in one way or another, and um, I started putting the thi- putting it all together, like wow here is a uh, pursuit that I'm already interested in more from a hedonistic standpoint-

Doug Shafer:
Just from the Chicago- the-

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... the Italian restaurant, and all that.

Chris C:
Yeah, and- and it's- it's intimately tied in with the sciences that I wanted to get back to uh, you know, I was using my degree to a certain uh, in a certain sense because a lot of the equipment that I sold were disease state management ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... type of diagno- diagnostics. Um, it was creative, and I really wanted to get into something creative, and having uh, no idea how to do it when I got back to Chicago, I was- I was starting to freak out. Fortunately, I was subscribed to I don't know Food & Wine, or Bon Appetit, or one of those-

Doug Shafer:
Right, something ...

Chris C:
... magazines.

Doug Shafer:
... yeah.

Chris C:
Something appeared in one of those magazines about the program at Davis, and it's probably a month or two after I got back from Chicago, and I read this article and then there it is, there's my path. I was almost 30, so I was getting a little paranoid about where I was going in my life, and uh, I applied, was accepted, and here we go.

Doug Shafer:
You're 30 years old, you've been working, bartending, working restaurants, selling medical devices, get a epiphany ...

Chris C:
Yep.

Doug Shafer:
... more or less, but same thing happened to my dad but he was 48, and you- and you applied to Davis, you get in, did you apply as a- as an undergrad or master's?

Chris C:
No I was- I g- I- I have a master's from Davis, and as a bio student, I was- it was much easier for me ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... to go in through the viticulture program. So back then it was you uh, you made a choice, you were either viticulture or were enology, they've c- since combined it-

Doug Shafer:
They've since combined them right?

Chris C:
... uh, and for me the path was much easier, and it was a real serendipitous choice ...

Doug Shafer:
Hmm.

Chris C:
... because ultimately as you know Doug, it's all about the grapes. What we do in the winery is- is 5-10% of the effect that we have on-

Doug Shafer:
Good point, true, true.

Chris C:
... the bottle of wine, so learning the grape side of it was- was key, and has been key to my success. Uh, and then I stayed an extra six months and took all the enology courses, and- and was able to train myself in the uh, uh, you know winemaking side of it, but uh, yeah.

Doug Shafer:
What was that like moving from Chicago to California?

Chris C:
You know, it was good and bad. We ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... Napa at that time, in 1995 when I moved out here, there was one restaurant in downtown Napa ...

Doug Shafer:
In ni- you moved in- you ...

Chris C:
... it was Don- it was Don Perico, it was a family Mexican restaurant.

Doug Shafer:
You moved out in '95?

Chris C:
Yeah. So there's nothing going on in Napa.

Doug Shafer:
Were you living in Davis or living here?

Chris C:
No, I lived in Napa. So-

Doug Shafer:
Oh so you were commuting to Davis, okay.

Chris C:
Well, we did because my wife didn't know what- she was gonna be the breadwinner, so we didn't know where she was gonna work, she's a designer ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... uh, so we didn't know if she was gonna work in San Francisco, or up in Sacramento, or wherever, and Napa was a perfect like middle p- point between those two places ...

Doug Shafer:
Between San Francisco and Davis, right.

Chris C:
... and- and ultimately she had a- she was the one who had to drive our financial situation during that time, I- and we landed in Napa uh, had a great- had a great house, but had absolutely no idea the- the speed by which our uh, lifestyle would slow down. (laughs) I mean Napa ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, Napa, you know, Napa today as almost everyone knows has really changed, but uh, you know, we moved out here in '73 ...

Chris C:
Oh yeah, so you- you ...

Doug Shafer:
... let me tell you about Napa man, (laughs) and- and- but it's kind of stayed sleepy for a long, long time.

Chris C:
But it's not anymore.

Doug Shafer:
It's not anymore.

Chris C:
Yeah, so what's great now is you can walk downtown, or- or take an Uber or whatever and you can have a full night in downtown Napa.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
Back then that wasn't the case.

Doug Shafer:
So you were married, but tell me Tina's your wife?

Chris C:
Tina's my wife.

Doug Shafer:
Where'd- where did you guys meet?

Chris C:
At the University of Illinois.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
And so she stayed with you all those years in Chicago and-

Chris C:
Yeah, I don't know when I did that for ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... but she's still with me. Uh ...

Doug Shafer:
That's great, but um, that's pretty wild, I mean 'cause you were- you were 30, I moved out in route 17, hey I was going along for the ride, you know, you know ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... dad and mom paid the rent, and I didn't know what- what was going on, but uh, um, you know, the Chicago's such a wonderful town, that had to be a shock, I mean 'cause all the- the fun and great people, things to do, night life.

Chris C:
Well, and I worked at a- I worked at a music club before we came, so I- I worked at an Irish bar for five years, and I worked at this music club for four before moving out here, and so you- all of the different stimulus that since you got- it's a great cosmopolitan city ...

Doug Shafer:
Yes.

Chris C:
... one of the greatest uh, and I- and we- we surely miss it, and we still do, that we were talking a little bit about the Bears game ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... I've missed going to the Bear's games during the- during this time of the year. I don't miss the 50-below in the wind chill-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... I don't miss the winners, I- you know Chicago is a great city unto itself th- and then you have the suburbs, and then you have cornfields.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
You know California, where we live it's unbelievable ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... we live in one of the most beautiful places in the planet, uh, we- and we have Tahoe two and a half hours away, the Bay an hour away, the ocean an hour away, we've got Campbell-

Doug Shafer:
Yes.

Chris C:
... we've got Mendocino, we've got everything here and-

Doug Shafer:
It's- it's great there.

Chris C:
... and you know making that transition it was a little difficult first couple of years-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... just from uh, you know, Tina's family was back there, and our friends, and our lifestyle, but we got used to it and-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, I- I remember going back first time to sell wine, I think was January and I had some overcoat which was really you know thin ...

Chris C:
(laughs)

Doug Shafer:
... and you know I'm back there, and it's a cold day, and I'm on the phone to the guy saying, you know, "You sure you want to come back? It's- it's really cold, it's 20 below." I said, "Hey man, I grew up in Chicago, I'm fine." So we're you know walking between appointments downtown, we come around a corner where those streets that opens up right to the lake ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... and the wind hits you, like, "Oh my goodness, I forgot about this."

Chris C:
Yeah, take me back to California.

Doug Shafer:
I think I realized I was a California boy at that point.

Chris C:
I have a daughter, we encouraged my elder daughter to look at colleges in the Midwest just ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... the- there's something about the Midwest that I think everybody needs to experience at one point or another from a living standpoint ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and she's now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Doug Shafer:
Oh great, great town.

Chris C:
It is a great town.

Doug Shafer:
Great town.

Chris C:
Uh, it's- it's- it's a fabulous town, and she's gonna- uh, she's gonna love it, but she's a California kid ...

Doug Shafer:
I know.

Chris C:
... and- and she- she said to me at one point, "Daddy, is it always this green here?"

Doug Shafer:
Oh.

Chris C:
And I paused and I said, "Yep, when it's not white ... "

Doug Shafer:
I know.

Chris C:
" ... you're gonna have a lot of fun come January, February." So ...

Doug Shafer:
I've got my k- my kid's go- going up- heading up to Seattle next week, he'll be a freshman ...

Chris C:
Oh yeah, all right.

Doug Shafer:
... he said- he s- he l- he say he loves the rain, so he'll find out ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... but uh ...

Chris C:
What school in uh, Seattle?

Doug Shafer:
U- University of Washington.

Chris C:
All right, wow.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, it's gonna be husky.

Chris C:
Yeah, well that's great.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, and uh, that's- that's a good school.

Chris C:
That's a great university.

Doug Shafer:
Oh he's- and he's just dying to get to a ci- he says, "Dad, I gotta get to a city." You know, he's grown up here in Napa Valley wants a-

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... which is super, so good experiences. All right, so coming back, you're in California, you're living in Napa, you're commuting- commuting to Davis, which from Napa is about an hour ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... hour drive, so you're going up every day or every ...

Chris C:
Every day.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
I loved it actually ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... I- I- I- if I wasn't listening to NPR, I'd be- I'd have a stack of flashcards in- in the uh ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... seat next to me that I'd be m- doing my studying and as- as I was driving up to Davis, and it was also time to kind of put my head on and driving through the Central Valley you know that- that short stint up to Davis it's beautiful up there.

Doug Shafer:
It's beautiful.

Chris C:
You know, in that very like the- that agricultural beauty way ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... uh, and- and frankly I was also tending bar at the time trying to help the- the family out at Tra Vigne, so ...

Doug Shafer:
Oh okay.

Chris C:
... I- I was able to make connections in the restaurant industry here in Napa, and in the wine industry a couple years before any of my colleagues did that were at Davis, and at the time working at Tra Vigne, which was one of the- it was really the only game in town at that time ...

Doug Shafer:
Right, in St. Helena.

Chris C:
... uh, we had a fabulous wine list, and learning about food from Chiarrello, and his staff ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and then having that wine list, which was a- which was a collection of about two-thirds California, a third Italian ...

Doug Shafer:
And some great Italian wines.

Chris C:
... we a- again I was- I was in tastings at Davis, and at tastings at Davis, everybody's talking about the flaws in wine.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
Tastings that I was in with restaurant groups here in Napa, they were talking in uh, Tra Vigne with a- with a group that we tasted with, it was about how does this wine go with food ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... how do we- how do we connect it with the pappardelle, how do we connect it with the gnocchi, and- and having both of those things I think set me up later on in my winemaking to think about wine in a different way than a lot of winemakers were thinking about it at the time, and most of my colleagues have caught up over the years, but that- that gave me a little bit of an edge.

Doug Shafer:
Well, I remember you know I'm not in a wine tasting group right now, I haven't been for years, and I think I- I know why I stopped, because I- I- I'll be somewhere with trade people and mentioned, "Hey I'm in this wine tasting group with six other winemakers, Chris Carlson, you know, Heidi Barrett, Elias Fernandez."

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
You know, good wine makers, and they go, "Wow that must be cool." "Yeah, we meet once a week, and once a month and taste you know eight different Cabernets or Pinots or Sangioveses." "Wow that must be so cool." I said, I said, "If you ever get invited to one of those tastings don't go." And they say, "Why?" I said, "It's the most depressing evening with lime you'll ever spend in your life." And they go, "Why?" I said, "Because we all sit around and we just bash these wines."

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
That one's got too much oak, that's got a little Brettanomyces, that's- that's- that's too acidic, they picked it wrong, it's just like I stopped doing it because it was- it- it was depressing. I mean it- I'd rather like you say, go to a restaurant and talk to just you know regular folks talk about how the coolest wine is, or not cool, that's fun.

Chris C:
Yeah, you know, it's- I- I don't ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... I'm not into it as I- as I was as often as I did, but I did always learn something from it, yeah you- it's always good to kind of from my perspective to- to learn about new flavors, about new techniques ...

Doug Shafer:
Hmm.

Chris C:
... it does- it does tend to get a little negative with winemakers ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... whereas again with the restaurant people that I used to taste with, it wasn't about that, it was more about, okay here's what this guy's doing, how do we incorporate that into our list ...

Doug Shafer:
Exactly.

Chris C:
... and/or into how we think about presenting this dish with a possible wine choice, it was great, you know, and then you'd go to these tastings at Davis you know and everybody was trying to position themselves as the smartest guy in the room at the time anyway ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... and it's ...

Doug Shafer:
That's- that's still going on.

Chris C:
Yeah, and it's like, you guys aren't even thinking about what ultimately wine should be about, it's not- it's not this technical uh, uh, melange that we're putting together, it's- it's a- it's a part of dinner, it's a part of food.

Doug Shafer:
It's a- i- it's a- it's a part of dinner, it's not the dinner.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
It's not- it's not center stage ...

Chris C:
No, right.

Doug Shafer:
... it's just over here on the side.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
You know, oh good.

Chris C:
You're gonna get back- Doug let's go and start a tasting group.

Doug Shafer:
We should start a tasting group. (laughs)

Chris C:
And we'll make some rules.

Doug Shafer:
You and me.

Chris C:
No negative.

Doug Shafer:
Just the- just the two of us, we'll do it over dinner.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Um, well okay I'm- this is- so mid-90s you're- you're getting your master's, you’re living in Napa, you're married, you're a bartender at Tra Vigne, I was up to my ears and alligators here at Shafer, Elias and I were cranked and things were going really well for us before we were busy, real busy, so that's why I never ran into you, I'm- I- but I bet at tr- I mean you probably made me a martini once or twice, yeah.

Chris C:
I probably did.

Doug Shafer:
You probably did.

Chris C:
Yeah. I- I still do, your dad comes in, and- and so I still work at the Rutherford Grill ...

Doug Shafer:
Well I was gonna talk about it later. So tell us about that, why are you- you're still tending bar one night a week ...

Chris C:
One night a week.

Doug Shafer:
... at Rutherford Grill.

Chris C:
Yeah. Yeah I- when it's my night out, so I don't- I don't go out and drink beers after-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... work or- or uh, you know ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... do other things, my night out is standing behind the bar at the grill, and I've had a lot of people over the years who have become friends as a- as a result of that, who still come in and see me. Elias used-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... to come, he doesn't come in in Fridays as much as he used to, but he used to be in there every other Friday he'd be sitting there.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
You come in, your dad still comes here, and your dad-

Doug Shafer:
He's a regular.

Chris C:
... comes in by himself and sits at the bar and has- has a bite to eat ...

Doug Shafer:
Yep.

Chris C:
... and chats with the people on either side of him uh, and it's- it's you know it's part- the Rutherford Grill if- for those who have never been in the Rutherford Grill-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... if you're coming into town and you want to see um, a uh, host of winemakers, vineyard managers, the- the- the center of the social life at lunchtime typically in Napa Valley is the Rutherford Grill, and that place has that kind of magic, and- and as a- as somebody who stands behind the bar, I can participate in it to the level that I want to, and I can go away and you know talk to other- other guests, and you know it's- it's always been in my blood and I- I enjoy it, so something I do.

Doug Shafer:
No, you're of- you- you know, you're quite famous for it, everybody knows about Chris tending bar on Friday nights.

Chris C:
Well, and- and that wasn't why I did it, but it ... yeah, it is uh, it is part of me, who I am.

Doug Shafer:
Great. So after master's uh, your- no, where did you jump in, where's- where did you work?

Chris C:
So ...

Doug Shafer:
In- internships uh?

Chris C:
Oh yeah I- I did an internship at Domaine Carneros on the um, I was in the lab, and in the cellar, I- I worked at Domaine Chandon in the vineyard with one of my uh, viticultural uh, mentors, a woman named Anne Kramer ...

Doug Shafer:
Oh.

Chris C:
... who was just a fabulous, fabulous person.

Doug Shafer:
Gotta interrupt.

Chris C:
Please.

Doug Shafer:
Okay, so Domaine Carneros was Don Carlson in there?

Chris C:
Yeah. Dan Carlson.

Doug Shafer:
He was a winemaker, Dan Carlson, thank you.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Because they're our first harvest at Red Shoulder just across the street Chardonnay, for the first three years we didn't have enough press- pressing capacity, he pressed it out for us.

Chris C:
Oh yeah, right.

Doug Shafer:
So we picked it, took it over at those- you guys at Domaine Carneros, he pressed it out, we took the juice up here and then fermented it.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
And Anne Kramer, Anne Kramer I went to- I went to Davis with Anne Kramer.

Chris C:
Did you really? That's great.

Doug Shafer:
And I had a crush on her forever.

Chris C:
Did you uh-

Doug Shafer:
The sweetest gal in the world.

Chris C:
She is the sweetest.

Doug Shafer:
I interrupted, so go ahead, yeah.

Chris C:
No, no, and- and she took me on to uh, oversee ... or not to oversee, but to be part of her vineyard team in the uh-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... vineyards in the Carneros ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... so I was doing PCA work, and I had one like three acre block that was my responsibility, I learned a tremendous amount. She was a great teacher ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and uh, and still I- I harking back to those days, I- I also worked at- at Antinori in Italy uh, before coming uh, back to the States and-

Doug Shafer:
How did you get- how did you get that?

Chris C:
So you see Davis has a ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... program every year, there's a- an intern chosen from amongst the ranks of the students at Davis, and that year was- was- I was the one who had been chosen.

Doug Shafer:
Way to go.

Chris C:
That was awesome.

Doug Shafer:
That must have been great.

Chris C:
It was- it was- it changed my life you know the way Italians think about food and wine, and- and- and the way Italians approach life in general uh, at the time I had to learn how to slow myself down and not- and not have expectations that are completely American and bearing uh, because Italians don't move like that.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
Uh, and- and that way of thinking has carried me to this day. I got back, uh, my darling wife who had uh, supported us for that three-ish years was ready to start having babies, and for me to go back to work ...

Doug Shafer:
Time for you to go to work.

Chris C:
... yeah, and she said, "Well, you got to um, you gotta go out and get a job, it's time, you know, no more you b- get your masters written, or your thesis written and let's move forward."

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
And Davis has a um, job fair as many universities do, and uh ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... I had two resumes uh, with me uh, for the- the Jackson family wine table, and I went up to the guy, stand behind the table, I said, "This first resume, uh, could you pass it on 'cause any of this grow relations position." And grow relations are those guys that- that with some wineries who go out and buy fruit from outside growers ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... uh, they can negotiate those contracts, they have to know about viticulture because it's a- they have to oversee that vineyard and it's a pretty- it was an entry position ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and I wanted to get my foot in the door. I ultimately wanted to make wine, but I was just trying to get a job and ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... get in there. The other resume I handed to the- the same guy and I said, "This resume can you pass on to this guy named Marco De Julio."

Doug Shafer:
Oh yeah, I know Marco, yeah.

Chris C:
And Marc- Marco at the time was making two great brands under Jackson Family Wines, he was making uh, Pepi Wines, which at that time was during the Cal-Ital thing that we all tried ...

Doug Shafer:
Yes.

Chris C:
... he was making sanjivet say, Barbera, um, Malvasia Bianca, uh, Tocai Friulano, Arneis-

Doug Shafer:
Malvasia Bianca, I remember that.

Chris C:
... so all these great Italian varieties, and I had just come from Italy right?

Doug Shafer:
And was he making a- a Pepi facility?

Chris C:
Making a Pepi. He was also uh, the winemaker for Lokoya as his predecessor at Lokoya, a gentleman named Greg Upton had just passed.

Doug Shafer:
I remember Greg, yeah.

Chris C:
So- so uh, Marco took over making Lokoya, which is high-end Cabernet.

Doug Shafer:
I gotta interrupt.

Chris C:
Please.

Doug Shafer:
It's because Bob Pepi, did you ever know Bob Pepi?

Chris C:
Yeah sure.

Doug Shafer:
Was a pal.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Because every night I drive home after finishing up harvest, you know, we- we picked during the day so you know he wouldn't get off till 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, I'd always stop by Pepi's while we're on our way back, way home, because he was always there because he had so much Sauvignon Blanc, he was- he be pressing all night. So I'd always stop and have a beer with Bob, but then they sold to Jackson Family ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... and that's from ... so Marco took over.

Chris C:
That's where Marco took over that- that ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... the- the production of the- of the Italian rise ...

Doug Shafer:
Cool.

Chris C:
... and ultimately took over Lokoya.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
So the cellar that I worked in at uh, Antinori was the- it's called Santa Cristina Estate-

Doug Shafer:
Cristina, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... back then, I think it's called Tignanello Estate now, so it's where they were making the Solaia, the Tignanello, all their high-end Cabernets, then some of the great Chianti chi-

Doug Shafer:
Classico.

Chris C:
... uh, classicos ...

Doug Shafer:
Classicos.

Chris C:
... that they make, and I was also involved in a whole bunch of experiments looking at other varieties that they were thinking about. One of those other varieties was Teroldego uh, which I made over there, and which Pepi was making.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
So I- I hand the resume to the guy, "Can you pass this on to Marco De Julio." He reads the resume goes, "Marco De Julio huh?" And I said, "Yeah." He goes, "I'm Marco De Julio."

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
I'm like. "Ah, it's good to meet you."

Doug Shafer:
Oh that's funny.

Chris C:
And he sees that I've made Teroldego, because I had it on my resume, what varieties I had made in uh, in Italy, and he s- and he said, "You made Teroldego?" I said, "Yeah." He goes, "I just made Teroldego for the first time, there's a- there's a vineyard somewhere down in the Central Coast that- that grows Teroldego and that was one of the wines that Pepi was putting up." Teroldego for those who don't know is just a-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... is a awesome variety from uh, Trentino, and in Trentino it's typically made as a Novello, which is the Italian's version of Beaujolais style ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and there's a woman named- I think her good name is um, I don't remember her first name, her last name is Foradurri, and she has been making it as an aged wine for some time and Marco-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... was trying to do the same thing, and the Antinoris were considering-

Doug Shafer:
I mean not- not in- in other words not in the Beaujolais style and uh, just a-

Chris C:
A regular role.

Doug Shafer:
... regular red wine?

Chris C:
Yeah red wine.

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
And Teroldego makes a great aged wine like that. So he comes from around the table and he's like, "Hey, how did you do it?"

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
And I told him how I pursued the Teroldego, and then he told me how he pursued it, and we clicked and he said, "Listen man, I'm building a new winery, I- I need someone to help me design the lab, would that be something that you're interested in?" I said, "Yeah." So he said, "Come by next Tuesday, and we'll take a walk around and I'll show you what's up." And so I did, I came by next Tuesday, and I walked into his office, and s- stinning- sitting behind his desk was a poster, a big poster-

Doug Shafer:
Big ...

Chris C:
... of John Coltrane, and I said, "You're a Coltrane fan?" He goes, "Yeah, I'm a huge Coltrane fan. I go- I just bought a Love Supreme a couple of days ago, w- which is one of his masterpieces."

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
And uh, we talk Coltrane for a half hour and by the end of the afternoon I had the job, and I was working as- at the time as a sinologist, and then ultimately his assistant winemaker, and as he and his colleague, I- I had a really great situation, because not only was he the winemaker there, but Charles Thomas was the winemaker for Cardinale, and I was acting as their assistant wine-

Doug Shafer:
And who's who's a great wine- who's a great winemaker, came on Mondavi right. So what- what facility were you guys at?

Chris C:
We were all out of Pepi, which is now Cardinale.

Doug Shafer:
Got it, okay.

Chris C:
So uh, and so I was working for- for Marco, for Charles, and then they brought in another gentleman named Tom Peffer, and Tom uh, was overseeing the- the new Kendall Jackson facility that was being built. The really cool thing about working for these three guys, was they-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... all had their own way of approaching wine. Charles was very much keyed into the vineyard, and he worked with a guy named uh, Daniel Roberts, Dr. Dirt.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, I remember Daniel, yeah.

Chris C:
And they were- it was all about how to design vineyards to optimize fruit characters ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... so that ultimately you'd be optimizing your wine, and so learning from- from that understanding. Tom Peffer was a science geek, so he- he could- he knew biochemical pathways, he knew chemistry, he knew how to- how to look at wines from the analysis and know where they were going.

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
So having that being taught to me at that time was- was fantastic as well, because ultimately you don't learn how to make wine at Davis ...

Doug Shafer:
I know, I know.

Chris C:
... what you learn at Davis is the science.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
You learn how to diagnose things, but you don't- you don't learn the how to then actually put it into practical context.

Doug Shafer:
You don't- it's a practical thing. Just al- almost like just about anything.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
And then Marco was- was the kind of hippy winemaker, uh, don't worry about it, everything's gonna be fine, native use fermentations just don't let it screw up, you know, don't make rash decisions, and- and- and combining all these- these schools of thought into my winemaking, I, you know, I couldn't have asked for a better situation to be in.

Doug Shafer:
So you were with those three guys, this is in the mid to late '90s ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... and you- so all of a sudden you ended up being head winemaker or?

Chris C:
Well, as- as greener paths presented themselves to them ...

Doug Shafer:
Hmm.

Chris C:
... uh, they- I would assume uh, their- their roles and it-

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
... and with the exception of Tom. Tom I didn't take over any winemaking that he was doing uh, but uh, Charles or Marco left first, and I- I was uh, asked to take over Lokoya Brand uh, Charles left a year later and- and I was asked to take over the Cardinale Brand, we've acquired in- in the time uh, after we acquired uh, the La Jota vineyard and winery and that's about- the vineyards are about a mile down from the Keys vineyard on Howell Mountain, and they asked if I would oversee that, and then we created a Mt Brave after we had acquired the Chateau Patel property from Noel for mo-

Doug Shafer:
For Mount Veeder.

Chris C:
... for Mount Veeder.

Doug Shafer:
So let me, you know, I'll take a stab at this, you helped me out. So basically you've got four different brands, Napa brands, is that safe to say?

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
That- that you're involved with?

Chris C:
Yes.

Doug Shafer:
Cardinale, La Jota, Lokoya, Mt Brave?

Chris C:
Correct.

Doug Shafer:
Got it, and you've got how many facilities handling those four-

Chris C:
Three.

Doug Shafer:
... three?

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
So your- your role, your position is kind of like um, the Grand Poobah of winemaking for these four brands, the-

Chris C:
Yes.

Doug Shafer:
... yeah, okay.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
So how does it work, do you have the winemakers at each place or Tom?

Chris C:
No, no I have a- it's me ...

Doug Shafer:
It's you ...

Chris C:
... and my team, and we run around in trucks and ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... go make wine, it's a pain in the ass, but- but (laughs) it's great. Uh, you know, because I work- your Cardinale is- is our home base, and that's where we store all our barrels and it's right on route 29, and all our marketing people and our sales people and ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... all of that, and then our guests, they all center themselves around there, and uh, it's- it's a wonderful facility, we've redesigned it over the years to really accommodate my winemaking style, and the kind of varieties that we're working with. La Jota is up on Howell Mountain, and it's completely isolated.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
It- when we're up there it's just us making wine, you're surround by ponderosa pines and redwoods and this historic winery that's been there since 1889 ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and that we're still operating out of, uh, and- and it's- it you know again driving up there and then dealing with that when we're up there is- is somewhat of a logistics uh, challenge, but- but it's also great just being up there making wine and uh-

Doug Shafer:
It's peaceful.

Chris C:
... it's- that's the exact word for it.

Doug Shafer:
It is peaceful, going up you know Howell Mountain is- is relaxing ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... you know, you know, I ride my bike up there, it's just-

Chris C:
Yep.

Doug Shafer:
... it's really nice. It's a good break.

Chris C:
And then we bought uh, Terra Valentine a couple of years back uh, up on Spring Mountain ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... and Lokoya needed a home, so we've redesigned that not only from a winemaking standpoint, but from a- a- a guest standpoint uh, they- they built a beautiful tasting room up there and now Lokoya has a space that uh, we're- we fermented up there probably 50% of the vintages that we've um-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... that we've had, last year we were set to start for many up there and the fires rolled and- and kind of put a kibosh-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... on that as we tried to circle the wagons around Cardinale, but you know it's- it- it keeps us busy, and it keeps it interesting too, we're not always in the same place.

Doug Shafer:
Right. So, okay but it seems like there- it's mostly mountain fruit, is it mostly- have- have you been pigeon-holed as a mountain fruit guy or is that your- is that your claim, the fame, do- do you- do you- is that-

Chris C:
I've been pigeon-holed as that but- but in a good way.

Doug Shafer:
... is that good with you, is that miso-

Chris C:
Yeah, I love it.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
Al- although if you want to sell me any fruit around here, as I rolled in I was like I wonder if I'll be able to get fruit from-

Doug Shafer:
I like my own fruit too ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... staying right here. It's-

Chris C:
It'll- will change, will slop. Um ...

Doug Shafer:
We'll talk about that in our tasting group. (laughs)

Chris C:
(laughs) Yeah, so one of the- one of the- I think for- foresight the Jess Jackson had was the quality of the fruit that these Mountain Vineyards could produce ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... uh, there's- there are challenges in the mountains, you have soils that aren't very uh, friendly, you've got different angles to the Sun, there's not a lot of water up there, and the soils don't hold on to the water, but the results that you get from a viticultural standpoint in terms of the quality of the fruit, and then ultimately how that translates into wine, th- for me it's- it's the top of- of what we do here in Napa, uh, and from- and again I'm- I'm slightly biased, a- and I've- I've enjoyed getting to know these terrains, to be part of them to see the differences in- differences in them, we have 16 sub appellations, five of which are- are Mountain ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and they're- and they're each really singular, just as Stag's Leap ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... that we're- we're sitting now is singular, that I think is- is- we're celebrating, which we all do to a certain degree, uh, but it's also fabulous, and I keep using that word I've gotta stop, it's uh ...

Doug Shafer:
It's a good word.

Chris C:
Yeah. It's- it's just- it- it- from a learning standpoint, I'm constantly learning, and one of the great things about the wine is I think that we'd all agree on is there's- there's always something new to figure out, wheth- it- whether it's a combination of barrels to wine and all the different Cooper's and what they're doing, or the different soil types that we have to deal with, or the growing conditions, or fires that we have to figure out ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... now they're becoming the norm.

Doug Shafer:
Uh, yeah.

Chris C:
It's all of this.

Doug Shafer:
You have te- technology, irrigation technology, you know, the- the equipment, stuff we have now, the crush pad, we didn't use to have ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... it's incredible, but listen hillside fruit, mountain fruit, you know, you don't have to preach to me buddy, I'm a- I'm in your ...

Chris C:
I love it.

Doug Shafer:
... I'm on that bandwagon all day long.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Well, there's nothing better, you know, and- and to be sitting there with a- a ferme- a fermenter that's pumping over a hit spot, oh you're at about f- 15, 14, 13 bricks, and all of a sudden it changes, and like all of a sudden it becomes I- I- I can't describe it, and I've tried to so many times, but you- you know the moment, and it's just like-

Chris C:
I do.

Doug Shafer:
... now it used- it used to happen for me around 2:00 in the morning, because we didn't have really good control of our tanks temperature-wise, you couldn't control temperature remotely like you can now ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... so you can kind of chill it down so it doesn't ... so Elias and I would do these crazy hours and take shifts and just used to happen around 2:00 in the morning, I'd be- and I'd taste and go, I'd turn around yeah and go, "Hey Elias." Well, he's not there because he's at home in bed, but it was that moment where it's like, you got a taste number 23 it just, you know, it just- it just happened, yeah.

Chris C:
Well that's why we do it right?

Doug Shafer:
Yeah, yeah.

Chris C:
For those moments.

Doug Shafer:
It's beautiful, love it. Um, okay so Napa and- so you're a busy guy to- just to make yourself a little busier, I hear you're doing something in Australia now?

Chris C:
I do, yeah.

Doug Shafer:
What's going ... no, just on top of everything.

Chris C:
So we ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... uh, uh, uh, Jackson Family Wines bought the uh, Hickinbotham vineyard in McLaren Vale ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... um, in 2012, and on that vineyard there's quite a bit of Cabernet. Our ownership wanted to see what I could do with that Cabernet given that- that it's um, a different place in ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and- but also given that it's a vineyard that has some similarities to what we do in the mountainsides here, it does have el- elevation, it does have a- a soil profile that- that has so- some similarities, uh, and I was at the time looking for a new challenge, and I've always wanted to go to Australia uh, just- just-

Doug Shafer:
Nice.

Chris C:
... from a ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... you know, visiting standpoint, and I landed uh, at ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... this vineyard, and I was floored by what I had in front of me, and what- what the potential was for the kind of wines that we could produce, and in an area that's very different than Napa. I mean McLaren Vale is more- imagine more of like McMinnville up in Oregon ...

Doug Shafer:
Got it, okay.

Chris C:
... and it's kind of vibe and where it's at in the wine industry, and the people there are just fantastic, and I'm 10 minutes from one of the great beaches in the world, two- two and a half kilometer long beach, and at four o'clock in the afternoon there's 10 people on it.

Doug Shafer:
Oh.

Chris C:
Yeah, so it's- it has all these wonderful things, and- and the wines that we're producing are- are incredible, and they're different, you know, they're not- it's not Napa Valley, and- and part of I think what we all strive to do is create wines that really speak to the place-

Doug Shafer:
Speak to the place, right.

Chris C:
... that they're being produced from, and that was learning about Australian wines and how Aussies think about Cabernet, and- and the way that they have produced Cabernet over the years. I- I took a trip out to the Margaret River while I was there-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... one year just to get a sense of that, because that's really one of the hot spots for Cabernet in Australia, a- and I would recommend to anybody who's interested in travelling wine regions in the world, make it to Margaret River.

Doug Shafer:
Got it.

Chris C:
It's- it's- it's- it's unbelievable, but McLaren Vale is unbelievable as well, and these are- these are wines that I've- I've- I've taken a lot of um, a- a- and there's a- there's a lot of heart and soul in these things, and uh, it's from just a great part of the world.

Doug Shafer:
So you- you got that, so you're- you're overseeing the vineyard and the winemaking down there or just- or just one or the other?

Chris C:
So the great part of this-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah how does it- how does it work?

Chris C:
Yeah. It's- it's more like I- I act almost as a consulting winemaker ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... down there. I have a team that has- that runs a winery uh, we- we've had a brand and a winery there since 2001 called Yangarra ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... and Yangarra makes arguably some of the best Grenache on the planet ...

Doug Shafer:
Oh nice.

Chris C:
... just incredible wines. Uh, so they've got a group of people that are- are dedicated to the winemaking, we have a vineyard staff that has been farming at Yangarra for a while again mostly Grenache and Syrah or Shiraz, and- and I have helped them understand Cabernet growing at the Hickinbotham vineyard.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
So I'm involved to the degree that I would be you know this is, you know, you don't prune Cabernet as you would Shiraz, this is how we would prune Cabernet in this kind of environment, the leafing, this is how you- because leafing Shiraz is very different than leafing Cabernet ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... this is how you're going to approach this. So we've gotten at that point, they've- they've embraced it the- the guys that I work with down there, and they've- they're- they're on it now. So a lot of it is me just going in, making sure that the fruit is where I want it, just as we do here ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
Uh, yeah how it tastes when I'm picking, how it's fermented. I utilize some of my techniques that I've learned here ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... down there, uh, and then just making sure that it gets- that it gets through that processing in the barrel. So I'm down there du-

Doug Shafer:
And- and- and timing, yeah when it's down to timing-wise 'cause the harvest is six months-

Chris C:
March.

Doug Shafer:
March, okay.

Chris C:
Mostly March, maybe a week or two into April for five to six weeks, and then I go back a week uh, in July and then a week in January.

Doug Shafer:
Nice, and they've- they've accepted the- the Yank coming over huh? (laughs)

Chris C:
Yeah, they've-

Doug Shafer:
Okay, because I know a few Aussies, I mean you know they're- they're pretty strong-willed, proud guys, you know ...

Chris C:
They are very proud.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
And I've been very cognizant of that ...

Doug Shafer:
Good for you.

Chris C:
... you know because ...

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Chris C:
... nothing drives me crazier when, and I apologize to all my French colleagues, when the French come into Napa and everybody thinks they're just- they couldn't possibly do wrong because they're French making wine, well you know I didn't want to be that guy going to Australia, I wanted a- I wanted to uh, learn as much as I could from these guys that have been working ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... there, and know the land, and know the- the climate, and- and have an idea of the style and the approach to wine, and then you know work in some of my sensibilities ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... around it, and it's worked out really well. I've made some great friends down there, and uh, I- I- I've become part of that community, it's really hard for me to leave, it- it's hard for my wife to be here by herself ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... so um, I- I- I can't stay down there, but it is um, I do consider it home, you know.

Doug Shafer:
Oh, that's nice.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
So Jackson Family has wineries all over California, all over the world, are any other involved in other countries or it's just Australia the one year?

Chris C:
Just Australia.

Doug Shafer:
Australia.

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Got it. Cool, um, so an- another big part of your life, music.

Chris C:
Yes.

Doug Shafer:
Where did that start?

Chris C:
I've always been into music, I- and it's always driven my- my zeitgeist if you will ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... uh, one of the places that I worked before I left Chicago was this music club called Schubas.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
And Schubas at the time we had bands that would come through there, like Kebmo came through there, and Dave Matthews, and this is a small club ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... to come through there. Uh, Tori Amos, uh, just a host of these people, and your- music is such a innate uh, um, part of I think all of our lives, and some ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... some of us you know see it as background, some of us are more into it from a detailed perspective, and I just- I've always enjoyed the process of music, the in- the emotions that it stirs, the uh, development of style and sound, and it's- it's something that continues to drive me, and we were talking about um, Andy and Mike relationship with Randy ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... or your PR person here. He uh, he and my uh, or his son and my daughter performed together in the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, and seeing kids learn about music, and develop as musicians has been something that I've been involved in for the last few years, and helping the Youth Symphony to stay a- be viable nonprofit in Napa, and- and to help kids further educate themselves.

Doug Shafer:
And you're- you're very involved in that, and people should know how much you do for that, you spent a lot of time, and by the way you don't forget about me when you need donations all right? Call me up. (laughs)

Chris C:
I- I will not, I write- writing this down mentally.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah write that down. No, no happy to do it. Well, what's so cool about the Youth Symphony in Napa, if they get to play a Bottle Rock ...

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... I mean how cool is that?

Chris C:
Well, that's one of, you know, one of the things that we're trying to do with the Youth Symphony is not only teach these kids about music and higher levels of music, but where music can take them.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
You know, and what- what opportunities it presents itself, every year we bring in a guest artist, this past year we had Delfeayo Marsalis, one of the great trombonist from- from uh, New Orleans, we had Angel Romero from the- from the very famous Romero guitar playing family play with them, I- we had Elizabeth Pitcairn, who owns the uh, Red Violin who came out and- and was one of our guests and they've gotten the opportunity to play with these incredible musicians. We- one year we took them to Carnegie Hall, they played at Carnegie Hall for-

Doug Shafer:
Oh man.

Chris C:
... this incredible uh, uh, collection of- of uh, audience, and- and other musicians, and that you know something that will resonate with them forever uh, and pa- you know, part of that is Bottle Rock ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and they- they opened the-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... in fact were the opening band for Bottle Rock when it first started, they were the first uh ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... musical group to play, they opened for Macklemore, so that- that particular concert they had 5,000 people and they thought they were loved, King of Swing ...

Doug Shafer:
It's cool.

Chris C:
... uh, th- the- we now have a little bit less of a um, popular time slot, but it's still really cool.

Doug Shafer:
It's still really cool.

Chris C:
I mean the- these kids 20 years from now they'll say, "Yeah I played Bottle Rock."

Doug Shafer:
Yeah I played Bottle Rock. (laughs)

Chris C:
Damn right. (laughs) You know so ...

Doug Shafer:
When they're taking their kids to the show.

Chris C:
Yeah, yeah exactly.

Doug Shafer:
That's great. Um, Slow Food movement, you were involved in that for a while, is that still happening?

Chris C:
Slow food is still around uh, I'm not-

Doug Shafer:
Ca- can you tell us a little bit about it?

Chris C:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Um, a lot of people might not know about it.

Chris C:
So Slow Food was a organization that stemmed from a moment in history in Italy when McDonald's was threatening to open a store uh, close to the Spanish Steps in Rome, and a group of journalists, food journalists ...

Doug Shafer:
Hmm.

Chris C:
... were up in arms about this affront to the culture of Italy, and ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... and their food culture, and they protested that uh, opening, and ultimately McDonald's opened the store, but it started a bit of momentum behind the idea that food was being assaulted on many different levels ...

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... um, culturally, uh, American-style food was-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... was taking over, and fast food was uh, becoming something that was picked up across the world over, and it was- it was starting to impact other cultures, other food cultures. Uh, the food system and how agriculture was being promoted uh, it was starting to devastate the planet ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and probably still does to a very great degree. The number of foods that were available, the diversity of food that was available was starting to uh, be impacted ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and Slow Food was looking at all of these things and- and trying to remind people that food is not just fuel, that it's part of culture, it's part of our health, it's part of the planet’s health, and that if we forget that then we're in danger of- of losing something that's very special from a- from a sensorial standpoint-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... from a health standpoint, and from a um, uh, from a- this experiential standpoint ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... and- and they organized, and have uh, created chapters around the world where they look at different issues within the food system ...

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Chris C:
... whether it's what- what's the difference between organic and biodynamic, and how does that impact a piece of land-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... or in fact I just got a message today, or two days ago about the pawpaws are ready in uh, Virginia, and pawpaws are this u- unique fruit that I think it's like Virginia, North Carolina, and maybe South Carolina, and a lot of pawpaw trees were going away uh, and once the pawpaws are gone ...

Doug Shafer:
They're gone.

Chris C:
... they're gone right?

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
There's nobody else growing them. Gravenstein apples here in our area was another one ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... Gravenstein apples have been impacted by vineyards now over in Sonoma County, quite drastically for the last 20 years and there's very few Gravenstein uh, orchards left. Once Gravensteins are gone you know ...

Doug Shafer:
They're gone.

Chris C:
... the- they're gone.

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
And so there's- they've created markets to help sustain some of these products uh, by way of a project called the Art Project, and um, those- that's just one example, we've done- they- they were involved in all different sorts of food activism.

Doug Shafer:
Great.

Chris C:
So ...

Doug Shafer:
And that- and that continues.

Chris C:
The Slow Food organization continues without my participation, I- I uh, got to a point where I sat on the uh, national board, we oversaw 50,000 members nationally, I was involved in a lot of the uh, change uh, with some of the direction in our strategies here ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... in- in the United States, and- and just I work really hard for Slow Food for a lot of years, and just at about I- I needed to step back from that to allow some other people to do that work, and then the Napa Youth Symphony came calling-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Chris C:
... as far as sitting on their board, and that's what I've been doing for the last five years now.

Doug Shafer:
You're a busy guy.

Chris C:
Yeah, yeah it's ...

Doug Shafer:
Well you're you know, you've got-

Chris C:
I'm one of those guys that ...

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
... it's hard for me to say no, you know, don't- don't write that down.

Doug Shafer:
I- I won't that- I- no I'm not going to write that down, but uh, between football, music, wine, food, great marriage, couple of beautiful girls, congratulations, you are- you are the Renaissance guy of the Napa Valley.

Chris C:
Yeah, right.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)

Chris C:
Yeah I'm just a crazy guy in Napa Valley.

Doug Shafer:
No it's good.

Chris C:
No- you know life's too short, there's so much out there that I- I- I still- there's 20 things I still have yet to do that I want to do and uh, and I will do them I hope at some point, it's just there's- there's- and there's so much to give back too ...

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris C:
... you know, I've been very fortunate in- in some of the things that have happened to me in my life, and I'm- I- I want others to feel that fortune, and if I can provide those- those opportunities to them I'll do that.

Doug Shafer:
Good for you. Hey, Chris thanks for coming by.

Chris C:
Thank you Doug.

Doug Shafer:
Fin- finally good to sit down and-

Chris C:
Yep.

Doug Shafer:
... catch up and get to know each other.

Chris C:
Well, we'll be getting to know each other even better with our tasting group.

Doug Shafer:
With our tasting group.

Chris C:
(laughs)

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) I'll send you an email.

Chris C:
Yeah, exactly.

Doug Shafer:
Thanks again.