I'd made about 3 trips around the booths at the tasting without finding a single good Pinot Noir. So, being the open minded person that I am (remember I passed him up 3 times), I stopped at the Cottonwood booth. I was BLOWN away by Norm's 1990 Santa Maria Pinot Noir. After a few years of attending every Cottonwood event and asking Norm 10,000 questions about winemaking, he offered to let come learn the process during the '97 crush. I checked sugar levels, picked, crushed, punched down, pressed, filled barrels, and generally moved a bunch of stuff around with fork lifts and pallet jacks! It was the time of my life... I was totally hooked. And even though I hadn't planned it, I ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir. That was the start of the Loring Wine Company. What had started out as a dream 15 years earlier was now a reality - I was a winemaker!
How I Make Pinot Noir
My philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING. What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine - I can't make it better - I can only screw it up! That's why I'm extremely picky when choosing vineyards to buy grapes from. Not only am I looking for the right soil, micro-climate, and clones, I'm also looking for a grower with the same passion and dedication to producing great wine that I have. In other words, a total Pinot Freak! My part in the vineyard equation is to throw heaping piles of money at the vineyard owners (so that they can limit yields and still make a profit) and then stay out of the way! Since most, if not all of the growers keep some fruit to make their own wine, I tell them to farm my acre(s) the same way they do theirs - since they'll obviously be doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible fruit. One of the most important decisions made in the vineyard is when to pick. Some people go by the numbers (brix, pH, TA, etc) and some go by taste. Once again, I trust the decision to the vineyard people. The day they pick the fruit for their wine is the day I'm there with a truck to pick mine. Given this approach, the wine that I produce is as much a reflection of the vineyard owner as it is of my winemaking skills. I figure that I'm extending the concept of terroir a bit to include the vineyard owner/manager... but it seems to make sense to me. The added benefit is that I'll be producing a wide variety of Pinots. It'd be boring if everything I made tasted the same.
About the Name
Sounds pretty straight forward, last name Loring, therefore Loring Wine Company. Ahhh, but what about the "Wine Company" part? That is an hommage to Josh Jensen at Calera... which is actually Calera Wine Company. Since he was the guy who showed me that great Pinot Noir could be made in California, I decided to name my winery Loring Wine Company to "honor" him. Hopefully, Josh sees it for what it is and doesn't want to sue me for trademark infringement!
The Thank You's
I would like to thank both Norman and Sharon Beko at Cottonwood Canyon for all of their help and support. None of this would have been possible without them. Stop by their place and give their wines a try.
I'd also like to thank Adam Lee at Siduri Winery for his help. Siduri is making some outstanding Pinot Noirs from both Oregon and California. Visit their web site and get on their mailing list. Hide this content.