Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Black is the New Green

Looking for an easy way to start greening your kitchen? Go black. Cast iron, that is. Unlike controversy-coated Teflon, which releases toxins at high temperatures (that have been linked to bird deaths and flu-like illnesses) and which is made with chemicals that don’t break down (ending up in the bloodstreams of humans and animals as far flung as polar bears), cast iron skillets provide a nontoxic nonstick surface and are excellent at maintaining and diffusing heat. Plus, they fit perfectly within the “reduce, reuse” model: they can be reclaimed from antique stores, flea markets, tag sales, or, if you’re lucky, family collections.

I have been keen on cast iron ever since my mom discovered my late grandfather’s skillet hidden away in her basement a couple of years ago. As polished as black onyx and as slick as turpentine, the pan beckons a chef like truffles lure a trained terrier. (The first time I saw the pan I uncontrollably blurted, “Can you please pass this down to me in your will?” Um, the wrong words to tell your perfectly healthy and vivacious mother.) Its ultra-smooth surface allows fish to glide in and out without worry, steaks sear to perfection, and cornbread has never had a better home.

On a recent trip out to visit me, my mom lugged with her two lustrous skillets that she had hunted down from her local antique stores (a hint, I’m sure, that my Grandpa’s pan won’t be coming to me for a long, long time). Not only that, but she had a pile of research about cast iron, and it appears that not all pans are created equal.

First of all, forget the new, pre-seasoned skillets that are now available at kitchen stores; they have a rough, mottled surface that is not nearly as effective as the smooth shell of the old models. Search out early-to-mid century Griswold or Wagner brands—they’re considered the best quality—at second-hand stores, tag sales, or on the Internet. (The Griswold Manufacturing Company of Erie, PA—which made various iron kitchen tools from 1865 to the 1950’s—is the most prized brand by collectors; The Wagner Manufacturing Company of Sydney, OH, bought the Griswold molds in 1957.)

Don’t let a bit of rust or grease buildup deter you—they can be removed without too much strain (and often make for cheaper prices). For small rust stains, use sandpaper to remove the spot then re-season the pan (see seasoning tips below). For larger stains, soak the pan in a mixture of one pint of cider vinegar to three gallons of water for ten to twenty minutes. Rinse the pan with soapy water using a scouring pad. If the stain persists, return the pan to the soaking solution and repeat the process until the stain dissolves. For pans that are in really bad shape, try this tip from my mom, which she used on the pans that she bought for me: put the pan(s) on the middle rack of your oven facing down, and set the oven to its self-cleaning function. Once the oven is done cleaning, the pans (and your oven) will be sparkling.

But in the long run, you don’t want a sparkling pan; you want the black luster of a well-seasoned pan. While seasoning may sound like a pain, it is really quite simple. I promise. Rub your cleaned and dried skillet with a very thin, even layer of neutral oil—I recommend using extra-virgin coconut oil (it has an excellent heat threshold, won’t go rancid, and makes the most delicious curries, granola and pastry dough… but more on that at another time)—and pop it into a 350˚F oven for an hour. Let the pan cool in the oven then rub it with another thin layer of oil. Done.

Seasoning is an ongoing process; the more you use your cast iron skillet, the better surface you’ll acquire. Follow the maintenance tips below, and your pan will last a lifetime. Or several. The planet—and your grandchildren—will thank you for it.

  • Never put cold water in a hot pan; it can crack.
  • You can use a mild soap and a scrub brush to clean the pan without ruining the seasoning, contrary to popular belief.
  • After cleaning, dry the pan right away, then rub it with oil. I like to then put the pan on a hot burner for a minute or two to help the oil absorb. Wipe out any excess.
  • Store the pan either stacked with paper towels, or hanging on a rack.

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I have an addiction. No, not wine (although some might argue otherwise). Greens. Any kind will do: delicate shoots, hardy chard, wrinkled kale, sprightly arugula. After a period of traveling and subsequent withdrawal a couple of weeks ago, I found myself shoveling a verdant mesclun mix into my shopping bag at the farmer’s market like a bank robber stashing her loot. Noting my obvious dependency, an unfamiliar face intoned, “You must love salad as much as I do.” The voice belonged to Billiam van Roestenberg, owner of Liberty View Farm, who was helping out at Evolutionary Organics for the day, since he doesn’t yet have his own stand at the market. We began chatting about all things emerald, and Billiam mentioned that he offers a Lease-A-Tree program on his certified naturally grown apple farm in the Hudson Valley.

I’ve heard of leasing a plot in a community garden, but leasing a tree from a farm? Perhaps it was because of my New York nature-starved state, but I was intrigued. For $50, you get a tree (either Empire or Cortland), and its fruit (80-120 lbs), which you can pick anytime during the fall harvest. You’re also free to visit the tree throughout the year, including right now when the blossoms have just burst.

I’m considering leasing a tree, not only so that I could picture it out there on its hillside, waving to me on days when the soot of New York seems especially thick, but also because my Earth Day’s resolution (forget New Year’s, people!) is to start learning the valuable trade of sustainable farming—even though I’m currently a city dweller. Sure, I’ve got pots of herbs sprouting in my windowsill, but I want to learn what it really takes to grow the food that I eat. Buying bags of greens from the farmer’s market is one thing, but actually visiting the farms where my food is produced, learning the skills for growing organically, harvesting the fruit that will go into my cobblers, well, that’s another (and the Organic Winemaking Adventure is going to be my continuing education in sustainable winemaking). In Michael Pollan’s rousing article, “Why Bother: Looking for a few Good Reasons to Go Green,” from last weekend’s The New York Times Magazine, he states, “The idea is to find one thing to do in your life that … may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards.” For me, the rewards may come in the form of my own organic garden someday, or in the ability to better articulate what policies need to be implemented to best support those farmers who are conserving not only the environment, but also our foodways.

I don’t have room for 80 lbs of apples in my apartment, but even if I brought home only a bushel or two from a tree that I had cared for (if more in mind than in body), I’m sure they’d produce some of the tastiest pies and chutneys I’d ever prepared.

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Also known as gnudi, these ricotta dumplings are “little pillows of love,” as a good friend lately proclaimed. Rich in flavor, yet brightened by a hint of lemon and fresh herbs, they make for a gorgeous first or main course (and best of all, they’re thrown together in under 30 minutes). Pair with a light style red or citrusy white.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 2 large cage-free eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta (scant 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced to a paste
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped herbs, such as thyme, chives, tarragon and mint
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons organic olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it lightly with flour. Put a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat to come to a boil.
  2. Beat the eggs with the salt and nutmeg. Mix in the ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic and herbs. Gently stir in the flour to form a soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 1-inch rod, then cut each rod with a sharp knife or pastry cutter into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Line another sheet pan with parchment paper. Cook half of the dumplings in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumpling to the parchment-lined sheet pan and toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until nutty brown and fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice (the butter will bubble and sizzle). Slide the dumplings into the pan and cooked until just coated and warmed through. Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Shower the dumplings with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.

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In his recent blog, “Stating the Obvious”, Jonathan Russo writes about how some things that seem so obviously unsustainable and potentially disastrous, can take years to click in the national consciousness—often only after it’s too late (i.e. global warming, subprime mortgage loans, pesticide impacts on health and the environment…). This brought to mind one more “smoking gun” to add to the tally, corn ethanol.

What has been considered the green solution to our oil crisis is being exposed as the exact opposite—a muddy mess that is causing more environmental damage than the oil it’s replacing. Backed by government subsidies and billions of corporate dollars, the race to produce ethanol is resulting in the conversion of vast swathes of natural land—from Iowa, to Indonesia, to Brazil—for fuel production, destroying carbon-storing forests and grasslands, and causing food costs to skyrocket as harvests are being used to fill our cars instead of our bellies. Time Magazine’s cover article this week by Michael Grunwald terms it a “clean energy scam” and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman states bluntly, “people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states.”

The implications of corn ethanol production on our agricultural policies make my palms sweat (and not just because of rising global temperatures). Government subsidies for ethanol production support the prevailing monoculture mentality, with its reliance upon pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, and large machinery (and, ironically, its large carbon output). In the April edition of Gourmet, Sam Hurst (“Betting the Farm”) paints an unsettling picture of the South Dakota plains, where traditional cattle and wheat production is being converted to corn production—of the genetically modified and pest resistant variety—for cattle feed, high fructose corn syrup and ethanol, without regard to the inevitable erosion of the thin topsoil or to the effects of pesticides on the health of the land, farmer or consumer.

Meanwhile, small family farms that employ sustainable and organic methods which benefit the soil, produce little (if any) carbon output, and give forth food that is safe and healthy, continue to be neglected by government subsidies and supports.

Bio-fuels may prove to be a very good thing if we can find a way to produce them efficiently using non-arable land. In the meantime, however, we need to reconsider the benefits, and costs, of corn ethanol—hopefully before reaping more harm to the environment and to the world’s hungry.

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A century ago, American families routinely sat down to dinner to eat whatever mom cooked. Food choices were simple and guided by availability. Picture brown bread, fresh butter, bowls of stewed meat, and platters of glazed carrots being passed around the table.

Today, it’d be hard to catch a family actually eating together, and, when they do, what they eat is usually manufactured: lasagna that tastes as plastic as the tray it’s baked in, and garlic bread pulled from a disposable foil package. A glance at the bread’s ingredient list might show items like isolated soy proteins, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup. As Michael Pollan states, “over the last several decades, mom lost much of her authority over the dinner menu, ceding it to scientists and food marketers (often an unhealthy alliance of the two) and, to a lesser extent, to the government, with its ever shifting dietary guidelines, food-labeling rules, and perplexing pyramids.”

Food, or at least our perception of it, has become decidedly more complicated. To add to the mire, we’re fatter and sicker than ever, a fact which Pollan directly attributes to the shift away from traditional whole foods–vegetables, fruits, whole grains, naturally raised meat and dairy–and towards what he terms “edible food-like substances”–think margarine, cereal bars, and the previously mentioned garlic bread. In Defense of Food aims to offer simple guidelines for deciding what–and how–to eat to reclaim our “health and happiness as eaters.”

Pollan’s easy-to-follow style and informative but affable tone aptly reflect his mission to simplify the complex question of “what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.” This question has become particularly confusing in the face of more food choices than ever before, ever-new dietary studies, and increasing health claims on everything from packaged bread to bottles of water. The book is divided into three sections. The first two, “The Age of Nutritionism” and “The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization,” investigate what Pollan terms the American Paradox, or why Americans face skyrocketing rates of obesity and dramatic increases in Western diseases, while simultaneously devoting more and more attention–and dollars–to health and nutrition.

A glance down any grocery store cereal aisle–where colorful boxes expertly advertise their whole grain heart healthy benefits, omega-3 fatty acid content, or grams of protein–supports his claim that nutrients have become more important than foods themselves, and are helping to fund a rapidly growing food industry. While readers who are interested in the politics behind food will find these first two sections captivating, others, searching for a concrete answer to the question, “what to eat?”, will have to hold out until the last section. But they are advised to press on. Only through understanding the research laid out in the first two sections do Pollan’s core messages acquire their weight in the last.

The last section, “Getting Over Nutritionism,” is the manifesto– although manifesto seems much too strong a word for his friendly, easy-to-swallow tips–where Pollan outlines his rules and guidelines for escaping the perils of the Western diet. He compellingly argues that instead of relying on ever-new–and often contradicting–nutrition studies, health claims and diet fads for advice on what to eat, Americans should instead look to “great-grandma” for advice. Eat only foods that she would have recognized as food. Avoid impostors like that garlic bread that look recognizable but that have ingredients she wouldn’t understand. And don’t eat too much, sticking mostly with vegetables.

With its concise research and palatable wisdom, In Defense of Food will be as fulfilling as the home cooked meals once served at our ancestors’ tables, especially for those who are passionate about food. Hopefully, it will also extend its reach far enough to capture the attention of those millions of Americans for whom dinner means little more than microwaving.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Michael Pollan
The Penguin Press, 2008

Purchase In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto from

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Craving Green

Just when my stomach starts growling this time of year for the vibrant green flavors of spring, I’m glumly reminded that there are still weeks to wait until the first asparagus spear, fava bean pod, or itsy bitsy pea makes its way into New York’s farmer’s markets. Spring may have officially arrived, but, in the kitchen, winter stubbornly persists.

This is a tough time for me to find inspiration behind the stove. I’m through with Brussels sprouts, sick of squash, and can’t bear another stew. However, I’ve discovered just the thing to get me through these long weeks before the spring harvest appears in the market-parsley pesto.

Made just like its basil counterpart (but with fresh parsley instead), a dollop of parsley pesto adds a gust of fresh life to nearly any dish: steaming soups, simple frittatas, cheesy paninis, roasted fish, or tangles of pasta. Made with garlic, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil, the thin emerald paste makes me nearly forget about my longing for the flavors of spring. That is, until the asparagus finally arrives.

Parsley Pesto

This is more of a method than a recipe; tweak it to your liking.

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bunch clean organic parsley, stems cut off where the leaves start (discard the bottom stems)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more if desired
  • Small handful freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

With the motor running, drop the garlic clove into the feed tube of a food processor and chop finely. Turn off the motor and add the parsley, lemon juice, Parmigiano Reggiano, pine nuts or walnuts, water and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Process until everything is finely chopped, then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the pesto becomes smooth and slightly creamy. Take a taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, pepper or olive oil if desired. The pesto will keep covered and refrigerated for one week.

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It’s not often you see an entire cow being delivered to a New York City restaurant, but at Brooklyn’s applewood it’s a weekly event. Celebrated chef/owner David Shea does his own butchering on premises, then plays culinary Jenga trying to fit everything in the refrigerator. We recently talked with David about his elegant and inventive cuisine, and his devotion to sustainability and organic wines.

What is your style of cuisine?

We fall back on the term “contemporary American.” We source all of our meats from local farms in Vermont and Maine and purchase whole animals. A big part of what we do relies on local farmers who deliver directly to our door. We’re unbelievably fortunate to have the connections we have. The food itself is as simple as possible. We start with high-quality products and do our best to allow the natural flavors to come through. We try not to burden the plates with heavy sauces or extensive seasoning. When you get something that’s naturally delicious, it makes your job pretty easy.

What inspired your dedication to sustainability?

Laura [David’s wife and co-owner of applewood] and I worked at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Inn while we were in culinary school. It was this little place that had a self-sustaining garden and greenhouse. Almost every vegetable and herb used in the restaurant was picked that day; there wasn’t a canned product to be found. Laura came in one day from the garden and said, “I just ate some arugula right out of the ground that was still warm from the sun. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat anything else again!” Once you have the freshest, most organic foods, it’s impossible to settle for anything else. The more people we can expose to these kinds of flavors and experiences, the more people will understand how important it is.

You’re known for buying and butchering your own animals, something few chefs do themselves anymore.

Well, it’s challenging just to receive and store them. Every Thursday, Oliver comes in from Vermont and walks right through the dining room to deliver the animals. If dinner service has already started, he covers them with bags; they’re not as pretty as they are delicious. We typically receive three or four whole animals a week, plus a forequarter of veal. Our walk-in is pretty small, so figuring out how to hang them safely until we can butcher them can be like playing refrigerator Jenga. It’s all worth it though, because the quality is insanely good, and we can make anything we want. We can grill, sauté, roast and braise every last bit of the animal and then, when we’re down to the parts other people would never use, we can make interesting and delicious charcuterie, as well as stocks from the bones.

What are your opinions on organic certification?

Organic certification is great, if you can afford it. Most organic farmers are not wealthy people. To spend $15,000 for the honor of the government deeming you “officially” organic is a staggering waste of funds that could otherwise go toward things like paying your mortgage and feeding your family. We buy organic produce for the restaurant because we happen to have a handful of amazing nearby farmers who don’t treat their crops and who do the right thing from start to finish. We don’t, however, insist that our produce be organic. Laura has always maintained that she’d much rather buy minimally treated produce from a local farmer than import some organic version of the same thing from California.

Do you have a favorite organic wine?

Laura’s the wine drinker in the family. She’s got wines on the list that are made from organically grown grapes, some of which she really loves. Her favorite white is the Villa Paulus Pouilly-Fume, and her favorite red is the Chateau Haut-Selves, Graves. Interestingly, there are so many French wines, among others, that are totally organic but don’t advertise it. We may have more than we even know about.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu right now?

The menu changes daily, so there’s really no one favorite. I do love braising just about anything, though. We do a four-course tasting menu every Tuesday through Thursday-I cook it and Laura matches each dish with wines.

Anything new on the horizon?

We just opened a retail kitchen supply shop one block from the restaurant called applewares. After a couple of years of constantly having to run into the city for every pair of tongs or new chinois, we decided the neighborhood needed a professional cooking store. The response has been terrific from the neighborhood.

501 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
ph: 718.768.2044

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Empire Of The Ladybugs

lolonislarge.jpgIn 1920, Greek immigrants Tryfon and Eugenia Lolonis established their family vineyards in California’s Redwood Valley. Their son, Nick, converted to organic farming in the 1950s, releasing ladybugs into the vineyards instead of chemicals; this “beneficial predator” is now the Lolonis symbol. After over 60 years of selling their grapes, the family established Lolonis Winery in 1982 – the first Greek family name on an American wine label. OWJ spoke with third generation Phillip Lolonis, who is vice president and general manager of the winery.

How does your Greek heritage influence your winemaking?

My grandparents came over in the early 1900s. They had an arranged marriage and raised 10 kids. Our family still has land in Greece, which my uncle runs. They’ve had it for a few hundred years and always farmed it organically. Even today, my uncle ploughs with a mule. He’s in such a remote region of Greece that he doesn’t even use a car or tractor. In fact, his kids in Athens wanted to get him a car and he said “no.” He’s old school, but he’s 77 and in really great shape.

Sounds like the true organic lifestyle.

They don’t know it’s “organic”; that’s just the way they do it. It gets cold during the winter, so you have less pest and disease pressure. And, as opposed to the United States where there’s monoculture, they have vineyards, olive trees, a little bit of everything. It’s a balanced ecosystem.

And here, in Redwood Valley, there’s a lot less pest and disease pressure than in Napa and Sonoma. It makes it a little easier to grow grapes without the use of pesticides. You drive into Napa or Sonoma today and you only see vineyards. All the natural vegetation has been knocked out.

Where we are, it’s more like Napa was 40 years ago. It’s a very diverse area. It’s vineyards along with all different types of vegetation and foliage.

We have zinfandel vines that are 50 years old. Back then we didn’t have irrigation, so the root systems go 15 to 20 feet down and they really work hard, so you get more pest and disease resistance. Young vines have drip irrigation; the roots go down a little bit, then they go right back up to where the emitter is. So they’re being fed constantly and, you know, they can just have a good time. But if there were strong pest or disease pressure, they’d be the first to succumb.

There are no traffic lights in Redwood Valley, only stop signs. We’re a lot farther north. Most of our growers are between 60 and 90 years old. The average vine age is right around 40, which is pretty old. So it’s a real diamond in the rough.

Has the winery always been organic?

In the beginning we farmed without pesticides. As World War II came in, so did the chemicals; with promises you could get higher tonnage and all that kind of stuff. We were a part of those who threw it on there to see what would happen. Then in the 1950s, my uncle got his master’s from UC Davis in viticulture and oenology. He brought back ideas about farming organically, so they returned to that tradition.

The WWII generation in Redwood Valley doesn’t use pesticides because they don’t have to. The pest and disease pressure is not too bad and it doesn’t cost any money. Their whole thing is survival. The other generation that’s here, who I call the “hippie” generation, is growing organically because it’s an ideal; it’s what they really value and believe in. They can be very aggressive about it. Redwood Valley has the most per capita organically farmed vineyards in the United States.

Then there’s my generation, which there isn’t a lot of in Redwood Valley. The selling price of grapes from here is half that of Napa, and it gets expensive to keep farming. You have all this land that your family’s had for 50 years or longer; you can sell it for a couple million, and don’t have to be on a tractor anymore. A lot of families have left over the last 10 to 15 years.

What keeps you there, and keeps you farming organically?

If you grow organically and get certified, can you get more money for your grapes? The answer is no. That’s the biggest thing right there; the bottom line, the cash flow. These old guys still farm organically, but they’re not going to get certified because it costs money.

My family has done it, and it’s good marketing because we’re a winery. From a grower’s perspective, I wouldn’t get certified because I can’t sell my grapes for more money. People will pay a lot more money for organic food, but that doesn’t seem to transfer to organic wine.

The bottom line for us is that it’s the way we’ve always done it, and I don’t need to use pesticides, so why bother? If I use pesticides will I get more money for my grapes? No. If I farm organically? No. So why not be stewards of the land? Besides, it’s not even really my property. It’s my family’s. We have all this rich heritage in Redwood Valley. There’s a tradition here.

What are your current goals with the winery?

My main focus is to get Redwood Valley in the limelight. To be known for making exceptional wines; great quality, price, and a lot of heritage. The way it was back in the ‘40s and ‘50s. We want a little more tourism, but most likely there’ll never be another Napa again.

There’s also my uncle, plowing away with a mule in Arcadia. And he’s stronger than guys in their 40s. So we want to bring back those wonderful old-school ways that we have from Greece, and combine them with what we’ve learned here in the United States.

If you’re small and family owned, you really can’t make any mistakes. You have to come out with something exceptional. Especially in Redwood Valley, because we’re the underdogs. We lack the tourism coming into Napa and Sonoma. If we were located on Highway 29 in Napa, there’s only one wine I would distribute nationally; our Ladybug Red. Everything else we could easily sell out of the winery.

But that’s not the case, so our distribution system at Lolonis is more like that of a much bigger winery. That’s why my mom is in New York now, last week I was in Texas, and I’m going to Oregon next week. That’s just how it goes.

I’d like a bit more recognition. My growers would tell you point blank they want more money for their grapes. Well, that’s great, but you’ve got to build something like Robert Mondavi did. That’s a mentor who I look at. There were no wineries on Highway 29, or anywhere in Napa, that were built between Prohibition and when he opened his place in 1966. He had his kids out there with signs saying “Come in and taste.” Now they’re almost putting their hands up saying, “OK, we have plenty of people, thank you.”

Would you want to as big as Mondavi is now?

Even if I wanted to be, which I don’t, it’s impossible. You don’t see too many of those things happening again. But, you never know. If we ever did, it will be Ladybug Red. Either the marketplace will say, “There’s enough, it’s saturated,” which I don’t think is going to happen, or we’re going to run out of grapes first.

It could get up to 50,000 cases or so, which is really strong, but the best part about it is the consistency and authenticity. The other winery I know that does 50,000 cases of an incredible zinfandel is Seghesio. It’s all the old vine stuff and they own most the land.

The Seghesios came over in the late 1800s, had an arranged marriage, similar to us, and they’re in Sonoma. Right now they’re making incredible wine, and that’s where we need to go. Making these wines consistently, showing the value, and then it’ll happen. It’s already starting to happen. But, because of our location, we’re always going to be the underdog, which I don’t mind.

I push value, because that’s what people want right now. On all price points we’re at value. Our Petite Syrah, which is very highly rated, is $30, and the equivalent ones in Napa and Sonoma are somewhere between $50 and $60 a bottle. Right there, even in our highest end, we’re showing value. And we’re also authentic and organic. Put that package together and hopefully that equals success.

Learn more about Lolonis Winery at

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