Paul Hobbs Podcast 69 MINUTES

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

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Doug Shafer and Paul Hobbs

He grew up one of 11 children on an apple farm and went on to become one of the most celebrated names in the world of wine. The epic story of Paul Hobbs includes names such as Robert Mondavi, Zelma Long, Larry Hyde, Michel Rolland, and Andy Beckstoffer and winds through Napa, Sonoma, the Finger Lakes, Argentina, France, Spain, and Armenia. You won’t want to miss this great wine adventure. Enjoy!

For more visit: paulhobbswinery.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
Everybody welcome back to The Taste. Doug Shafer here today, again. We've got a special guest, um, a, a fellow who I've been dying to get in here because I've never spent much time to get to know him. It's, uh, Mr. Paul Hobbs. Paul, welcome.

Paul Hobbs:
Doug, thank you. Great to be here.

Doug:
So, Paul, here's the deal. My dad went to Cornell. Your folks went to Cornell. We're about the same age. We were at Davis at about the same time. We have, we're in the same industry, same occupation. We know a lot of the same people, we've parallel tracked for 30 years, plus but we don't know each other.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) I mean, I had to start a podcast to get to know you.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
So that's what, that's what we're doing here today. So, uh, let's start in the beginning man, where'd you grow up?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, I was born in Buffalo and then one county to the north.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Niagara is my early stomping grounds and my parents as you, as you mentioned Doug they, they met at Cornell University. Um, I won't go into all the details of that.

Doug:
Oh, that's okay.

Paul Hobbs:
But they, but they basically moved back to my father's farm, which was started by, uh, my great-grandmother. Um, and so and she was married to a doctor and, uh, but she started the farm and then now, it's in the fourth generation.

Doug:
Wow. Where's the farm?

Paul Hobbs:
It's right along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
In a very small, it's, it's near Niagara Falls.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
About 20 miles east of Niagara Falls.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So it's a fruit farm and actually well, I was born in the '50s and so, you know it was right after the war. We also had chickens and other things but basically we, we be, we largely became, uh, dedicated to fruit fr, fruit growing.

Doug:
And fruit was?

Paul Hobbs:
Orchards.

Doug:
Uh, orchards, apples?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah or.

Doug:
Mostly apples.

Paul Hobbs:
Mostly apples. Over 600 acres of-

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
A lot, uh, we had, we had a lot of apples. (laughs)

Doug:
You grew up growing apples. So were you like, you were in school but weekends and after school, you're working on the farm?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, pretty much, uh, because, uh, we were a working family, so.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
We worked on the weekends. We worked in the evenings. And I, I, I promised myself I would never be a farmer for that reason.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
And looked what happened.

Paul Hobbs:
But we didn't play high school sports or any of that kind of thing because there was just a lot of work to do.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
So, and we were also teetotalers.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
But because well, tell me were, were the apples for straight fr, fr, fruit, fresh fruit apples or were they for cider or?

Paul Hobbs:
Some was for fresh, but I would say the majority was either, for sauce or to be made in secondary products.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Uh, juicing or what have you. But, um, so, my, my, my mother had made a pact with my father.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Um, that there'd be no alcoholic beverages served at the family table, so that's an irony that I, I, I ended up making wine. (laughs)

Doug:
Well, I've got a parallel, another parallel. Not myself, but my grandfather, my dad's dad, was a teetotaler.

Paul Hobbs:
Hmm.

Doug:
Same deal. Yeah in, uh, suburban Chicago. And I remember dad tells a story, he came back from the war, after flying a bomb, B-24 bomber.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
You know for 12, 11 or 12 missions. And it's like, he's 21 or 22 and he brought a six pack home, beer home. And his dad's like, "Get that beer out of here." And it's just like, after being (laughs), you know, shot at.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs).

Doug:
By the, in the war, he still couldn't have a beer in his house.

Paul Hobbs:
Sure.

Doug:
And then he ended up being a wine make, wine maker like you.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
How funny.

Paul Hobbs:
That's how it works I guess. (laughs)

Doug:
Was, was the whole you know, that right now the big thing back there is the whole hard cider movement. Was that, was that people making cider at that point?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, yes, uh.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But not so much commercially, it was just sort of like you made your own little hard cider, I suppose during the aut, you know the Autumn period.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And, uh, you know cider, uh, we call it sweet or hard. And, and, um-

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
But now it's kind of, a phenomenon. It's actually something I'm kind of interested in. I'm not sure I'll ever get to do it myself but we still have the farm and the apples. So and this, kind of part of the United States, I'll be it, Washington State might give me some, some grief.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
But, but I would say that, uh, that, that, that the, the highest quality apples in the US are produced kind of up in this western New York region. Um, at least that's what I'd like to say. (laughs)

Doug:
Well I, I had a guy come through here about a year ago, who was, lived back there and was in the cider business.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And he came, he called me up and he said, "Can I come pick your brain?" This is fascinating, I said, "Sure but what for, I don't know anything about cider, I'm a wine guy." And he was, he started telling me the story, what they're doing up there.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
And all the different ciders and they started and he wants some, some tips about marketing and sales with a, you know, quote, higher end product, if you will. Which was great, we had a great conversation but I learned a ton. And all of a sudden he starts talking about varietals of apples.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And different, you know giving different characters or flavors. And they start, he actually started talking about location, a la Terroir.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And I'm like going.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
This is like the grape business, this is like the fine wine grape business.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
You know different varieties, different Terroir.

Paul Hobbs:
Very much so.

Doug:
Yeah, it's fascinating.

Paul Hobbs:
It, it, it and you know that the area, apples de, develop flavor and color, they need it cold. And that part of that, you know we're talking Buffalo New York.

Doug:
It's cold isn't it? (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
It's cold. (laughs) And they love it there, so you get the flavor that you need to make really flavorful ciders.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Or Eau de Vies, as well.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
I mean all that's possible up there and it's happening now.

Doug:
Well listen, you got the apples, you know I got a little spare time, since Elias will run this thing.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
You know, uh, I'm coming back.

Paul Hobbs:
Come on.

Doug:
Partnership, here we go. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I will, I, I, I'd love to do that.

Doug:
It'd be fun.

Paul Hobbs:
We're building a winery, as you may know in, in the Finger Lakes. So that's gonna be for grapes and the, that's all dedicated to white Riesling.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Uh, varieties but, uh, in the back of my mind I'm thinking, you know if we wanna make some Eau de Vie and maybe some, some ciders as well. We'll see if that ever happens but.

Doug:
All right.

Paul Hobbs:
I gotta convince some of my brothers to do that. (laughs)

Doug:
You can do it.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
And a white Riesling sounds good.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
That'd be fun.

Doug:
All right, so New York, uh, on the family farm, high school you know, high school was probably small town USA, I'm assuming.

Paul Hobbs:
Pretty.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Pretty small.

Doug:
And then, um, growing apples with your folks, working on the farm. Um, when did you get into wine, how'd that happen?

Paul Hobbs:
Well. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
That's the, the paradox of my life, I suppose. But you know, my father at some moment decided that in our line of work.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Our business, um, and the way things were being done in, in the state with taxes and so on.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
That we weren't gonna make it just farming fruit, as a family.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
And so he started venturing to, uh, the Finger Lakes area, where you had Taylor Wine Company, Widmer, Great Western and so on.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Konstantin Frank.

Doug:
Right I remember, I remember hearing about, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And all these fellows, he got some contracts from Taylor to grow grapes, on our farm. So we started converting but not to get ahead of myself.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
But essentially, my father decided well, it was time to break the pact that he had made with my mother, so.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
When I, (laughs) when I was around 16, 17 years old.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Uh, we were sitting around the family table for dinner one night and there were, at that point there were nine of the 11 children, uh, born. And I was, I'm the second oldest. And my father came out, this is a winter's evening and my father came out with a tray of dixie cups, filled with a yellow-orange liquid and asked us to try it.

Doug:
Dixie Cups, 11 kids, I didn't know that about you, wow, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, there were a lot of children but not all of them were there yet. (laughs)

Doug:
Right. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I didn't know that at the moment but. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
But at any rate, uh, my dad asked us to try this liquid that was and describe it to him. My mother said it was like apricots and peaches.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And so on and, and I said honey and, and you know vanilla. And basically, uh, my mother said it was like the best thing she ever tasted, what kind of fruit juice was it?

Doug:
Oh, she'd, oh.

Paul Hobbs:
And it was in fact, um, something a little more interesting than fruit juice. What we didn't know is, dad had gone up to, um, a place called Premier Liquors.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And consulted with a wine specialist there, how to put wine on the family table, without his wife's radar detecting it.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs) And they're and so, in fact it was a 1962 Chateau d'Yquem.

Doug:
d'Yquem, '62 d'Yquem.

Paul Hobbs:
A '62 d'Yquem and that was.

Doug:
In a Dixie, in a Dixie Cup.

Paul Hobbs:
In a Dixie Cup.

Doug:
Oh.

Paul Hobbs:
And that was my first introduction to wine. And that was like an epiphany for me.

Doug:
Huh.

Paul Hobbs:
Because I had never tasted and so, I was asking my mother, well if wine tastes this good and you said it was like the best thing you ever tasted, why are we? (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) No.

Paul Hobbs:
So the evening didn't go down very well but.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
My dad's motive was to and in particular with me, to interest me in the vine and to help him plant vineyards on the family farm. And so that's, that was the whole impotence of that.

Doug:
That's why you did it.

Paul Hobbs:
That event. And so, later that year, that was January.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
In, uh, '69 and then later that year I, um, started helping my father plant vineyards.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
For New York state based wineries. And curiously, um, our neighbors when they found out what we were doing, were really upset with us.

Doug:
They were upset with you?

Paul Hobbs:
We were just growing the grapes but they would, I mean this is how provincial it used to be.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Um, in that part of the, upstate New York area.

Doug:
They're upset because it's apples are a fruit or nothing, no.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, they thought we were growing an alcoholic beverage and that was sacrilegious or something to that effect.

Doug:
Ah, ah, there you go.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep, that was pretty, so but then we started growing grapes. And then my father, I wanted to go into med school.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
But my father decided after I got accepted to med school, that in fact I should go up to Davis. And that's, he won. He, he insisted that I go out to Davis, at least give winemaking a try.

Doug:
Really?

Paul Hobbs:
Because his idea was, go out to Davis, make some wine, come back to New York and build a winery.

Doug:
As opposed to, go to med school.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Be a doctor, have a pretty you know, pretty solid career going with medicine.

Paul Hobbs:
That's, my, my guidance counselor was taking me that way. (laughs)

Doug:
And your dad was. (laughs) So your dad talked you into going to Davis?

Paul Hobbs:
He's the one that really, yeah. And also a professor, I went to the University of Notre Dame.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And, uh, my senior year I took a course in botany. And my botany professor had a, he had worked for brother, under brother Timothy.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
As a winemaker and, and so he had a wine appreciation course there. So it wasn't long before he figured I was planting vineyards.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And then he talked to my dad and the two of them are the ones that collaborated.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
To change my career path. (laughs)

Doug:
So yeah, so you were at Notre Dame for four years? You got a-

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, I did four year.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Program there.

Doug:
Okay, great.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And then instead of med school, you went out to Davis. So you show up in Davis, what year would that be?

Paul Hobbs:
1975.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And I was a sophomore then, I just, so. Okay, so you, that-

Paul Hobbs:
And so I was in the master's program.

Doug:
Got it, so that's why I never saw you.

Paul Hobbs:
So you're, you're, you, I thought you were younger, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, well I'm not that much younger.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
But I thought we didn't see each other because you were probably studying. And I was like going to keggers and things like that.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Which actually, I was because I was a sophomore and you're, you know you're in the post-grad program. But that's why, okay, our paths didn't cross.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
So I was working under Vernon Singleton, you, I'm sure you know.

Doug:
I'm, I had Vernon for, uh, ch, ch, ch, what was it? Intro to wine, but intro to wine, Vit 3.

Paul Hobbs:
Well I was a TA, maybe you were in my class. (laughs)

Doug:
Could've been. And then, uh, did you ever have Doctor Cook, he was crazy.

Paul Hobbs:
I never had him.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
I knew who, I knew him.

Doug:
You knew who he was.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Doctor Lider, Boulton was great.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Some of those guys.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
How fun.

Paul Hobbs:
It was great, actually I didn't think I was gonna like it, in fact it terrified me.

Doug:
Hmm.

Paul Hobbs:
Because you know I read in the curriculum, I didn't know anything about wine. So I read in the curriculum that you needed these special skills, that were god given.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And, (laughs) so I was thinking, oh this is, I'd rather go on to med school and you know, continue.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Because it was very intimidating to go and then it turned out that a number of my classmates were names that I knew, that you know from just studying up on wine.

Doug:
Winemaking.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Famous California winemakers and some from France and so on, as classmates. I, I have no business being here. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
But my father insisted that I give it a year, it turned out that I was, I started to enjoy it.

Doug:
Good, so that was a two year gig.

Paul Hobbs:
Right, two years.

Doug:
And then, uh, and then your first, first job was Mondavi, is that what I?

Paul Hobbs:
That's correct, yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
I interviewed with Zelma Long.

Doug:
Was Zelma, was that, that's right, Zelma was at Mondavi.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
Okay, thank you.

Paul Hobbs:
So that, would've been 1977. I did an internship.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
In '77, I started full-time in '78. But I couldn't get Zelma to hire me, so I had to go to Mr. Mondavi and plead with him.

Doug:
Oh.

Paul Hobbs:
And said, I'm ready to work for you, no matter what but I had a tour at Robert Mondavi by a gay, a lady by the name of Lili Thomas and her husband, of course.

Doug:
I know Lili, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Charles.

Doug:
Charles, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And so, her tour was so informative and so high quality. I said, where there's, that's the only place I wanna work because if the tour guide knows that much, (laughs) imagine how much the winemakers know.

Doug:
So.

Paul Hobbs:
So that's, Zelma wouldn't hire me for some reason, I don't know why exactly. But I talked to Mr. Mondavi and he, he got me in.

Doug:
Okay, so that's '77, '78, so, um, I was a tour guide at Mondavi, here we go again.

Paul Hobbs:
You were?

Doug:
I was a tour guide at Mondavi.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
On the summer of, wait for it, summer of '79 because I, I got my Vit-Enology degree, then I got a teaching credential. I stayed an extra year at Davis, got a teaching credential.

Paul Hobbs:
Oh wow.

Doug:
And the summer before I got a job down in Tuscan, Arizona.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Teaching junior high school, I did it for two years. But the summer before I went down was '79, I'm living here at the folks house. I need a summer job, you're gonna love this, this was the best job in the world. Tour guide, at Mondavi, they want people that knew what they, they were talking about. And I had the education, so I could do it. But you give like two tours a day.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
45 minutes a piece, the rest of the time it's in the back room, drinking really good wine.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Eating cheese from the Oakville Grocery. I'm single, I'm 22 years old or three.

Paul Hobbs:
And such-

Doug:
I'm meeting, I'm meeting girls.

Paul Hobbs:
Beautiful girls.

Doug:
We're going to the concerts, so I was on that side. So you were in the cellar.

Paul Hobbs:
I wasn't.

Doug:
I was pry walking by you.

Paul Hobbs:
No kidding, um, that's really remarkable.

Doug:
Because we used to give the vineyard thing and we'd walk right into the, uh, cold stabilizing room.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
Where they had the centrifuges, remember those things?

Paul Hobbs:
Sure do, there were two of them sitting there.

Doug:
And yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
So right, I was, I was there, summer of '79 doing the tour guide thing, you're in the cellar. We pro, I probably walked by if I, I pry walked by every other day.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
We didn't know each other.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
How funny because I'm like the hospitality guy, dealing with all the tourists. And you're like a cellar rat, which is like.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And by, and cellar rats are cool, I mean you know nothing, nothing cooler than wearing rubber boots, right? You know because.

Paul Hobbs:
Well it's hard work.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
I, I, I thought, uh, being a farmer was tough.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But it's, you know it's cold, uh, I you know the harvest of '78 I, I worked in the cellar and it was, I did the night shift and it was, you know it was, it was nasty.

Doug:
It's cold.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs) And cold.

Doug:
It's cold, yeah, it's cold and-

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah cold and wet.

Doug:
And you're wet.

Paul Hobbs:
And hard work.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah, so that was '79, so I took off to go to Arizona to teach school. And, and you, you were at Mondavi but Opus opened up in '79, is that the first harvest?

Paul Hobbs:
Correct, yes. The first vintage was '79 but of course, it was just a pilot project, within the Robert Mondavi winery.

Doug:
Right, they did have the building, got it.

Paul Hobbs:
We just made one, one tank. 5,000 gallons of, of the 1979 Opus. So Mr. Mondavi appointed me to the Opus One, so I was a member of the inaugural winemaking team.

Doug:
Wow, I didn't know that, that's cool.

Paul Hobbs:
That was pretty cool. He did that because he, he thought the, my masters, my chemistry, all that stuff that I'd been studying. And I could speak about plant phenolics and things that are you know, nobody would, would care to talk about basically.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
But he thought that was gonna impress the French.

Doug:
There you go.

Paul Hobbs:
So he wanted me sitting there, of course the French didn't want to hear a damn thing, so. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) That was, so you're on the team. Who was, was Tim the winemaker?

Paul Hobbs:
Tim.

Doug:
Tim was.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And Zel-

Paul Hobbs:
Zelma was like in transition, at that point.

Doug:
She was moving on.

Paul Hobbs:
She was, she moved over to Simi Winery.

Doug:
That's right.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Because that was I, that's what I was trying to remember, where Zelma was.

Paul Hobbs:
I think she began her first harvest in '79, at Simi.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
So she was moving and so, Tim took over?

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
And then Brad Warner came on the scene later but Brad was more of a production winemaker, I guess.

Paul Hobbs:
He was production manager.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, he ran all the production basically.

Doug:
This was a, a guy named Brad Warner, at Robert Mondavi, who was so helpful to me, when I started here in '83.

Paul Hobbs:
Hmm.

Doug:
And I walked into a disaster.

Paul Hobbs:
Hmm.

Doug:
And Brett and Brettanomyces too numerous to count and just all sorts of problems. And you know, I called him up and he said, "Come on over." And he spent an hour and a half with me.

Paul Hobbs:
Wow.

Doug:
I was just like, hey what do you do about this and what do you do about that? You know, stuff they never taught you at Davis.

Paul Hobbs:
Here's my, my number one confidant at Robert Mondavi, is Brad Warner. Gre- great man.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Great man.

Doug:
Oh we have that, look.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Another one in common. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
I love it.

Paul Hobbs:
Great man.

Doug:
So you're at Mondavi, you're Opus and then you move over to Simi at, when was that?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, mm, while I, I was traveling in Europe and, uh, November of 1984.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Um, I got a call from Zelma and Dave Ramey had just, after harvest, left. Right, I forget now where he decided to go. It might of been Matanzas Creek but.

Doug:
I think it was, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, so Dave went to Matanzas and Zelma was like, "Paul, I need you here." And I was thinking, hey I'm in a good spot at Robert Mondavi. And I don't want to go to the, you know someplace in the boonies, way up north of Healdsburg.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Nobody, nobody, not even the bears go there, so. (laughs)

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
So but then I met Michael Dixon, who was you know the one armed British guy, that lost his arm.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
From a tank, during the war.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
He and, and so Zelma and, and it took them about three months, but I finally decided that, okay I'm gonna make this jump because there was no place, I had no place to go in Mondavi.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
The truth be known, I mean there was, the ceiling had been reached.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Other, Tim had, unless I married into the family. (laughs)

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
It was, it was as far as I was gonna go, so Simi did make sense. So I started there and es- essentially in the harvest of '85.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And I worked there through 1990, so it was a six year stent.

Doug:
Good and so, how was that when Zelma called you, even though she wouldn't hire you at Mondavi, she called you up, that's, that must be kind of cool, you had to know that?

Paul Hobbs:
Well we got to know each other, we were always a little bit at each other's throat because we just had a different.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
So I thought I'd never work with her again and I was surprised, A, that she called me because you know, we were like cats and dog relationship. (laughs)

Doug:
Interesting, interesting.

Paul Hobbs:
But we, I mean I respected her tremendously, of course.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
For her brilliant, she's a brilliant wine maker.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And brilliant work. But our approach was so different, I probably being a little more scientific. So we would stand in the fermentation room for example and she'd be talking about things that you know would be more, uh, I don't know, uh, what's the word I'm searching for?

Doug:
Seat of the pants and it feels like this.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, kind of.

Doug:
It's tasting like this, it's.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah and I'm going, well Zelma, (laughs) this is not rooted in anything.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
It's and so, but in some way, uh, and but she also wanted to do this thing, um, that Opus had done. And so and Michael Dixon wanted that. And so, they brought me in to work on, on authoring a new cabernet program.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And at the same time, she contacted Robert Parker because she wanted a top, French or Bordeaux consultant. That's in hence that be, that began, uh, Michel Rolland, in international consulting. His first gig was for Zelma and I at Simi Winery.

Doug:
Never knew that, wow. So she got-

Paul Hobbs:
Thanks it all to Parker, we got.

Doug:
She got his name from Parker.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
And between her and Dixon, they got him over here and he was your first client? Or is it, Simi was his first?

Paul Hobbs:
Simi was his first international client.

Doug:
Michel Rolland.

Paul Hobbs:
Of course, he had a lot of clients in Bordeaux.

Doug:
Frenchman.

Paul Hobbs:
But I don't even think he had any other clients outside of Bordeaux.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So he had his laboratory there and so on and so forth. So this was his first in, international gig.

Doug:
Wow and you were right there. You're right there.

Paul Hobbs:
We were right there.

Doug:
Right there.

Paul Hobbs:
And you know, it was fun because I'd worked with Lucian [Cino 00:22:41] before Patrick Léon that, uh, came on. And I left about the time that Patrick Léon came on for Opus One. So I had worked with French, uh, Bordeaux winemaker, you, that was a very highly respected fellow.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And then Michel was fairly a young guy, you know?

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, and his approach was so different. Um, he didn't like the vineyard too much. But he sure loved sitting there and blending. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
So we did two days nonstop, sitting at the table, blending wine. And, uh, he, he was brilliant I thought, just absolutely brilliant. I learned a lot from him.

Doug:
Wow. Man you've been exposed to so many cool people, it's really neat.

Paul Hobbs:
Well you know the funny thing that happened then, is that I was you know, I was with, um, during that, my tenure at Simi.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Simi was owned by Schieffelin & Somerset, which was, they were the US importers based in New York City.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
For Moet Chandon.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And they owned, they were our owners. But then, during my tenure, LVMH was formed.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So the Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy group took over the whole thing, Bernar- Bernard Arnault and so on and so forth. Well, now we're a part of this big, the world's largest luxury company, right?

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Then what do they want, I was this, you know even though as a young fellow, I you know I was already Senior Vice President. And so, I now had to go to all these meetings. Well, that was boring me to death and I couldn't find a way out.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
So I started looking, (laughs) I have to get outta here.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
So that's how I ended up in Argentina.

Doug:
Well I was gonna, that was my next question, how, so ar, Argentina was an escape from all these meetings. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
To simplify it.

Paul Hobbs:
Pretty, pretty much. Well you know, I was also, I was, I was at that point about 11, 12 years into my career.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And I was looking, you know how do I get my own thing going?

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And so I was thinking well, I don't have any money, so that makes it pretty tough in the wine business, being so capital intensive, right?

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So, (laughs) well basically I talked to my father and he said, "Go to Europe." And I said, "Dad, you know, listen, I wanna go someplace where I can make a difference and Europe is all done." I mean except for Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe just wasn't ready yet.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So I finally talked to a lot of people, they suggested Chile.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
Well I had a friend, Marcelo Kogan, who was, I had gone to school with at Davis.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And he had earned his PhD there, um, and he was back as a professor in Chile. So he organized a whole week of visits for me. And so I went down in March of '88 but I also invited a other, another classmate friend of mine, Jorge Catena.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And that's, uh, what I didn't recognize is the 1988 was still on their Pinoche. There was a lot of animosity that I, you know I was politically naive to the situation.

Doug:
Right, right.

Paul Hobbs:
But I invited Catena to come over to Chile to spend the week with me. Figuring he's, oh he's a buddy.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
He, Marcelo, I didn't even think to mention it to Marcelo. I just thought it was that, well when Marcelo found out about it, which was, it didn't take him long.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
He said, "You can't take him, Catena on any of the visits I've organized for you."

Doug:
Oh man.

Paul Hobbs:
And, uh, he was really strict about it. You gotta tell him to go back to Argentina, when he found out that he was in a winemaking family, it was even more for, more angry with me. (laughs)

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
So but Catena was like a stalker, he wouldn't go. And so after three days, on the fourth day finally.

Doug:
He wouldn't go, he stayed, you mean?

Paul Hobbs:
He was still there.

Doug:
Oh. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah and I was staying at Kogan's house and he'd come and park outside. And then when I said, you're making my host very uncomfortable.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And but.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Finally, I took him to Viña Canepa, in the afternoon and that got me, you know I didn't think, I wasn't seeing anything I thought was a state secret.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But word got back to Kogan and so, that was the end of my welcome in Chile. So that's how I got to Argentina, I wasn't planning to go there. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I got thrown out of Chile. (laughs)

Doug:
You got thrown out of Chile. (laughs) Paul, I never knew this about you. I always thought you were such a nice, mellow, peaceful guy.

Paul Hobbs:
Well, I thought I was.

Doug:
And like, that was too. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Pretty calm, I, I couldn't get rid of this. (laughs)

Doug:
Oh, he stalked you.

Paul Hobbs:
He was like a stalker, he wouldn't go away. So we drove over on Friday.

Doug:
That's kind of weird but that's okay.

Paul Hobbs:
It's a little bit weird.

Doug:
All right, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But it is but he would come up and go to events and say, "Hey Paul, I want you to come down and advise my family." And he'd come up to the, uh, American Society of Enology and Viticulture.

Doug:
Okay the AS, ASEV meetings, right, right.

Paul Hobbs:
Things or ASEV things every year. Well and then he'd asked me to go down there. Well when he saw that I was gonna be in Chile, he took advantage to get me, I think that's what he did.

Doug:
That's what he did, he wanted you, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So it worked.

Doug:
It worked.

Paul Hobbs:
He got me over to Argentina and we drove over the Andes, which is not the usual way in because it's pretty dangerous, that drive.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
In those days and, uh, we entered Mendoza.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And I saw some really great vineyards, right off the cuff. Better than anything I'd seen in Chile. And then I went out to the Catena vineyards and, and winery, which was in the eastern.

Doug:
This was, this was his family's vineyards, wineries, had been around for a long time, right?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, since, um, I guess late 1800s, early 19.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
So it's, they've been around, I mean. Uh, so we went out to Esmeralda, Bodegas Esmeralda, East Mendoza.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And there, I had heard that Argentina was, was this waste land of a lot of grapes but very plunky wines.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Don't drink them. And then when I tried them, I said, well they're absolutely right, these are the worst wines I'd ever tasted in my life.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
What are they doing? But you know, but the, but the vineyards, some of them looked really good.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And what, then I began to learn that Argentina had been isolationists. They weren't able to bring in good equipment. They'd essentially lost technology and so on. And, and so then I went out, they flew me to Buenos Aires to meet Nicolás Catena and that's how I got associated with them. And that's what led to the start of Paul Hobbs winery.

Doug:
You whoa, you just covered a lot really fast, in that sentence.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
So, so Nicolás Catena was Jorge's father, brother?

Paul Hobbs:
Older brother.

Doug:
Older brother, who was running Catena?

Paul Hobbs:
He was, he's, he's still running it. Well, with his daughter now, Laura.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Who I know.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
She's a sweetheart.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
She's a ER doctor in, uh-

Paul Hobbs:
In San Francisco.

Doug:
In San Francisco, um.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, I did jump that pretty quick.

Doug:
You jumped that pretty thick, quick. So you, you were consulting with those guys? But how is that?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, I started, Nicolás asked me, I met with him in his, in this, where he still lives today, in a little town in, in, in Palermo Chico.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So we met at his house, had lunch together and he asked, he told me that he was looking, he hated the business that he was in. And he, he would do anything to get out of making the kinds of wines that they were making.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So he asked me if I'd come and help him. He also told me that he had, over 10 years been bringing people but nothing is sticking. He brought professors, winemakers.

Doug:
Consultants.

Paul Hobbs:
Nothing was working.

Doug:
Yeah, right.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah. So he asked me and I told him at the same time, well I'm looking for a change too.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So we kind of made a little deal or what have you.

Doug:
Sure.

Paul Hobbs:
But I said, let's get this started, I'll come back in '89, which is what he asked me to do. Come back for harvest, I'll take my two weeks of vacation and do the harvest here. Don't put it in the press and let's see how it goes. And if we got something interesting, well we'll talk about the next step.

Doug:
Got it because you're still at Simi.

Paul Hobbs:
I was still at Simi then.

Doug:
Right, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And, and Chandon has its second most important facilities in Mendoza, Argentina.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So I didn't want any mention of that. (laughs)

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But Catena didn't hold to his word and so, after I got back in '89 from my two, two week stint, it was published in a Buenos Aires Herald that I was working with him.

Doug:
Oh no, oh Cobos.

Paul Hobbs:
And that went to Paris.

Doug:
Oh.

Paul Hobbs:
And of course, Paris, the president of Chandon, contacted Michael Dixon my, my president.

Doug:
Your boss.

Paul Hobbs:
And told me, yeah. And told me basically, he called me down to his office and he said, "Well, you know, they're gonna let you but you could, you gotta stop working for Catena.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And that put me in a pickle.

Doug:
But you, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, but that's the pickle Nicolás wanted me in.

Doug:
Oh gees, wow.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
They wouldn't.

Paul Hobbs:
I'm very manipulative.

Doug:
You know, you're a nice guy and they're doing this to you. But me, just real fast, those two weeks you had there, was it cool?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Was it cool, was it like, wow the potential here is amazing, is it one of those?

Paul Hobbs:
What I saw was great vineyards.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And a culture that loved wine. And very intelligent people, I mean I worked with Pedro Marchevsky in the morning, he was the guy that ran every, the vineyards basically.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And all of production for the Ca- Catena empire. They have over 6,000 hectares in Mendoza. It was amazing. So we would spend-

Doug:
That's 15,000 acres or something like that?

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
All right.

Paul Hobbs:
That's 15,000 acres.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
That's bigger than all of lower France. (laughs)

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs) Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So we, we would spend the morning traveling to the Valle de Uco, everywhere. Then we'd have lunch together and then we'd, I'd work in the winery with Pedro or, um, with Jose Galante and Mariano Depaula. And it was really very, very enjoyable. And so, yeah, I fell in love with that. And the first wine that we made, we put in a blind tasting, it was a Chardonnay. Nicolás wanted to make Chardonnay. So we put the Chardonnay that we fermented in concrete.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
In a blind tasting at Simi, with some California, Simi and some white burgundies. And Zelma picked it second place and overall it came in second place in the tasting. And that's what led, that's what gave us the confidence to then invest in barrels.

Doug:
Right, right.

Paul Hobbs:
And by that time, Argentina, which Catena knew, he had an inside track on what the government was gonna do.

Doug:
Oh.

Paul Hobbs:
And that they were gonna open, so he had like insider trading kind of information.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Because he was an advisor to the government in economics.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Because he had studied economics at Columbia University, so he knew that their isolationist policies were ending. And he knew that his time was, was he was gonna lose out. He had just a short period of time to be first.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So he jumped on it and so, we brought in the first barrels, small French oak barrels, ever imported into the country.

Doug:
And this is again, this is 1990?

Paul Hobbs:
1990.

Doug:
But meanwhile he, he purposely put you in a pickle with the Simi folks.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
So they said, uh, you need to stop Argentina and you can stay here at Simi, basically, something like that, that was, that was?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah I had a basic, yeah, you know they saw it as a conflict of interest.

Doug:
Sure, of course.

Paul Hobbs:
Which is what it was.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And, uh, and you know how the French abhore that.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
So well, they just gave me an ultimatum. You know you either cease and desist or you're gone. (laughs)

Doug:
And, and your, your decision was?

Paul Hobbs:
And I chose go.

Doug:
You chose go.

Paul Hobbs:
Because the reason was, um, I love my work but as I said, I was spending too much time as an administrator and an executive.

Doug:
Right, right.

Paul Hobbs:
And I want to start my own thing and Catena was open to helping me do that.

Doug:
There you go, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, he's also a partner in Paul Hobbs Winery.

Doug:
Well good, so he, all right, so even though he, even though he put you in a pickle.

Paul Hobbs:
So he, we worked it out. (laughs)

Doug:
He worked it out. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
It was good, it was good.

Doug:
That was great.

Paul Hobbs:
I knew it was good, it just wasn't good the way he did it. But he said, he knew if he didn't do it that way, he said that you know, it would never of gotten done.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
So he's probably right.

Doug:
So he published with a, he published even though he said he wouldn't, he did it. Well, it's worked out okay.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
So he, so we started Paul Hobbs winery in 1991.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
Wow. In Sebastopol, right? That's, you're still located there?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, we located it, I decided because Napa for me was just too expensive.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
I couldn't buy anything in Napa and I didn't own any but I, I started the, basically I started the winery in 1991 but I didn't own any vineyard and I didn't own any wine, I didn't have a winery. So I worked out of a shared facility at Kunde Winery, in Kenwood.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
Up till 1997. And then I moved over to Napa and worked at the Laird facility here.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Through 19 or 2002 and built a winery in 2003.

Doug:
Okay, so just built the winery then.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Got it, wow.

Paul Hobbs:
So, and then I bought my first property, um, I started the winery with about $300,000. Um, which I thought isn't very much money but you know, it was enough to get me going.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So and Larry Hyde, uh, was as you know, great, great vigneron.

Doug:
Yes.

Paul Hobbs:
Helped me with grapes and another gentleman by the name of Richard Dinner.

Doug:
The Dinner Vineyard, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
From the Dinner Vineyard sold me some Chardonnay grapes. And so I started Paul Hobbs winery with about 10 tons of Pinot noir, 10 tons of Chardonnay and 10 tons of Cabernet and that's how we got started.

Doug:
In 90, in '91, '92.

Paul Hobbs:
In '91.

Doug:
And so that's a couple thousand cases, 3,000 cases. So or, or if that, if that.

Paul Hobbs:
15, yeah, just 2,000 or so.

Doug:
Yeah and then how, how, can you say how big you are now, for Paul Hobbs?

Paul Hobbs:
Well it's a little bit bigger. (laughs)

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah we're probably, what the, the whole thing now with CrossBarn is quite a bit bigger.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Um, but it's you know I would say, it's 70,000 or so.

Doug:
Great, great.

Paul Hobbs:
With CrossBarn but, um.

Doug:
Yeah, I wanna talk about that in a minute but, uh, you mentioned Larry Hyde. Something else we have in common because he used to talk about you to me.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah?

Doug:
So I, I was buying Chardonnay from Larry in, uh.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Gosh the late, you know '85, '86, '87, late '80s.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm.

Doug:
And I've, I love the guy and I got his name from somebody. And I called him up and I said, "Hey I'm looking for some grapes." He goes, "Well, I'll put you on the wait list."

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
I said, "Really, wait list?" He goes, "Yeah, I have a wait list." Well, no one had wait lists back then. And after a year or so he called me up and said, I got 10 tons for you. So we're driving around the vineyard and he's showing me, you know he's just so meticulous and just loves his vineyards, knows every inch of his vineyard. But he's talking about people, he's talking about Dave Ramey, he's talking about John Kongsgaard, he's talking about Paul Hobbs and these are the guys he sells wine grapes to. It was just like, wow these, these are all the guys. And as I worked for, with him for four or five years, you know he, he, he taught me.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
He taught me how to make better wine.

Paul Hobbs:
He did me as well.

Doug:
Yeah. He was just, he was wonderful. And-

Paul Hobbs:
Did Larry, had suffered a stroke, right?

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Early on, you know before I met him.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, yeah.

Doug:
So but he got around really well.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And, uh, I got to tell you a great story about Larry Hyde. Um, he, early on when I said, "God Larry you sell to like 15, 20 different people, different wineries, you know what a, what a, isn't that kind of, a nightmare?" You know you, people like to pick at different times and different containers. And you know different requirements for irrigation and all that. And he goes, "No, no, it's fine, it's fine."

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Because, uh, there's this because one time I did sell all my grapes to a winery. I said, "Really?" He goes, "Yeah, it's actually a well-known winery, who I'm not gonna mention." Um, makes great Chardonnay, has been here forever.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Elder, elder gentleman. And he said, "I always sold all my crop to this guy." And, um, you know he'd, we'd get together in the spring and figure out the price and on we go. And then, there was this one year, when crop was a little heavy. (laughs) If it's heavy for him, it's heavy for everybody. And he said, "I kept calling him to say we need to set a price."

Paul Hobbs:
Hmm.

Doug:
And the guy would say, "Well I'll get back to you, I'll get back to you." So now it ends up it's like, middle, end of July, early August, still haven't set a price.

Paul Hobbs:
Hmm.

Doug:
And the guy calls him up and says, "I'm gonna give you so much a ton." Which was really, a low price.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
And Larry said, uh, "You know that's way below last year and I can't make it on that." And the guy said, basically said, "Take it or leave it."

Paul Hobbs:
Wow.

Doug:
And it was a heavy crop and so.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
It was a tough, tough story that Larry was telling me.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep, yep.

Doug:
But he said, but he actually said I've, I'm thankful to that guy because he taught me a great lesson.

Paul Hobbs:
Not to put all your eggs in one basket. (laughs)

Doug:
That's, that's, that's why I see, exactly, that's why I sell to 15 or 20 wineries.

Paul Hobbs:
Interesting.

Doug:
But wonderful guy.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah and you still buy fruit from him, I think, don't you, a little bit?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, he, well you know I met Larry through my years at Simi.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And, uh, he would and Richard Dinner would bring in, year after year their, their grapes would make our best wines.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
In blind tastings and so, and I just loved Larry. I mean somewhere in there, he suffered a stroke and I remember the first time I met him, he was hauling a gondola all the way in the back of his pickup truck, to Simi Winery, from I mean that.

Doug:
From?

Paul Hobbs:
That, that, they couldn't even do that today.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
I mean, how do you do that? Hauling a gondola.

Doug:
No.

Paul Hobbs:
Down 101. (laughs)

Doug:
Yeah, five ton.

Paul Hobbs:
For an hour. (laughs)

Doug:
Five ton gondola, moving around.

Paul Hobbs:
Oh crazy.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, Larry gets out of the truck and, um, the grapes, I've never seen anything so beautiful in my life. They were just beautiful.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And so, that's how I really and then the wine, you know reflected the quality of those beautiful grapes. And so, so Larry helped me out, I mean basically. And essentially, because of his stroke, he had two young kids, so he'd like me to come down, we'd look at the vineyard, walk the vineyard but he couldn't wrestle with his kids. So I was single and so, they'd serve me a nice dinner, I'd beat up his kids or they'd beat me up, one or depending on your point of view.

Doug:
I remember those two kids, they were, they-

Paul Hobbs:
I, so we had a lot of fun, we had a lot of fun together.

Doug:
Oh fun. And his lovely wife, Beta.

Paul Hobbs:
Beta, yeah.

Doug:
She was great, she's super.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, great people.

Doug:
And so, you've got your gig going, uh, you're still consulting with Catena, Argentina?

Paul Hobbs:
No longer, I mean I left Catena.

Doug:
Or I mean, at that time you were.

Paul Hobbs:
Oh yes.

Doug:
You for.

Paul Hobbs:
I was, I was developing their program.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Pretty much, um, that's when we brought in the first Malbecs.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Um, I introduced, uh, well you might know this, um, after Nicolás wanted Chardonnay and then Cabernet, which were the classic varieties.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But while I was going around, I was coming up, bumping up against Malbec, Malbec all the time. I said, well what's this? I hadn't had any experience in California with a grape.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And the way they were growing it, was heavily irrigating it. They grew it close to the ground, to protect it from the big hail storms that they have there.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So I asked Nicolás, "Well why don't we try making some wine from it?" And he, "No, no, no, it's just a low-end grape, look it, they didn't replant it in Bordeaux after the Phylloxera." And so on and so forth, so it must not have the quality. Cabernet Sauvignon is better, that was a cross that was made about the same time. So he said, "Don't waste your time with it." But the good thing is, is that Nicolás lived in Buenos Aires, so he was almost never there.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And I had spotted a vineyard that I, I fell in love with, right along the Mendoza river, high above the river on a river, so an old vineyard. So I asked Pedro if we could just convert it and farm it differently. And do you know more modern.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
Trellis. And so, sure, Pedro was like a little bit of a rebel anyway.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So he wanted to give it a guy, give it a go. And then the guy that started Napa Cooperage, Alain Fouquet. I, I, I met him in '84 on that, that trip that I mentioned in 1984. And I met Alain for the first time, from Seguin Moreau. And he was the master Tonnellerie or the master cooper. So he said, "Well, I wanna start a, this cooperage in Napa. And but you know, you could also, uh, help sell some barrels.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Uh, and help introduce South America, I see there's a new market. So I'll tell you what, I'll give you 10 free barrels.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And that's how I was able to make the first Malbec. He gave me the barrels, they were American oak barrels, coopered in France.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And they were American oak, which was a perfect combination, it seemed to me.

Doug:
Right, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And then the, then the US press came down to launch Catena wines and they wrote an article, Don't Cry for me Argentina, Tom Stockley writing for the-

Doug:
Ah, Seattle paper, yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Seattle, Seattle Times.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So Tom wrote that article, it got syndicated around the United States. And finally Catena was put in the position, well I guess I'm gonna have to make it.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Because our new importer, Alfredo Bartholomaus, at Billington.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
I said, "Hey, Nicolás you're gonna have to make it." Well Nicolás said, "Well if we're gonna make it, I'm not gonna risk the name Catena."

Doug:
Oh, really?

Paul Hobbs:
And that's why Alamos was created, to launch Malbec.

Doug:
I didn't know that, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, so Alamos was the precursor and its job was basically, to give a test go, in the market, with, with Melbec. But we buttressed it with Chardonnay and Cabernet. And I was the first US importer of Alamos, so we create, I created the name, the package was done by Chuck House, out of Santa Rosa.

Doug:
Right, I know Chuck.

Paul Hobbs:
And we made the wine and sold it for nine bucks. (laughs)

Doug:
But that was, was Nicolás's baby, it was Catena's baby, right?

Paul Hobbs:
It, Nicolás funded it.

Doug:
It was just like a second label, if you will?

Paul Hobbs:
Mm, yeah.

Doug:
Or different, or dif, di, different label.

Paul Hobbs:
It, it was the second label.

Doug:
Yeah. How funny because you kind of pulled one on Nicolás, you know you kind of got the Malbec going without him knowing and then he was sent out there.

Paul Hobbs:
So yeah, I got even with him. (laughs)

Doug:
You got even with him. (laughs) That is, I was, it's-

Paul Hobbs:
And he's pretty happy with that too. (laughs)

Doug:
Point's out, working out really well with you guys.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
I love it and but and meanwhile, were you, you were, I know you've consulted with lots of wineries here, yeah?

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
And, and that, was that happening at the same time with, uh, you know?

Paul Hobbs:
Well I had Peter Michael initially.

Doug:
Peter Michael, right?

Paul Hobbs:
And then con or, uh, Swanson and Stag's Leap, so on, there were quite a few, Lewis Cellars and you.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah and I still do, uh, some consulting but I'm trying to, as I have too many wineries to watch over. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
It's hard to do the consulting. But I gotta tell you Doug, I really love, I love the consulting.

Doug:
Do you, yeah?

Paul Hobbs:
I mean first of all it started, it started off as work.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And a way to help feed myself. But it grew to be a passion, um.

Doug:
Well.

Paul Hobbs:
And I know not many people think of it that way, I guess. That's what I hear.

Doug:
Well, well I'm curious because I had Heidi Barrett in here, you know?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
A few weeks ago and I had a great conversation and she's consulted a lot. And she had some, you know strong opinions about this or that. And there seemed a lot of tone, what do you, what do you like about it? It was?

Paul Hobbs:
You learn.

Doug:
You, ah.

Paul Hobbs:
And I love it, particularly the international consulting but even, even you know you could say, well hey I started my career in the Napa Valley, I now have vineyards in the Napa Valley.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Well you could never know, even if you're consulting to 20 wineries in the Napa Valley, you can never still even, still use, still know just a sliver of what there is to know. And you meet people and there's such a, you know it's a rich exchange. So and then you, it's even more exciting in some ways. It, it, it all depends on of course, the client that you're working with. If they're not just driven by scores, which some of them are.

Doug:
Right, right.

Paul Hobbs:
So you have to kind of weed those guys out and say, no I'm not working just, I'm not a hired gun for that.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
I'm here to help make good wine and this is, yeah. I mean it's, I find it very interactive, dynamic.

Doug:
Well I'm think, as you're talking I'm thinking about it. So I'm thinking okay, let's say I'm gonna go consult. You know all I've done for 35 years is Napa Valley grapes and wine.

Paul Hobbs:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Yeah, do I know it, yeah I know it. But so, so, someone is gonna hire me in, in Spain. And so I'm bringing whatever expertise I have but it's I guess, I'm wondering why would they hire me, when I don't know anything about viticulture in Spain.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Or the, you know what I'm saying?

Paul Hobbs:
Isn't that amazing.

Doug:
It's almost like, I should be paying them.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
But you know. (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
Well I've been, I've been asked to.

Doug:
This is, this is your situation.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, I've been asked, I mean the, the furthest one out, that I ever thought, no, this is, this, you don't know what you're doing. And if you're asking me to be a consultant in Hungary, to make Tokaji wines, I mean yeah, I had a little experience.

Doug:
That's what, that's the Armenia thing going?

Paul Hobbs:
No, that Armenia is different. (laughs)

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So, this is back in the 2000s and I, I, I did a five year, six year consultancy in Hungary. Both in the northern part as and in the southern part of it. And it's and of course, at first I didn't think I would be able to help them at all.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But it turns out, actually there's a lot you can contribute. And almost everywhere I've been, I've come to have more confidence that, even though the, the person that sought me out insisted because that's sometimes what it took for me to say, okay I'll come and take a look. But I don't really think I can help you.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And then you get there and you start meeting the people and doing some stuff. And low and behold, well maybe you could think about that. And so there's methodology and there's technique and there's things. Then you find out actually, you can bring a lot to the table.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And I feel very fortunate because A, I had good underpinnings with education but as you know, that's just tip of the iceberg.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
But I would say my strongest training was at Robert Mondavi.

Doug:
Hmm.

Paul Hobbs:
Where we made a lot of different wines, at least in the winery, not in the vineyards. Because you know how the worlds were separated.

Doug:
Yes.

Paul Hobbs:
If you were either a winemaker or a vineyardist but never the two are blended.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, well then when I started working, consulting in Argentina, I did blend the two and I'm, I'm a farmer.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
More than anything and I, I think that's what defines me is, that I'm a farmer. (laughs)

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
I'm a winemaker but I'm really, at heart I, you know to me it's all about the fruit. And the rest is kind of you gotta do that well but it's, it's the heart and soul about what we do is in the, in the vineyard, right?

Doug:
Well, I'm with you. I you know, I've, I've watched Elias, you know we've been together a long, long time.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
30 years but, uh, you know when he took over, over 20 years ago, um, it didn't happen right away but boy, the last 10, 12 years, July, August, I don't, he's not here. He's in the vineyards.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
All year, you know?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Not just at harvest.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
But June, you know and, and he's in there in the winter time and pruning.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And that's because he wants, I think he's into.

Paul Hobbs:
Those details.

Doug:
It's not that he, you have it down in the cellar. But we, we, we, all of us, we do have it down. It's, it's, it's you know, you, you pay attention. You know and you do what you need to do but, uh, the biggest defining character for improving quality is the fruit.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
Without a doubt.

Paul Hobbs:
And you've gotta be there when it happens and it's so easy to miss it. It's, you can't project it, it's gonna happen when it happens. Mother Nature is in charge of that, so. (laughs)

Doug:
Oh yeah, the timing on that.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And then the labor challenges.

Paul Hobbs:
And there's no getting it back, if you miss it. Well, sorry.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Can't redo it, right? (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) Yeah, that's my, that's like when you pick them. You know, once you pick them, you can't put them back.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
It's like, pick too soon. Um, so consulting, what was your, what was your best consulting experience, most rewarding?

Paul Hobbs:
Oh well, I would say, uh, probably the, my work with Nicolás Catena, even though it was sort of my first work. But that had such a huge impact on a, on a, on a country, on a company, on the people. And even today, I mean, uh, people that were part of that, that nine year period, they said that was the best time of their life. And I'd say that's pretty much true because it was so, we were creating something that nobody knew if it was gonna work or not.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But we, we got into that pretty good, we loved it. But all the, I mean I've had a lot of great consulting. I mean the Hungarian thing, of course when you're working with a very different culture, they had been under Soviet influence and so on.

Doug:
Sure.

Paul Hobbs:
And you know, I love Tokaji wines. And I, I, uh, but they lost kind of, from a couple of generations of Soviets, they had lost how to do and so we were like re, relearning and retraining and rethinking, how to make those kind of wines. So anywhere I, I would say where you feel like you can make a difference, is your best consulting. (laughs)

Doug:
Nice.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
So you, so you've backed off a little bit, you're still doing it because it feels good?

Paul Hobbs:
I have about 20 clients today.

Doug:
That's-

Paul Hobbs:
Where versus I'd always, my, I kept my cap at 35.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
But, um, no, it's more like yeah, 19 or 20. Which is, most of those are in South America, Europe, um, that's how I got started in Kowar, as a matter of fact, I was doing consulting.

Doug:
So I gotta ask you right now, how do you, how do you do it on the travel? I mean, how you know, you've got a winery here, you've got consulting in South America and you, are you gone all the time?

Paul Hobbs:
Well you know, one thing was just kind of working out the timing.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
Um, when did I have to be in South America, initially I was going six times a year. You know short stints, two, three weeks. And going to Chile and Uruguay, as well. So I was consulting in all three countries.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
Um, then I, I found that I could pair it down to four visits per year, which is what I do now. And I've been running that for quite some time. And you know, there was no roadmap for that, so you know I sort of like, had to figure it out for myself. And then others came along. And Michel, one thing I forgot to mention or failed to mention was that, shortly after Michel started, Michel Rolland started consulting to Simi, he too went to Argentina. But he went to the northern part of the country and I went to Mendoza.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And he started working for a German family, by the name of Echart up there.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, our paths, I've, we learned about that later, when we were back together again at Simi, that we were both consulting in Argentina. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
It was kind of ironic. But he, so we kind of came up together doing this bi-hemispheric thing. But we weren't that much in contact, to figure out the scheduling. But it turned out that, working independently, his travel is almost identical to mine. So we both came to essentially the same conclusions of when you had to be there.

Doug:
Interesting, okay.

Paul Hobbs:
When you had to be in your neck of the woods, to make sure something didn't slip.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And so, once you refine that and then, you get into a rhythm it's, I suppose it's like anything else, it goes pretty smoothly.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Once you got the system up.

Paul Hobbs:
I go to Europe in May and then in, in November. So I, I miss the harvest of my three properties in Europe.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Europe, Asia, so that's the hardest part.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Is not being present at the harvest.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah that's tough.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
And you mentioned earlier, you've got a couple little girls and married, so that's, that makes a challenge too, with traveling.

Paul Hobbs:
Well that's also good luck because I met my wife in São Paulo, she's German. So she's got roots in Europe, she has roots in South America.

Doug:
How did you guys meet, have love? (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I was hosting a wine dinner, for a client.

Doug:
(laughs) A winemaker dinner, I love it.

Paul Hobbs:
And she was, yeah. And we were and her step-father, was an ambassador to, uh, Brazil, for Argentina. But he at the last moment, had to go back to ar, to Buenos Aires. And so her mom, she had just arrived.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
From Germany, she had been living in Germany and she had just arrived to Brazil, to stay with her, her mom. And so she hadn't been there more than two weeks, well she got called into co-hosting this evening's event, which was filled with a lot of press, food press. Really some dignitaries, great chefs and so on. And that's how we met. And, um, now we have two beautiful young children. One's, they're gonna be five and two, next month.

Doug:
Wow, way to go.

Paul Hobbs:
So but they're, the good thing is, is that because they have roots in every place that I go, I mean.

Doug:
They can go with you.

Paul Hobbs:
It works out beautifully, yeah.

Doug:
So do they travel with you?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, they can go to Europe.

Doug:
Nice.

Paul Hobbs:
You know in May, before I go.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And they get settled in and they come to visit me here or there. And in South America, as well. So up to, so far now that they're get, starting school, we'll see how this works but.

Doug:
Yeah, it'll be a challenge but still, if it's, it's, that's pretty great. And how cool for them, travel all, all over the world. Nice.

Paul Hobbs:
They're having fun.

Doug:
Good, good, good.

Paul Hobbs:
And they're learning their language, they're, they speak pretty good German, at this point. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) Um, I'm, I've gotta ask you about working with Andy Beckstoffer, here in Napa because he's a, I need to get him in here. He's got stories but, uh.

Paul Hobbs:
I bet he does. (laughs)

Doug:
He's got, um.

Paul Hobbs:
I know he does.

Doug:
(laughs) I didn't, I, I think you know you do but he does. But, uh, you've been buying fruit from him for a long time, 30 years, 20, 30 years?

Paul Hobbs:
Andy, I met Andy when I was at Simi.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
So Zelma was the first or Michael Dixon was the first. He didn't, I, he, we were buying Chardonnay from his Mendocino vineyards.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And I remember Andy very well, in fact he was the first time I met him he was wearing this red shirt.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And he's just like a dynamic person.

Doug:
Very much so.

Paul Hobbs:
And I found him very, um, charismatic and intelligent and so on. So I, I liked him right away. And so when I started Paul Hobbs winery, I wasn't thinking of doing anything with Andy because I had Hyde and Dinner.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But then I, through my work at Peter Michael, I had connected with Liparita Vineyard.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And so I, I, I had a label, vineyard does it with Liparita on it. And some of that fruit was going, the Sauvignon Blanc was going to make the Pre Medi for Peter Michael.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Well, um, but as I was starting, searching for vineyards and so on, that vineyard disappeared, Jess Jackson bought it.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And I was beginning to start to feel, not just then but as time went on, that Jess Jackson was buying all the vineyards that I was starting. He and I, I was, it was killing me.

Doug:
Hmm.

Paul Hobbs:
So, one day I, I was at this moment.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I, I was consulting to, uh, Vine Cliff.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And, and they asked me if they could get them some Chardonnay. Well I knew the, call up Andy. So I call up Andy and, and, and at the end of that conversation, um, Andy said, "And by the way."

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
"Would you be interested in any Cabernet?" And I said, "Well, (laughs) what do you got?"

Doug:
Sure, what do you got?

Paul Hobbs:
And so i but I was, I was aware that he was planting this new, that old BV Block four section.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Across from Oakville Grocery. And so, I said you're, you wouldn't be talking about that, that little piece?" And he said, "Yes, that's what I'm talking about." And just looking for people that might be interested in that.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
And so I was fortunate to be one of the first and just by chance. And it came at a great time because I'd just lost Liparita. And so Andy and I said, "Andy, I gotta, I know there's one condition before I come over and that is, are you ever gonna sell this thing?"

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
To anybody.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
He said, "Oh no, I'm not selling this, you can be sure that."

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
And he said, "You're not gonna let somebody come in and buy this thing."

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Because I don't want to make a label or build this thing and then it disappears.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Especially I was thinking of Jess Jackson.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So, that's how we got started. So I went over there, walked the thing with him and I picked out four or five sections. And then he told me that you, you're too small, you can't buy that, it's. (laughs)

Doug:
Oh. (laughs) Really?

Paul Hobbs:
Is what he said and I said, "Okay, I'll take a little bit less, you're probably right." And, um, and that's how we got started. So I, you know I, I, I, I, I got started making the wine, I think that was 1977, was the first grapes harvested off that newly planted.

Doug:
Wow.

Paul Hobbs:
To-Kalon block. '98 was that really tough vintage, well I put it into the Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet and that got a, like a 92 or 93 point score. And I got called up by the Wine Spectator.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
And they were sitting around drinking the wine and they said, "Boy, this stuff is good."

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
And they said, "Wow, you poo-pooed the vineyard pretty, the vintage pretty good."

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
They knocked it down pretty hard.

Doug:
They did.

Paul Hobbs:
But they didn't know, I didn't tell them it was To-Kalon fruit. (laughs)

Doug:
Ah.

Paul Hobbs:
And so in '99 we started with a vineyard designate.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
But we couldn't put it on the front label because of the thing with Mondavi.

Doug:
With the Mondavi thing.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah and so, but that got cleared up. So really, it was 2000 that began the first vineyard, true vineyard designate that I could make from the To-Kalon, Andy Beckstoffer's part of the To-Kalon vineyard.

Doug:
Nice.

Paul Hobbs:
In 2001, you know the Parker guy, I started to fall in love with it. So he gave it 98 or 99 points.

Doug:
And off you go.

Paul Hobbs:
And then 2002, it got 100 points. And then after that it, the thing went nuts.

Doug:
Went, went nuts.

Paul Hobbs:
And then the prices went nuts too.

Doug:
That's crazy.

Paul Hobbs:
Andy, Andy went into gouge mode. (laughs)

Doug:
He yeah, he gets a lot of money for it and I, you know the numbers are staggering.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah but I'm, without getting into it, I'm sure it works for him and it works for you, so.

Paul Hobbs:
Finally it does.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
I mean, it's really pricey stuff.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But it gave rise to this, uh, concept of, rather than per ton, I mean it was happening but this really gave a momentum to moving from per ton, to per acre pricing.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Because he had a guy managing the vineyard, from Australia, that believed that three clusters per shoot was the way to go. And he had Andy convinced because Andy didn't really know what he had.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Andy didn't know that he had a gem.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
Now he does of course, he knows that it, you know that's a pedigreed vineyard and so on. He knew it was good.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
But why, I mean I'm a little shocked too, why would BV sell it? I know they were, during that period of time, that's why Mondavi went public, they needed funds. It was phlox and then I had raging through Napa Valley, it was recession, right?

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
So they needed, they needed liquidity and Andy was in the right spot.

Doug:
Yeah, he made a good play.

Paul Hobbs:
He was with Heublein.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
CFO and he bought it up. (laughs)

Doug:
He took care of it. So as far as vineyard, you've got, you've, you started out with no vineyards but you've got some vineyards now, don't you? Acreage, you've got?

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, I started off with about, I bought a bare piece of land in 1998.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
And that's now planted at 13 acres of Pinot noir. And in recent years, I've been more aggressive in purchasing, so we have about 320.

Doug:
Great.

Paul Hobbs:
30 odd acres, all together, between Napa and Sonoma counties.

Doug:
Yeah man, good for you. Isn't it great, we've got about 220 and it's so nice. I mean just, just to have your own grape source because you know, those of you out there in podcast land, you know Paul and I live this year in and year, day in and day out. And if, you know not having grapes is, is, um, is, is a tough one.

Paul Hobbs:
It's really maddening.

Doug:
So.

Paul Hobbs:
And then controlling the quality.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
With growers, I mean it's a, it's a-

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
It's a constant battle. So for your, your top lines, you need to have that kind of control. You need.

Doug:
You have to have it.

Paul Hobbs:
Well we never, you know I didn't know if it would be possible to ever require a vineyard in Napa. And, um, you know because they're, the prices just get, were going up so fast, that they're just come, up, outrunning.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So I had to get in, into the Silicon dot-com business, to make money fast enough, to be able to keep up with it.

Doug:
Exactly.

Paul Hobbs:
And sort of thing but yeah, we're fortunate.

Doug:
It's good stuff, um, so, talk to me about CrossBarn. That's part of, that's, uh, that's one of your brands. You started, what, back in 2000?

Paul Hobbs:
CrossBarn started in 2000.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Um, it started because of, well one thing I noticed that some wineries were cr- creating second brands. So as to avoid bulking out wines that didn't fit their program.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
And I was really CrossBarn came, was born for that purpose as well, for Cabernet. It was a way for me to test new growers. And even in some cases, um, help them grow into the Paul Hobbs program but that would take two or three years of training and farming and so on and so forth.

Doug:
Right, figuring it out.

Paul Hobbs:
And getting the alignment that we needed.

Doug:
Got it.

Paul Hobbs:
So that's how it got started but also, was partly out of hardship. In, in the year 2000 as you'll recall.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
Was a very late year and it rained heavily at the very end of October. And we were, I was making my wines at Kunde.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
Or I'm sorry at, at Laird.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
Right here and all my tanks were open-top tanks, outside.

Doug:
Oh no.

Paul Hobbs:
I had no coverage for them, so.

Doug:
Uh.

Paul Hobbs:
All the picking that we did was just before the rain, so that was the 27th of October. We did the picking, we brought the grapes down late at night but Laird said, "It's too late, we're not gonna process the fruit." Well I said, "The rain is in the next day." And all their processing was outside.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
So we'll process in between the squalls.

Doug:
Ye, uh.

Paul Hobbs:
So we got it done, we got it into the tank.

Doug:
Ah.

Paul Hobbs:
Without any, any problem. And then I slept literally at the winery. I just put, parked my, my pickup truck there. I slept because I had to keep these tanks covered. But one night it rained so hard, I'm shoveling the water off the tank and it still imploded into the tank.

Doug:
Water's going in the tank, ah.

Paul Hobbs:
So, that became CrossBarn. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
I hate to say but, but I mean it was.

Doug:
Well, that's what you have to do.

Paul Hobbs:
It, it was still pretty, it made good wine but it was a little, a bit diluted.

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Glad it, we call that lighter style. (laughs) So, all right so.

Paul Hobbs:
But today, CrossBarn has grown now it's, you know now it's its own baby. It's-

Doug:
That's neat.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah it's, it's really took its own wings. So it's Chardonnay, it's, it's, it's essentially it's a, it's a Sonoma County program.

Doug:
Right.

Paul Hobbs:
But we have some Napa Cab in it but in the future, it's really gonna be largely Sonoma, Sonoma Cabernet. So it'll be, the emphasis is to make it Sonoma County.

Doug:
Sonoma County.

Paul Hobbs:
Yep.

Doug:
Great so, I wanna make sure I have my research straight, so you need to help me out. So these are your wines, your different wineries. Argentina, Viña, Viña Cobos.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
Then French, a French Malbec is Crocus.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
It's and I'm pretty sure, Armenian, how do you pronounce that?

Paul Hobbs:
Yacoubian-Hobbs.

Doug:
Okay. Making wine in Armenia.

Paul Hobbs:
And my, yes.

Doug:
You've got Paul Hobbs, here in Sonoma.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes.

Doug:
CrossBarn is part of it. You have an import company, Paul Hobbs Selections.

Paul Hobbs:
Yes, that was started.

Doug:
That was-

Paul Hobbs:
To, to, to import Alamos.

Doug:
Got it and you're doing the, uh, the Finger Lakes we talked about.

Paul Hobbs:
Hillick & Hobbs.

Doug:
Okay. That's not, um.

Paul Hobbs:
That's my mother's maiden name is Hillick, so.

Doug:
(laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
They met at Cornell, so it's a- (laughs)

Doug:
There you, I, I've, I've lost track here. And that was the original thing your dad wanted to do anyway. And there's something going on in Spain, a new project?

Paul Hobbs:
This year, we start in Spain. And that, that's in Galicia.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
That's a little place in Ribeira Sacra.

Doug:
So, Paul you've got like, you know (laughs) 15 wineries. I don't, I don't know and you consult with 25 or 30 people. Um, how do you do it?

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
Seriously man, how do you do this?

Paul Hobbs:
Well, I'm blessed with having good people around me.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
We really have an amazing team in Argentina, for example.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
We started Viña Cobos in 1998.

Doug:
Yeah.

Paul Hobbs:
With $70,000. And today, it's 150,000 case winery.

Doug:
Man.

Paul Hobbs:
And that's just because and these are really amazing people, they are dedicated. And then you know, we do a lot of cross-training.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Hobbs:
That they come up here, we go down there. So there's a, there's a, there's a good inner-seeding of information. And, and I think that's how you attract the best talent because you really create a stimulating environment. So we have-

Doug:
Good point.

Paul Hobbs:
Our young people from Argentina are going to France, for example. The winemaker from Spain, uh, worked for Rafele Palacio for eight years. So she's now training in Argentina. She trained in California and she's off to do the harvest here for, for us, for the first year.

Doug:
Um, can I get an internship? (laughs)

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
That sounds like no, I've, you've, I think you've nailed it. I mean, how fun for these young guys and gals, coming up.

Paul Hobbs:
It's fun.

Doug:
Hey, I get to go to another country and make wine there for a season, that type of thing.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah, it's fun.

Doug:
How cool.

Paul Hobbs:
But I must tell you, my mother had 11 children, I think her job was tougher. (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) I can believe that.

Paul Hobbs:
I got two or three.

Doug:
You got two.

Paul Hobbs:
I have three children and I thought. (laughs)

Doug:
I'm with you on that one.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
Um, if folks wanna find your wines, what's the best way? Is there a website, a place where they can check?

Paul Hobbs:
I think Paul Hobbs dot com.

Doug:
Paul Hobbs dot com.

Paul Hobbs:
Is the, they can go to Viña Cobos dot com.

Doug:
Okay.

Paul Hobbs:
But Paul Hobbs is a good portal.

Doug:
A little portal, okay good.

Paul Hobbs:
Yeah.

Doug:
That's good to know.

Paul Hobbs:
We can do it.

Doug:
Um, uh, why else, uh, am, I'm now, don't feel so badly about us never getting together because you're a really busy guy.

Paul Hobbs:
(laughs)

Doug:
But thanks so much for taking the time today, it was great seeing you.

Paul Hobbs:
Good to see you as well, Doug, thank you very much.

Doug:
All right, take care.