What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Horn


April 4, 201752 min
DAN SMITH - WINEMAKER, VILLA SAN-JULIETTE VINEYARD & WINERY  TWO FRIENDS. FORTY YEARS OF HISTORY. ONE FATEFUL BOTTLE OF PASO ROBLES CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe met as schoolmates in Liverpool and a friendship blossomed. Both young men loved to entertain and as they grew into adulthood, this shared passion led to careers that often intersected, first as dancers, then as choreographers and finally as producers of entertainment enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. Despite their demanding schedules, in 2004 these two friends made time to catch up over a dinner in Las Vegas. They asked the sommelier to surprise them with a bottle of Cab, and, when both glasses were poured, the conversation took a momentous turn. The wine was spectacular, spurring an interest in the Paso Robles AVA that would grow into a love affair. And thus, in that first sip, the dream of Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery was born. Smitten as they were, just one year later Ken and Nigel purchased a pastoral 168-acre property located at the northern edge of the Paso Robles AVA in the small town of San Miguel, California. A healthy vineyard was already established across rolling slopes and ideal soils, so Ken and Nigel directed their energies towards enhancing the natural beauty of the vineyard with a tasting room styled after the Tuscan villas that Nigel had enjoyed during trips to Italy. One piece remained: A great vineyard deserves a great winemaker. In early 2013 Ken and Nigel invited second-generation winemaker Matt Ortman to lead the winemaking team at Villa San-Juliette. Matt hit the ground running, hiring an outstanding winemaking team while overseeing the construction of Villa San-Juliette’s new state-of-the-art winery. He and his team capped the year off by harvesting what turned out to be a remarkable 2013 vintage. Ken and Nigel’s belief in Paso Robles wine country comes to fulfillment in Villa San-Juliette’s comfortable tasting room, superb wines, and idyllic vineyard views. ABOUT DAN SMITH: Dan Smith was raised in Tualatin, a small city 12 miles south of Portland, Oregon surrounded by the vineyards of the Willamette Valley. As the youngest of five children, he watched his siblings as they progressed through school and various careers and decided at an early age that he needed a plan of action. “It was a mixture of the geography around me, on top of a fascination with my Aunt and Uncle’s obsession with collecting wine that led me to tell my parents that I wanted to be a winemaker when I was 14 years old. Always supportive, they bought me some books to read and even let me paint my room in a wine color theme.” In 2005, Dan ventured out of Oregon to start school in Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture B.S. program. It was his first experience with California’s Central Coast and he immediately fell in love with the SLO life. Dan met many influential industry leaders and mentors while working on his degree at Cal Poly. “I remember a career discussion before graduation I had with my Viticulture professor, the late Dr. Keith Patterson, where I expressed my desire to keep living and working in the area. He strongly encouraged me to leave the region and get as much experience as possible, then return given the right opportunity.” Dan took Dr. Patterson’s advice and worked vintages in Sonoma, New Zealand, California’s Central Valley, and back in Oregon before one of his college mentors, Matt Ortman, asked him to become Villa San-Juliette’s Cellar Master in 2013. “It’s been an amazing experience working with the VSJ vineyard and wines along with our small team, and I’m thrilled to step in as Winemaker and continue producing quality, hand-crafted wines.” WWW.VILLASANJULIETTE.COM SAM LANDO - LANDO WINES HANDCRAFTING PINOT NOIR FROM THE RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY AND SONOMA COAST Passionate Pursuit of Pinot Noir Sam Lando started his career working for some of the large global wine producers, and soon identified his true lov


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