11/14 LARRY VAN AALST, RUSS WEIS, SILVERADO VINEYARDS
November 16, 2016•52 min
LARRY VAN AALST – WINE TRENDS AND SONOMA HAPPENINGS LARRY HOSTS A WEEKLY PROGRAM ON CRN AND IS AN EXPERT ON WINE WHO IS SOUGHT AFTER FOR, TASTING AND MAJOR SOMMELIER EVENTS IN THE SAN FRANCISCO AREA. HE COMMENTS ON THE INDUSTRY, WHATS GOING ON IN THE SOMNOMA AREA AND HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT WINE. PROFESSIONAL WINE JUDGE FOR THE FOLLOWING: -West Coast Wine Competition -Grand Harvest Wine Competition -North of the Gate Wine Competition -San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition -Sonoma County Harvest Fair -Mendocino County Wine Competition -Santa Rosa Press Democrat Wine of the Week TUNE INTO THE WHAT’S COOKIN’ ON WINE: SONOMA REPORT ON WEDENESDAY’S AT 6PM RUSS WEIS – GENERAL MANAGER, SILVERADO VINEYARDS The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.” - Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters, 1880 A century later, the Miller family began the journey Stevenson described, establishing Silverado Vineyards in 1981. “It was beautiful land, and it was land that was working,” says Diane Miller of their first vineyards, purchased in the 1970s. Diane and Ron sold their grapes to some of Napa’s best vintners, who made award winning wines from them year after year. Encouraged, they struck out on their own with the goal of making the best wines the estate could produce at a fair price. This has remained the guiding philosophy over the years. The winery’s name, Silverado, comes from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Stevenson stayed so many years ago. It is an appropriate symbol: three generations of the Miller family are still “prospecting” for wine, staying true to the idea of coaxing something precious from the soils we are privileged to care for. ABOUT RUSS: Russ was born into a family of grape growers in Madera, California. As a boy, he spent many days and nights working side by side in the vineyards with his father and grandfather. This rural California experience proved to be the foundation of a career in fine wine that would take Russ to every corner of the globe. Russ first moved to the Napa Valley in 1981 to pursue degrees in Literature and French at Pacific Union College. While an undergraduate Russ spent a year in Haut-Savoie in France. Rumors still circulate that he did more skiing than studying. Upon graduation in 1985, he taught English language and literature at a small liberal arts college in Japan. In 1987, Russ returned to Napa and joined the Christian Brothers Winery in St. Helena, California as a tour guide, eventually working his way up to a position in Public Relations. He worked closely with Christian Brothers’ legendary winemaker, Brother Timothy. His familiarity with foreign countries and languages was well known to Christian Brothers’ ownership, International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. who made Russ their Global Brand Manager for California Wines in 1990. In 1993, Russ joined the Robert Mondavi Winery where he led the Asia/Pacific export business. He held several posts with Mondavi, including Director of Public Relations for Opus One. In 2000, Russ was named Mondavi Winery’s Senior Vice President for International Business Development, a position he held until joining Silverado Vineyards in 2004. When he’s not busy touting the virtues of Silverado Vineyards wines, Russ enjoys playing piano and admits to “a bad game of golf.” He’s also involved in a personal wine project with partners in Spain’s Priorat region. He’s a member of the Board of Directors of the Stags Leap District Association, the International Programs Committee of the Napa Valley Vintners and serves on the board of the Napa Valley Symphony. Russ lives near Yountville with his wife, Laurie, and their daughter, Josephine. The Weis family still lives on and farms the vineyards in Madera where Russ grew up.