Alan and Delia Viader 52 MINUTES

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

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Doug Shafer with Alan and Delia Viader on The Taste wine podcast

Delia Viader came to the wine business in Napa Valley in the 1980s after living in Argentina, Switzerland, Lebanon, and France and earning degrees from the Sorbonne in Paris and MIT in Boston. Her son Alan grew up on the winery property, learning vineyard and cellar work at a young age. Today this duo runs Viader Vineyards & Winery, one of Napa Valley’s best. Enjoy!

For more visit: Viader.com

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FULL TRANSCRIPT


Doug Shafer:
Hey, everybody. Doug Shafer with another episode of The Taste. We have a fun show today where I have two guests on at the same time. And it's, it's really kinda cool because this combination is something exactly that happened in my life with my father. Uh, a vineyard winery run by a parent and child, um, which I know well, but we welcome Delia Viader and her son, Alan of Viader Winery up on Howell mountain, god's country. Hi guys. Welcome.

Delia Viader:
Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Doug Shafer:
You bet-

Alan Viader:
Hey Doug. Good morning.

Doug Shafer:
Delia, I've known you for a long time. Alan, our paths are just starting to cross here and there, which has been fun, but quite, quite-

Alan Viader:
Dude, literally I see you driving, uh, your FJ40 pretty much every day.

Doug Shafer:
Argh-

Alan Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
... you know, I, I made a mistake getting that car. Everybody knows me-

Alan Viader:
[crosstalk 00:00:57]-

Doug Shafer:
... so I have, I have to really behave on the road. I can't... No, no road rage for me, but, uh, Delia, my best memories of you is whenever I'd run into you, you'd be coming back from some trip, uh, out of country overseas with your export group, and you'd grab me and say, "Oh, Doug, your dad, your dad and I, we always just dance wherever we are." So, you know, that's, that's my best memory about you and my dad dancing around the world.

Delia Viader:
And that's my best memory of your dad, his sense of humor. And yes, he's a fantastic dancer.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) Yeah, I didn't get that gene, unfortunately. So, uh, I'm glad you danced with him-

Alan Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
... and not me, but super to have you both on. There's so many stories wrapped up in the Viader story. The- Delia, there's yours. There's your folks. Alan, there's yours. We're gonna make our way through all of it, Alan. I'm sorry, to start off, we're gonna start with your mom. So, bear with us for a bit, all right?

Alan Viader:
(laughing) Please.

Doug Shafer:
So, Delia, um, where it all started. Where'd you come from? Where, where'd you start? Where were you born?

Delia Viader:
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but I might well have come from Mars. Um-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
... I actually, I'm first generation born in Argentina because my parents both European met there and um, the rest is history. My father was a diplomat, so I learned in this country that I am literally a diplomat's brat, um, because we moved so many times and I lived and traveled to so many countries. Since I was six years old, I was taken traveling. So yes, it's true. You were always seeing me coming and going because in the first days of the winery, I was traveling every other week of the year. That's 192 days.

Doug Shafer:
Wow.

Delia Viader:
That's how I racked a million and a half-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
... um, flying miles.

Doug Shafer:
So, as a kid, uh, I know I've got notes you were in Lebanon, Switzerland, France. Um, any, any place else growing up? Is there-

Delia Viader:
Well I went to a German boarding school and then I went to college in Paris. Um, my parents have properties a little bit everywhere. And I managed to get by with six languages all of which I speak with a, with a little bit of an accent 'cause I mix them all.

Doug Shafer:
That's amazing. Well, 'cause I know when I was talking to, about you do Elias just a minute he goes, "Oh yeah. Delia is great. Whenever I see her, all we do is start talking Spanish. It's great." So, um, he's never heard you speak English. It's pretty cute. Um-

Delia Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
... so growing up, growing up in the house, um, was wine around. Um, when did that all happen-

Delia Viader:
It happened growing up because, uh, like I said, my parents were European so the way of, um, upbringing it's wine is always part of the food, uh, part of the table. So, uh, if you wanted to try it, there was never a question. Uh, you needed to be old enough to be at the table to hold conversation. Um, and after that it was simply, you wanna try this? You wanna try that. It was never a question of you need to be of age. Um, it was a big, uh, complication when I brought my kids as toddlers to the United States and I intended to, uh, raise them the same way I grew up. I had to have a little bit of a precaution. A caveat I would always tell my kids in the elementary school, whatever we do at home, don't tell anybody-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)-

Delia Viader:
... because otherwise mom is gonna be put on jai- in jail.

Doug Shafer:
So what goes on at home, stays at home. I kind- I like that.

Delia Viader:
It stays at home because I will let my kids try wines, uh, because I love, I'll always love wine, but I, I'm inquisitive about everything and anything. So, I, my inspiration was find out why, find out, find out what makes this wine taste the way it tastes. And that was not an in- invitation to drink early on. It was an invitation to be inquisitive-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Delia Viader:
... about things.

Doug Shafer:
Good point. So, before heading to The States, you were in school in Paris and you got a degree in Logic and Pure Math-

Delia Viader:
Philosophy.

Doug Shafer:
Philosophy?

Delia Viader:
Yeah. Philosophy.

Doug Shafer:
Okay. 'Cause I've got a note saying Pure mathematics. Was that something you got a degree in too?

Delia Viader:
Yes. My, what you call a concentration or a major-

Doug Shafer:
I see.

Delia Viader:
... is Logic and Pure Mathematics, but the degree is a PhD.

Doug Shafer:
Okay, fantastic. So then-

Delia Viader:
So, doctorate.

Doug Shafer:
... so then, so then you've got three kids, it's 1982-

Delia Viader:
Four.

Doug Shafer:
Four. How did, how'd you-

Delia Viader:
Yes.

Doug Shafer:
... how'd you get to the United States? How did that happen

Delia Viader:
My brother, uh, got accepted to, uh, a PhD program at MIT and at that time it was just the perfect timing for me. I was recently divorced and had the three kids in tow at that time and I asked my dad, if you give me room and board for three years, I'll get myself there. And he says, you haven't even applied to MIT. "Oh, but I'm gonna get in."

Doug Shafer:
(laughing).

Delia Viader:
Um, that has always been my philosophy in life. I visualize it and I get it done. It, and I did get in and actually I blasted my GMATs. Um, so it was interesting because without the help of my brother, helping with the kids, um, it would not have been possible, but I moved everybody to MIT, they do take blondes sometimes. And, um, I managed to get a degree in Finance this time, a real working degree.

Doug Shafer:
Right. So, when you finished up with MIT, what, what happened then?

Delia Viader:
We constantly kept coming to Napa because my brother liked, uh, the Berkeley lab more than the MIT lab. He's an engineer in electronics so he was working for IBM at the time, so that's, we kept coming to Napa and I met, uh, a lot of people in Napa wine business. And it was, um, kind of very circuitous at that time that a friend, of a friend, of a friend- ... wanted my dad to, uh, invest in a beautiful place and put all the money and they were going to create a winery and a vineyard. And I said, "Dad, if you're putting all the money, I can do it."

Doug Shafer:
(laughing) Oh, Oh boy. I wanna hear this conversation. Yeah, you can do it. And what'd he say to you? (laughs).

Delia Viader:
He said to me, after all the money I poured into your education, all you want to become is a farmer?

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) Yeah. But being a farmer's tough. He didn't know that, did he?

Delia Viader:
He didn't know that until the day he died, I was always the farmer. Anyone that asked, "What is it that your daughter does in The States exactly?". "Well, she's a farmer." An overeducated farmer, but I'm, I'm still a farmer.

Doug Shafer:
There you go. So what, what year are we talking about? So, you started... So, basically he, he let you do-

Delia Viader:
'84.

Doug Shafer:
... it right? '84?

Delia Viader:
'84. Yeah. He let me do it. It took me forever to figure out, um, how the regulations work. Uh, but I put together the contract for the land, the financing with my dad as a backup, but, I took a loan, a margin loan at, I mean, I, I had fun and I put together a plan to pay off the note because that was also very important. He would not let me even start without having a plan and without having a precise date when he was coming off the note. So ... I put a 10-year plan and I paid him in seven.

Doug Shafer:
S- so you put a, you put a plan together with... You got a, you got a loan then what about actually-

Delia Viader:
Yup.

Doug Shafer:
... what about doing the work and planting it 'cause there was no vineyard, right? It was all made of-

Delia Viader:
No, there was nothing. There was rock and poison oak (laughing)-

Doug Shafer:
So, so here you are-

Delia Viader:
... which my kids discovered.

Doug Shafer:
... from MIT... Yeah. We all have, we all have learned that one, but MIT, never planned a grapevine. What'd you do? Who helped you out?

Delia Viader:
Oh, I, that was easy. I got the best and foremost consultants from all over the world that I knew of all the vineyards that I liked. I brought Danny Schuster from New Zealand who was an expert in organic vineyard. Hillside planting that helped, David Abreu. I got, uh, Michel Rolland that at that time wasn't even famous. It was just a friend of ours.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
Um, I brought Jean-Claude Berrouet from Petrus to see what do I plant? How do I plant it? Um, I brought, uh, the best and foremost group of friends that were also experts in their field to diagram a vineyard estate in the same layout of a First Growth Bordeaux. But that wasn't done at that time. And so, I came to be the crazy lady in the hillside.

Doug Shafer:
No, you weren't the crazy lady on the hillside. You were-

Delia Viader:
(laughs)-

Doug Shafer:
... you're that, you're that, you're that (laughs) you're that crazy Argentinian on the hillside. That's what you were? Um, no, that was great. So, you got the vineyard planted. When was your, uh, when was your first harvest?

Delia Viader:
My first, uh, well I couldn't plant the vineyard all at once, uh, because it was so steep and I planted in phases, like everything I did, I never stopped. I divided in little pieces and every year I would do another piece.

Delia Viader:
My very first commercial wine offering was '89.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Delia Viader:
But I didn't really finish planting the vineyard until 1994. It took me almost 10 years. So, like I used to say, this is the dynamite vineyard, because a huge part of it was planted with the help of dynamite at the time that they would let you use it.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. They, I don't think they... I think it's... I don't think they let you use it anymore. Do they?

Delia Viader:
No, they-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
... don't let you use it anymore so Alan has a jackhammer when we're replanting.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) Oh, Alan, that's a bummer. Too bad. The Dynamite thing is kinda fun in the dangerous kind of ways but (laughing)-

Alan Viader:
It is.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. Um, all right. So, your first vintage is '89, you said. And then, well, you said you studied at Davis too. You were doing that at the same time?

Delia Viader:
Oh, yeah. At the same time, because I wanted to know that my wonderful consultants were telling me, uh, the right thing, you know, how would I know? So, I would put a lot of questions and a lot of, um, a lot of friends tastings and a lot of ideas together. Um, finally I started at Rombauer because I didn't have the winery built yet, with, Jean-Claude Moueix, uh, with, um, Christian Moueix, sorry, Christian Moueix and that was the connection with Jean-Claude, uh-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Delia Viader:
... Berrouet, his winemaker. And, and we started, uh, he was in one floor and I was on the other floor and we were the only ones that spoke French. Um, so it was interesting that, uh, Christian also wanted to attend Davis, so many times we were at the extension classes together making kind of advances into what is done. Remember when they were doing the, um, Davis extension classes with all the professor presenting everything that they were studying and putting their hands on. It was always exciting to see what was new, what was happening-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Delia Viader:
... what is the new, the new contraption that they come up with? Um, the new method of doing this or doing that? Um, remember in '86, '87, '88, we were doing, um, you know, soutirage we were doing it by the skeefs. Um, and not, it would, it was not for the faint of heart or the feeble of, of back composition. It, it was taking us forever. Um, today, Alan puts a little, a little pop and gets it done. One person does it all.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
Uh, it, it was, it was completely different and it was based in 200 years of technology that the French never had at that time.

Doug Shafer:
Right. Right.

Delia Viader:
It was tradition.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. It's-

Delia Viader:
So-

Doug Shafer:
... but technology has changed, changed a lot of it. And, uh, you know, for the better, in many cases, but it's, it's definitely more efficient. Uh-

Delia Viader:
It's more efficient.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. Quick question going back to planting the vineyard. What was your... because I never talked to you about this. I, I know you, I think you had Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. Was that, was that your focus? Was that your vision when you planned the vineyard? Those grapes-

Delia Viader:
I planted all of, I wanted to plant all the Bordeaux varieties, but everybody, uh, including Michel Rolland and Jean-Claude pushed me against planting Merlot in this vineyard because this, uh, Merlot is very finicky. So I have Cabernet and Cabernet Franc and, uh, Petit Verdot.

Doug Shafer:
Yes.

Delia Viader:
I have Petit Verdot in the most rocky, uh, and right in front of my house so I could always see those babies cry for everything-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
... for lack of water, lack of soil, lack of nutrients. They always look terrible, but they give fantastic grapes.

Doug Shafer:
That's true. That's what usually happens. Okay. I was curious about how that started out. So, when you first start, your first releases, were they-

Delia Viader:
My first release was only Viader. For the first 11 years, it was always a blend of Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. And I didn't know it at that time until we became best friends that I, I, the high proportion of Cabernet Franc in the blend, sometimes 50%, sometimes 45%. It was very similar to what, um, Dalla Valle Maya was made of. And it was only after, and, and just because I love that wine that I knew why.

Doug Shafer:
There you go.

Delia Viader:
I love Cabernet Franc. (laughing).

Doug Shafer:
There you go. So, before we get to Alan, I gotta ask you one thing. So, you're, you've got four kids, you're planting a vineyard, starting to make wine, selling wine, traveling, four kids up and down all day long t- back and forth to school and activities. Delia, how did you do it? What was the secret?

Delia Viader:
Yeah, I don't know. I don't know when did I manage to sleep, honestly (laughs) ... I have no idea (laughs) but I think, um, I had a lot of good help. Um, my biggest helper is now my, um, manager of shipping and quality control. He used to be my babysitter, but, um-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)-

Delia Viader:
... she's my best, I mean, she's my best success story. Uh, somebody with a lot of common sense, that it's not afraid of so without her, and her sister, her brother, her cousin, helping me with the kids, it would not have been possible because, you know, sports, driving to two different ends of the Napa Valley at the same time and traveling and being the only one putting food on the table, it, it would not have been possible.

Doug Shafer:
Right, right. That's, well, that's, that's great. That's great. You had that help, and it's great that she's, she's still with you, and that's pretty cool. All right. Well, let's jump to Alan, um, Alan, so you grew up on the vineyard on Howell mountain. What was that like?

Alan Viader:
Well, it was the, uh, the, the greatest front and backyard a little boy that loves outdoors could ask for (laughing). It's, uh, I, back up here, our property backs up to thousands of acres of, you know, just wild forest, um, beautiful land. So, I was able to get out and get, get my hands dirty.

Doug Shafer:
And then, so you... Growing up, elementary school St. Helena, St. Helena High School, is that-

Alan Viader:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Doug Shafer:
... was that your place?

Alan Viader:
That was.

Doug Shafer:
Well, it was my place too, but I won't tell you when I graduated, it was a long time ago. (laughing). But, uh, how about, uh, activities, sports as a kid? Anything, anything, uh, that's-

Alan Viader:
Uh-

Doug Shafer:
... unique?

Alan Viader:
... you know, grew up playing soccer then did wrestling in high school and I continue, uh, you know, a lot of outdoor kind of extracurricular activities. I did martial arts growing up too, and love that.

Doug Shafer:
Neat.

Alan Viader:
I love being active.

Doug Shafer:
Good, good. And did she have you working in the vineyards on the weekends, pulling rocks out and all that stuff.

Alan Viader:
All the time-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Alan Viader:
... so as, uh, as early as I could hold a shovel, I was out there. I remember our first harvest at Rombauer. I was helping, um, and I think I was being paid a quarter an hour-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs)-

Alan Viader:
... and I'm, I'm glad I get paid a little bit more than that these days, but, uh, still, still moving rocks and digging holes since, yeah, in, uh, in the dirt here, so-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. Yeah.

Alan Viader:
... uh, yeah, I, I, I really gravitated towards the vineyard side of it. Um, I loved, uh, mmm, seeing the tractors work. I loved just, uh, following David Abreu's guys and, and our, our crews here doing all the little work and ended up kind of working my way up and, you know, learning every aspect of it. I have a lot of respect for the farm workers and the whole thing that goes into a bottle of wine.

Doug Shafer:
Right, right. So, and I'm, I'm assuming you grew up with wine in the house. I'm sure that will-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... Delia already just mentioned that. So, um, so that, would that-

Alan Viader:
Education.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. But here it's (laughs) education and curiosity for sure.

Alan Viader:
Yup.

Doug Shafer:
Um-

Alan Viader:
And, it was great. She always, she always kind of wrapped it with a lesson, uh, terroir lessons, so, certain characteristics, she would kind of try to pull, pull out of the wine. Uh, she would ask me if I'd taste any fruit. Okay. What kind of fruit? What kind of flavors? Uh, kind of smells and then she'd go in to the back and say, okay, because of this exposure and this type of soil, or lack of soil, or, you know-

Doug Shafer:
Sure.

Alan Viader:
... climate, so-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, super. Great education.

Delia Viader:
We did it all over the world, so, um-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
... the kids had the opportunity to travel as much as I did, um, because I think that it helps you be centered and it helps you also appreciate how good you have it because you get to compare and contrast and, you come home and you appreciate what you have.

Doug Shafer:
That's true.

Delia Viader:
Instead of taking it for granted.

Doug Shafer:
So, Alan, after high school, what happened? What was your next, next thing?

Alan Viader:
Uh, so I went, uh, over to Sonoma County, did a viticulture program, um, got into some winemaking, uh, wanted to eventually kind of run vineyards, uh, do like a vineyard, you know, labor contract or something like that-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Alan Viader:
... and then, uh, my mom called me looking for some help with the vineyard here and, uh, I accepted a position as vineyard manager. So, this was, uh, about 20 years ago and I haven't found a reason to leave yet (laughs).

Doug Shafer:
Wow. Wow. Good for you.

Delia Viader:
At, at that time I had a vineyard in Italy-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, really?

Delia Viader:
... that-

Doug Shafer:
Was he visi-

Delia Viader:
Right. In '99, I purchased a piece of land in Tuscany and I was developing a vineyard in Italy. My first crop was 2003. So, the idea was that I would take care of Italy and he would take care of Napa. And I was flying around in the month of September without sleep for four weeks. Harvest there and harvest here at the same time.

Doug Shafer:
I don't know. I don't know if that works. That would be probably really tough.

Delia Viader:
Well, I managed for seven years.

Doug Shafer:
(laughs) Okay. Oh, Delia, Delia, but you're the only one who can do that. The rest of us don't have the same energy you do. So, I've gotta figure out what you're eating or drinking and get some of that.

Alan Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
So um-

Alan Viader:
Red wine and cheese.

Doug Shafer:
Red wine and cheese. So, Alan, so you're doing the vineyards for the last 20 years. Um, and I think you, did you, uh, you worked other places too. Didn't... I think you went to Argentina. Was that for a harvest or a-

Alan Viader:
Yeah, I worked down in Argentina, fell in love with Malbec, but I was already getting involved with the blends here as a, as a bystander. Um, I was invited, um, to, you know, part of the, the tasting panel, if you will. And I just loved tasting the wines and tasting the finished product. I was very disconnected. I was just the farmer. And then once harvest was done, I was on vacation-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Alan Viader:
... you know, where I was, I was traveling and, and just presenting the wine somewhere. I didn't really have too much of a connection with the finished product. Um, and then a few years into it, just my nature. I wanted to get involved with things and, you know, I can't just sit around and be bored. Um, so I, I started asking around how can I help and, as things grew and we had more wines, I had to get involved. I started driving forklifts and I started doing pump overs and I started doing night shifts and started doing rackings. And that's when, uh, I decided to go to Argentina to kinda see just only winemaking and really get involved on that side heavy and, and just dig deep and learn a little bit more. Uh, and I came back changed. Uh-

Doug Shafer:
Huh?

Alan Viader:
... I loved, loved wines, loved the whole cycle of, you know, the growing of it, but also the making of it. And I felt like if I wasn't doing both, it was incomplete and I was kind of doing a disservice. So, um, to be a better farmer, I wanted to be winemaker. To be a better (laughs) winemaker, I needed to be ... um, starting in 2006, my mom, uh, allowed me, uh, to kinda do more of the day-to-day operations and the winemaking and been doing it ever since. Doing, uh, production, vineyard, winemaking. Um, we do the blends together and I, I do all the, the, the heavy lifting and the moving of the barrels and all that kind of fun stuff. But, um, so I get my hands dirty, but I also get to do the wines.

Doug Shafer:
Oh, that's, that's great. Um, so before you took over as winemaker, Delia, you were winemaker, correct? For the whole time?

Delia Viader:
Correct-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
... but we always had, even when Alan was winemaker, I brought Michel Rolland, um, what I call the, uh, Harvard University of wine, uh, because I didn't want Alan to have a closed palette. I wanted to have a world palette. The wine that we make has to stand with the best of the world. And that was kind of, um, the three of us getting together to do the fun part, which is the blending-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Delia Viader:
... the final blending, and I've always told Michel, um, we need to keep the style. It's not a, a Rolland style. It's not a Delia style. It's not an Alan style. It is what the site will give, will dictate and it has to be consistent. It has to be able to stand with the best of the world. Now the caveat is, if something doesn't go well, you're fired. And if something goes very well, all the credit is my son's.

Doug Shafer:
There you go. (laughing) Th- that job security in the family business. It's a, it's a-

Delia Viader:
Absolutely.

Doug Shafer:
... treacherous, treacherous path, I'll tell you. So-

Alan Viader:
(laughing).

Doug Shafer:
... so Alan, Alan, you're still... So, you're doing the winemaker. Are you still overseeing all the vineyards too?

Delia Viader:
Yes.

Alan Viader:
Yep.

Doug Shafer:
Wow. So, you're busy, busy guy.

Alan Viader:
Um, I, I like it that way. (laughs.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. Well, yeah. I, I think it's in your, uh, your DNA for sure. Um, how's it been? So, obviously it's b- it's been working well, do you guys have a pretty shared vision? You know, Delia, you talked about... Or, just sometimes you have disagreements or different ways to go. How's that work out?

Delia Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
Without, without, you know-

Delia Viader:
Uh-

Doug Shafer:
... getting too personal?

Delia Viader:
No, without getting too personal. No, we have sometimes disagreements, but there are kind of compromises. We work out a compromise. Um, there are differences in taste sometimes when we decide when a wine is ready, uh, to, uh, you know, when it's time to pick, sometimes we have some minor disagreements, but we always find a compromise. Um, I am less inclined to use as much New Oak. Uh, Alan loves his Oak.

Doug Shafer:
(laughing).

Delia Viader:
But, other than that, we always find a comfortable agreement or compromise. Um, sometimes I come up with, very last minute, with kind of this look in my eyes that he fears and it's like-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
... just a half of a percent, I think just a half of a percent in the blend will really make it perfect. And he's like, "Oh, no. Mom, again?" So, he has to rack everything again, but ... those are rare instances and it's just, I'm a perfectionist by, at heart and, you know, it's never perfect until it's perfect and it will never be perfect-perfect (laughs)-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Delia Viader:
So-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, that's-

Delia Viader:
... that's my problem.

Doug Shafer:
Well, that's the fact that-

Alan Viader:
But, but you gotta understand that, uh, you know, my education in wine started very early and it started with my mom as the teacher so-

Doug Shafer:
Sure.

Alan Viader:
... she shared with me the wines that she considered, you know, the benchmarks and the epic wine, wines of, of the region. And those are what I consider, you know, the top marks as well. So, um, we have very similar palettes. I mean, there are obviously differences. Um, but they're very nuanced.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. No, I think you guys have worked it out really well. I, I had it, Al- Alan, I had it a little bit easier than you did 'cause my dad was never a true winemaker. He was a grape grower and a good one, but uh, it, boy, those, those, uh, those discussions and decisions on when to pick or not to pick like are vivid-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... in my memory, um, 'cause-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... he was a grower. He was like, "Hey man, they're, they're 23 and a half. Let's go." And Elias and I are like, "No, we can't." And-

Alan Viader:
(laughs)-

Doug Shafer:
... he says, "What's, what's... And basically, it was kinda like, what's wrong with you guys? I mean, it was, um, in various degrees of volume and uh, intensity, but, uh, we figured it out and uh, 'cause we were... Well, that was in the time we were realizing we had to push ripeness to get better flavors so it's interesting.

Alan Viader:
Well, I've had quite a few of your wines and I'd have to say you have figured it out, so-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, thank you, thank you.

Alan Viader:
You're doing something right.

Doug Shafer:
Hey, I came across something else. In addition to growing grapes and making wine, you, Alan, being busy, you're a member of the Napa County Sheriff's Volunteer Search and Rescue team, right and-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... Napa County Deer Park, Volunteer Fire Department. Tell me-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
... about that experience. And also, it's inspired you to make a, a different wi- A new wine brand so tell us a- all-

Alan Viader:
(laughs)-

Doug Shafer:
... about that.

Alan Viader:
So, yeah, I mean, I get the same question all the time as my mom and how do you have the time for it? And it's just, you, you use your time wisely. I'm always productive. I'm always doing something and if I'm in the middle of a disaster, uh, I can't sit back and uh, do nothing. So, I found a way to, to get involved and uh, about five years ago joined the, uh, the Sheriff's Search and Rescue team and, you know, we, we've done fire evacuations, we've done, you know, missing persons. We've done a few other things, lost hikers. Um, yeah. And you know, tremendous amount of training, uh, involved that-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alan Viader:
... you know, you know, not only, uh, navigation and all that, but also medical training. So, it's really helped me and empowered me and given me the confidence, when things go crazy and people get injured and, you know, events happen outta your of control. You, you just go into kind of this, I don't know, mental, like calm, just, I know the steps. I'm gonna go through this, that and that, and I'm not gonna panic. And-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Alan Viader:
... um, you know, and, and then in, uh, 2020 where we had th- all these fires, um, uh, that directly hit our property. I found myself again in kind of a helpless situation and you know, not only our property, but our neighbors, our community here in Deer Park-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Alan Viader:
... uh, took a pretty big hit. So, um, first thing I did was call up, uh, the, the chief here at Station 21 and say, "How can I help? How can I get an involved?" And next thing I knew I was, uh, uh, strapped onto a treadmill and with, you know-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Alan Viader:
... a heart monitor seeing if I was gonna, you know, be athletic enough to join the, the academy. And then I was, you know, in the academy and you know, they worked around your schedule, so it was nights and weekends and, um, you know, made it happen. So-

Doug Shafer:
And that was, uh, that was to become a volunteer fire- fireman right?

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Doug Shafer:
[crosstalk 00:35:10]-

Alan Viader:
So-

Doug Shafer:
... that's great. And then, and, but you're doing more, you're making some wine to raise money, is that right?

Alan Viader:
So I, I wanted to make my own wine and I wanted it to have some sort of purpose, uh, you know, there's so many just brands out there just for the purpose of making wine and, and I didn't want to just get lost in that. So, um, I really wanted to have something, some, you know, teeth to bite into and (laughs) get in the market-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Alan Viader:
... and actually do something with it. So, um, I love and very passionate about first responders and, you know, the, the role that they play in our communities and, you know, I've seen some pretty serious, uh, fire, wildfires and devastations and stuff.

Alan Viader:
Uh, I've been all over California, various missions and different things here and there. So, um, I've seen a lot of stuff that, you know, they do selflessly and, um, this, this wine I make Pinot Noir from, you know, Sonoma Coast. I make a Syrah from Coombsville. Uh, I make some rosé as well and, um, it's great wines. They're single vineyards. You know, I, I love the terroir aspect. They're terroir-driven wines, but, um, beyond that, uh, portions of, you know, the money that I make, I give back to organizations like, you know, The Salvation Army. I give them back to, uh, the Children's, uh, for First Responders Foundation that gives money to families that lose, um, you know, somebody in, uh, in the line of duty and gives them scholarships to continue, um, when their, uh, father or mother, uh, is no longer around so, um, I also donate to the local, uh, Search and Rescue and some local stations. I mean, I, I'm able to do something, um, you know, not only physically, but also financially so-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, that's great.

Delia Viader:
There is an intent, the wine is called Intentus.

Doug Shafer:
It's Intentus-

Alan Viader:
Yeah, so-

Doug Shafer:
... right? Yeah.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. In Latin, it means intention. So, it had to have, you know-

Doug Shafer:
I love it-

Alan Viader:
... an intention and-

Doug Shafer:
... and while I'm-

Alan Viader:
... a purpose behind it.

Doug Shafer:
A while we're on it, by the way, congratulations. It's, it's so neat you're doing that. Um, just-

Alan Viader:
Thanks-

Doug Shafer:
... before we, before we forget. So, if people want to get these In- Intentus wines, where do they go? Would they go to the Viader website or is there somewhere else?

Alan Viader:
No, I have a small website. It's-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Alan Viader:
... it's all separate. Um-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Alan Viader:
... wanted to keep it as-

Doug Shafer:
Sure. That makes sense.

Alan Viader:
... (laughs) as separate as possible.

Doug Shafer:
Okay. Well, good-

Alan Viader:
So-

Doug Shafer:
... well-

Alan Viader:
... It's tiny. It's like three barrels here. Three barrels here, so-

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. But it, it all adds up, man. Very, very cool.

Delia Viader:
(laughs).

Doug Shafer:
Um, hey mom, you gotta be proud of this kid. What do you think?

Delia Viader:
Totally.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
I'm very proud of all my kids, but I'm, I'm really, really proud of their achievements and their, their thinking that goes, their heart, their, their, their kind of... I'm, I'm very, very proud mom.

Doug Shafer:
You've done, you've done a wonderful job, but, uh, you know, we skipped over some of the basics about Viader. Tell us a little bit about your spot up on Howell Mountain. It's gorgeous, but uh, you know, the property, the soil, you know, what the wines are like coming off that property. Can you guys, why don't both of you chime in on that one?

Delia Viader:
Well, it's, it's a hillside. Yes. Um, and even-

Alan Viader:
It's a ski slope. (laughing).

Delia Viader:
It's, it's also a ski slope. Uh, it's a double-diamond ski slope and I put the vines so you can hold on to them. (laughing) and not end up, (laughs) down at the bottom. Um, it has the same, the same grade, 32% of those slopes in San Francisco.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. It's, it's, it was planted. I mean, my mom was way ahead of her time. Very innovative. I mean, copying a lot of the things that she saw in Europe and, and applying it here, um, very steep hillsides were not very common and she also wanted to do some high density planting. So, I mean, I, I walked into this, you know, as an adult but just I can't even imagine, um, the amount of work this was to put in, um, you know, I've, I've put in a few vines here with jackhammers, but I couldn't imagine putting in all like 50,000, um-

Doug Shafer:
Well, and, and the, the rose-

Alan Viader:
... but this is super high density planting up and down. I mean-

Doug Shafer:
Y- yeah. They go straight up and down-

Alan Viader:
... the place is so steep-

Doug Shafer:
... because back then, Delia-

Delia Viader:
East-West-

Doug Shafer:
... we were plant-

Delia Viader:
... orientation.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. We were planting hillside, but you know, Dad, you know, we did the old terrace thing, terraces, terraces, terraces, and you guys did that, you know, top to bottom, which is actually, we're learning now is the way to go when you can do it. Delia, how'd you, how'd you figure that one out? 'Cause you were way ahead of you time.

Delia Viader:
Well, I figured that one out, I actually called, called USDA, a, uh, the, the, the department of, um, where your tax dollars go to come and do a, uh, a trial because everybody was saying erosion, erosion, erosion, but it, it really depends on the slope and the way you slope. Um, I planted East-West, but my slope is more South-North. So-

Doug Shafer:
Right.

Delia Viader:
By putting the, the vines so close together and then having cover crop in between, I'm maintaining much more soil here at the top of the mountain that I, it would have leaving it naturally empty with nothing-

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
... to hold it.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. I'm seeing that, uh, you know, I've had so many meetings with, uh-

Delia Viader:
After this rain.

Alan Viader:
... RC- RCD and, and NRCS. I mean, I'm... We're, we're active in Napa Green and Napa Green Land and, you know, the, the storm water regulations that are coming down from the state level. Um, so we've been doing a lot of research and a lot of farm planning here. And to be honest, I mean, we have had very little, um, thing, you know, very little changes needed to our current practices. We are, uh, non-till. All of our avenues have always been, uh, you know, covered-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Alan Viader:
... in straw and we've always done seed and we've always done water bars. Uh, I'm actually, you know, very, very happy that, you know, this is something that I have always experienced and always learned. And, you know, there's nothing new that I had to, to learn that a lot of vineyards are, uh, having to adapt and change completely their mindset on how to farm, you know, with erosion in mind and I've, since day one, I've always had erosion in mind and-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Alan Viader:
... uh, and we've been very good and we've been following, you know, very closely and, you know, we've, we've done very well with, you know, this last rain event, uh, the vineyard, the original vineyard. I mean, it's perfect.

Doug Shafer:
Held out great.

Alan Viader:
That was -

Delia Viader:
Held up great because if you think we have six to eight inches of topsoil, max, I don't want it anywhere else than where it is.

Alan Viader:
Yeah.

Delia Viader:
I need it.

Doug Shafer:
(laughing). You know, we've learned, we learned that one here too early days Dad ... 'Cause back in the seventies. Yeah. So he, his brand new hillside vineyard, all the soil, most of the soil washed to the bottom. We had to, we had to dig it up and put in trucks and bring it back to the top of the hill. (laughs).

Alan Viader:
And that's just so much extra work.

Doug Shafer:
It's a lot of extra work, trust me. And I was in high school at the time, so you know what I was doing every weekend.

Alan Viader:
Oh, yeah.

Doug Shafer:
Anyway. Well, good. And uh, yeah, shallow soil, so, small berries, great concentration, hillside fruit.

Alan Viader:
Yeah, and the, the vines are always manicured-

Delia Viader:
Bonsai.

Alan Viader:
... I mean, we have very small canopies. Uh, I'm, I have a bunch of, uh, sensors for water stress and, you know, irrigation practices and stuff are all precise.

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alan Viader:
And, I do block by block. You know, it's a very small property and I have so many different blocks. I have like 60 blocks. Everything is double poly-ed. And, you know, we, we've worked really hard on being very efficient with our water.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. It's, um-

Alan Viader:
It's great.

Doug Shafer:
... good, good to hear. And another question I had that, hadn't heard about this Delia, uh, once in a while you guys make, uh, some wines under the DARE brand, what's that all about? Am I right on that one?

Alan Viader:
Yep.

Delia Viader:
DARE, a part of Viader.

Doug Shafer:
Oh (laughs).

Delia Viader:
I, I used to make a dance with it, um-

Doug Shafer:
I missed, I missed that one.

Delia Viader:
... and it, no, funny because, um, (laughs) a lot of people pronounce it in America, Viader and my poor kids had to deal with Star Trek all their lives in high school. Um, but it's Viader, if you dare.

Doug Shafer:
Got it. Got it.

Delia Viader:
So, our, our... It's kind of a second label where we allow ourselves fun and Alan can make anything under that label-

Doug Shafer:
How fun.

Delia Viader:
... uh-

Alan Viader:
Yeah, so that-

Delia Viader:
... and he can make and explore different varieties.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. The whole concept was to do, you know, showcase these single varieties and, and we're known more for the DARE Cabernet Franc. Um, but we've made a few different other varieties, Tempranillo, uh, we've done a Cabernet Sauvignon and we do Syrah, Malbec. So, um, it's really where we can focus 100% varietal. Um, the estate wines here from Viader are all blends and they're all unique characters. Uh, you know, the Viader is Cabernet with Cabernet Franc, the V is Petit Verdot with Cabernet. Uh, the Black Label is Cabernet with Syrah and a few other, uh, like Malbec and, uh, Cabernet Franc. But, uh, and then the Homenaje is Malbec with Cabernet, but the DARE really is where we focus and, and really highlight, you know, what the best is from that particular varietal.

Doug Shafer:
That's neat.

Delia Viader:
It's also more of a fun thing because it's, it... Our wines tend to age very well and people tend to wait till that special occasion. DARE is really, for every occasion. It's, it's set up to be a fun, very exciting, uh, wine where we highlight the specific characteristics, for example, Cabernet Franc, which is our favorite, that more of the elegance, more of the giving you subtle nuances without attacking your palette in-

Doug Shafer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Delia Viader:
... certain ways.

Doug Shafer:
Great.

Delia Viader:
And it can be a drunk with anything.

Doug Shafer:
Oh, cool, So, help me... So, and then getting back to the Viader label brand, what, what wines are you guys offering under the, the main brand these days?

Delia Viader:
Like Alan said, we have four main blends-

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Delia Viader:
Uh, Viader continues to be the more of an either Bordeaux classic style of wine, Cabernets Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with a high proportion of Cabernet Franc. Um, then the V, it was something I did as a winemaker just to prove I could do it. Um, the Petit Verdot can be super bold. Uh, that's very, very well in our, with our west exposure. It needs a lot of heat and, uh, to ripen, but it has very high natural acidity, so, how you make that square peg fit a round hole it's um, it's a little bit of a challenge winemaking, but it's one of the ones they we're known for. It's, uh, Petit Verdot, big proportion. Sometimes, we've done 92%, Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. And I always say we put the Cabernet Sauvignon to make it drinkable because Petit Verdot can be very, not only long aging, but very bold. Uh, but we make it bold in the sense that you would make a kind of dark chocolate bold. So, it's, it's an interesting wine, uh, to, to try. And then, um, Alan came up with his own blend, we, I call it the next-gen blend-

Doug Shafer:
(laughs).

Delia Viader:
... um, because we always come to the compromise. He wanted to make something where he could put his mark and I said, "Well, make your own thing."

Doug Shafer:
(laughing).

Delia Viader:
And, and then his sister came up because he was blending, Cabernet and Syrah, and it was really pretty inky in color and says, "Well, call it black label." Viader Black Label. And then he added a little bit of a Malbec and a little bit of Cabernet Franc and the Kitchen Sink, but it, it's really, (laughs) it's really his creation. And it, it just flies off the tasting room because it's a very interesting, very appealing, um, new, like I call it next generation. It's, it's a very easy to like, very pleasing blend with a little teeny bit of acidity elevated, but it's, it's, it's amazing when we do the tastings, um, how much Generation X, or Generation C or Generation, whatever it, it, they're always gravitate towards that wine. And then, come the HOMENAJE that nobody can pronounce, but, except us that speak Spanish. Uh, Homenaje means tribute and it's something that he wanted to do as a tribute to his grandfather.

Doug Shafer:
Okay.

Delia Viader:
And he brought Malbec, uh, cuttings from Argentina when Alan, uh, spent two years, uh, in Argentina in those, uh, two different harvest. So, he came with this blend, half Malbec, half Cabernet.

Doug Shafer:
Nice. Nice. And so all these wines, if folks want to get 'em, uh, you, you guys have a, a website, they can purchase the wines on? Is that the best way to go?

Delia Viader:
Yes. Viader.com.

Doug Shafer:
Viader.com. Good, good to know. And another question I forgot to ask you guys, what about the next generation, are there... Delia, are their grandkids in the picture?

Delia Viader:
I hope so. (laughing)

Doug Shafer:
Okay. Uh-

Delia Viader:
One of the three, for now. (laughs).

Alan Viader:
Yeah. I've got, I've got three kids, two boys and a girl and-

Doug Shafer:
Ah-

Alan Viader:
... they've, since they could walk, they've been involved with harvest and the only real time they can see me during the months of September or October, November is if they come up and-

Delia Viader:
(laughs).

Alan Viader:
... uh, come see me here at the winery. So, uh, they've been actually... Now that they're old enough, I mean, my oldest son is 12. Uh, he's been, yeah, he's been helping. He knows how to roll barrels. He knows how to-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, good.

Alan Viader:
... do punch downs and, and he knows all the, you know, ins and outs of the pumps and clamps and all that stuff so-

Doug Shafer:
Oh, that's great.

Alan Viader:
... uh, a lot of fun starting them off early-

Delia Viader:
They come for bottling too. They-

Alan Viader:
Oh, yeah. They help with bottling.

Delia Viader:
... know how to stick labels.

Doug Shafer:
Yeah. I used to put mine on the bottling line, putting capsules on bottles and they didn't like... They'd liked it for about 10 minutes.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. And, and we had 'em for my own... The, the Intentus wines, they do all the, the, the capsules and they do all the, the packaging and that kind of stuff. So, it's kind of a family affair. My wife does the labeling and ... you know, we, you know, we've, we've turned it into kind of an education, I guess, as well.

Doug Shafer:
Cool. Good for you.

Alan Viader:
Work ethic.

Doug Shafer:
There you go. Yeah. Start them early. Well, listen, you two. Um, this has been wonderful. Thank you for taking the time and sharing your stories with us really, really appreciate it. And good to, good to talk to you again. It's been a while.

Alan Viader:
Yeah. It's great. Thank you very much.

Doug Shafer:
All right, guys. Be good and we'll see around-

Delia Viader:
Thank you, Doug.

Doug Shafer:
... hopefully, hopefully soon. Take care.

Alan Viader:
I'll see you soon.

Doug Shafer:
All right.

Delia Viader:
Take care.

Doug Shafer:
Thanks. Bye-bye.