Heidi Barrett Podcast 68 MINUTES

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

The Taste with Doug Shafer logo

Doug Shafer and Heidi Barrett

Heidi Barrett has produced extraordinary wines for clients including Screaming Eagle, Paradigm, Dalle Valle, and many more. One of her Cabernets holds the record as the most ever paid for a single bottle of wine -- $500,000 at Auction Napa Valley. Today she has her own wine brand, La Sirena, and another with her husband, Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, called Barrett & Barrett.

On this episode of the podcast, Heidi takes Doug through one of the most fascinating careers and life stories in the Valley. Enjoy! For more visit: lasirenawine.com or barrettwines.com.


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug: Hey everybody, ah, Doug Shafer. Welcome back to another episode of The Taste. I am delighted to have a good friend of mine in studio, or The Blue Room as we call it, um, who I haven't seen in a while, but, I, we, we- our paths have tracked, uh, fairly a parallel network all the way. But uh, it's Heidi Peterson Barrett, a very famous winemaker here in Napa Valley. And before I let you go ... Well welcome Heidi.

Heidi:
Thank you very much.

Doug:
Um, but before we get into this I just ... yeah, I was thinking about you last night or yesterday in prep for this, and I was thinking about you know where you- you and I first met. And I know I was at Davis, I-I know you were there. I don't think we really had classes together, we were a year apart-

Heidi:
Okay-

Doug:
... unless you remember something?

Heidi:
I don't remember, but I think we were there at the same time. We may have crossed paths but we didn't really know each other well then, yeah.

Doug:
Right. So we didn't run the same circles, which is understandable cause I-I I ran with a lot of derelicts. Um, but so is back in the Valley, it was in the mid-80s, and I ... before I met you I met your husband Bo at a wine tasting, and maybe a cocktail party. Didn't know him very well. And then what happened, where I think I definitely met you, but I can't remember the specifics, was the annual Chateau Montelena post-harvest toga party.

Heidi:
Oh, it could have been that.

Doug:
Is the toga party.

Heidi:
Yes. Quite memorable!

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
Well, they're memorable but they're kind of hazy, you know, because-

Heidi:
True-

Doug:
... it was ... this was, folks, this was after harvest, we were all very active working winemakers, cellar rats, and after harvest when all the grapes are in and things have settled down, Bo and his crew at Chateau Montelena would always, ah, have a post-harvest party for all the working cellar grunts out there-

Heidi:
That's right-

Doug:
You and I were included in that.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
And uh, it was a toga party, so you put your toga on and we went up and-

Heidi:
Off you go.

Doug:
Off we go.

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
And needless to say we-

Heidi:
We're ready to drink-

Doug:
... had wonderful times-

Heidi:
... and dance, at that point, after we'd survived harvest.

Doug:
So I think that's where I first met you-

Heidi:
It could've been-

Doug:
... even though the specifics aren't there.

Heidi:
Wearing a toga, I'm really not that surprised!

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
So welcome Heidi. Um-

Heidi:
Thank you.

Doug:
Let's ... I want to go back to the start. Tell me about growing up? Mom, dad, sister, where were you?

Heidi:
Wow, you want the works, huh?

Doug:
Yeah. I want- I want the works.

Heidi:
Okay. Uh gosh, well, growing up in mostly the Napa Valley actually, but going back before that, my- my parents, um, lived in Berkeley a bit. When I was born, ah, my dad was at University of Berkeley, there, getting his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry. So I was actually born in Berkeley, and then his first job was for Gallo, in Modesto. He was kind of a food science, agriculture whiz, and a job came up in the research department at- at Gallo, in 1958. So off our family moved to Modesto-

Doug:
To Modesto-

Heidi:
Yes, where my little sister was born, two years later. And-

Doug:
So you were a- a little baby? You were a little girl?

Heidi:
Was a baby-

Doug:
Two or three years-

Heidi:
Born in '57, so yeah, I was like one. I do not remember this, of course.

Doug:
You don't remember Modesto?

Heidi:
I do remember a bit of it when I was, you know, a little bit older, but we moved after, let's see, fifth grade-

Doug:
Okay-

Heidi:
... and we moved up to Napa Valley in 1968, yeah. So we lived in Modesto for 10 years, when I was a little kid. And my dad worked in the- the biggest lab on the planet at that time-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... at Gallo, as their Research Director, in charge of new product development. So some of their mainstays, like Gallo Hearty Burgundy, were inventions of my dad back in those days which is pretty cool. And at that time he met, also, Dimitri Tchelistcheff was working in the same lab.

Doug:
Okay. Dimi-

Heidi:
So ...

Doug:
Dimitri son of ...?

Heidi:
Son of famous Andre Tchelistcheff, yes.

Doug:
Got it.

Heidi:
And so he got to know, ah, Dimitri really well, and through Dimitri met Andre. And my dad was also a pilot so he would fly up with Dimitri to Napa Valley to go have lunch with Andre, with Dimitri. They would land at that little dirt strip, the Gambles, Gambles dirt strip ...

Doug:
Oh, on-

Heidi:
... over in Rutherford-

Doug:
... is that the one by Whitehall Lane?

Heidi:
Yeah, by Whitehall Lane, yeah. They used to have the Chili Ball out there for a while-

Doug:
That's right. I remember that.

Heidi:
There were a lot of things that happened out there. I don't think it's there anymore but-

Doug:
So they just would land a pla- there was this like there wasn't any-

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
You just landed-

Heidi:
Dirt strip. Just land-

Doug:
Just land it.

Heidi:
Yeah, just fly up and land. Yeah.

Doug:
No FAA. No TSA. No-

Heidi:
No. No. Private land, you could do that.

Doug:
Okay. This is 1960s probably?

Heidi:
This is, yes, in the '60s.

Doug:
Yeah. Got it.

Heidi:
For sure. Yeah. Mid 60s I'd say.

Heidi:
Yeah, so um, Andre got to know my dad, pretty well, with Dimitri, and realized he was, you know, just brainy, as we call him in the family 'the rocket scientist' of our family.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And chose him to be his successor when he was ready to, um, retire from B.V. So that was kind of our intro, how we moved up to St. Helena in 1968. My dad became winemaker for Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford then.

Doug:
Wow.

Heidi:
Yeah. And yeah, so I would have been going into, like, sixth grade then-

Doug:
Sixth grade?

Heidi:
Yep. I went to R.L.S. Good old R.L.S-

Doug:
In '68, R.L.S-

Heidi:
Yep. In St. Helena.

Doug:
That's the local middle school.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Well I'm going to interrupt you because I wanna to give a plug to your dad's book.

Heidi:
Oh great.

Doug:
So Heidi's dad is Dr. Dick Peterson and he wrote a great book called The Winemaker.

Heidi:
Right-

Doug:
And it basically tracks his story, and by the way, I'm going to get him in here in the seat you're sitting in-

Heidi:
That'd be great-

Doug:
Because I love this book and I just, um-

Heidi:
He's a great storyteller.

Doug:
It was fantastic. And, um, he was a Navy pilot, I think, was he?

Heidi:
Ah-

Doug:
Did he fly in the Navy?

Heidi:
He flew for ... uh, he was a Marine-

Doug:
A Marine. Okay-

Heidi:
... and then he flew for the National Guard, also.

Doug:
Got it.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
And though, but, so he tells the story of his first job at Gallo, and we're not going to go into it here but they're just fantastic, but it's-

Heidi:
That chapter in the book is awesome.

Doug:
Ah, it's the best.

Heidi:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And, that th- the one line he kept repeating, "You just can't make good wine outta Thompson's seedless grapes."

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
You know, Thompson's seedless ... those are the table grapes you buy in the grocery store.

Heidi:
Right. He's so right about that.

Doug:
And Gallo had a lot of acres of Thompson's seedless. But uh, his stories were great. But it, his- hi- the book tells kind of the ... and then as he moved up here with, to work with Andre, in the 60s, it's kinda the-

Heidi:
Yes-

Doug:
... the history and story of, well-

Heidi:
Of California wine, in a way-

Doug:
Gallo, but California wine ...

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
... and Napa Valley in that '60s, you know, up till '70. We got here in '73, you know, and then things really started to go, but-

Heidi:
That's right-

Doug:
So you guys show up. It's '68 ... because I got here in '73 and it was pretty quiet when I got here.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
It must have been really quiet?

Heidi:
Extremely quiet, yeah.

Doug:
So, what was life like in St. Helena in 1968?

Heidi:
Super-quiet as you said, there was just ... you know, there weren't any great restaurants really-

Heidi:
I mean-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... it was just a sleepy little town. There was, you know, actually a little dime store. Um, one grocery store. There was just not much happening. But it was a happy time, I think, families got together and we made our own fun, it was one of those kinda towns. And my sister and I were into horses, we had backyard horses so I remember, you know, riding all up in the hills and all the fire trails. And there were no real fences in between vineyards then so you could just literally ride across different people's property and visit neighbors and we would just take the horses bareback.

Doug:
Could you- could you ride downtown?

Heidi:
You could, yeah.

Doug:
Downtown ... go to Taylor's, was still there.

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
Right? Would ya-

Heidi:
Yeah. We never did ride em downtown, but we used to ride em down to take em to the vet once a year, so we didn't have a horse trailer, so we would just ride the horses off to the vet over there on Ehlers Lane.

Doug:
Got it.

Heidi:
So it would, you know, it would take us a while to get there. But we, um, we'd ride em there, get their shots, and then we'd ride em home. And uh, yeah, it was quite fun. It was a very, very sleepy rural little place but really very lovely.

Doug:
Is that Tony Gouveia, the vet?

Heidi:
It was yes.

Doug:
Dr. Gouveia.

Heidi:
Dr. Gouveia.

Doug:
On Ehlers Lane, which is north of St. Helena-

Heidi:
That's right-

Doug:
About three miles.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
God, how fun!

Heidi:
It was. It was.

Doug:
And your- and your mom was an artist?

Heidi:
My mom was an artist. Yes, she was. Yeah. So-

Doug:
Which- which we'll talk about more later.

Heidi:
Okay.

Doug:
You're an artist to?

Heidi:
I am-

Doug:
So it's- it's-

Heidi:
I got the influence of both parents, definitely.

Doug:
Well ... and early on you showed some talent, and your sister. Heidi has a- a lovely sister Holly who's a wonderful chef, very accomplished. And I know her well, also. But the two of you were tigers, because I'm- I'm going to read your quote from your mom.

Heidi:
Okay-

Doug:
This is- this is Heidi's mom: "When we were in Modesto, one year Heidi and Holly entered 13 crafts at the Stanislaus County Fair.

Heidi:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And won 13 awards."

Heidi:
(Laughs)

Doug:
So, um, what was that? What was ... you guys just cranked it out?

Heidi:
Oh my gosh! I guess so. You know, with an artistic mom, she would get us going on art projects, and so we- we loved it, we thought it was a blast. So we did all kinds of drawings and paintings and we did some little ceramics and different things. And, uh, later we did flower arranging, and they had the floral division so we'd, you know, really work on our creations, and gather little creative containers and- and pick the different themes to go out and pick wildflowers, or whatever we had growing in the yard, to enter- enter all those things.
Yeah, it was so fun.

Doug:
That's wild. And so I'm- I'm thinking, I'm just tracking this time period, reading your dad's book, you know and everything he learned from Andre, and you know the widow at B.V. and then when, um, what was the corporation that came in? Heublein came in?

Heidi:
Heublein bought them. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And the- the corporate thing, and the ups and the downs, and the- and the trials and tribulations. So you're in junior high, you're in high school, were you-, were you aware of any of that stuff going on?

Heidi:
I was. And it was interesting for me to read the book after, because I was, ya know, aware of some of it but not all of it.

Doug:
Huh.

Heidi:
And I would hear him come home and he'd be frustrated with-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... some of the corporate ideas. And I remember him talking to my mom about that, and I didn't really know all the ins and out of it ... outs of it, as a little kid, and I pre-, I appreciate them sort of protecting us from getting too deep into that, really. But we- we were aware of it, both my sister and I think, peripherally, a little bit, but getting the details more of it in the book was really interesting to me because I ... you know I recognize and go "I remember that but I didn't know this about it." Or whatever it was.
Um, yeah, he was- he was very frustrated by them coming in. And I do remember some of the, uh, Madame de Pins stories, for sure, are just priceless. And you know different people at- at B.V. and Tao Rosenbrand was a dear family friend.

Doug:
Oh yeah.

Heidi:
And they were very close to our families. I remember, you know, a lot ... doing a lot of things with the Rosenbrand family. They had two sons about our age and so-

Doug:
Right. I went to school with one of them.

Heidi:
... they're like, they feel like my cousins.

Doug:
Ron.

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... Ron. I still see Ron from time to time.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Yeah. Nice family. So a lot of B.V. good memories too, visiting- visiting the winery then and all of that.

Doug:
Well, you- your comments about being aware, but not all the details, it was interesting, um, and when I say this I'm not- I'm not plugging my book, even ... I'm not plugging my book, but I wrote a quick book on the history of Shafer here, over the last 30 or 40 years-

Heidi:
Oh that's great-

Doug:
A couple of years ago. In fact your dad and I were exchanging books, that's what was fun.

Heidi:
Nice.

Doug:
But my daughter, who's 33, read the book.

Heidi:
Uh-huh. (affirmative)

Doug:
And when I started at Shafer, as you know, first year at a winery, and I walked into a mess-

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
It was - it was a lot of work to fix things. It was, you know, round the clock, seven day weeks. It was tough. And um, and painful. And um, Katy called me up, after she read the book and she said "Dad, 1986, ‘87-

Heidi:
She probably had no idea-

Doug:
You know. "I was two and Kevin was six months old, and you were dealing with all that too." She says "Oh my gosh how did you do it?" It was really sweet.

Heidi:
Aw.

Doug:
But she had no, no clue and I'm, I'm-

Heidi:
That's right-

Doug:
And I think about our kids, you know yours also, not knowing some of the-

Heidi:
Exactly-

Doug:
... things we've gone through.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Part of raising kids.

Heidi:
It is. I know.

Doug:
So high school? Ah, Justin-Siena?

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Which is great school in Napa.

Heidi:
Tis.

Doug:
And you graduated from there and then off to Davis?

Heidi:
Well, a little bit of a diversion, so-

Doug:
Oh. Where'd you go?

Heidi:
Well I went to, actually, Notre Dame, in Salinas, is where I graduated from. My family moved-

Doug:
Oh-

Heidi:
... uh, after Junior year. So, ah, Siena was ... Justin-Siena used to be, Siena was the girl's school-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
Justin was the boy's school, so-

Doug:
That's right. Thank you.

Heidi:
So it was actually Siena when I went there. And then my last year, junior year, it became Justin-Siena and we started having more classes, you know, with the- with the men folk-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... on the other side of the line.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
And then my family moved. My dad left B.V. and we moved down to Monterey, actually.

Doug:
And that's when he started the whole Monterey vineyards.

Heidi:
Yeah so my high last of high school was actually down in, um, the Monterey area, which was a hard transition. You know, obviously, you finally make friends in school, and all of that-

Doug:
Oh yeah.

Heidi:
I was a pretty shy kid so I was kind of just gettin- getting established there and then, you know, uprooted out to make all new friends as a senior was- was tough, but I think it was- it was actually good for me, and uh, and I still have some friends down there which is great. And Monterey's a beautiful area, although, you know, mostly I would just kind of visit in the summers. After I left there, um, after col- after, sorry, high school, then I went UC Davis, so then I was mostly just back for, ya know, summers in the Monterey area, and I worked at the Monterey vineyard for all my summers out of college and all of that.

Doug:
So you were ... so ... in high school your dad's a winemaker. You were totally aware of what the cycles like, the grapes, the whole thing?

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
And then through the who- and then through college?

Heidi:
Yeah. So I used to ride with him to- to work, um, in the summers, to the Monterey vineyard, either working in the cellar, or a bottling line, or lab ... they were inventing, developing the wines for Taylor California Cellars at that time.

Doug:
Right. Right.

Heidi:
I don't know what happened with that, if that's even still a thing, probably not.

Doug:
Haven't seen. I haven't seen it.

Heidi:
Yeah. I haven't seen it running for a long time. But anyway the preliminary blends I got to help work on those, in the lab. Um, but a lot of cellar work, tasting room, whatever I would just, you know ... for hire college kid, so.

Doug:
Did you, at that time, in high school or well, college you were studying fermentation sci- science, but in high school were you thinking "Gee this what I what to do. This is my career."? Or "This is-

Heidi:
Not really-

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
Not until kind of senior year, like "Wow. Where are you going to go? What do you want to do?" And I'd already been working, even when we lived, uh, in St. Helena, that was my summer job too, I worked for the Lighters Vine Nursery, over there on Dowdell Lane-

Doug:
Jim Lighter?

Heidi:
Jim Lighter. I worked for Jim Lighter, yeah.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And suckering vines out there, and um, counting the canes for, you know, bundles for budwood for people, and bundle them up in bags- in bundles of 25, ready to- to sell. Um, that was you know a good high school job.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
So I already had been working a little bit in vineyard and definitely a lot of cellar stuff at the Monterey Vineyard, so, um, when it came time to pick a college, like "Well maybe I'll try- maybe I'll try Davis?" I fortunately got in, because it's the only place I applied ...

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
... and just went straight ... didn't have a back-up plan, just straight into the wine department.

Doug:
Listen to you. I gotta, I gotta kick back to high school real quickly, because you and I have more in common than you know about.

Heidi:
Yeah?

Doug:
I had to move junior year in high school too.

Heidi:
Really? I had no idea.

Doug:
Yeah. We moved out from Chicago-

Heidi:
Wow-

Doug:
In my junior year. So Salinas-

Heidi:
Character building isn't it?

Doug:
It is. Uh, Salinas was a, high- larger high school than St. Helena?

Heidi:
No.

Doug:
About the same?

Heidi:
It was small, small girl's school.

Doug:
Okay. Larger than Siena?

Heidi:
Almost the same as Justin-Siena, yeah. Notre Dame was the girl's school. Palma down the down the street was the boy's school-

Doug:
Got it-

Heidi:
... about four blocks away.

Doug:
Cause I went from a high school in Chicago; 2500 kids, to St. Helena high; 4 or 500.

Heidi:
Wow.

Doug:
Which was a shock but it also was much easier than if I'd gone the other way, 500 to 2500 ... so.

Heidi:
That would've been scary.

Doug:
Yeah. That would've been scary.

Heidi:
Yep.

Doug:
But uh, but I, you know at age 17, was the first time I saw a grapevine. Unlike ...

Heidi:
Oh my gosh!

Doug:
So off to Davis. You and I were there ... I was there, I think a year ahead of you, because I graduated high school '74.

Heidi:
Okay.

Doug:
Um, but ah, did you do an internship in Germany? Is that what I got?

Heidi:
I did. So that was later, in Davis-

Doug:
Was that during Davis?

Heidi:
So that was 1979.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
So I was at Davis from '75, I guess the fall of '75 through, uh, 1980-

Doug:
Okay-

Heidi:
And I worked in Germany, 1979, so I took off fall quarter of '79 to go work in Württemberg in southern Germany where they make half red wine and half white. It was fascinating and I learned a ton there.

Doug:
How fun.

Heidi:
It was.

Doug:
Was that ... does that hook up, set up through the Enology Department at Davis? How'd that work?

Heidi:
No it was actually my dad, my dad's connection with Peter Sichel-

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
They- they found that for me, that it was available. And it was big co-op where I worked in [Muegling?] in this little town and-

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
And yeah, it was huge. It was the second biggest winery in Germany, so there were actually tunnels connecting the buildings underground, you would go through tunnels to get to different cellars. Huge, huge warehouse style-

Doug:
Yeah-

Heidi:
... ah, buildings. And a lot of guest workers from Italy, and you know different places, working in Germany, in the cellar. Uh, I lived with the family of the winemaker and he really kind of took me under his wing and let me move around the cellar quite a bit. I did mostly cellar work, but anytime there were blend trials or taste trials of any kind he would you know definitely go find me and- and bring me into taste-

Doug:
Oh that's nice-

Heidi:
... combinations of wines. So I learnt a lot about balance there. Really I-I I can credit that to him, about the idea of roundness in a wine. In German it's the world 'rund', so "here is rund," "here is nicht rund." Either it's round or it's not and that has stuck with me-

Doug:
Wow-

Heidi:
... to this day. With any component you could do that, and I-I really ... that just, I glommed onto that, you know right away.

Doug:
Round and not round, so you're talking-

Heidi:
Yeah-

Doug:
Are you talking tannin ... are you talking round tannins, or not round tannins?

Heidi:
Anything. Either the wine feels round and complete in your- in your mouth, or it doesn't. So it ... yeah, it could be tannin, and it could be alcohol, it could be acidity. Um, these were some of the ones I really remember was, uh, sugar additions actually, which we're not allowed to do as you know-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
But they could add sort of a concentrated syrup to certain qualities of wines where the grapes, they don't get nearly the sunshine and ripeness that we do here-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
... and they're allowed to add sweetener. So, it's concentrated sugar from other grapes-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... and they are allowed to pump in however many liters per, you know-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
... thousand gallons, or hectoliter, whatever-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... their measurements are.

Heidi:
And so I worked with one other woman in the cellar there, Frau Wilhelm. I will never forget her. Renata Wilhelm. I don't know where she is now, but she was, um, very uh sturdy, let's just say! Very sturdy and could be intimidating, but the two of us got paired off to make the sugar.

Doug:
Did she speak- did she speak English?

Heidi:
She didn't. She spoke German. So my German was pretty good when I worked there-

Doug:
Okay. I was going to say, alright.

Heidi:
Yep. So I-I worked with her and we became ... we were in charge of the sugar additions in the cellars, so you're literally pumping in-

Doug:
This concentrated syrupy, yeah-

Heidi:
Oh my gosh, hundreds of liters of- of, you know, Tank 37 gets 137 liters.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Tank 40 gets 250, whatever it is. So we're just running the pump. Ya know, watching the flow meter pumping in all this sugar-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
And sometimes when you feed the, you know, feed the yeast, that much sugar, it's just overflowing volcano-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... in the cellars, so they're going nuts. So anyway we became dubbed 'the sugar queens' actually.

Doug:
The sugar queens (Laughs).

Heidi:
(Laughs). Frau Wilhem and I were the sugar queens of the cellar in 1979.

Doug:
Wow.

Heidi:
Yes. I know.

Doug:
And she was a tough customer?

Heidi:
She was tough, yeah. She was tough. Yeah.

Doug:
So like on breaks, ah, what would you guys do for din- lunch or breaks? What are you guys going to drink beer at lunch, or ...? I'm just thinking of the German thing-

Heidi:
Almost-

Doug:
I've got that stereotypical thing going on here.

Heidi:
Oh my gosh, they bring like a full lunch at like the 10 o'clock break.

Doug:
At 10 o'clock?

Heidi:
They're have- Yeah. Huge, you know, feast of those giant pretzels, which are delicious. They, um, also would bring these huge, those big white daikon radishes, slicing off hunks of those, eating it right off the end of a knife. I've never seen anything like that, like at 10 o'clock break, where we would maybe go and get a cup of coffee-

Doug:
Right-

Heidi:
... and you know, whatever. They're full on having sandwiches and big pretzels and uh, you know like pieces of wurst-

Doug:
Yeah-

Heidi:
Different sausages and all kinds of ... already that's just at break.

Doug:
That's at 10 o'clock break?

Heidi:
10 o'clock break, yeah.

Doug:
When- when's lunch? Noon?

Heidi:
(Laughs) Two hours later.

Doug:
Two ...? (Laughs)

Heidi:
Yeah pretty much. And they had a cafeteria so they fed everybody at the cellar because it was so big, so you would just go into the lunch room and just get in the line and you know get whatever-

Doug:
Whatever you want-

Heidi:
... you wanted. Yeah. Yeah. It was quite something.

Doug:
So that's why Frau was-

Heidi:
It was a great-

Doug:
... she's a sturdy gal!

Heidi:
She was.

Doug:
Okay. (Laughs)

Doug:
Well what a cool experience?

Heidi:
Yeah it was. I- I loved it.

Doug:
Because you're not out of college yet. You do that, then you came back. Where you ... you came back and finished up a quarter or two?

Heidi:
Yeah. So I came back, I would've come back around Christmas of '79, right back into school of, ya know, '80, and finished, um, just the, ah, winter and spring quarter and graduated in '80.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
Yeah. And that last quarter, really I only had I think nine units, the last quarter, because I- I had enough, uh, just about to graduate, but I stayed to row on the UC Davis women's crew.

Doug:
You rowed on crew?

Heidi:
I did.

Doug:
I didn't know that.

Heidi:
Yeah. So-

Doug:
Where did crew come from? Because crew's not like a real common sport?

Heidi:
I know. And I'd never done it before. So one of my room mates-

Doug:
Okay-

Heidi:
... was on the women's crew, and she said "You should- you should come try out for it," even though I hadn't been rowing the whole time. I'm just new and ... but pretty athletic, pretty strong-

Doug:
Yeah. Yeah-

Heidi:
... for sure. So I did, you know, started just running, doing stairs at the rec hall, around ... when we used to run stairs at the ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... rec all up and down.

Doug:
I remember that.

Heidi:
All around. And you know lifting weights and all that stuff just to- just to pass ... just to even try to ah, you know, get on the team.

Doug:
Get on the team.

Heidi:
And we started with about 70 people that applied and they get down to the only 8 in the boat and one alternative and I made it, so I was- I was pretty stoked. It was fun.

Doug:
That's cool! Where'd ya, Where do you guys row in Davis? Because there's not a lot of water around Davis?

Heidi:
No. Not a lot of water in Davis, no. We went out to the port pf Sacramento.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
Yeah. So here's, you know, eight cute girls in a boat rowing next to the giant freighters that come in, you know dropping cargo. All these, you know, men on boats waving to our little team with our little pony tails.

Doug:
Lot of- lot of- lot of hooting and hollering. I bet.

Heidi:
I know. Yeah. And our coach in the launch, you know, going alongside of us as we're rowing up and down the Sacramento river there, um, you know, belting out orders and things like that, in his little launch with his outboard motor. So yeah, and then there was a men's team as well.

Doug:
Right.

Doug:
The crew thing- Whenever I'm in Boston, I'm driving along the river and you see that folks out there and the crews, ya know, working out, ya know, practicing, and-

Heidi:
It always looks so peaceful.

Doug:
It looks really cool.

Heidi:
But there's a lot of power in eight people pulling on ores at the same time, just it's called "the swing of the boat." You just feel that rhythm of boom as soon as all the ores go in, and this big propulsion. It's really fun. It's just, it's exciting when you, ah ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... experience that.

Doug:
Ya know, so, chase that down.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
So, after Davis, what happens, what happens with you next?

Heidi:
After Davis? Okay, time to find a job, right.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
Mem- memb, I've never, I remember the day in May in Davis, it was like when I was about to graduate, it was like-

Heidi:
Now what?

Doug:
Oh, I need to get serious. (Laughs)

Heidi:
Gotta find a job, yeah, so, yeah-

Heidi:
Remember there was that job board at- at UC Davis ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
... down the hall, everybody would be reviewing that and see what's, if any new jobs were posted.

Doug:
That's how I found Elias.

Heidi:
Really?

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Oh, that's fantastic.

Doug:
I put it on there, yeah, it's pretty funny.

Heidi:
That was lucky.

Doug:
Yeah. Very lucky.

Heidi:
Yeah. So, I got hired by Justin Meyer, actually to work at Franciscan.

Doug:
That's Justin Meyer who founded Silver Oak.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Before that he was winemaker at Franciscan Vineyards.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
North of St. Helena.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Franciscan. No, it was sa- I'm sorry. Si- Sib is down by, ah, Rutherford, Franciscan-

Heidi:
It's in Rutherford, yeah, Franciscan in- in, ah, yeah, in Rutherford kinda between Rutherford and St. Helena there.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Right.

Heidi:
Yeah, and at that time, Silver Oak didn't have its winery. Silver Oak was being made at Franciscan.

Doug:
Oh, okay.

Heidi:
And Justin was making both, at first. So, he hired me, he was a long-time friend of my parents ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... when he was a Christian Brother before he, um, you know, branched out; and ended up getting married and raising a family and ...

Doug:
Crossed the line, I guess, yeah. (laughs)

Heidi:
Crossed the li- yep, yep. Switched, switched gears. But, ah, long-time family, so start with your friends when you need a job, I guess.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And, ah, I- I talked to him and he said, "Yeah, we- we need a cellar person." So I just went into the cellar, first; nothing fancy, that's for sure. Getting out of Davis then, you, you don't start at the top. You, ya know ...

Doug:
No.

Heidi:
... like, even now, you can't just start being a winemaker. You have to keep working your way up. So I was hired for just a cellar job there. And, then, I actually left there after harvest in '80 and went to work in Australia. So Spring of 1981 ...

Doug:
Oh.

Heidi:
... keep working on my internships, keep learning.

Doug:
I didn't know that. Okay.

Heidi:
Yeah. So I worked for Lindeman's in Australia in the spr-

Doug:
Another big operation, right?

Heidi:
Big, yes, big winery. They had like five different wineries. I worked for two of them. I worked in Coonawarra, down in South; and then also up in Tununda in the Barossa Valley. In 1981 and, again, learned a ton, more stuff that I can still use now. More of the idea of being versatile with wine making. Have more than one solution for a problem is a really good idea.

Heidi:
Um, just to, ya know, keep your, keep your options open.

Doug:
Keep, keep your options open.

Heidi:
Yeah. That's right.

Doug:
Smart.

Heidi:
That's right.

Heidi:
Yeah, so that was a great experience. And then came back and got re-hired at- at Franciscan. This time as Enologist. So, more lab, lab tech kinda stuff.

Doug:
And was Justin there?

Heidi:
Justin was not there then. He, ah, Bud Berg was then the winemaker there. Justin was back and forth, but really getting Silver Oak going ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... in their own facility at that point. But we were still bottling Silver Oak, we- I remember, ah, going out to pull samples off the bottling line during bottling Select the 1979 Silver Oak was being ...

Doug:
Oh man.

Heidi:
... bottled then ...

Doug:
That's cool.

Heidi:
... and stuff like that. I know. I know.

Doug:
Cause Silver Oaks first vintage was probably '78, '77, something like that.

Heidi:
Something right around there, '78, I wanna say, yeah, something like that.

Doug:
Kay.

Heidi:
I think so. Yep, so those wines were made there then.

Doug:
And you're living in St. Helena, again. You've moved back.

Heidi:
I was living in, ah, St. Helena. Yes, I was.

Doug:
So, you came- ya know, after all those years, you're back.

Heidi:
Yeah, exactly, like, "I'm home!"

Doug:
And that's in the early '80s. And then, um-

Heidi:
Early '80s, Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Doug:
And so Franciscan for a couple- you're in the lab for a couple a years?

Heidi:
Just one.

Doug:
Just one.

Heidi:
Yeah, just one. And then I got hired away down to, ah, Bouchaine Vineyards to be Assistant Winemaker.

Doug:
Down in Carneros.

Heidi:
Yeah, down in Carneros at- with Jerry Luper was their winemaker, so at that time they were calling it Chateau Bouchaine.

Doug:
I remember that.

Heidi:
Not a chateau. (Laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs) Yeah, but it gives- no-

Heidi:
Far from it, but ...

Doug:
But when you say it, ya know, especially like on a podcast, it sounds like a chateau ...

Heidi:
Yes, it- it does. It does.

Doug:
... it's a vision, it's a vision.

Heidi:
It's a vision. So they've- they've changed it just to Bouchaine Vineyards these days, which is- is great.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
Um, kind of a funky, very old-fashioned winery with cement tanks, ah-

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... that were, ah, actually they drilled a hole in the side of one, cut a door in one, one of the square ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
... cement tanks became our lab. So, no windows, but there was one door in and one door out. No roof either.

Doug:
You were inside a tank?

Heidi:
In a tank for the lab, yes.

Doug:
That had to be really big tank.

Heidi:
It was, yeah, it was a good size tank.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Yeah, it was like a small bedroom size, sized tank...

Doug:
Yeah, got it.

Heidi:
Yeah, so, ah, I learned a lot from Jerry Luper, as well. I- I credit him with a lot of my fundamentals. Great, ya know, good technique, kinda traditional wine making stuff came from Jerry.

Doug:
Ya know, between the German experience, the Australia experience, growing up with your dad, Jerry Luper;

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay, now this is startin to kinda come together.

Heidi:
Startin to piece together.

Doug:
I didn't know all this about you.

Heidi:
Yeah, these are all my mentors feeding in.

Doug:
I just know you're a really nice person, you're a really good friend, and you make REALLY good wines.

Heidi:
Thanks.

Doug:
And now, it's like startin to kinda piece ...

Heidi:
Here's how it happened.

Doug:
The pieces are falling into place.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
How cool.

Doug:
Now, so your dad, there- that time- he was still down Monterey.

Heidi:
He was.

Doug:
So, would you- would you talk to him about stuff? Would call him up, say, "Hey, I'm pr- havin problem with this one tank? I mean ..."

Heidi:
Oh my gosh, all the time. And remember I said ...

Doug:
" ... my lactic's a little funny." Ya know, all that stuff?

Heidi:
Yes. When I use to ride to work with him in the summers, I chatted his ear off, poor guy. "Dad, what hap- this is what's happening what does that mean?"

Doug:
When you were in college. Coll-

Heidi:
In college, yeah; going back to when I worked at the Monterey Vineyard in the summers, yeah, oh, I chatted his ear off big time. Ah-

Doug:
Cause you were seeing everything and you just were "What's goin on?"

Heidi:
Yeah, exactly.

Doug:
"What's goin on? What's goin on?"

Heidi:
That's right. That's right. So I, that's when I could really have that half hour drive each way of really getting to just spend time with him and ask him all kinds of stuff.

Doug:
It's not fair, man. I- that's not fair. I wanna be your brother.

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
I wanna be your twin brother. I wanna be in that car too.

Doug:
Wow.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Heidi:
So then the Australia experience was, was great. And then worked for Jerry at Bouchaine, and then after that, ah- Oh there was a little stint up at Rutherford Hill, too. Um, on the night shift running centrifuges, believe it or not.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
I think that was ...

Doug:
Oh, those two things are go-

Heidi:
... 81 or 82. I think 82 maybe, that crush. Um-

Doug:
There are two things that, two things that scare me. Number one is night shift.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
That's gotta be kinda ugly.

Heidi:
Yeah. It was bad. Graveyard shift. I don't recommend it.

Doug:
It's like 11 to 7, or something like that?

Heidi:
Yeah, I think it was 10 to 6.

Doug:
10 to 6, 10.

Doug:
And centrifuge, which I remember seeing one of those when I was a tour guide in at Mondavi and then, it was like the new cool thing, this was in '79.

Heidi:
Right. Everybody jumped on that bandwagon.

Doug:
And those things don't, they just really tear a wine apart, don't they?

Heidi:
It's pretty hard on juice, for sure.

Doug:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Heidi:
Nobody uses them anymore fortunately, but at that time, everybody thought this would be a great way to clarify juice before it would start fermentation, but. Yeah, so, ah, yeah, I just did that for, ya know, maybe a month.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
It was a kinda short lived and switching over to graveyard shift.

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
Yeah, so then it was, I think that was before, ah, before Bouchaine actually.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
And then from Bouchaine I got a call from John Buehler. And I got hired away to be his winemaker in 1983. So, that was my first job as Head Winemaker in 1983 when I was only 25-year-old.

Doug:
Now is John Buehler, Buehler Vineyards and his winery up on, um east of St. Helena ..,

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
... up, up the road goin back towards Lake Hennessy?

Heidi:
Exactly.

Doug:
Um, so 1983. Well, here's, we have another, we are just, I'm so embarrassed that we haven't ,we don't know this about each other. '83 is when Dad hired me as winemaker.

Heidi:
There we go.

Doug:
And I'd only had a year ...

Heidi:
Think that deserves a high five.

Doug:
High five. I'd only had a year and a half at Lake Spring ...

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
... with Randy Mason who taught me a ton.

Heidi:
A lot. So he was one of your mentors.

Doug:
But, but I walked into a scary place with a lot of things, a lot of issues ...

Heidi:
I bet.

Doug:
... and it was, it was scary for me and, and, I was 27 or 8, but you were 25.

Heidi:
Yeah. Similar experience.

Doug:
How, what was it like for you?

Heidi:
Terrifying. Ya know.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Am I ready? Do I know enough? Can I do this job? I don't wanna, ya know, do a bad job, certainly. I wanna make great wine. Do I- ya know, I remember just having some sleepless nights, a little anxiety about, I'm not sure I'm ready, but you kinda have to dive in. He felt confident that I was ready. And I, I was, ya know, close, certainly, and filled in the rest of the blanks on the job, basically. Ah-

Doug:
But I remember, I didn't know John well, but he seemed really supportive.

Heidi:
Super mellow, too.

Doug:
Yeah, very mellow guy.

Heidi:
He's a really easy going guy and ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Yeah, and he really needed help up there and I got to, ya know, kind of really improve the place. And, ya know, get things kinda dialed up, dialed in and I learned a lot there. Working up there too, I got to work with some interesting varieties like Pinot Blanc, which I ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
... ya know, never worked with before. That was their version of- of Chardonnay, they didn't have, that was their only white. And Zinfandel, and it was also during the- the, ah, white-zin boom, so we ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... jumped on that band wagon and made one of the better whites-zins of the time. A little bit more serious wines that was one of the, one of the top few, I'd say. So, it was quite, quite tasty. Again, back to using the balance stuff that I'd used, or learned in Germany, on that ...

Doug:
Were you solo, were you solo in the cellar? Did you have anybody helping ya?

Heidi:
I was. For the most part, I was the only person up there. Occasionally, I could get some of the vineyard guys to come in and, ya know, help me with a lot of barrel work and stuff like that. So I could get a couple of guys to come help me once in a while, but a lot of times it was just me up there, um, in the cellar.

Doug:
Washin the tanks, sterilizin the hoses ...

Heidi:
All by myself.

Doug:
... ya know, filt- filtering bo- dah-dah-dah-dah

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
And so I had to be really careful about, ya know, just safety too, because sometimes the Buehlers would be out of town and I'd be the only one in the cellar. And I thought, "Man, if something happens to me, it could be (laughs) ...

Doug:
Slip and fall.

Heidi:
... "days before someone finds me." So yeah, it was, ah, that was before cell phones and all of that.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Heidi:
And, yeah, kinda solo little job up there.

Doug:
Geez.

Heidi:
I know.

Doug:
Well, I remember, ah, cause at that point, um, I don't think you were married to Bo yet.

Heidi:
No. That happened in 1985.

Doug:
No.

Doug:
But, Wine Tech was, this ...

Heidi:
Yes.

Doug:
... and I've mentioned that before on this, on this show. It was, ah, where we all got together once a month in Calistoga, oh, and ate, ah, it was a big hanging beef ...

Heidi:
Hanging beef.

Doug:
... hanging beef that was the big joke. And, there, it was actually a serious group cause we'd have ...

Heidi:
It's still going.

Doug:
I know, I'm- I'm out of it totally.

Heidi:
You should come. I still go.

Doug:
You still go?

Heidi:
And it's still a blast. Yes. Love Wine Tech. It's so much fun.

Doug:
Well, Elias said he went a couple months ago. He said, "Doug, I don't know anybody."

Doug:
I said, "Well, I know.

Heidi:
I know they're all really young like we were (laugh).

Doug:
But, ah, I remember seeing you there and, also, I'll never forget Cathy Corison.

Heidi:
Of course.

Doug:
Cause I ran into her, at, I'd been, I'd been at a ??? For about five or six months and, it was just, I was deer in the headlights. And she came up to me, she couldn't have been sweeter. She goes, "How's it goin?" Ya know, cause she knew I was ...

Heidi:
Struggling.

Doug:
... my first, first job and the whole thing.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
I said, "Ah, Cathy, I think I'm okay, but, boy, I don't know ..."

Doug:
And she, I'll never forget this. She said- she looked me in the eye and she said, "Just get through the first year."

Heidi:
Brilliant.

Doug:
"Just get through the first year ...

Heidi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Doug:
... and you got it made."

Heidi:
Yep, that's true.

Doug:
Which meant, because, in our, in this business ...

Heidi:
Stick with it.

Doug:
... it's cyclical and, ya know, crush and bottling, and barrel work, it all kinda happens the same. And it was, ya know, it did, really at the time. I really needed the pep talk. And that's when I needed it, she got me there.

Heidi:
That's wonderful and it's all you needed. Yeah, just one foot in front of the other.

Heidi:
She was working at Chappellet at that time.

Doug:
That's right. She's one at Chappellet.

Heidi:
Which is right across the lake from Buehler Vineyards so we use to joke, "How's things on your side of the lake?"

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
"Things are good on my side." So we would kinda keep an eye on each other from a distance.

Doug:
That's great.

Doug:
So, Buehler there for how many years?

Heidi:
About six.

Doug:
Six years.

Heidi:
Yeah. Five and a half, six years. Yep.

Doug:
Good for you.

Heidi:
It was good.

Doug:
And, the mean, and at some point you met Mr. Bo.

Heidi:
Yeah, during that same time.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
So, met Bo actually in '81. Ah, we had both just been traveling. I had just come back from Australia. He'd just been traveling around in Europe, also taking a break from the winery. And, yeah, we started- we started dating and having a lot of fun together. Yeah, we eventually married in '85 and had a couple of kids during my time at Buehler. I had, ya know, two kids, boom, boom, so. It was a great job for me because it was a smaller winery and I could, John would allow me to work a few, ya know, sometimes four days a week. I could just, we did it by the hours. I forget what our arrangement was, but essentially I would get two months off, work ten months, but it was not in a row, so I could take a day here and there. As long as I got the work done, I could have a more flexible schedule.

Heidi:
And, also, allowed me to bring, like, when I had Remi, I could bring her to work with me when she was a baby.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
And just kept her in my lab and office so I could, ya know, nurse and-

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
And, ya know, take care of her a bit until she got more mobile. Then we had to do the daycare thing. And once added baby number two, all bets were off. So that was ...

Doug:
Ah, Heidi. Cause ...

Heidi:
... '88, like, okay I've gotta ...

Doug:
And how far, how far apart are the kids? They're two years?

Heidi:
They're almost two years apart, yeah.

Doug:
That's still close.

Heidi:
Yeah. So still wanted to make wine, but I needed to do it on a much more part-time basis so I left Buehler and I started looking at the couple of consultants of the day and say, "Would that work for me?" So there were, that was sort of a just fledgling part of the business getting going as the idea of working part-time for multiple wineries. And ...

Doug:
Yeah, there weren't many people doing it.

Heidi:
No. So ...

Doug:
Tony Soter was doing it ...

Heidi:
Tony Soter.

Doug:
... cause Tony helped me.

Heidi:
Yep.

Doug:
Um, I can't think of who else, at the time.

Heidi:
There was, ah, Chuck Ortman.

Doug:
Chuck Ortman.

Heidi:
And I talked with him about it and he was very, very helpful to me.

Doug:
Yeah, nice guy.

Heidi:
Such a nice guy and he was really kinda paving the way for that. I actually had met him when I was at Bouchaine because he brought in custom crush clients. And that's the first place I saw, "Hmm, this is a thing you could actually do that."

Doug:
You could actually do this.

Heidi:
Yeah, so I saw that and it planted that seed. And the third one was Joe Cafaro. Um, so he ...

Doug:
Joe, right, Joe was ...

Heidi:
Joe was also doing some consulting.

Doug:
He was consulting.

Heidi:
So, I called Joe, also, and wanted to ask him about it. How does it work? What's going on? And he's the one who introduced me to Gustav Dalla Valle.

Doug:
Joe did?

Heidi:
Yeah, he said, "I actually,"

Heidi:
I said, "If you have any overflow work or whatever."

Heidi:
He said, "Yeah, I actually do have a client that I- I never have time to go up there. It might be a match for you, let me introduce you."

Heidi:
I'm so appreciative of that one lead, because, man, that just helped really launch me into that part of the world, ya know. That ...

Doug:
I didn't know that was Joe.

Heidi:
... Joe did that, yeah. So Gustav was just getting going with Dalla Valle. I think he- they started the winery '86, so, '86 and '87 were in barrels when I joined them as their Winemaker in 1988.

Doug:
So that, and- and those of you don't know Dalla Valle is up on eastern hills of the Napa Valley, right opposite Oakville ...

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
... so it's right by where Oakville crossroad hits the trail and you go straight up.

Heidi:
That's it.

Doug:
It's on top of the world and it's beautiful. There's some great vineyards up there. Dalla Valle, the old Showket Vineyard, we use to buy grapes from them, ah-

Heidi:
So did I.

Doug:
Yeah. Phelps', Phelps' Backus- Bacchus Vineyard is up, below that.

Heidi:
Yep. It's just below that, yep. Yep.

Doug:
And, ah, it actually rolls down the hill ...

Heidi:
Exactly.

Doug:
... that red soil rolls across the trail and that's ...

Heidi:
That red soil was amazing.

Doug:
And there's- there's a place ...

Heidi:
Excuse me.

Doug:
... a place called Screaming Eagle. So all this ...

Heidi:
Yeah, across the street.

Doug:
So all this was starting in 1988. Holy cats.

Doug:
Ya know, Again, the pieces, Heidi, the pieces are really fallin into the puzzle.

Heidi:
You see what's happening here.

Doug:
So, you work with Gustav, who was a neat guy. What a larger-than-life guy he was.

Heidi:
Oh, my gosh. Probably still one of my favorite jobs ever, was working with Gustav. It was just such a delight to help him create his dream, is basically how I look at that job. And the stories he had, what a bigger-than-life, as you said, person and the different chapters of his life were phenomenal. So, I- I just thoroughly enjoyed that whole experience working with Gustav and helping create those wines. I think I was there eight years. Yeah.

Doug:
So you work with Gustav, Dalla Valle, um ... how'd you meet Jean Phillips?

Heidi:
So, Jean was a real estate agent with Ren, and-

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... she was kind of playing home wine with her at the time boyfriend, a guy named, uh, Tony. They were trying to kind of make wine. She had a little tiny stone cellar down at her ranch. She had 60 acres of grapes, was multi-selling fruit to all kinds of people around the Valley-

Doug:
It was a big ranch, yeah.

Heidi:
It was a big ranch, yeah, and she was just playing with a few tons in the cellar, and really needed some help there. And Gustav, you know, told me one day, 'cause they were really good friends; Jeannie and Gustav were big buddies. He kind of gave me the little nudge in the ribs, you know, with his elbows, saying, "Why don't you go down there, see if you can help Jeannie out?"

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
So we started off with a super casual, like hourly, you know, consulting wine making arrangement.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Uh, and the first year, right out of the shoot, it just exploded. This brand was really unheard of; nobody ... the wine didn't exist before, and the very first year, with just a little fine tuning-

Doug:
That was what vintage? That was-

Heidi:
So '92.

Doug:
'92.

Heidi:
'92 was the very first year. Yeah. And it was only 175 cases that we made.

Doug:
And it blew up.

Heidi:
It just took off. And it didn't take off immediately because of writers, it took off on a more grass roots locals level where it started winning tastings and more of a word of mouth ground-

Doug:
It was a yeah-

Heidi:
Groundswell.

Doug:
Yeah, there was a buzz.

Heidi:
There was a buzz.

Doug:
There was an underground buzz, I remember that.

Heidi:
Very much so. Yeah.

Doug:
And the label was kind of cool and different, really ... you know.

Heidi:
Yeah, it was a wood block, and-

Doug:
Stark and yeah.

Heidi:
Really small, same label that they still use.

Doug:
Very cool.

Heidi:
Yeah, so none of us really saw that coming, although I do remember working on both of the '92 blends ... By both, I mean Dalla Valle and, uh, and Screaming Eagle at the same time, and I remember thinking, "I can't decide which one I like more; they're both delicious." They were so, so good. Like, the Dalla Valle Maya that we had started in '88, and the regular Cab were both made in '92. And Jean's wine was just neck and neck with Maya that year.

Doug:
Interesting.

Heidi:
And sure enough, they both got 100 points from Parker. He loved them both also. So that brand got launched, you know, pretty quickly. I think it was Tor Kenward that actually got the wine to Robert Parker, which was a great connection as well, for him to just bring it to his attention. I didn't taste it with him originally.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
But I think Tor did, and ... yeah. And then what happened after that was, now people are watching. Now, you've gotta do it again.

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
You know what that's like, right? You have one success, it could be a fluke. Now you've got ... you're up to bat again, and you've got to hit it out of the park again.

Doug:
And you did.

Heidi:
And again. Thank you.

Doug:
You did. You killed it.

Heidi:
I tried. I knocked myself out doing it, yeah.

Doug:
You killed it. You know, you make delicious wines.

Heidi:
Thanks, Doug.

Doug:
Wow.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay, so, well, I wan- I wanted to ask you about consulting verses being at a wine- well, so, so you started doing this and then you in time and since then you've consulted and had many clients, but you did have six years at Buehler ...

Heidi:
I did.

Doug:
... being, having a place of your own,

Heidi:
Yep.

Doug:
You're the winemaker.

Heidi:
Yep.

Doug:
So as you're going through this transition and, ya know, because of needing more time with your kids ...

Heidi:
Exactly.

Doug:
... which is really important, this thing happened.

Heidi:
Yes.

Doug:
Was there any regrets? I mean, you're- you- now you're working with four, three or four or five different clients, you don't have your one spot, was that more difficult, more fun, different challenges, what was that like?

Heidi:
Yeah. So, it does become a little bit more of a juggling act when you're making wine for more than one ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... client, but the flexibility was so worth it. And I, kind of, actually, in a lot of ways thrived on the challenge of doing that and just figuring out what's the right balance of how many clients can I take on that I can do really well. I don't wanna take a ton of them, if I'm not gonna do a good job for anybody ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... I need to do what's the right amount I can make great wine for everybody. And, so, yeah, at first, I did sort of start off small, with just a couple of clients; Dalla Valle, who was one of my first clients, ah, let's see, who else. Well, Screaming Eagle came along in '92, Gustav had bought prop- his property from Jean Phillips, who was a real estate agent at that time, she and Ren Harris were real estate partners, so Ren hired me to be his winemaker in 1991 ...

Doug:
At Paradigm.

Heidi:
At Paradigm. And then ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... the next year, Jean hired me to be her winemaker in '92. So here's my early days three clients that I'm winemaker for all three of those. So the other thing that's funny about that is nobody knew how to categorize that sort of work so they would just call you a consultant. But really, I've come to change it into being, really, an independent winemaker, because you're still their winemaker, but you are not there full time so you can have multiple brands, if they're small and be winemaker at all these different places, um, because you're not really consulting to anybody, you're just their winemaker.

Heidi:
On the other hand, consulting work is where, and I do some of those, where you kinda work for a winery that already has a winemaker and maybe you come two or three times a year, two or three times a year as an outside pallet just to fix stuff, or if they have anything they, ya know, need help with or whatever. Then they can either take the information or not, and that's really consulting. So, you don't- they don't get name use, their winemaker should get full credit for the wine ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... but you can troubleshoot as a silent, outside consultant. So my day-to-day clients, I'm their winemaker, but I have, now currently, I have eight of them that I'm their winemaker. So, it's really more of an independent winemaker than a consulting role.

Doug:
But, you, so you, so, some of your role is independent winemaker ...

Heidi:
Yes.

Doug:
... and some of your role's consultant ...

Heidi:
Are consulting. Yes.

Doug:
... where, where you're basically a silent consultant, if you will.

Heidi:
Exactly. Exactly. And- and, yeah, and I've had a number of those over the years which I don't really, um, talk about too much, and yet, they, ya know, and you never go there during crush cause everybody's making wine. I'm making wine for all my clients.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
They're making wine, but after the fact, ya know, maybe then we need to come through, taste what we made, see what we can do, ya know, improve things, or in the spring, maybe they need help with their blends ...

Doug:
Sure.

Heidi:
... or whatever, then, that's when they see you only a couple times a year.

Doug:
Yeah, ya know, it's good to have more pallets in the- in the lab.

Heidi:
It is.

Doug:
It is.

Heidi:
And I think the- the clients that I've done that type of work for have been just so appreciative of that because, I just have different experience than, you know, you just bring a different, um, level of experience to the ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
... to the party when you come. I've seen a lot of different things since I work for so many different places, that I think my learning curve has gone up dramatically, if I've, you know, working for multiple places at the same time.

Doug:
Well, you've got- you've got that exposure to so many different grapes ...

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
... and so many different wines from all over the place.

Heidi:
Exactly.

Doug:
I mean, here at Shafer, you know, you talk about house pallet or just- I mean, we got the same grapes every year, bomp. You know, it's fine.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
But, but, take me out and put me in your role, it'd- it, I'd have a, it's be a challenge ...

Heidi:
It's a- It's a different world.

Doug:
... cause I don't have that experience.

Heidi:
Yeah. And you're really good at your one place.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And- and like Bo, he's really good at Montelena ...

Doug:
Montelena.

Heidi:
... that's what he does. And I was, ya know, figuring out at Buehler, one place. But even when I was there, I always felt like I could do more than just one winery. I kinda knew it even at Buehler, I just thought, "I can do more and I should." For some reason, I'm just compelled to do it.

Doug:
So if, so if Beau and I wanted to jump on board and, be like, your assistants, ya know ...

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
... and help you taste, it probably wouldn't work out. (Laughs)

Heidi:
Yeah, no, you- you guys would be great. At least we could go skiing together.

Doug:
We could go skiing. And now that I've got new knees I can ski again.

Heidi:
Excellent.

Doug:
Yeah. Um, well, listen. I did some research and I'm not sure if these are, ya know, the independent consulting, you don't have to comment. But people need to know what wines and how many beautiful wines you've touched. We've got Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Jones Family, Showket, Grace, Paradigm, Revana, Amuse Bouche, Barber, Vineyard 29, Lamborn Family, Fantesca, Kenzo Estate, and it goes on and on. So ...

Heidi:
Yeah, those are all ones where I'm their winemaker or have been.

Doug:
You've- ya know, you have made a mark.

Heidi:
Thank you.

Doug:
So, but I've gotta talk to you about Jean Phillips and Screaming Eagle because at the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 2000, a single bottle of the wine you made for Jean and Screaming Eagle, a six liter bottle, '92 vintage went for $500,000.

Heidi:
Yes, it did.

Doug:
How'd that make you feel?

Heidi:
It was pretty ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
... spectacular. I know. It was, ah, were you there that day? Were you at the auction?

Doug:
Yeah, I- I've been- I've been to em all baby. (laughs)

Heidi:
Yeah, I figured. I figured. Do you remember ...

Doug:
It was nuts.

Heidi:
... the energy in the tent?

Doug:
It was crazy.

Heidi:
It just, practically blew the tent up. It just exploded. The energy in the tent was amazing that day.

Doug:
No one could believe it. It was like-

Heidi:
No. It- nobody had ever seen that number before for a single bottle of wine. And I think it's still actually a record price ...

Doug:
It is.

Heidi:
... for a single bottle paid at auction. Granted it was for charity, which is fabulous. But it was a rare bottle of only two of those, ah, six liters were made. It was also the first vintage from Screaming Eagle, which was one of my hundred pointers that originally got 99, but he came back and said he, ya know, changed it to the three digit score.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Which we know what that means. So that was pretty cool.

Heidi:
So it was a highly touted wine, but it was a charitable event. And it was during the dotcom boom, too, so there was money flying around. Ah, the guy that bought it is a guy named Chase Bailey.

Doug:
Oh, I remember Chase.

Heidi:
Do you remember him?

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Yeah, he use to come to the auctions regularly.

Doug:
Nice guy.

Heidi:
Yeah. He actually, finally, he drank the bottle at his 60th birthday party in Paris. Yeah, a while ago. So that was a lot of fun.

Doug:
Um, I remember that day. It was crazy.

Doug:
So, here's, so all these consulting thing and working for different people, what's the secret to a successful consultation, independent winemaker, for you, with all these different clients? What- what's- what the key- what makes it work? Cause I'm sure there's some that don't work. But what's the one- what makes it work?

Heidi:
Yeah. So, I look at it as I'm just, ah, I- my job is to go in and make, like, like your job when you're making wine here to make the best wine you can ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... from this particular property. It's really no different. I just do it for multiple places. So, they're all small. Ah, and I go in and it's different vineyard set up and it's a different winery and I have a different crew there. But my job is to help them create their maximum potential from any given block of grapes.
So at Paradigm, Ren told me he always loved the silky, beautiful wines from B.V. in those days, that was kinda his benchmark. He gave me a little bit of parameters; which also happens to suit where the vineyards are there and the little winery that we have there. So I can do close to that there, it's the best use of those grapes. They're valley floor, um, and that's the type of wine that it makes. So that worked out really well. Sometimes when I get hired to be their winemaker, they don't really give me any parameters. They just say, "Do what ya do."

Doug:
Do whatchado. (laughs)

Heidi:
Just- just do it.

Heidi:
Yeah, and if it's hillside grapes, as you know, you guys have some beautiful hillside grapes here. There's more depth, there's more concentration.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
It's gonna lead my mind making decisions a little different direction, but I'm still gonna, ya know, try to knock it out of the park every time. So, I- I think for winemakers that work for one medium sized winery, it's-, or a bigger winery, for me it's if I added it all together, it's about like doing that working for that, but I just have to drive different places to go taste all my different lots. They're owned by different people so it's a little more complicated that way, but it's basically the same job, I just have to drive around a lot more.

Doug:
I'm with ya know.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
So, I've got- I've got one question. I don't think it's a unfair question, cause I'm really curious. You've got- cause- the one business, ya know, the people that own wineries, and own wineries, they're successful, they're use to being successful, they're winners, they've got money ...

Heidi:
Yes.

Doug:
... um, they can afford to do it, they can afford to get great grapes and great wine making facilities, hire you and good teams; ya know, and, but then there's judgements out there, with, ya know, unfortunately or fortunately the critics, and the scores, and there's a grading scale.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
What happens if one client gets, ya know, the 98 in the hundreds score and another one gets the 89 or the 92? Do they come to you and say, this sounds terrible, but, it's like, "Hey, Heidi, aren't you working hard enough for me? I only got a 92." I mean, is that- is that-

Heidi:
Doesn't happen too often, but it did happen a couple of times with Ren and Jean. In particular because, Jean, right out of the park with Screaming Eagle, ya know, 99+ was the original score, and then, ya know, he recinded and gave it the hundred. And Ren, I think he was getting definitely in the 90's, ya know, nice scores as well, but not- but not that- as high as that, yet they're completely different properties and there's no way I can make the wines taste the exact same. Yet he would kind of, ya know, elbow me a little bit and say, "Hey, you know, it's my turn."

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
(Laughs) And so we would kinda laugh about that and everything, but, most, ya know, I- I can't control what writers write or what score they're gonna give or anything. So, the only way I can approach it is to make the best wine I can, and then let the chips fall where they may ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... basically. And so, on any given day, I think, any of the wines I make could get that sort of a score, it just depends on the company they're in in a tasting. Um, I've actually, gosh, maybe, probably been about ten years, but to my own tasting group of which there's a lot of local winemakers, you would know most of everybody in there.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Um, I decided it was my turn to host, so I decided, and it's always blind. You can either buy the wines or whatever. I went down in my cellar and I dug out, basically all the wines I made my whole line up of my- my clients, right. And I didn't say anything. Same vintage, here they all are.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
And, I put in, Screaming Eagle was in there. And Dalla Valle was in there. Jones, Showket, all my line up, at that time, was in there. And Screaming Eagle didn't win, actually; it came in like ...

Doug:
Sure.

Heidi:
... third or fourth ...

Doug:
Sure

Heidi:
... out of six or eight wines. So, it just showed me that, on any given day, depending on what you had for breakfast or whatever. Some of these- Jones was delicious; I mean, they're- they're high quality wines, it's just one person's opinion.

Doug:
Of course, it is.

Heidi:
You know what I mean?

Doug:
That's what's so- it's subjective. It's like art.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Ya know, every year eight or ten of the top, top cap, including hillside, we do it blind. You know something? There are ten absolutely gorgeous wines.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
And there's subtle differences and its great.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
And we don't- we don't even try to rank them, it's just kinda fun ...

Heidi:
Just fun to see what's out there.

Doug:
... just to do it. They're all gorgeous.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Which is neat.

Heidi:
By the way, we tasted, ah, some 2015's yesterday up at Chateau Montelena. There were 13 wines; you're Shafer 1.51.

Doug:
Oh, Heidi, Thank you.

Heidi:
Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:
That's good to hear.

Heidi:
It was delicious.

Doug:
That's great.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Nah, the 15's really pretty.

Heidi:
It was really pretty.

Doug:
We're excited about it.

Heidi:
Nice wine and it was in good company too.

Doug:
Well, thank you.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
I'll tell ...

Heidi:
Thought you should know that.

Doug:
I'll tell the winemaker. He'll be happy.

Heidi:
Yeah, you should tell him.

Doug:
Um, so, movin on from consulting in the '90s you started your own label.

Heidi:
I did.

Doug:
La Sirena. Which, did I pronounce that right?

Heidi:
You did.

Doug:
Which means mermaid.

Heidi:
It means mermaid, both Italian and Spanish. La Sirena.

Doug:
There ya go.

Heidi:
Yep.

Doug:
Cause you're a scuba diver.

Heidi:
I am.

Doug:
You love the sea. Now tell me about La Sirena. Cause you've got lots of different varietals. You've got the Cab Pirate TreasuRed, La Barrettage ...

Heidi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Doug:
... Grenache, Art Bus, Moscato Azul.

Heidi:
Yes, a bunch of different things. So La Sarina started in '94.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
And it actually started a little bit on a fluke. So, ah, some of the- one of the Cake Bread Family came to me as, to hire me as ah, like a wine making consultant to make wine for them. It was actually Dennis and Sarah wanted to start their own label. And, so I started- we started with Sangiovese in 1994. You guys also made ...

Doug:
We, we had- we had a run.

Heidi:
Yes. It was during the little, brief but delightful Sangiovese boom. So everybody thought that would be the ne- next big thing.

Doug:
That, right.

Heidi:
And it was fun to make for a while, for sure. So, the Cake Breads hired me to make Sangiovese for them and we got grapes from out in Pope Valley. And, it needs a lot of heat to make that variety, as you know.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
So, we made the wine and their family, I think, kinda gave em an ultimatum about starting their own label. And either with us or you're out. So they stayed with the family which was good for them. And they were gonna bulk out this beautiful, little Sangiovese that I had made. So, that's where I thought, "Here's my chance to start my label. I'm gonna see if I can buy it."

Heidi:
So I went off to, ah, one of the banks, and took out a loan and bought the wine from them and started my label. And, it just happened within a month, I needed to come up with a label design and name.

Doug:
The whole thing.

Heidi:
I needed to find a little bit of blending wine for it, which- which I did. I found some Mondeuse, actually. I put in a few percent of that.

Doug:
Mondeuse.

Heidi:
Yeah, from Vince Toffeneli and Lee up in Calistoga.

Doug:
Wow.

Heidi:
Yep. That was my first blend. It was only a couple hundred cases. So, I couldn't get into too much trouble, I figured.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
But, at least get the brand going. Ah, and then, it just, it built from there. The next year, the '95, I made, um, similar. '96, I realized, "Wow, I- I started this brand. What do you really want to make now that you have time to think about it?"

Doug:
Right. Right.

Heidi:
And really, my first love is making Cab. So updated my label a little bit more; um, upscale, still the same mermaid theme, but changed the graphics into a very more upscale look from my first whimsical label.

Doug:
I remember the first one. It was cute.

Heidi:
It was very colorful.

Doug:
Yeah, I liked it.

Heidi:
It was, yeah, but- but, ya know, to make a high-end cab and beautiful, serious cab I- I needed to, ya know, just make that a little more sleek, which we did. And it's still the same packaging that I use now on that wine. So, yeah, when I really had time to think about what do you wanna make. It's Cab.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
I love making ,as you do as well.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
So, yeah. I had the two wines, at first. Phased out the Sangiovese after the '99 vintage. The vineyard was sold anyway so I couldn't keep getting the grapes so I replaced that with Syrah as my second red variety, at the time. Which I love making Syrah, love drinking it.

Doug:
We do- we do too.

Heidi:
Love it. Love it. Love it.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
And then different, ah, products have eval- evolved as I, sort of, built up the brand a little bit. Mostly with just things I personally love to drink and like to make. Ah, the dry Muscat the Moscato Azul ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... came in 2003. So we've already been making that, uh.

Doug:
Where'd ya get the grapes?

Heidi:
That came from my neighbor up in Calistoga, the Solary Family.

Doug:
Moscato up in Calistoga?

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Hot weather? Grows okay?

Heidi:
Yeah it does great up there, actually at Muscat Canelli.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
It was the same vineyard that Robert Pecota was using for his Moscato d'Andrea all those years.

Doug:
I remember that.

Heidi:
Yeah. So I was able to buy a few tons from Bruno the first year in '03 just to learn how to make the dry style.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And then, we've just expanded from there. And now I- now I'm getting the, um, grapes from up in Lake County because Bruno doesn't have the Muscat anymore.

Doug:
Very cool.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
And-

Heidi:
Sometimes I make Malbec, Grenache, and then some fun blends like the Pirate TreasurRed is a blast.

Doug:
Yeah, what's a Pirate TreasuRed?

Heidi:
So that's a blend of seven. It's a-

Doug:
Seven! (laughs)

Heidi:
Yeah. So in 2007 different growers came to me, "Do you wanna buy some Garnacha?"

Heidi:
"Yes, I do."

Heidi:
"Do you wanna buy some Petit Verdot?"

Heidi:
"Sure, I'll- I'll try some."

Heidi:
And I was, mostly I was thinking about the Garnacha as a way to differentiate the three different Syrahs I had at the time, but my blends did go like I thought. The- the ...

Doug:
Got it.

Heidi:
The Syrahs were better as- as they stood just as 100% varietals. So I had all these components that I had- had bought and made separately, but I didn't have a product for it. So I thought, "Well, let's just see what I can make." And I got going in the lab. Created this beautiful, big, delicious red wine and it turned out to be a blend of seven varieties. And I was, you know how you get in the lab after you've been blending all day, a little punchy ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... a little tired. Like, okay. Well it's like treasure of the seven seas, maybe I could name it Pirate. I've already got the mermaid theme going. And no one ...

Doug:
Makes sense.

Heidi:
Yeah, I thought so too. No one had trademarked Pirate for wine so ...

Doug:
Oh, good job.

Heidi:
... I was able to get that Pirate TreasuRed as our trademark.

Doug:
Trademark.

Heidi:
Yep. So, in it- and the TreasuRed of the Seven Seas works well for blending as we know all of those different layered, um, wines add beautiful depth and complexity to wine and each have their own little song to sing when you put them in there. And, it's, ah, it's been a lot of fun to have that- to have that blend. People are kinda blown away by it.

Doug:
I've gotta remember that.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
"Each component has its own song to sing." Thank you, that's a good one for me.

Heidi:
Awesome.

Doug:
Ah, you are a blender, man you can make wine. I tell yeah.

Heidi:
(laugh) Thanks.

Doug:
And then fun fact. You fly a helicopter.

Heidi:
Yes I do. (laugh)

Doug:
Tell me. You gotta tell me about that.

Heidi:
Okay.

Doug:
So, you've been doin that for a while.

Heidi:
I have. It's been about ten years, I'd say.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
Yeah, maybe a little more, actually.

Heidi:
So, okay. It's funny how seeds get planted in your life when you hear about things; like I told you about, we talked about when I saw Chuck Ortman bringing in fruit to Bouchaine and it was the first seed planted of that you could do ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... consulting or independent winemaking for part-time. Well, when I worked for the Buehlers in the early '80s, I use to see a helicopter pass by overhead most days. And, I- "What's the story on that guy? Who's that?" And it was somebody that was commuting to San Francisco by helicopter to work. And I just thought, "Wow. That is- How cool is that." And, my dad was a pilot, I had been in helicopters a few times and I just thought it was the most magic thing ever, ah, because it's so three dimensional ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... that it's sort of like a real life magic carpet, actually.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
You can just fly around, right?

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Like what you do in your dreams when you fly. So I just kind of filed that away in the back of my mind. Fast forward thirty years from then, I did it. I flew myself to work. Um-

Doug:
Where'd you take lessons?

Heidi:
So I took lessons over in- in Sonoma County. There's ah, a heli-school over there at the Sonoma County Airport. And, it was a little bit, start-stop for me ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... I started flying in '06 and the original school was down at Golden Gate Helicopters. We had a- a young women pilot would fly the little R-22 trainer up and four of us would take lessons, just trade out, do your half hour, next person get in. Bo was doing it; Dave Ello was doing it; and another guy, I can't remember his name, but anyway. Four of us, so we'd share the cost of moving the helicopter up and do our training. And, ah, then, let's see, then it was crush and so my training time was over because I'm really busy with work, as you know.

Heidi:
So the next year, ah, that school wasn't available. Bo and I were driving down to Concord to fly a few times and I think I only go another five lessons in or something that summer. Then it's crush again, and winter raining, can't fly. Then two years went by and I didn't fly at all. And then I re-picked it up in 99, kinda had that "are you doing or aren't ya?" Conversation with myself. Said, "I really want to do." I'm just hellbent on doing it so I just tried to figure out a way to fly during crush anyway and make progress. So I would be the first appointment in the morning, fly first thing in Santa Rosa now the heli-school had opened, and then go to work after that. So I just, kind- was able to kind of keep going ...

Doug:
Make it happen.

Heidi:
... through the winter. Make it happen, do all the studying on my own, late at night, you know taking the practice tests ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... and everything. It's hard. It is a- It is one of the hardest things I've tried to tackle.

Doug:
I would guess it would- had- would have to be.

Heidi:
Oh, my gosh.

Doug:
But now that you're doing it, do you fly from client to client?

Heidi:
I do.

Doug:
(laughs)

Heidi:
Yes I do.

Doug:
So if you were working here, you'd just come out and land it right on the lawn, here?

Heidi:
I know, I was eyeing your front lawn out there, that looks pretty landable actually.

Doug:
Landable? Okay. (Laughs)

Heidi:
It's good. (Laughs)

Doug:
That's so cool.

Heidi:
Yeah, so I can fly and land at a few of my clients. Also where it gets really good is during crush where I have to go do a lot of vineyard visits. You kno- You and I both, we have to drive around a lot ...

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
... and go check grapes everywhere. And a lot of the vineyards, vineyard properties where I work for different clients are up these very windy mountain roads. And then you go up to one and you gotta drive all back down and then you ....

Doug:
Take a long time.

Heidi:
It does take a long time. And then a few miles away, you drive up another one. So it can take you, you know an hour to go up and down a road where, okay, so it's like a little five minute flight ...

Doug:
Nice.

Heidi:
... to land at the next spot. Yeah, and I don't need any particular landing pad. I can land, ya know, anywhere clear of wires and trees that's pretty flat. Um, and if I have local permission, ah, I can come in and land. So it works out really well. Plus it's really fun.

Doug:
Cool.

Heidi:
Yeah.

Doug:
Way to go.

Heidi:
Thanks.

Doug:
And, ah, I gotta ask about this. You and, you and your husband Bo have a brand, Barrett and Barrett.

Heidi:
We do. Go figure.

Doug:
Well, I, (laughs)

Heidi:
(laughs)

Doug:
So, just Cabernet?

Heidi:
It's just Cabernet.

Doug:
Okay, so here's the $64 question.

Heidi:
Okay.

Doug:
Beau's a good buddy. You're a good buddy. You're both really good winemakers. Who's the winemaker?

Heidi:
So. Okay, This is, This is, yes, we figured this out year one, how this was gonna work because it is possible to have too many cooks in the kitchen, right?

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
And we're both use to being in charge of our own winemaking, and running facilities ....

Doug:
You're both really strong willed people, come on.

Heidi:
Yeah, it's true. It's true.

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
So we, the first year was, ah, 2008, and how it came about is also kind of interesting because we had never had this like life- lifetime dream of you know, making wine together.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
Never. We're both ...

Doug:
Both busy.

Heidi:
... perfectly happy ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... working on our things and- and working, ah, kinda parallel careers, building our careers at the same time, which has been good, but- but, you know, in charge of our own- our own wines. And, in 2008 Bo's Dad was going to sell Chateau Montelena.

Doug:
That's right.

Heidi:
And, fortunately, it fell through.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Heidi:
But, he was gonna need a job, basically. And we thought, since that can't stay in the family, let's just start our own thing that can stay in the family that we could then pass on to round two of Barrett & Barrett, our two daughters, which is Remi and Chelsea.

Doug:
Right.

Heidi:
So, that's how the idea came. We bought a separate vineyard parcel that we thought would be great for the wines, which is over on Old Toll Road in Calistoga. And we just started with, ya know, a couple hundred cases. Meanwhile, the sale of Montelena fell through fortunately. And Bo's still, ya know, gotta secure job up there and all that and it's running than ever, but we started this little brand. So, okay, who's gonna do which job.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Heidi:
(Laughs) And we found out pretty quickly ...

Doug:
We call that- We call that pillow talk.

Heidi:
Yes. Pillow talk and try to stay married. Ah, is, ya know, he does, definitely more of the farming ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... side of it. I do more of the day-to-day win making. And where we really overlap, and it's fun, is when we put the blend together.

Doug:
Oh, I bet it is.

Heidi:
All of our experience of each of these, ya know, many decades careers come together. And- and we're largely in agreement, although we have, we bring different things to the table.

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
I think, ya know, Bo likes a little, ah, more tannin than I do. I like very silky, ya know, luxurious, mouth-feel; he will leave it a little more raw than I like and I have to allow for that when we're working on a wine together. So, I get that. And it's, ah, it's fun. We sort- kind of a fusion of both of our styles, which is a lot of fun.

Doug:
Compromise, a secret to a ...

Heidi:
Yes.

Doug:
...successful marriage ...

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
... and a successful married wine brand.

Heidi:
That's right.

Doug:
Have you ever made wine with your dad?

Heidi:
Well, a little bit at the Monterey vineyard ...

Doug:
Okay.

Heidi:
... but not really directly. I mean ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Heidi:
... I was just in the crew and in the cellar, but it was his wines that I helped work on. But not really, no.

Doug:
I was just curious about that.

Heidi:
Not directly. Mm-mm (negative).

Doug:
But, boy, you've- you've consulted with each other a lot. I know that.

Heidi:
A lot. I've learned a ton from him. Yeah.

Doug:
That's great.

Heidi:
Yep. Yep.

Doug:
Heidi, Thanks so much for being here. This has ...

Heidi:
Thank you.

Doug:
... man, all the pieces of the puzzle. They all ...

Heidi:
A lot of parts. Yeah.

Doug:
They all came together. So thanks for joining us.

Heidi:
Thank you so much, Doug.

Doug:
Great to see ya.

Heidi:
You too.