03/14 BEN PAPAPIETRO, PAPAPIETRO PERRY WINERY, PASSPORT TO DRY CREEK VALLEY, AVERYL DUNN, WASHINGTON STATE WINE, TASTE WASHINGTON
March 14, 2016•3 min
BEN PAPAPIETRO - OWNER/WINEMAKER, PAPAPIETRO PERRY WINERY - PASSPORT TO DRY CREEK VALLEY (APRIL 23-24) HUMBLE BEGINNINGS... Our toolkit for success contained a garage, good friends, some old equipment, great enthusiasm, a burning passion for wine and a lot of humor. With those tools, some incredible Sonoma County grapes and the love and patience of our family and friends, we built Papapietro Perry Winery, one vintage at a time. We were also younger, our hair was darker, we might have been a tad thinner and the wine was still a work in progress. Enjoy this journey into our past. VINEYARDS Wine starts in the vineyard. Being passionate about our wines, we meticulously locate the best Pinot Noir and Zinfandel vineyards available. We know only superb vineyard sources allow us to produce the kind of wines we wants to drink and share with the world. Years of experience have led to the careful selection of these vineyards. • Campbell RanchOpen or Close • Charles VineyardOpen or Close • Leras Family VineyardsOpen or Close • Mukaida - Peters VineyardOpen or Close • Nunes VineyardOpen or Close • Peters Vineyard WINEMAKING When asked what style of wine we make, the response is always ‘great wines’. After we’ve all laughed, the real answer emerges. After almost 30 years of winemaking, we still firmly believe in a minimalist approach—allowing the wine to express itself and reflect the growing season through the nuances that appear from vintage to vintage. For this to happen and to produce those ‘great wines’, it is vital to pay attention to every detail; carefully attending to every step of the winemaking process, yet always with a light hand. We don’t over-extract or over-oak our wines. We give the wines the fermentation and aging environments that allow them to become exceptional—so we can smell and taste what the fruit has to offer us. Consistency is another element to our style. We cold-soak all the grapes for two to four days before fermenting, use the same cultured yeast and same type of François Frères barrels for 11-12 months of oak aging for our Pinot Noirs and 12-17 months for our Zinfandels. Our vineyard and clonal designates are all kept separate throughout the winemaking and aging process. Midway through the aging process (usually around Spring) we taste through the barrels and blend the wines together to make the vineyard and Clonal designate wines. Our winemaking team tastes through the wine in the barrels in order to determine which blend of clones and or vineyards allows the best flavors and nuances to show through. What varies from year to year is how the growing season affects the flavor profile of the grapes. Our goal is to let the grapes speak through the finished wine. Those vintage differences are a piece of the charm in both winemaking and wine drinking. BIOGRAPHY A complex man with simple pleasures, high standards and soulful values. Wine has always been a part of Ben's life. A native San Franciscan of Italian descent, Ben grew up with wine as part of every family meal and gathering. His grandpa made his own red wine blend in the basement, where Ben listened and learned. Ben's heritage and love for wine always beckoned. The passion caught fire in his early twenties as he explored wines from around the world—Bordeaux and an occasional high-end California Cabernet. But the wines that really turned Ben’s head were Burgundies from 1956 and '57. Seduced by those captivating aromas and elegant nuances, Ben volunteered to work during harvest at a friend's Sonoma County winery specializing in Pinot Noir. There he honed his craft and never looked back. During his 37-year career with the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, Ben met future partner Bruce Perry. Through their common passions—cooking and wine—they became fast friends. Today, the Papapietro Perry cellar is simply a more elaborate version of Ben’s garage where he started making wine more than 25 years ago. "Authentic, not pretentious," says Ben.