What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Horn
What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Horn

7/14 DAMIAN PARKER, JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS, GARY PISONI, PISONI VINEYARDS

July 14, 201430 min
DAMIAN PARKER - DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS BIO:                                                                                                Born in Bismarck, ND, Damian moved around a lot in his youth, while his father was assigned to various hydroelectric projects with the Army Corps of Engineers. Damian grew up in Healdsburg and attended Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1977, he went to work for Souverain Winery in Geyserville. He began his career with Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 1981 as a bottling line supervisor and became cellar master in 1990, a hands-on job overseeing the day-to-day winemaking operations. In 1997, Damian was promoted to Vice-President in charge of production and in 2008 was named Director of Winemaking. He divides his time between both Joseph Phelps wineries, located in St. Helena and Freestone, CA. Today Damian lives in Napa with his wife, Carolyn. Between them they have five grown children: Graham, Sydney, Sarah, Samantha and Stacey. HISTORY:                                                                                                                                                 In the late 1960’s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S., Hensel Phelps Construction Company, when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 Joe bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards and construction of a winery. The first harvest in 1973 yielded Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Johannisburg Riesling bottlings, all custom crushed at nearby wineries. The Joseph Phelps winery was completed in 1974 in time for harvest, crushing grapes for the first Insignia and the first Syrah bottlings. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking. It put Joe Phelps and his Joseph Phelps Vineyards on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers. Four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Thirty-one of thirty-seven vintages have been rated 90 or more points by various wine publications, including three perfect 100 point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in Mr. Parker’s Historical Tasting of Insignia report, published in November 2013. The 2002 vintage of Insignia was also awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2005. Over the years, the goal of becoming 100% estate grown resulted in carefully planned acquisitions of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley. Today, the Phelps estate consists of the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Backus Vineyard in Oakville, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and beginning with the 2011 growing season, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in Carneros. Estate-grown wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Insignia, Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard (the single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville) and Eisrébe, a dessert wine made from the Scheurebe grape. Additionally, estate-grown Syrah was produced from the Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in 2012. Joe Phelps has ha

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