Mia Klein67 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 Mia Klein

As a teenager Mia Klein wanted to be a chef. In her first job as a cook, however, she discovered wine and a whole new path opened up for her. In 1984 she landed her first job at Chappellet. Eventually Klein became one of the busiest consulting winemakers in Napa Valley, producing wines for Spottswoode, Araujo, Viader, Dalla Valle, and others, including her own brand, Selene. Enjoy!

For more visit: SeleneWines.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
Welcome back everybody. Uh, Doug Shafer here with The Taste, another episode. We have, today, a special guest in here today. I've known this person for years. We crossed paths in the late 80s. Um, she's energetic, fresh ideas, passionate, always exploring, always striving to make the best wines. Makes fantastically gorgeous wines year in and year out, some of the best Merlot I have ever had. Mia Klein, Selene Wines. Mia, good to see ya.

Mia:
Oh, great to be here. And that's a big compliment coming from you Doug, to, to have a Merlot that you really like.

Doug:
Oh, it's gorgeous. Whenever I was going' out, you know, have, need Merlot, it's Selene Merlot. That's what I'm, that's what I'm ordering.

Mia:
Oh.

Doug:
And your Sauvignon Blanc, so, ...

Mia:
All right.

Doug:
... to this day. Um, so, hey, gotta start in the beginning because I don't know. You grew up, I heard, southern California.

Mia:
That is correct. I grew up in Hermosa Beach, uh, back in the, you know, the 60s and, uh, early 70s when, uh, most people didn't really want to live at the beach. It wasn't really that popular a place all, all said and done. Uh, ...

Doug:
No, you're kiddin' me? I'd figure that would be like ...

Mia:
When ...

Doug:
... the spot.

Mia:
Just about when I started movin' away, that's when it got to be really, uh, really, really popular. I've, I've been down to visit a few times and I don't think there's any way that I could afford, you know, the smallest shack there now. But, uh, yeah. Really, great place to grow up. Uh, wonderful beaches. I was never more than, you know, a couple of blocks from the beach. It was just, just awesome.

Doug:
Did you hang there? The surfing, the whole thing?

Mia:
Hang, yeah. Yeah, I was a junior lifeguard.

Doug:
Junior lifeguard.

Mia:
Junior lifeguard in the summer, lots of surfing and lots of stuff like that.

Doug:
So you can, actually, do it? You can get, you can stand up on a board?

Mia:
You know, I ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
It's, it's been a, it's been a while. We were in Hawaii just, uh, recently in, in early January. And, uh, but the waves are like double overhead.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And we are at, like, Chun's Reef, which is North Shore, but it's, like, a kid's break, you know. But ...

Doug:
Ri- ...

Mia:
... way too big. Way too big and wild for me to get out there and do stuff, so.

Doug:
Junior lifeguard?

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
I'm, I'm curi- ... Tell, t- ... Oh, ...

Mia:
Oh, man, it is ...

Doug:
... oh, did you have, did you have to be, like, you know, pass a bil-, a million tests and, is it ...

Mia:
Yeah, you know, you ...

Doug:
... tread water for hours.

Mia:
I remember, I think I started when I was eight. And you had to swim four lengths of an Olympic pool. And when you're eight, you can swim, you know, if you've grown ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... up at the beach. But it's, like, wow, when that third and fourth lap come around, that's a long way.

Doug:
Did you ever, ...

Mia:
So ...

Doug:
... you ever save anybody?

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
No, but, boy, you know. The other thing was, there was, like, punitive stuff. If you were, like, the last person, you know, to come back from a buoy swim, you had to do what they called a seal crawl, ...

Doug:
A seal crawl.

Mia:
... which was you started in the, in the dry sand, and without using your hands or your feet, you had to, like, seal crawl ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... all the way down to the water. Meanwhile, anybody could do anything they wanted to you on the way down, so. I mean it got, it got very competitive.

Doug:
That's pretty gnarly.

Mia:
But that was, you know, back in the day. That's the way it was. Late 60s, early 70s, it's, like, yeah, let's see if we can break 'em. (laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs) Oh man.

Mia:
And needless to say there weren't very many, uh, young women in, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... in the whole program. But it was a lot of fun still, you know what I mean? A lot of fun.

Doug:
There you go, I told you before, there's ...

Mia:
Good memories.

Doug:
... somethin' I find out about every s- ... I found out new things about people every time I do this.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Um, so you're growin' up in southern California. Siblings?

Mia:
Yeah, I was, I was, kind of, the late, uh, you know ... My mother tells a story. She wasn't feeling well.

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs)

Mia:
45 years old.

Doug:
Ew, okay.

Mia:
Not feelin' well, go to the doctor. What's wrong? Doctor comes back after a few tests. Well, Mrs. Klein, what are you gonna name it?

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
Frances is a good name. It's good for boys and girls.

Doug:
And g- ... (laughs).

Mia:
And she said, oh come on, oh come on. So it was one of those things. So, I have siblings ... I have a 16 year old ... a, a brother who's 16 years older than me.

Doug:
Older, okay.

Mia:
A sister that's ten years older, and another brother who's nine years older.

Doug:
Wow.

Mia:
Yeah. So my mother was 45. I think my dad was 42 or 43.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So ... hm, brothers and sisters, kind of, like aunts and uncles.

Mia:
Just about, yeah, ...

Doug:
A little bit, yeah.

Mia:
... yeah. I mean, uh, I was almost like an only child there for, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... for a lot of the growing up years. But the great part was, uh, you know, your parents get a chance to practice on those three siblings before you. So, by the time I got there ... I mean, they knew the battles to pick. Um ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... people like to ... I don't get, like, uh, an ice cream headache. I don't get anything like that, because for a while, when I was growing up, I had Popsicles for breakfast.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
I did. And, so, I can drink the coldest drink, or eat ice cream, never ... I don't even know, you know, what an ice cream headache is.

Doug:
I'm with ya.

Mia:
So ...

Doug:
Okay, but why popsicles for breakfast?

Mia:
It's what I wanted. And, and, so, ...

Doug:
There you go.

Mia:
You know those, those first, those first couple of kids, it's, like, you gotta eat at this time, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... you have to eat this, you have to eat that. Uh, my mom realized that by that time is, like, she's gonna make her own way, and it's all gonna balance out. And, yeah, you know, a few months later I said, hey, could I have oatmeal for breakfast, you know? And she showed me how to make oatmeal.

Doug:
Wow.

Mia:
So it was cool. For her, she was a working mother too. So the Popsicle was easy, 'cause it was reach in the freezer, here you go, here's your breakfast. (laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs) I just think that's great.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Well, uh, you know, she was right.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
'Cause I've had a, a slew of kids and it's true, you know. You, you, kind of, figure out which battles to, to fight, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... and let 'em go, 'cause they, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... they end up okay.

Doug:
So mom and dad ... so mom was workin', dad was workin'. What, what careers? Were they, were they ...

Mia:
So they were ...

Doug:
... foodies, winies, ...

Mia:
You know, they ...

Doug:
winos?

Mia:
... grew up, you know ... Oh, so you gotta imagine, my mother was born in 1916, my father in 1919, so they went through the Depression.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
My dad served in World War II. Um, so my mom was, basically, somebody who was pretty good with numbers, but she was always, like, secretary, administrative assistance, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... somethin' like that. My dad did do a little cooking, um, but, mostly tended bar, is what he did.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Um, there was a short period of time when he, uh, worked in a galley of a pleasure fishing boat out of Long Beach.

Doug:
Wow.

Mia:
And I got to go fishing. Uh, I remember, I was, like, five years old. So, we'd get up at three in the morning to ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... drive down there, 'cause they always leave early. And I got to fish all day, you know, ...

Doug:
Nice.

Mia:
... on a pleasure boat.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
It was really awesome. I caught sharks, I, I did all kinds of things.

Doug:
Oh, that's cool.

Mia:
Bonita, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... all kinds of things. Barracuda. It was a lot of fun. So that was a really good bonding experience ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... with, with my dad.

Doug:
So wine in the house?

Mia:
No. Not really.

Doug:
No wine? Yeah.

Mia:
Not really. I didn't grow up with wine. So I grew up with good food, ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
... but not wine.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
Um, my parents, actually ... this is a great ... my parents actually met in AA, uh, in Oakland.

Doug:
Interesting.

Mia:
So ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... alcohol was, definitely, not a part of the family at all. Um, so, uh ... but, when I was in high school, one of the things I thought I might want to do is be a chef. And, so, I got a job at a little fish restaurant in Manhattan Beach, ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... uh, next door community, called the Shrimp Pot. No ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... longer there, long gone. And, uh, got to cook.

Doug:
High school, high, high school job? Were you're waitin' tables, or cooking?

Mia:
Cooking.

Doug:
You were cookin'?

Mia:
I was back of the house all the way.

Doug:
Yeah, how old? 16, seven s- ...

Mia:
16. As soon as I was 16, yeah. You know, sin-, since my mother was a little ... She, I remember, I was a freshman in high school, and she had a fall and she broke her hip.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
And, so, she was out of work for a while. My dad was disabled, kind of, from the war as well. Uh, so, there was no driver. Uh, and I got to take my driver's test, like, a year and a half early. Um, I don't think I was 15 yet. But when I turned ...

Doug:
Because they needed a driver.

Mia:
Yeah, 'cause they needed a driver. And ... but, when I turned 16, I wanted to get a job right away. And I, kind of, knew what I wanted to do, until I actually got there. I mean you go through a year of cooking, uh, and you realize how hard back of the house really is.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
I mean it really is. But, what it introduced me to was wine, because this was the late 70s in California. If you didn't finish your bottle, you left it at the restaurant.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
And there was nothin' special. But, it was, like, wow, ...

Doug:
I was wonderin' ...

Mia:
... what ...

Doug:
That's what it ...

Mia:
... is this?

Doug:
That was, that's a key question today. Where, where did the wine thing kick in? So you're, you're workin' this restaurant.

Mia:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
You're working your tail off.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Cook hard. End of the night. There's a bunch of partial bottles of wine ...

Mia:
You know, not ... you know, it would be Friday and Saturday night.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
You know, during the week there wouldn't be a lot, because, uh, people wouldn't even order wine.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
It was, kind of, uh ... it was an affordable restaurant. Um, but on the weekends, yeah. And it was nothin' special. You know, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... Almaden.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Um, all that, all that, sort of, stuff. But it ... they were varietals, you know?

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Uh, so, it was, it was a real introduction. And about that time my mom took early retirement. I was a senior in high school.

Mia:
We moved up to San Francisco. So she took early retirement ...

Doug:
Oh ...

Mia:
... even though she was still working part-time, um ...

Doug:
So you were in high school when you moved?

Mia:
Yeah, uh, the senior in high school.

Doug:
Oh, kiddo, uh, we've got that in common. I moved when I was a junior in high school, yeah, ...

Mia:
Yeah, it's hard.

Doug:
... okay. It's tough.

Mia:
It's very hard, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Um, and there was a school strike going on ...

Doug:
Oh.

Mia:
... in San Francisco when I arrived. And ... but my mom was pretty savvy. She, she was ... her dad was a brick layer, so he was a union man. And she said if you don't want to cross that picket line, I'm not gonna make you cross that picket line, you know. And, I think I did one day and it was just ridiculous. It was worse than babysitting. And, so I said, no, I don't, I don't want to. And she said, hey, well, I'm gonna write a couple letters, and we're gonna get you into the community college and get you to finish, you know, finish ... I mean get you to finish your degree, your high school degree.

Doug:
High school degree in community ...

Mia:
And, so, that's what she did. I was with, maybe, six other people. One guy was, like, seventy somethin' gettin' his GED.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Uh, I was, like, the only teenager there ...

Doug:
Uh, yeah.

Mia:
... getting, you know. So showed up downtown and ...

Doug:
Downtown San Francis- ...

Mia:
... ended up graduating, you know, in January, because I ... 'cause every ... I was, you know, kind of, pre-college for everything when I was, you know, down in southern California.

Doug:
God, that's wild.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So why, and when ... So why'd you guys move up to San Francisco?

Mia:
You know, I ... my m-, my mother loved big cities, ...

Doug:
Huh.

Mia:
... and had been ... She, um ... When she first ... she grew up in St. Louis, and when she first left home, her first husband, uh, was in New York.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
And she loved the city. She really loved the city. Um, but they broke up. She had her first child, came out to California where her parents were living, and that's where she met my father.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
Never really got to live in a big city.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
And, so, when she retired that was one of the things she really, really wanted to do. And, uh, San Francisco, being near a ocean as well, she really ..

Doug:
Perfect.

Mia:
... loved the ocean, so it was really, it was perfect. And I was all ... I'm, uh ... I was for it. It wasn't easy, but it really turned out well because so much closer to the, to the wine country. San Francisco, you know? And I, uh ...

Doug:
Yeah, but were you thinkin' wine then? You're, you're finishin' high school in community college. Just went up to San Francisco and tryin' to ...

Mia:
And we were living in Noe Valley.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And, so, we'd go shopping, you know? And you'd get stuff at Bell Market, which was a small supermarket.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
But then you'd go to the Ver Brugge's Meat down the street and buy your meat. And, then, we'd stop by Victorian Wines & Spirits.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And, uh ...

Doug:
And you're 18, you're 18?

Mia:
By that time I was 18.

Doug:
Yeah, 17, 18, right.

Mia:
And, uh, you know, so we'd go in and say, hey, you know, we got this roast ... everybody did this.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
We got this roast and, you know, and they'd say, well, how many people are gonna be there?

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
And how much do you want to spend?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
And, boom, and they'd find ya something. And, uh, it was, you know, everything from the 3.99 Merlot from Italy ... I don't even know where they got that, to, at that time, you know, $50.00 bottles of Stags' Leap Cabernet. Everything.

Doug:
Late seven, late 70s? Yeah.

Mia:
Yeah. And, so, uh, that was really cool. Well it came, it came, um, uh, time ... You know, it was ... I was ... it was, like, the holidays. And they said, hey, you know, you're 18, would you like to come and help us out with the busiest time of year, and I said sure.

Doug:
Oh, this is at Victorian?

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Yeah. And that was, that was, kind of, it, you know. Uh, so we always, when we did our shopping, we would come by and get stuff. And I remember the summer, um, ... was it summer, I think, we moved there. You know at Stern Grove they have free concerts, free performances every Sunday.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
It's the thing. You go and you get your picnic, ...

Doug:
Get your picnic.

Mia:
... and you put it out and, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... yeah. And I got a bottle of Chappellet Rose that Tony Soter had made, ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... for like $4.50. And it was such a great, it was such a great ... it went with everything, you know?

Doug:
We have ... I have to jump in. We're ... Mia and I are laughing, 'cause this guy ... Tony Soter's name is gonna come up a whole bunch ...

Mia:
Oh yeah.

Doug:
... over the next, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... next few minutes.

Mia:
He's, ...

Doug:
But, okay, ...

Mia:
... definitely, ...

Doug:
... that's funny.

Mia:
... one of ... probably a mentor for both of us, ...

Doug:
Yes.

Mia:
... but especially me. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Doug:
How funny.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah. So ...

Doug:
For $4.50.

Mia:
Yeah. And, so ... uh, but, you know ... oh yeah. Amidst all this I think, oh my God, I, I, uh, I, uh, I need to study wine. I wasn't sure if I was gonna go straight to college or take a gap ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... year as they call it these ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... days and ... But I did. And I just, you know, I applied. And luckily ... I mean, in today, and I know a lot of people say this. I don't know that I could have got into UC. But I did, I got into UC, into the college of ag and environmental sciences, and fermentation science, and boom, ...

Doug:
Well I did, ...

Mia:
... on the way.

Doug:
... I did too. So we're pretty ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... sharp cookies.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And there ain't (laughs) ... But I know what you mean about today. It's a, ...

Mia:
Oh.

Doug:
... it's a whole different world.

Mia:
Yes, yup.

Doug:
Um, so you're at Davis, you're a freshman, and in ... so, and you knew, you were goin', you were goin' there for enology.

Mia:
Yeah I didn't, didn't change. I just went there ...

Doug:
You went ...

Mia:
... for fermentation science right off the bat.

Doug:
Boom. Chem 1A, off you go.

Mia:
Whew, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, remember that one?

Mia:
Yeah I do.

Doug:
Whew.

Mia:
I had to, uh ... I actually ... I took ... I think I took 18 units that first quarter.

Doug:
Oh, Mia.

Mia:
And I had to drop out of Chem 1A. I couldn't ... uh, 'cause I was working. I had part of my financial ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... aid was working. And I really couldn't handle it So what I did was, I came in winter quarter and they ... you could take 1A in winter, 1B in spring, and then I stayed for two summer sessions and I did Chem 1C. And, ...

Doug:
Smart.

Mia:
... also, organic chemistry all in one summer.

Doug:
Ew, organic.

Mia:
I know, yeah.

Doug:
Organic.

Mia:
It was, it was, it was, it was insane. But that's how motivated I was.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
I was just so into it. I ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... was so into it, and I was ready, ready to go.

Doug:
Ev-, but even though ... Well help me with that, because those are those base courses, and you, your goal is to make wine.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Um, you know, and mine was too, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... to be in that. So you want to get into it. You want to have a wine class. And you're sittin' there for a year, a year and a half doin' these, you know, the calculus, and the chem, and the organic chem, and the, you know, biochem. And then they have nothin to do with makin' wine. It's, like, ... I, I had a tough time with it. I was really frustrated, because, like, I want to get to it.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And, uh ... But you were like, no problem, let's do it.

Mia:
I'm, kind of, a, a hoop jumper, you know?

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
If I see there's a few hoops I need to get through, well let's get through 'em as quickly as possible, um, so I can get to this stuff that I, that I want to get to. Um, so, that worked really well. And I was lucky, too. You know, I think I worked at the coffee house, which was student run ...

Doug:
Okay, ...

Mia:
... um ...

Doug:
... right, right on the quad there.

Mia:
Yeah, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... right on the quad.

Doug:
That's where we all hung out.

Mia:
And, uh, oh the parties. Oh my God. There's, uh, hm. Wow, ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... they threw parties there. Um, but then I was able to get a job in the department, um, and so ...

Doug:
In, in ...

Mia:
... that really helped.

Doug:
... Enol-, Enology Department.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Oh, okay.

Mia:
So first I worked, uh, for, um, Harry Brenner who ran the Pilot, who ran the Pilot Winery. This was way back in the day when he ...

Doug:
I never knew Harry.

Mia:
Yeah, he was a great old guy. You know, so I was checkin' Brix on these little one gallon fermentations.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And I got really good at, uh, at pullin' a siphon hose, uh. But, um, it was great. And he said, you know, we're, we're, kind of, wrappin' it up here, you know. We, we're not gonna have work for you, but why don't you go up and talk to Ann Noble, I think she's lookin' for somebody for her lab.

Doug:
Dr., ...

Mia:
And I did. And, you know, ...

Doug:
... Dr. Noble.

Mia:
... washin' ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... glassware, settin' up tastings. Before I even took any one of her classes, I was workin' in her lab.

Doug:
So you, were you ...

Mia:
So I think that helped me.

Doug:
So were you ... was that like, uh ... You're actually gettin' paid.

Mia:
I was actually gettin' paid, 'cause it was, um, ...

Doug:
Nice.

Mia:
... it was part of ... So, uh anybody who hired me, it, would get part of the payment from my financial aid.

Doug:
Your financial aid.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Work study I think they ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... called it back in the day.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Uh, so it, uh, you know, being involved like that made it a lot easier. And being in contact with, you know, graduate students working in her lab, um, that had been through a lot. It just made it made easier. There was a lot of ...

Doug:
Well that's, ...

Mia:
... support.

Doug:
Yeah, that's neat, because you're like a sophomore, junior, so you're, you're seeing, you're s- ... what was nice for you in doing that, is you're seein' right where you're gonna be.

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
And I'd ne-, I never had that 'cause I didn't, you know, hang out with grad students. So it's, kind of, like, you know, where's this leading? Where's this goin'? That type of thing.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
But you working with Dr. Nobel.

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
Now did you, actually, become her research assistant and all that, and all that?

Mia:
You know, uh, I never ... Yeah, she ... I think she would have loved it if I would have wanted to go on for a secondary degree. But, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... I, I ... my whole thing was I want to get out there and make wine.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
You know, I think that was a little bit of a disappointment for her, because I, I did do well in her classes, and, and so on and so forth. And we're still ... I mean, she wished me a happy birthday last month, so.

Doug:
Nice.

Mia:
She's, she's a great lady, and still is. But I think she was disappointed that I didn't want to go on and do any further, further studies. Uh, but, like, I say, I wanted to get out there.

Doug:
You want to go do it.

Mia:
I wanted to get out there.

Doug:
And she's famous for the, uh ... Were you there when she kicked in this, uh ...

Mia:
In the aroma wheel, yeah.

Doug:
The aroma wheel, which we should have ... uh, uh, explain that for everyone, ...

Mia:
It's so ...

Doug:
... 'cause it's, ...

Mia:
... it's just, it's a ...

Doug:
... it's, kind of, cool.

Mia:
... it's a way. You know, a lot of people when they see, uh, the likes of somebody like Doug or I taste, or a master somm taste, they're goin', like, wow, where do they come up with ... how do they find ...

Doug:
Descriptors, right.

Mia:
... these things, these descriptors in the, in the wine. And it's just practice is what it is.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
But the aroma wheel really, kind of, codifies it.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
So it breaks it down into, you know, the woody smells. And, you know, then it goes from the woody smells into specific smells that can be related to woody, and, kind of, all around the fruit spectrum and everything. It really, it really does help a lot to have that, because, uh, they call it coming up with a veridical name, which is the true, the true name for what you're smelling. And we've all had this before, even if, you know, you're not into analyzing wine that way, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... if you just like what you like. But you walk into a room sometimes, and there's a smell. It takes you right back to childhood.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
But you can't quite come up with what it is. So the practice is jumping that gap and being able to come up with a name. Oh, wow, yeah, that was grandma's, um, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... you know, cologne, or whatever, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... you know. So, ...

Doug:
Sandalwood, whatever it was.

Mia:
Sandalwood, yeah.

Doug:
So, and that's what's ... 'cause I always, kind of, wondered about. But I, I was thinkin' about it last night when I was thinkin' about today, and, um, the whole aroma wheel. It gives people a commonality, a common knowledge, reference point. You know, it smells, like, you know, okay, whatever the aroma is gonna be. That's pineapple. Okay. That's ...

Mia:
Right.

Doug:
... pineapple, and that's close to this. Which some people can, kind of, uh, relate. Which helps take some of that hocus pocus spookiness out of wine.

Mia:
It, it does. It does. It ...

Doug:
Oh ...

Mia:
... makes it a ...

Doug:
... yeah.

Mia:
... little bit ... Uh, you know, especially if you, kind of, want to have a conversation with somebody about it.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
Uh, but ... the most important thing is always whether you like it or not, but ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
Well, yeah, amen to that. Yum or, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... yum or yuck ...

Mia:
Yeah, right, right.

Doug:
... as I was learning early on. So, so during ... but the college summers were, were ... you were in school. Did you work? You worked some summers in some, in college.

Mia:
I, I did.

Doug:
Uh, some wineries?

Mia:
So the first, um, the first summer I was there I was busy with all my summer session stuff.

Doug:
Right, right.

Mia:
Uh, the next summer I think I did come down to San Francisco and work in ... at Victorian Wine & Spirits a little bit.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Um, and I did try ... I tried to get a internship for 1982, but I was only 20 years old, you know, and I was pretty green still.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Um, and I ended up not gettin' one. And I was, kind of, disappointed. I think I painted dorms, uh, one summer too.

Doug:
There you go.

Mia:
I did paint dorms one summer too. Um, I was disappointed, um, but you know. As it turned out, the next year I got, I got the best thing ever when I, I got an internship at Chappellet working for Cathy.

Doug:
Cool.

Mia:
It was the best thing ever, you know?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
So, sometimes when you're ...

Doug:
So was that, was that a summer internship?

Mia:
No, it was a, it was a full fall.

Doug:
Full fall.

Mia:
Yeah. So I ...

Doug:
So you're ...

Mia:
... think I started in August on the bottling line, and she kept me through December, because she's ... You know, when I was interviewing with her, uh, I also had an offer from Clos du Bois.

Doug:
Okay, over in s- ...

Mia:
Uh, Steve Test was there, (laughs) ...

Doug:
Oh man.

Mia:
... over in Healdsburg. (laughs) And, uh, he said, oh, you know, I'll probably offer you a full-time job, you know, so, yeah. You know, and then I interviewed with Cathy, and she said is there any reason you wouldn't take the internship? I said, well, you know, I, I got another offer from somebody and they said that they would ...

Doug:
Yeah, ...

Mia:
... offer me ...

Doug:
... take you on.

Mia:
... a full-time job, most likely. And she said, well, I could do that.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And, and so I said, well, okay, all right, you know? Uh, I'd rather work for a woman. I'd rather be here in Napa, and ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... I like this place. And, so she started me in August on the bottling line, workin' on the line. And kept me through December. Phillip Titus was her assistant winemake- ...

Doug:
Phillip ... so, uh, I'm jumpin' in ... and Cathy Corison was winemaker at Chappellet.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
She's been on The Taste. She's fantastic.

Mia:
Yes, she's an awesome lady.

Doug:
We ... there's a ... we have, uh, a kind of a small group. We all, you know, on the small incestuous group of winemakers, even though two generations. And, uh, she's up at Chappellet and she just killed it up there. So she hired you. So you had not ... Had you graduated yet, or was supposed to?

Mia:
Well, she, uh ... So, first was an internship.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
So, I spent the whole fall quarter there, basically ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... is what I did. I spent the whole fall quarter there. And she had Phillip, you know, showin' me how to find, uh, even starting to use the, the filters and all that stuff, and getting familiar with it, 'cause she knew I was gonna come, you know, in June, soon as I, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... soon as I graduated. And, so, it was really cool. So the internship was, like, for two months, but they paid me by the hour, kind of, on both sides, ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
... uh, to, kind of, have me around.

Doug:
So, and Phillip is still up there as winemaker.

Mia:
I know.

Doug:
He's going back and forth.

Mia:
I always knew ... You know, I always knew. Ph-, Phillip was just like the perfect guy to be ... I mean even when I first got there, you know, and it was, it was way ... it was long before Cathy was gonna leave, and Phillip had other ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... jobs in between. I always knew he was the perfect winemaker for Chappellet.

Doug:
Interesting.

Mia:
Really. He was gonna be the perfect winemaker, ...

Doug:
I gotta ...

Mia:
... yeah.

Doug:
... get him on here.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Both he and his brother have their own label too.

Mia:
Yeah, Titus.

Doug:
Well they're doin' great. So question, I don't think he was there. Maybe he was? Was Dave Pirio there?

Mia:
Oh yeah. Dave ... So, Dave hadn't quite started when I first was there. Uh, Bill Ward.

Doug:
Bill Ward.

Mia:
Bill Ward.

Doug:
I went to s- ... oh, I had classes with Bill Ward ...

Mia:
He was a character.

Doug:
... at Davis.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
He was a total character. I loved him.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Great guy.

Mia:
Yeah. Really good guy.

Doug:
That's right. He was one of the vineyards. And, so, David started workin' with him probably.

Mia:
Yeah, and then, and then I do remember when David, uh ... And David's another one who, I think, his mother was a little older when he was born.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
Or his mom had, like, twins when she was 42 ...

Doug:
Older.

Mia:
... or somethin'. I forget, yeah.

Doug:
Uh, uh ... uh, you ... What you don't know is, uh, I moved out here as a junior in high school from Chicago. I got on the basketball team, and there's this kid a ...

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
... year behind me who could shoot the lights out of the ... uh, like, a Stef Curry in that era.

Mia:
Wow.

Doug:
His name was Dave Pirio.

Mia:
Wow, yeah.

Doug:
So I played basketball with Dave Pirio for two years in high school.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So, that's cool.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
Ah, love it. (laughs)

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
So you're up there. So you graduated. So when you graduated, June of '83, or '84.

Mia:
Right, yeah, '83.

Doug:
'83. Got it. Okay.

Mia:
Oh no, June of '84. I'm sorry, that's wrong. June of '84.

Doug:
Okay, and starts ...

Mia:
I remember ... So, Elias graduated a little earlier than all of us. So we were, we were colleagues in school. And he got the job here, and we were all so jealous.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
He was already out there workin', you know. And he was doin', like, painting the bottling room or something I remember it was.

Doug:
Oh, I gave him the worst job in the world.

Mia:
Yeah. (Laughs)

Doug:
With, um ... just for ... no, 'cause he, he, he interviewed here in March of '84, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... and all he had was his transcript.

Mia:
Yeah, yup.

Doug:
And he was, um, grad-, graduated in two weeks. And, uh, you know, uh, a true story. I'm lookin' at his ... He, he really ... he'd worked a couple summer jobs at Martini and Cuvaison.

Mia:
Yeah, right.

Doug:
The guy said, yeah, you know, he's good. We had him bustin' pallets all summer. All he has is his transcript. You know, so I'm lookin' at ... We were five years apart. I'm lookin' at it and it's, like, you know, organic chem, you got an A, I got a B, you know?

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
Physics, (laughs) ... oh, we talked about Dr. Cook drinking at lunch and all that stuff. You know, Physics, he got an A. I took a pass, no pass. It's, like, this kid's smarter than me, I gotta hire him.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
So I hired him and, uh, he started, and, you know, we were both pretty green. But I gave him the worst job, the first day, I could think of, and, um, he did it without any complaints and, and 35 years later we're still doin' it, doin' it.

Mia:
Yeah, ...

Doug:
It's pretty cool.

Mia:
... he, he's a great ... Whenever I started to bitch and moan about how hard the work was, I just thought of Elias, 'cause I, I knew how hard he was workin' the whole time, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... you know, so.

Doug:
Yeah he ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... worked hard.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Um, but during David's ... Oh, 'cause I've talked to him. I asked him the other day, I said, hey, Mia, Davis. He goes, aw, we're the gas, we had a group.

Mia:
Oh my God.

Doug:
When was your, your ... tell me about the Friday night group.

Mia:
Oh, man. So Francois Peschon-Straka ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... now, uh, would do a ta-, would put on tastings for us.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Um, and she had, kind of, the best ... she was stayin' at the best place. It was close to campus. It was, like, ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... this two-story condo thing. It was, like, all the rest of us were, you know, not, ...

Doug:
Hm ...

Mia:
... not so well off.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And, we'd do a tasting. And she would make tro-, chocolate truffles for after the tasting, and it was just great. So, it was her, uh, Elias, Marco Copelli, ...

Doug:
Marco Copelli.

Mia:
... Daniel Press.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
There were a few other people that, that, kind of, came in and out, but that was the core group. We were all in the same classes together the whole, ...

Doug:
Right, right.

Mia:
... the whole time through, so it was great. The, the best story about Elias was, Daniel ...

Doug:
Good, I want to hear this one. (laughs)

Mia:
... Daniel, Daniel Press used to, uh, he'd study late, you know. So he'd be sleepin' in class, you know. And he just ... his head would be back, mouth open, the whole nine yards.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And Elias would have a pencil and just be puttin' it in and out of his mouth, you know, ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... and we'd all be crackin' up, and there would be Daniel just sleepin' away.

Doug:
Just sleepin' away.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
Well Elias said you guys would get together and everybody would bring a bottle of wine, ...

Mia:
Yeah, yup.

Doug:
... in, in a brown paper bag, you know, taste it blind, and talk about, I'm guess ... gonna try ...

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
... and guess what it is. And then, he said, a baguette and cheese, and ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... that was our dinner, ...

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
... Friday night.

Mia:
No, it was, it was, ... the, they, they were the best, uh, the best times. Best times, really good.

Doug:
So it was all ... it was wine. So you guys were all doin' wine.

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
Were you still goin' out and doin' the keggers and all that stuff too?

Mia:
You know not, not, ...

Doug:
Not at that point?

Mia:
... not very, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... not very often. You know, we'd get together every now and then and do a potluck too.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Uh, and I'll bring bottles and then cook stuff as well. So that was, that was good.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Cool. So you're out, Cathy gives ... Cathy's good on her promise. You got a full-time job. You're at Chappellet. Wh-, what are you doin'?

Mia:
Well you know, I was the enologist. And that was, you know, ...

Doug:
Ah.

Mia:
... you know how it is, Doug, uh, every winery has this, sort of, hot seat position where people, kind of, move in and out, move in and out. There ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
'Cause there's just, there's pressure on that position. Somebody wants to move up, and they can't move up. And, um, they're not ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... gettin' enough responsibility, and la, la, la. It's ...

Doug:
Same move, right.

Mia:
... all, all like that. And, that, that was the enologist position. And, ...

Doug:
Huh.

Mia:
... Cathy always thought of it as the next assistant winemaker. So she would ... my first harvest there I worked ... we ran a day shift and a night shift, and I worked the night shift. And Phillip was the supervisor of the night shift, so it was pretty ... We worked hard, but it was kick back. Well the next year I'm the enologist, I'm workin' on day shift with Cathy, and she is just testing everything, you know.

Doug:
Yeah, right there.

Mia:
'Cause you had to, I had to, I did analysis, I did cellar work, I did the whole ... You know, it ... So the nice thing about working at a winery, you're not stuck in, uh, that ...

Doug:
You weren't stuck in the labs.

Mia:
... size.

Doug:
So you were, you were haulin' hoses, and washin' tanks, and ...

Mia:
All sorts of stuff, yeah.

Doug:
... orderin' wine. Right.

Mia:
She wa-, and she was, just ... it was pressure, you know? It was good pressure. Uh, but that was, kind of, the test. And then you hang around, you know, until Phillip decides he's gonna leave and, and you could become assistant winemaker. But I really enjoyed, you know, working there, uh, because Cathy always gave a lot of responsibility. And she was very good with the hierarchy. So, she ...

Doug:
Hm.

Mia:
... would, you know, regular times when we weren't, kind of, split shifting, she would go through Phillip, and then Phillip would go the rest of us, you know.

Doug:
Interesting.

Mia:
So, um, it ... there was never a jump over, and it really, it worked out quite, quite well. It made everything clear, which I, which I enjoyed.

Doug:
Which is nice.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Good. So you were, uh, enologist. You're doin' cellar work. So you've become assistance winemaker? All right.

Mia:
I became assistant wine ... not until '87.

Doug:
So it was about ..

Mia:
Not until '87.

Doug:
... th-, three or four years.

Mia:
Yeah, three or four years, yeah.

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And, uh, uh, then at some point you moved over to Pepi.

Mia:
Yeah, that was, uh, '89.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
No, take it back. '88.

Doug:
'88.

Mia:
'88, yeah. So ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... the family still owned, uh ...

Doug:
Robert Pepi, Robert Pepi Winery.

Mia:
Yeah, ...

Doug:
'Kay.

Mia:
... Robert Pepi Winery. The family still owned it. And, uh, Tony Soter was consulting there. Uh, and, also, making his Etude at ...

Doug:
Uh, was it ...

Mia:
... Robert Pepi.

Doug:
So Tony Soter, famous, wonderful consultant, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... great winemaker, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... started a brand named Etude, ...

Mia:
Yes.

Doug:
... which he has since sold to ...

Mia:
Yes, that's correct.

Doug:
Who did he sell it to again? I think, yeah, uh, Beringer.

Mia:
Uh, Beringer. The Beringer Group, yeah.

Doug:
And he's up in Oregon with Michelle making Soter family wines, ...

Mia:
Yup, yup.

Doug:
... which are beautiful.

Mia:
Yeah, really beautiful. Really gorgeous.

Doug:
And, so he was consulting at Pepi. So is that, is that why you moved to Pepe? Or was there ... or was it just time for a new, a new, a new place?

Mia:
Well Cathy was always very good about that too. That's another Props I have to give her. She said, you know, let me know when you want to leave, ...

Doug:
Hm.

Mia:
... 'cause I'll help you. And she did. She networked me, uh, you know, with a lot of people that she knew. It was great. You know, Dawnine Sample and ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... yeah. I just got to know a lot of people. Um, and this job opened up and it seemed, it seemed like a good thing, um, because it was, it was real, it was a wine making position, you know? And it was, it was pretty awesome. Uh, so it was a great, a great break. And it, it was really interesting for me ...

Doug:
Oh, so you, you were hired as winemaker, not assistant winemaker.

Mia:
Right.

Doug:
I got it, okay.

Mia:
Yeah. Uh, and it, it was great.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
I mean it was, it was really awesome. And it was very interesting for me. It was my first introduction to custom crush. Having somebody, um, bring grapes in that wasn't part of the winery, uh, and make and ... 'cause that's what Tony did with his Etude. He brought his grapes there. But he also consulted on the Pepi wines, so ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... I was working with a consultant as well, uh, in that aspect. So, that was an-, another big introduction for me.

Doug:
So that's '89. Okay, because I was thinkin' about that last night. Because the ... my history with, with Bob Pepi, was the, the, the midnight, the midnight get togethers.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And I think you were, probably, there for a few of 'em. But, the, uh, a couple of years ...

Mia:
Well you guys used to get together for football after harvest too.

Doug:
We, after, ...

Mia:
I remember that.

Doug:
... harvest, yeah. It would ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... be, uh, Cake, Bruce Cakebread and his cellar crew. He had a bigger crew.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
He had, like, six or seven guys.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And, uh, we ... Elias, it was Elias and me, and Pepi had, you know, a couple ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... guys with Tony.

Mia:
Yeah, Jose and ...

Doug:
So it'd be Pepi and Shafer versus Cakebread. And we'd have an annual, uh, Turkey Bowl we'd call it. And I played October, November, usually a rainy day and w-, and, you know, everybody's burned out from harvest, and we'd drink a lot of beer and play touch football. It was fun.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
It was really fun. And it got really competitive too.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
I mean, really competitive.

Mia:
I bet.

Doug:
But, uh, the thing was, we had a secret weapon, two of 'em. Well, Tony played quarterback in college, so he could throw the ball a mile.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And Elias was the fastest person in the valley, ...

Mia:
Yeah, yup.

Doug:
... you know? And so we had ... Tony would just say go, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... and Elias would go, and ...

Mia:
Go around.

Doug:
... he'd throw me the ball and we, we went, so.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
It's really fun.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
But Pepi ... so Pepi's, uh, you know, they hung their hat on Sauvignon Blanc.

Mia:
They sure did.

Doug:
And we all had small presses, and press cycle was two hours. And he'd, he'd do ...

Mia:
Oh my God.

Doug:
... 20 or 30 tons of Sauvignon Blanc, and it's four or five press loads. So he's goin' 'til midnight or one. So, no matter how late I was here at Shafer, drivin' home I knew Pepi was still at work. (laughs) So, so ...

Mia:
You bet.

Doug:
... I'd always swing in and we'd have a, have a beer while he's waitin' for that last press load to finish up.

Mia:
Yeah it was ...

Doug:
But, um ...

Mia:
The ... it was, um, it was the hard way, uh, back in that day. They, also, had those, uh, uh, skin contact drainer tanks, ...

Doug:
That's right, I remember those things.

Mia:
... that they used to do the Sauvignon Blanc in and then, ...

Doug:
Oh.

Mia:
... oh man.

Doug:
Yeah. That's, that' how you make orange wine. You can do that today.

Mia:
Oh my God. (laughs)

Doug:
But that's ... I think that ... I was tryin' to think, too, when I first met you. That was ... I probably met you in passing through Elias those, ...

Mia:
Yeah. I th- ...

Doug:
... those years, but that's when I really met you, because you were there.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And all of a sudden I'm showin' up, and Bob and I are goofin' around and drinkin' beer, and you're tryin' to get some work done, and we're, ...

Mia:
Right, yeah. (laughs)

Doug:
... we're, (laughs) we're ... and we're, like, goofin' off, so.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
The other thing about the '80s, I didn't ... I s- ... I remembered this last night. Did you ever play city softball?

Mia:
Oh yeah.

Doug:
Remember that?

Mia:
Oh, man. I was a soft- ... I was a softball junkie.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah. That's what I thought.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Because I remember, I remember playin' on different teams. And a couple of all-guy teams, and some co-ed teams. It was fun.

Mia:
Oh yeah. We, uh, out there ... we used to, we had a, a co-ed team, the Blarney Ballers. I mean we ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... just never lost in St. Helena. It just wasn't ... We had a ... we traveled to tournaments and, uh, went to a couple of national tournaments, you know, where ... for a while we were ranked in the top ten in California. I mean we were, we were good.

Doug:
You were hard core.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Was Del Bondio on that team?

Mia:
Del, Del Bondio ...

Doug:
[inaudible 00:36:03] ...

Mia:
... was on it sometimes, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Mia:
Playin' short stop. I was third base. So he was right there next to me.

Doug:
Oh, you guys. Hard core red hots.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
See, I played in a whole different caliber of team.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
So, so I was thinkin' about this last night. I had a flashback. I'd forgotten this happened. We had the late game. It was the 8:00, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... 9:00 game, or the [inaudible 00:36:21]. So no one's there.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
'Cause there's, sometimes, there's fans for the early games. But it's the late game, and no one's there. Uh, I've got a cold or a sore throat. So I went to Safeway and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels before the game.

Mia:
Oh boy.

Doug:
So when I go home I'm gonna have my little hot toddy, 'cause I've got this thing comin' on. I gotta travel next day or somethin'. So I'm sittin' there, you know, with, uh, my teammates, and somehow I mentioned I got this bottle of bourbon in the car. Some guy goes, hey, why don't you go get that now? So I, I did. (laughs)

Mia:
Oh.

Doug:
This is, this is public drinking. So we got the brown bag, but no one's there.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And this whole team, all of sudden, we're just, uh, takin' hits off this bottle of Jack and it's, just, like, it was a pretty fun game. It was ...

Mia:
Back in the day.

Doug:
... cra-, it was crazy.

Mia:
Back in the day.

Doug:
It was really crazy stuff. We couldn't do that now.

Mia:
Uh, yeah, Chappellet, when …

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
You know, we used to have, uh, some s-, closets that had specified things. We used to burn sulfur in barrels to get the oxygen out and, you know, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... do all that, sort of, stuff. And we called it the sulfur closet. Well the sulfur closet ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... also had a nice bottle of scotch in it ...

Doug:
Of course.

Mia:
... for the night crew. And we'd go ...

Doug:
For the night, oh (laughs) ...

Mia:
... and have little ...

Doug:
Just a little nip.

Mia:
... a little shot and then go shoot some hoops, uh, you know, back on the concrete pad ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Doug:
I'm, I'm with you. So, like, gettin' to Tony, Tony Soter. So, you're workin' at Pepi as winemaker, Tony's consulting. Is that ... that's when you first met him?

Mia:
Well I met him ...

Doug:
So ...

Mia:
... first at Chappellet. He, actually, brought a little bit of stuff to Chappellet one year, ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... and I remember we had some barrels that came in for him that were the, the cooper shall go unnamed. But, Tony liked his barrels with the right heavy toast.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And (laughs) he came in, I took the bung out, and I turned 'em over and, like, charcoal came out. And I said, um, hey Tony, you'll probably want to look at these. I don't, I don't ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... think you're gonna like what you see.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And he ... sure enough, he looked at it and he went oh my God. He ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
So I had met him before, but it was very short.

Doug:
Quick.

Mia:
This was almost daily. He wasn't there daily, but ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... he was there a lot. And, uh, ...

Doug:
At Pepi.

Mia:
At Pepi, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah. So you guys got to know each other.

Mia:
We got to know each other.

Doug:
Was he workin' with Bob directly, or you, or both of you?

Mia:
Both of us.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Uh, but, um, a little more me. I remember when he brought the Pinot Noir in, uh, it was, um, very, very interesting because he would ... if the stems would r-, were ripe, he'd just put it through this little antique crusher right in the top of the tank. And Pepi's tanks were way up there, you know, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... 30 feet. And he'd get this big glass pallet that had a, um, a plywood top to it. Put a half ton bin of grapes there and say, get on it, get up there and shovel the grapes into the crusher, into the little rollers right into the tank. And I said, what?

Doug:
Uh, he made you do it?

Mia:
Well, he, he ...

Doug:
I mean, uh, he tried ...

Mia:
I had to do it a few times, right?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
I mean I had to do it a few times.

Doug:
That's his wine.

Mia:
But, oh, ...

Doug:
But ...

Mia:
... everybody did it. I tell ya, everybody did it.

Doug:
Okay, good. (laughs)

Mia:
And I thought he was nuts, you know? And it just kept going, you know? I'd ... 'cause I had never ... I hadn't made Pinot Noir up to that point. You know, it was, like, God these people are really crazy what they'll do.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
And ... but you have to. You know, you have to do all those kinds of things. So, yeah, I, I remember that day very well.

Doug:
So this was '89.

Mia:
'88, '89 was when ...

Doug:
'88 or 9. So he worked with us in '80, end of '86, ...

Mia:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
... '87, and part of '88. And it was, uh, it's a, it's a really long story. But, um, he, basically, um, we started over, Elias, Tony, and I, and we took this thing up and it, and it's got us on the, the right path. It was pretty incredible. So I had a similar experience right before you got to work with him. But I do remember, I do remember ... So it must of been, you must have been there, because I stopped by one night to see Pepi, and there was a cot. It was, like, a, a ...

Mia:
(Laughs) Oh yeah.

Doug:
... a sleep, it was like cot ...

Mia:
Oh yeah.

Doug:
... to, a cot to sleep on, ...

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
... right there in the cellar. And I said to Bob, I said, what's that? He goes, oh, that's Tony's cot. I said, what? He goes, well he sleeps with his tanks. And that just struck me. It was, like, okay, what's goin' on? And, and, you know, you know, we were buddies, so I still talk to him. It's, it's, just, like, at that time, certain points of fermentation, you know, you want the ... you want it hot, and you want it cool, it's, uh, certain, certain Brix, it's time to cool it down and, you know, so it don't blow off all the fruit. And that was an eye opener, to the point where I came back with Elias and we started ... because this was before you had automatic ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... temperature control. Now, you know, Elias can sit there at home, and, you know, midnight before he goes to bed and say, oh I'm gonna cool that tank off, and cool that tank off on his phone. Cool. Not then. We used to have, we used to realize, you know, there was, like, with Cabernet, it was, like, okay, it's gonna go. It's at 18, 19 Brix, and the temp's at 78, and it's gonna take off. And I want it hot for, like, three or four hours, but then I want to cool it off. Well if I go home, I'm gonna miss it. It's gonna drop ten Brix .... I'm getting technical here, but what the heck. But the only answer was, we gotta ... someone's gotta cover the tank. And we didn't have a big crew, it was Elias and me. So, um, what we started doin', was I'd take off at six or seven, go home, get to sleep and I'd ... and he'd, he'd leave, clean up and leave at ten or eleven. And I'd wake up and come back at twelve or one, if we had a couple tanks we were gonna pop. Just so you're there to cool 'em off in time. The thing I remember about it ... I used to have this sawed off blazer with a convertible. And I'd be drivin' down Main Street at one in the morning, and everybody's comin' out of Anna's, you know, they're closin' down the bar. And I'm all bundled up with a thermos of coffee and everybody goin' hey, Shafer, and I went, hey, you know, you know, in this truck.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
And I'm, you know, goin' to work. But that, all of a sudden, it was ... I saw the difference.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
You know, the quality. It just ... be able ... that thing. And I got that from Tony.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So he slept with his tanks.

Mia:
And it's, it's important for cabernet, but it's, like, essential for Pinot Noir, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... 'cause Pinot Noir, the fermentations are even quicker, and they can get way too hot, or not get hot enough. Um, it's, it's just way more important with Pinot Noir. So the, kind of, dedication, that's, that's, definitely, what Tony, ...

Doug:
Yeah. Well he is.

Mia:
... Tony had.

Doug:
What, what'd you learn from Tony?

Mia:
Oh, you know, that one of the biggest things I learned from Tony is, um ... Cathy was all about it's okay to make mistakes, just don't make the big mistake ...

Doug:
Hm.

Mia:
... which is, which is really imp, really important. And Tony was all about, um, if you learn something from a mistake, it's not a mistake anymore. And, so, ...

Doug:
Uh ...

Mia:
... you have to learn something from every, everything that happened. I re- ... I forget which harvest it was. But, um, I was never great, you know, in the days before Viniflora Oenos these, uh, freeze-dried, you know, malolactic bacteria, when you, actually, had to build up your own culture. I was never really great at it. And, and it was back in the day before enzymatics, too. So we'd be spotting c-, chromatograms.

Doug:
S-, spotting ...

Mia:
Very, you know, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... it takes, it takes hours, uh, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... to, to finally get a, a read on what's goin' on. And I'm, you know, makin' everything happen, you know, and I'm goin' oh, this is good. And so I'm spotting everything that we have at the winery. Of Pepi, our stuff, and Tony's Pinot Noir. And there's Tony's Pinot Noir, it's already done with malolactic.

Doug:
Boom.

Mia:
Oh God, I am so mad. And I didn't realize, it was one of the rogue bacterias that gets going before alcoholic fermentation, and, uh, creates a lot of VA, in addition to ... and, so, it was a bad thing.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
And then I felt bad.

Doug:
I know, I know, ...

Mia:
And, and Tony ...

Doug:
... I know that one.

Mia:
Yeah, Tony's, like, ...

Doug:
It's called Lactobacillus, yeah.

Mia:
... you know, well it's, it's not really, you know, a fault, but what are we gonna learn from this? You know, it's ... so it's, like, something went wrong and you could assign blame or not, it doesn't really matter.

Doug:
No.

Mia:
But, what are we gonna learn from it, you know? Uh, what ... this is, this is what's important. And, so, that's the thing that, that I ...

Doug:
Huh.

Mia:
... always, I always see, because stuff is gonna go wrong, you know?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
How do you deal with it? What do you learn from it? Um, those are the important things.

Doug:
Oh I know. And those, and those were the years. You know, things still go wrong now.

Mia:
Yes.

Doug:
Um, I'd have to say, not as frequently, and not to the same extent, but, boy, I, I'm sure you've had the same experiences. You know, it's, like, when that glycol pump goes down in the middle of harvest on Labor Day weekend, and you don't have one on the shelf, what do you do? You're gonna have your glycol circling your tanks to cool the tanks. Well after we, kind of, suffered and learned through that one, it's, like, gee, maybe we better have one on the shelf. And then you think, what else do we need an extra one? You know, we really don't need two forklifts, but if one goes down, we're in deep trouble. So, you, you know ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
For we ... so you have to, kind of ... You know, Elias has become, become a master of that stuff. You know I'm signing the checks. Oh, so do we really need this? And he, and he looks at me and he goes, (laughs) ...

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
... and then he, and then he gives me the scenario.

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
Doug, uh, we've just ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... done 80 tons of grapes ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... and this thing blew up.

Mia:
(Laughs).

Doug:
Oh, yeah. Well, okay, you're right. We need that.

Mia:
Yeah, yup, yup.

Doug:
Oh good. It's, it's a great lesson.

Mia:
Yeah, it is. It's really, really good stuff, 'cause, um, you know, it's, uh, it's something that nature's really in control of what we do with grape growing, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... wine making, um ... Uh, there's so much that can happen, only if you just consider weather. You know, forget about a lot of other things that can happen. So you gotta learn to roll with the punches. But, also, do the absolute best job you can, not just roll with the punches. Uh, so, and ... it's, it's one of the most important things.

Doug:
Well it is. And, also, um, at first ... the first few go arounds with so, a, a, quote, crisis, and the cellar was, like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. And then it became, kind of, like, okay we got this one, let's, let's figure this out. And I remember last night goin' okay, we can, you know. He'd be, like, what about this? I'd go, what about that? Oh, let's do that. Let's, you know ... and we'd jerry-rig somethin' and get us through.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
It was, kind of, ... And I always felt really cool, that was great, ...

Mia:
Yeah, it is.

Doug:
... right?

Mia:
It does feel really good.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So you're at Pepi, goin' back to Pepi. How long ... you were at Pepi until when?

Mia:
Just a couple years.

Doug:
Just a couple years.

Mia:
Just a couple years. '88, '89. And I was, I was ready to, kinda, uh, move along. And I had, I had a really good offer from, um, a, a big winery ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... that I can't name, ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... to be the winemaker. I mean it was like ... it was the incredible, kind of, stuff, like, tripling my salary, you know, that, kind of, thing.

Doug:
The whole thing.

Mia:
But I'm not ... you know ... I was a little ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... worried. I'd been through just a very extensive interview process, and I remember my ex, who, who's now my ex, at the time he, he said to me, you know, Mia what are you gonna do when they offer you that job? And I said, oh, they're not gonna offer me the job, you know.

Doug:
Uh, yeah. (Laughs)

Mia:
And he said this is, like, the fourth or fifth interview, and you're gone for hours, they're gonna offer you the job.

Doug:
Yeah, it's coming your way.

Mia:
And I said, they're not gonna offer me the job. And then they offered me the job.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And now, oh my God, you know.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And so I talked to Tony about it and he said, well, uh, here's what I got for ya. You know, and, and ...

Doug:
Oh wow.

Mia:
... that, to me, was, like, I knew the, the learning curve was gonna be just incredible. You know, the other job would have been great if I wanted to be somebody corporate, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... uh, you know, and, and work my way up out of wine making into some corporate thing. You know, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
.... some executive, vice-president, or what have you.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
Um, which there's nothing wrong with that, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... but that wasn't me. Um, and so I took less money and went to work, uh, with Tony. Uh, and for a while there I was, kind of, slotted to be the winemaker at Spottswoode. I didn't really ... I realized working, uh, a little bit with Tony that I didn't want to be at just one place.

Doug:
'Cause he was consulting. So he ... at that time he was consulting with a number of wineries.

Mia:
He was, yeah.

Doug:
So he, he hired you, uh, to help him out, ...

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
... 'cause he had a big load.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Yeah, yup. He had a big, big load.

Doug:
Because I, because I think he, he ... wasn't he? He was the initial winemaker at Spottswoode.

Mia:
He was.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
He was.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
And, so you were headin' that way, but you said no thanks.

Mia:
Yeah, I, I just ... I would ... I knew I would rather be working with multiple wineries at ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
... that point. You know, you think about it, I think about it, starting at Chappellet, it's an isolated winery, you know?

Doug:
Yes.

Mia:
It's up on a hill. Um, so you don't get a lot of interaction with other wineries when you're up there. And just even coming to Pepi, and having the interaction, you know, you can, actually, borrow stuff. I remember, you know, um, I forget if we borrowed a forklift, or if Far Niente brought, borrowed a forklift from us. And we drove it, you know, all the way across 29 and up Oakville, you know.

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
And you couldn't do that at Chappellet. I mean it's ... everything's too far away, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... you know. Just to go to the hardware store was a big deal. And, so, from that, to Pepi, to then working with several wineries?

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Wow. I mean, that is just, like, you know, fruit from all over the place. All kinds of different ownership going on. Wineries getting built. Uh, I, I couldn't, I couldn't pass that up.

Doug:
Equipment, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... cooperage differences, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... uh, ...

Mia:
Yeah, it was ...

Doug:
... you know, approaches. That's, kind of, neat.

Mia:
For, for a young winemaker, that was ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... really, really exciting.

Doug:
So would it, uh, uh ... this is, so this is what year, 1990ish?

Mia:
1990 yeah.

Doug:
And so you're, uh, workin' with Tony. Are you, like, uh, divide and conquer? Or are you both, kind of, workin' with each of his accounts? 'Cause the list is ...

Mia:
Yeah, yeah, we were ...

Doug:
Uh, S-, S-, Spottswoode, Araujo, Viader, Dalla Valle, Bressler, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... Fisher.

Mia:
And we didn't have all ...

Doug:
Uh ...

Mia:
... of those to start with. But we had ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... usually six at one time. (laughs)

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Uh, we worked together a lot. Um, and, then there were times when, uh, when it was just me or just him. But we worked together a whole lot. And, uh, um, especially early years when we were at Rombauer, we had a lot of the clients that were at Rombauer. Um, custom crushing.

Doug:
Custom crushing, ...

Mia:
We were, ...

Doug:
... okay.

Mia:
... we were, kind of, 24/7 there.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Uh, um, during harvest, especially.

Doug:
Okay, so you, s- ... all right. So I'm ... I don't ... I won't ... I don't want to get my timing mixed up.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
So, but in '91 you started Selene.

Mia:
That's right.

Doug:
Your own label.

Mia:
I did, yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
You know, it was one of those ...

Doug:
So, you, you were consult ... you're workin' with Tony, you're consulting, you start your own label, custom crushing, you're busy.

Mia:
Yeah, a little bit, yeah.

Doug:
(Laughs) What was that like? Fun?

Mia:
It was, it was awesome. You know I was 29 or 30 years old.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
So, that's when you do stuff like that. I can't ... to think about it now, uh, I'll pop a few more gray hairs just thinkin' about it. Uh, but back then it was, it was so awesome. You know, it was really good, it was ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... really good. I'd really, really needed to have something of my own. And when I was working with Tony, I mean they were, they were his clients, you know? They were his clients.

Doug:
His, right.

Mia:
Um, and so he really encouraged me. He said I'll, I'll help you as much as I can, you know, ...

Doug:
Nice.

Mia:
... uh, with, with starting a brand of your own. And he certainly did. It was, it was, um, it was really, really helpful, uh, to have his ...

Doug:
Oh yeah.

Mia:
... experience and expertise in so many ways. Uh, but it was, it was what I ... it, it was the best thing. It was the best thing ever, but, yeah. It was ... people often ask me, you know, well how are ya doin' this, you know? You got this many, and it's just, like, welp, I get up early and I go to bed late most days, and ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... put a hundred miles on the car about every day, just drivin' from place to place, you know.

Doug:
But it's your own baby, it's got your name on it.

Mia:
Oh yeah. It was, it was just great. And I even wholesaled the wines for the first two or three years here in California myself. So I was doin' deliveries and just all, kind of, crazy ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
Boy, crazy stuff.

Doug:
All right so that's goin' on.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And that's still goin' on 20, 20 years later.

Mia:
Yeah, yup, yeah.

Doug:
I did, I did the math.

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
And then, but meanwhile, you're still working' with Tony.

Mia:
Yup.

Doug:
At some point Tony rides off ... well he doesn't ride off in the sunset, but I think he, he's, he, he backed out of consulting at some point.

Mia:
Oh man, well it was, like, it's weird. So we ... there's, also, more back story. So Francois Peschon, who ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... hosted our tastings when were even younger people at Davis, becomes the assistant winemaker at Rombauer, uh ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... when we're custom crushing there.

Doug:
Oh, I didn't know she worked there. Okay.

Mia:
She's having ... she's taking leave to have her first child, and we go and steal her away because we need some, we need more people. Uh, ...

Doug:
Oh, he, he grabbed her, okay, or ...

Mia:
So we, we grabbed her. And she was perfect, 'cause she wanted to get somethin' part-time.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Didn't want to be full-time 'cause she's got Isabelle, you know?

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Um, and, uh, so it worked out really well. And about that time, Tony, uh, you know, leases his own place on Big Ranch Road.

Doug:
Well that's right. The old, uh, Monticello place.

Mia:
Yeah, the old ...

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Mia:
... chateau, ...

Doug:
Right the chateau. Yeah, ...

Mia:
... uh, place.

Doug:
... uh, right.

Mia:
So, ...

Doug:
I remember that.

Mia:
... um, we're puttin' that together. Araujo's building a winery. I think that was '93. And that ... I think that was the most challenging harvest that I ... but the funnest harvest. I was up there. We were crushing at Araujo. We were crushing at, you know, Etude, down, ...

Doug:
Yeah, Big Ranch.

Mia:
Oh man, it was, it was incredible.

Doug:
You're runnin'.

Mia:
Yeah, runnin', runnin.

Doug:
It was a tough year, too, I remember that. Challenging.

Mia:
It, it was a challenging year, ...

Doug:
It was a cool year, yeah.

Mia:
... a challenging year.

Doug:
Okay, so you're doin' that. So he's got Etude goin', and he keeps consulting. When does he, kind of, back out of con-, consulting?

Mia:
He, he backs out of consulting really hard in '98.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
But he was, he was backin' down, you know, because he was lookin' for property in, you know, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... wantin' to do, wantin' to do other things. And consulting is really f-, really a good thing, but it can, it can drain you really. And, especially Etude was a really going business. I mean it was, you know, um, ...

Doug:
It was goin' ...

Mia:
... he had employees. I mean, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... real employees, you know? And that's ... so, it was a going thing, you know, with bank loans and that whole, ...

Doug:
The whole thing, ...

Mia:
... that whole ...

Doug:
... yeah.

Mia:
... nine yards.

Doug:
And selling it, and marketing it, the whole thing.

Mia:
And marketing it and all that, sort of, stuff.

Doug:
So he, he backs down. So you, uh, you, basically, step in and take over the cli-, clients.

Mia:
Right, exactly.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
Yeah. Which, at that point, were, um, Dalla Valle and Spottswoode for a short period of time.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Viader, um, ... I took on Fisher, kind of, independently, a little bit later. Um, ...

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
... and Bressler had be-, Bressler had become a client as well, independently.

Doug:
What was that like for you? It was more work.

Mia:
No, it was, it was ...

Doug:
Was it go-, good?

Mia:
... good. You know, there can be, um ... it was all good. Uh, there can be, kind of, a triangulation that happens sometimes, you know, when you have ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... ownership, and consultant, and, then, the assistant to the consultant, you know?

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Um, there can get to be a triangulation ...

Doug:
Too, too much, right.

Mia:
... that can make it more complicated. Um, and this, actually, made it simpler.

Doug:
Yes.

Mia:
It, actually, made it simpler just to work directly with clients, uh, you know, then ...

Doug:
And you've, and you've continued on. You're still a consultant?

Mia:
Yes, still consulting, yeah.

Doug:
Still have a number of clients?

Mia:
Uh, just a couple right now.

Doug:
Just a couple, okay.

Mia:
Just a couple right now. Yeah, Bressler has, has wound down, but, uh Cimarossa is a cabernet client up on, uh, Howell Mountain, and they also have a little tiny bit of Nebbiolo, which is really fun. Doug Aha, ha, uh-huh (affirmative).

Mia:
And, then real consulting at, uh, Palmaz, ...

Doug:
Palmaz, ...

Mia:
... Vineyard.

Doug:
... that's right.

Mia:
They have a full-time winemaker, Tina Mitchell, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... who's awesome.

Doug:
I know Tina.

Mia:
Uh, so that's really, just, ...

Doug:
Nice.

Mia:
... actual consulting rather than contract wine making.

Doug:
You still like it?

Mia:
Yeah, love it.

Doug:
Yeah, I've gotta ask you though. So, I've always wondered with you guys who consult with ... for more than one wine, winery. And you, you know, you've done it for years with ... it's, it's gotta be a juggling. And how do you handle the thing ... I mean, let's say you have five or six clients, and two or three are just ... the wines are just out of sight and getting high ... so you hate to say high scores, but whatever, they're ... And the other, like, there's two, three clients that aren't gettin' the same scores. Do they, the, the ones that aren't doing as well come to you and say, hey, you know, what's goin' on? Have you given me my full, you know ... are you tellin' those guys things you're not tellin' me? And, how, how do you handle? Does that happen? Or how do you handle that?

Mia:
Well you know, I, I think, you know, scores are one thing, but everybody always wants higher scores. It's funny, you can get a hundred points and, you know, ...

Doug:
S-, ...

Mia:
... what do you do after that, right?

Doug:
... still not good enough, right. (laughs)

Mia:
Yeah, yeah, what do you do after that? Um, so the score thing is always there with every single client. It's, it's always there, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... whether, whether it's spoken or not. And it's okay, it's the part of the business.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Um, but the thing is, is how much time you're spending somewhere else. Everybody thinks that when you're not there, you know, you're, you're spendin' time. And so you, you, you pick your clients out, uh, uh ... You work with people that, you know, you have, you can have a good personality relationship. And there are people that realize that it's not how many hours you're spending there, ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
... you know what I mean? So, and it doesn't mean that you're helpin' the guy down the road.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Uh, you're not, necessarily, there. But that does happen, I can tell ya.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Yeah, people you would think, oh, they're down, they're over there in the morning, ...

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Mia:
... you know, doin' this now. And it's just, it's part of the thing. It's part of the thing. If, if you, if you want something different, you need a full-time winemaker. An employee ...

Doug:
Good point.

Mia:
... that shows up and you pay them, and you have benefits, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... and, you know, ...

Doug:
Right, good point.

Mia:
... all, all that. That's fine. You can, you can, definitely, do that.

Doug:
Just ... it's their choice.

Mia:
And it, and everybody comes to that point at some ... if they're successful. You know, Tony used to use the ... you get to a hundred tons, it's time to start thinkin' about, you need to have your own facility, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... and, therefore, you need to have full-time, some full-time employees, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... you know. So ...

Doug:
So what's the secret to a successful consulting relationship?

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
Uh, you know, it's matching personalities.

Doug:
Interesting.

Mia:
And, so, you know, uh, clients that Andy Erickson works with, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... that Aaron Pott works with, that Heidi Barrett, she doesn't work with too many now. Work, works with ... are different then, then people that I'd work with. Celia Welch, you know, the same thing. We've, we've had ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... several, almost, crossovers, especially Celia and I, and she ends up with somebody very happy, and I end up with the other very happy.

Doug:
Interesting.

Mia:
You know, so, uh, it, it's all, all of that. So it's, it's personalities. There's, uh, there's a really good book that I've found, uh, ... Doug (Laughs)

Mia:
... a very, very useful. It's called The Four Tendencies. It's by a woman named Gretchen Rubin. And she divides people up, and it's all based on how you respond to your own inner expectations, whether you, um, take care of those, and how you respond to outer expectations, how you take care of those. And based on that, she divides people up for ... it is very, very useful. It's, it's very useful to know your own, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... 'cause then it makes it easier to spot the people that you'll work with very, very easily. You know, and it's also experience. I mean, you know, every one of my clients, um, I'm happy to say, I don't, you know, turn and walk the other way, even if we didn't part ways, you know, ...

Doug:
Good.

Mia:
... very nicely. No problem, you know. And it's ... oftentimes it's even a better relationship. But it's ... the working relationship is something that's different.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
It, it very much is something that's different, so.

Doug:
Well good for you.

Mia:
And you know this business Doug, right?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
I mean we talk about, people talk about six degrees of separation among everybody in the world. Well, if you're in wine and food, there's less than a degree.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
So you have to, um, you have to let bygones be bygones ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... and nobody's wrong. They just ... people need to head in the direction that they need to ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... head in. And that's, that's the way it is, so.

Doug:
Sound advice my friend.

Mia:
Oh boy.

Doug:
(Laughs) So back to Selene.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
The name. Tell me about the origin of the name.

Mia:
Oh yeah. That's a, it's a tough thing to do when you're not putting your own name on the, uh, on the label. Uh, to find a name that really clicks.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
And Selene, actually, comes from, uh, Greek mythology. She is the mother goddess of the full moon.

Doug:
Hm.

Mia:
So, most people are familiar with Artemus or in the Roman Diana, who's the maiden god, well goddess of the waxing moon.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
And, then, Selene, or Luna, in the Roman, is the mother goddess of the full moon. And then Hecate is the old, wise crone goddess of the waning moon. So it's maiden, mother, crone. And ...

Doug:
Got it.

Mia:
... it's just ... I, I like moon stuff. I'm not really that much into biodynamics or things like that. But, to me, knowing where the moon is, really grounds me. Uh, doesn't matter where you are. You could be selling wine in New York, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... the moon is gonna be in the same phase as it is here in Napa Valley.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
So, if you're at a place where you can see it, and the moon's at a place where you can go look at it, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... it'll look the same.

Doug:
I'm a moon guy.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Big time.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
All my kids are too. It's really cool. Super. And you make, uh, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot?

Mia:
Yeah, and in 2002 we added a cabernet, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... which didn't last too long. Uh, a number of years.

Doug:
Napa Valley, now makin' cab, look at you.

Mia:
Yeah, you know, and, you know, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... you do that for your clients. I do that ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... for my clients. Uh, that's ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... what I do. And it's, uh, as you know, um, when you make something that's popular like that, you think, okay, good. I want to be in this groove, but there's a lot of competition in that groove.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
F-, um, for grapes, uh, for sales.

Doug:
It's brutal.

Mia:
It's, it's a tough one, and you know that better than anybody.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
And, um, es-, especially you, kind of, have to be in a luxury category, you know. And it's a whole different ball of wax in the, in the luxury category. It's not somethin', not something I've been with Selene.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
So it, it just, uh ... And the vineyard I ... the vineyards I've worked with, too, uh, over time just didn't, didn't really work out. I ... it, it was great to do it, I was really happy to do it, and it was profitable. But you see the writing on the wall, is the prices keep going up.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
And, uh, wholesale, kind of, shuts down a little bit more and more. Um, I think Cabernet Franc too. And then the Franc is really fun, 'cause we put a slightly different label on the bottle. (laughs) It's, actually, a picture of my mother water skiing ...

Doug:
I was, uh ...

Mia:
... in the, in the 40s.

Doug:
I was gonna ask you about that.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
It's a great label.

Mia:
Yeah, it's a really awesome label.

Doug:
And the, the name is ...

Mia:
Chesler.

Doug:
So that's Chesler. Her maiden ...

Mia:
Ch- ...

Doug:
... name, right?

Mia:
That was her maiden name, exactly. Yeah, yeah. So, ...

Doug:
Well I was gonna comment earlier. You know, the way you talk about your mom, you guys had a, had a pretty special, special thing.

Mia:
We did. We had a good, uh, a good relationship and, ...

Doug:
Yeah. Mia ... yeah. There was just, uh, you know, 'cause it wasn't just a generation, it was, like, three generations between, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... between us age-wise. So, uh, it was ... it's, actually, easier, I think, to, uh, get along ...

Doug:
The ...

Mia:
... that way, but ...

Doug:
Well that, that comes through.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
It comes through. It's special.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
And, um, uh, total production is what? Not, not monstrous?

Mia:
Not monstrous at all. Yeah, we're, we're about 1500 cases now. So we've been up, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... up around 4,000. Uh, but, you know, back in the early '90s, times were different. Sales could take a different route. Um, you remember Mary Danielak, uh, ...

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mia:
... down at Oakville Grocery, ...

Doug:
Oakville Grocery.

Mia:
... back, back in the day. I mean distributors used to come from all over the country and ask her, hey, what's, what's hot?

Doug:
What's goin' on?

Mia:
Yeah, what's hot out here?

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Uh, that's long gone.

Doug:
I know.

Mia:
That's long gone. Very different. Um, and, uh, so it, it makes, uh, more challenging to move, move bigger.

Doug:
And you're dependent ... you don't have any of your own grapes. You're dependent on growers.

Mia:
Exactly.

Doug:
And, uh ... Well I think there's one grower who is pretty special. His name is Larry Hyde.

Mia:
Oh Larry is ...

Doug:
(Laughs)

Mia:
... the best, man.

Doug:
Is ...

Mia:
Larry is absolutely the best. So ...

Doug:
You buyin' Sauvignon Blanc from him?

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah?

Mia:
Uh, he's, he's just the best. He's the best guy, uh, ever. And the biggest character. Yeah, one of the bigger characters in the valley, in a, ...

Doug:
I ...

Mia:
... in a very good way.

Doug:
He's the best. This guy ... I've gotta have him on, because I think, ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... I think this guy is as responsible for some of the great steps in quality of wine in this valley in the late '80s, early '90s. 'Cause I was buyin' grapes from him. And we'd be out lookin' at vineyards, and he's talkin' about you and Tony. He's talkin' about Dave Ramey, he's talkin' about Paul Hobbs. He sells to all these people. And I'd be, like, ... Well, like, one time I was gettin' ready to pick. I think I'll pick on Thursday, it was a Tuesday. He goes really? I said, yeah, I think it's ready to go. He goes, hmmm, not sure. I go, what do you mean you're not sure? I'm the one, (laughs) ...

Mia:
(Laughs)

Doug:
... I'm the winemaker man. And he goes, he goes, uh, well, you know. And he's a gentleman.

Mia:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
He said, Doug, ah, you know ... because he, he cares about his fruit. He cares about where his fruit goes and what people do with it. Nobody's like that.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
No grower's like that.

Mia:
No.

Doug:
They're, like, gosh, pick it, pick as soon as you can so I can get it ...

Mia:
Yeah, please.

Doug:
... in before the rain.

Mia:
Right.

Doug:
He goes, you know, I don't know if you should do that. I go, why? He goes, you know, you know, Paul Hobbs is pickin' the block right next to you, and, you know, he's, he's waiting for another week or ten days. I said, really? He says, yeah, because he's, you know, whatever. Uh, the tannin and the acid, whatever it was. And I'd be ... I, I figured out I should listen to this guy, and I became a better winemaker from ... and he'd share everything. He wasn't telling you secrets. Hey, you know, Ramey’s doin' this, he's leafin' on this side, he's doin' this, we're gonna prune likethis for him. It was wonderful.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, you know, that's when I loved his fruit so much, we bought the Red Shoulder Ranch ...

Mia:
Right.

Doug:
... a mile away and started growin' Chardonnay down there. So I stopped buyin' grapes from him. But, I, you know, I almost feel like I should go back and buy ...

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
... ten tons every year just to have that, you know, interaction.

Mia:
Yeah, you ... I mean you go, you go to the vineyard just to take a look and, and see what's goin' on. And if you run into Larry, um, it's over because, uh, ...

Doug:
(Laughs) Yeah.

Mia:
... if you're not just gonna go see your block, you're gonna get in a side-by-side, and he's gonna go through, my guess, is more than 60 percent of the blocks that he has, ...

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
... and talk about what's goin' on, talk about what this wine, where the fruit's goin', what the winemaker, you know, is doin', and, and all. Uh, I mean, and, it's just, it's very interesting. You, you can't, you can't say no. But, you know, you, you have to put it on your schedule. Okay, ...

Doug:
Yeah, you gotta spend, you gotta spend ...

Mia:
... it's not just gonna be a ...

Doug:
... a couple hours with him.

Mia:
... half hour stop, ...

Doug:
It's, um ...

Mia:
... at, at Hyde, it's gonna be an hour and half to two hours, ...

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
... period.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Just do it.

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
So Mia I've got to ask you, because I get emails and- from people about The Taste. And- and l- lately, I've been getting a lot them. They say we- we're curious. You know, what are- what do your guests drink at home? You know, they- they drinking- Is Mia drinking her Sauvignon Blanc and her- her Merlot, or Cab Franc or what's she drinking at home?

Mia:
You know sure, I do drink, uh, I do drink some of my own wines. So I, uh, you know, one of the reasons I make them are because I like it. Uh, I've seen with Cabernet Franc, so when I'm g- going off the- off the farm, uh-

Doug:
(laughs) Off the farm. I like that.

Mia:
It's going to be most likely a Nebbiolol or-

Doug:
Hmm.

Mia:
Or a Cabernet Franc from somewhere. You know, uh, you know definitely, Barolo, Barbaresco, Betlange. There's- There's, uh, some very interesting, uh, Nebbiolos out there. And, uh, you know Franc from all over- Loire …

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Or just- It's really fun to taste those wines from- from different areas, because they make quite different wines. Uh-

Doug:
Yeah. That's- That's something I like doing. Just drinking things from different parts of the world, because it's fun.

Mia:
Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:
Even if it's solid, I pop the cork because I- I really don't like this that much, but then, I'm kind of like curious about it. It's like why don't I like, and what's going on? That's - That keeps the-

Mia:
And where does this fit in? It fits in for somebody.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
You know, somebody-

Doug:
Yeah.

Mia:
Somebody likes it at the place that it's from and the food that it goes with. Is it- yeah?

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
To quote one of my co-workers who has- has a famous quote, if we- sometimes we'll taste the wine. It's not everyone's favorite. He'll say, every wine needs friends."

Mia:
There you go.

Doug:
So there you go. (laughs)

Mia:
And champagne also God.

Doug:
Ohh.

Mia:
Oh, man I love champagne.

Doug:
There you go.

Mia:
Yeah, I love champagne. So and the market is- has been so good lately. You can find stuff in that 35 to 65 dollar range that is-

Doug:
Just beautiful

Mia:
Awesome. Yeah. It's really good. So that's- And champagne is- is that way because I - I know how it's made, but I've never made it, you know.

Doug:
Ah-hah.

Mia:
You know what I mean.

Doug:
There you go.

Mia:
I think sometimes at winemaker dinners, you know, guess the grapes that Mia hasn't worked with. Yo know, and you get a free whatever it takes.

Doug:
(laughs)

Mia:
It takes people a long time to come up with, you know.

Doug:
(laughs) Takes people long-

Mia:
But champagne is something-

Doug:
Champagne's one.

Mia:
I have not done. Yeah.

Doug:
I remember that.

Mia:
Yeah.

Doug:
All right

Doug:
So, Selene Wines, I love them, sometimes it's hard for me to find them, even though, you know, I got your phone. So if people out there are curious, where, how can they find your wines. Where, where would they go?

Mia:
You know, the best place is to go to selenewines.com.

Doug:
Okay.

Mia:
And, uh, order off the website. A lot of the local restaurants will carry one or two of the wines if it's, uh, you know, the Merlot or the Sauvignon Blanc.

Doug:
Right.

Mia:
Uh, a lot of times you'll, you'll find them around Napa and Sonoma area.

Doug:
Around Napa, okay.

Mia:
Yeah, San Francisco as well. But, yeah, the, the websites the best place.

Doug:
So, selenewines.com.

Mia:
Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
That's, I'm gonna spell it.

Mia:
That's S-E-L-E-N-E-W-I-N-E-S.com.

Doug:
Perfect.

Mia:
All right.

Doug:
All right. Well listen, my friend, um, it's so good to see you. Thank you. It's, uh, you know, I learned so much about you that I didn't know. And I knew that was gonna happen. And, uh, it's great having you.

Mia:
Oh, it's been fun, Doug, thank you.

Doug:
So, um, stay in touch. Don't be a stranger.

Mia:
All right.

Doug:
Keep makin' good wine.

Mia:
You bet.

Doug:
All right we'll see you.

Mia:
Okay.