For this week's #PinnaclePartners post, we're featuring Joel Peterson! Joel's storied winemaking career dates back to the early 1970s, when he worked with Joseph Swan. In 1976, Joel founded Ravenswood, which redefined Zinfandel and the importance of old vineyards. In the subsequent decades, Joel served as the President of Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers and helped found ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers). His current winery, Once and Future, is a return to the original vision Joel had for Ravenswood: special wines made from special vineyards.
We're lucky to work with Joel and look forward to sharing our conversation with him. Read on below!
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐓𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐌𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐢.
Joel: On my last trip to Missouri I did a bunch of account calls, had a super dinner at Bill’s home with great wine people, gave a seminar on Zinfandel, as well as generally enjoyed the vibe.
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐑𝐞𝐝𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐭𝐲𝐥𝐞?
Joel: The Redwood fermenters are smaller, two to six-ton, which forces me into a more Burgundian style of winemaking. Lots of punching down as opposed to pumping over and lots of other hand work which keeps me closer to the transforming grapes. The Redwood Fermenters hold the warmth longer after fermentation is complete during extended maceration, contributing to a richer mid-palate.
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐧, 𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧 𝐓𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧, 𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐬 𝐁𝐞𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐲. 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐞? 𝐎𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬?
Joel: Make the wines you love, love the wines you make. I taught him about wine at a young age, so he doesn’t need much advice, at this point, he is more likely to give me advice.
Any of his Old vine Zinfandel heritage wines have a strong filial connection. These are the kind of grapes I have worked with for years.
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐙𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐥 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐬?
Joel: Zinfandel has been transformed from a table jug wine to a standout robust high-quality fine wine. There are many more consumers of Zinfandel in this era than when I started making Zin in the Early 1970s.
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐧𝐞𝐫?
Joel: A distributor that loves wine, is well-versed and knowledgable about the wines of the world, has an enthusiastic, well-trained, happy, appropriately sized sales team with good relationships in the market, is small to medium in size, has a good reputation with suppliers, that regularly reorders stock, and pays their bills on time.
𝐏𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐞 (𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧!) 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮?
Joel: A 1998 Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet, that we poured for my younger son’s 25th Birthday. It was at a perfect point in its drinking trajectory.