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Raise a Glass for #SauvBlancDay
Episode 54th May 2022 • St. Supéry Sips • St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery
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Wine drinkers around the world know chardonnay as Napa Valley’s signature white grape, but what some do not realize is that the region also produces beautifully complex sauvignon blanc. The valley is home to just 2,500 acres of sauvignon blanc, and nearly one-tenth of it is planted in the estate vineyards at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery. While the official date falls on May 6, you might say that every day is Sauvignon Blanc Day at St. Supéry.

 In the latest episode of the St. Supéry Sips podcast, winery CEO Emma Swain discussed the appeal of sauvignon blanc and its future in the Napa Valley with guests Dan Petroski, winemaker and owner of Massican winery in Napa Valley; Kelli Audrey White, author of Napa Valley Then & Now; and Steven Jones, vice president of food and beverage for Gate HospitalityGroup, operator of four luxurious private clubs in Florida.

Transcripts

Emma Swain:

Well, welcome everyone to St. Supéry Sips. I'm Emma Swain. I'm the CEO at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery here in the beautiful Napa Valley. And today we're going to discuss the state of Sauvignon Blanc in the US marketplace and all the things that we love about Sauvignon Blanc, I'm very pleased to have joining me today, Steven Jones.

Emma Swain:

Stephen is the VP of Food and Beverage for Gate Hospitality Group including the Five Diamond Point Verda Inn and Club. He's an accomplished hospitality executive with 30 years of experience specializing in food and beverage operations. 15 years managing F and B operations for numerous PGA Tour Tournament Players Clubs, including Sawgrass. He's a certified sommelier, currently studying for his Burgundy Master Level certification, which we're all a little jealous of that.

Emma Swain:

I love that sort of studying. And he's an avid traveler cyclist, former amateur British boxing champion and a scuba instructor. Welcome, Stephen.

Steven Jones:

Good Afternoon. Thank you.

Emma Swain:

Thanks for joining us. In addition, we have Dan Petroski, winemaker and owner of Massican in Napa Valley. He is a Brooklyn native. He caught the wine bug working at Time magazine and exploring the wine lists in New York City. Instead of taking a job at The Wall Street Journal, he moved to Sicily for a year to learn winemaking.

Emma Swain:

Then he landed in Napa Valley and enjoyed a 15 year tenure as winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. He's a true innovator in Napa Valley, producing sustainably sourced wines, specializing in Mediterranean aromatic whites. And he also produced an excellent Sauvignon blanc, which we're going to be talking a little bit about today. His wines have been included in Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines for of the year for the past four years and twice in the famed Wine Spectator top 100 most exciting wines last year the 2022 Food and wine magazine drinks innovator of the year and the San Francisco Chronicle winemaker of the year in 2017. So welcome, Dan.

Dan Petroski:

Thank you I'm happy to be here.

Emma Swain:

And happy to have you. And we have the amazing Kelli Audrey White the acclaimed author of Napa Valley then and now the definitive guide to Napa Valley. It's an amazing amazing resource so if you don't have it you should. Former sommelier at Veritas in New York City and Press in Saint Helena. She was named one of the top ten sommeliers in the country by Food and Wine magazine in 2013 sommelier of the year by wine enthusiast in 2017 and is currently the director of education for Meadowood estate.

Emma Swain:

Welcome Kelli.

Kelli Audrey White:

Thanks for having me.

Emma Swain:

It's great to have you all. So to set the stage you know we've been talking about sauvignon blanc a lot and we see Sauvignon Blanc is one of the varietals that it's actually grown in dollar value more than some of the other top varietals here in the US marketplace and plantings have doubled worldwide over the last 20 years.

Emma Swain:

During the pandemic sauvignon blanc became fastest growing varietals for 2020 to 2021. But we're also seeing a little less of it being planted in Napa Valley and a lot of it being pulled out. So there's some differences and where it's going in the world. Steven, tell us what you're seeing in restaurants and what do you think is happening with Sauvignon Blanc.

Steven Jones:

Well, from our standpoint in Florida, Sauvignon Blanc is very, very popular obviously because of its approachability. It's versatility. And in keeping with our environment now, we're in bright sunshine, ocean breezes. It works very very well for for our climate and our client base really enjoy it. Obviously with that, the different styles you get with seven in your as well northern hemisphere with some southern hemisphere there's one of all sort of great fruity notes.

Steven Jones:

And then you get all the citrus notes, big basis notes, gives you a lot more sort of flexibility and allows us to work it better into our menus. Which, which is good.

Emma Swain:

Yeah you know I do find sauvignon blanc pairs so well with so many different foods and different styles of sauvignon blanc kind of go deeper into the spicy foods and not it's not just goat cheese and oysters anymore. What are you seeing as some of the kind of the more flexible styles of Sauvignon Blanc for food in your restaurants.

Steven Jones:

I mean as I mentioned, we're actually I've got two properties in particular that are located on the ocean. They're literally, literally a mile and a half away from each other and two very, very distinct styles of membership and clientele and one is predominantly a Sauvignon Blanc venue. I can't keep enough varieties whether on whether they're drinking new Zealand, whether doing more traditional Sanchez or taking something from Napa Valley.

Steven Jones:

The membership and the client base there just love that. Great, right? Or something along while sitting at the beach, looking across the ocean, enjoying we've got locally here we have a Mayport Shrimp, which is a local shrimp, very similar to the Georgia wine. And we incorporate that a lot into our menus. And it just works really really well, throwing that and some tropical fruits and lovely robust salads and it works wonderfully along well.

Emma Swain:

Yeah. How do you feel about sauvignon blanc? You feel it's here to stay? Going to continue to grow or sort of stabilizing?

::

Steven Jones

I've seen it. I mean, we've seen depletions within our ranks growing and we're seeing, you know, obviously New Zealand, I've got a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on tap and in one of our outlets and it really sells very, very well. And to a point, as we all know, New Zealand is going to we're going to have some trouble coming forward with New Zealand's availability to give us Sauvignon Blanc.

Steven Jones:

So I'm looking hopefully some other areas. Uruguay, maybe more coming out of South Africa to start getting into the American market.

Emma Swain:

Yeah, that's a good point. There has definitely been a shortage from New Zealand and also here in Napa Valley and Kelly, what are you feeling are the best characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc and what do you find the most appealing with Sauvignon Blanc?

Kelli Audrey White:

Well, I Think part of sauvignon blanc's appeal as you've already touched upon is the range of expressions. So, you know, Napa Valley has even - Napa Valley has it's, I think, traditional signature that's maybe runs a little bit more tropical, not quite as grassy as other parts of the world, like New Zealand or South Africa comes to mind. But even in just Napa Valley, there's a huge range of styles with some people opting to do a more kind of almost a more of a white Bordeaux model with New Oak with a good portion of semillon.

Kelli Audrey White:

And then, of course, you know, you have the clean, crisp versions of sancerre, et cetera. But even sancerre, you can find a lot of wines with botrytis now that have a real kind of oily kind of quality to them as well. So it's a grape that really ranges and granted, it's been a while since I really worked the floor in a typical way.

Kelli Audrey White:

But it's what always struck me as very interesting about sauvignon blanc is that, you know, people tend to, I think in the United States, be kind of variety drinkers. They have their one variety. They're chardonnay drinkers or they're merlot drinkers, they're cabernet drinkers. But with sauvignon blanc, people seem to like even narrow it down more specifically. They drink New Zealand sauvignon blanc, they drink sancerre, they drink Napa Valley, which always really struck me as being kind of very specific.

Kelli Audrey White:

There seems to be a really developed consumer awareness of the styles within that grape variety.

Emma Swain:

Well, you know, I think that's really interesting because you think, you know when California Chardonnay became so popular, it was sort of one style of California Chardonnay that was going on and now, you know, with Sauvignon, you know, it was that oaky style - You know, back in the nineties and it was very consistent. If you said, I want a California Chardonnay, it was sort of the same flavor profile.

Emma Swain:

And I think, you know, with Sauvignon Blanc, it's a very international variety. And you end up seeing sort of the the stainless steel, the bright freshness coming a lot from New Zealand. But then, you know, you get more of that tropical fruit from from California and perhaps what we're seeing is not so much a preference for location, but a preference for how the wine is made and associating that with the region. You know? What do you think?

Kelli Audrey White:

Yeah, I think that that's certainly possible. I'm sure Dan has a lot to say on the subject. I think that in my experience, as a sommelier in Napa Valley, people that we're coming here as Cabernet drinkers where sauvignon blanc was kind of maybe as an afterthought in a sense of that. It was the opening act, right? They were hoping for like a cleaner, fresher, brighter style but in that sort of tropical vein that Napa Valley does so well.

Kelli Audrey White:

And that was the expectation. And then you had those I personally found as much as I rather enjoyed them, the kind of more luxury sauvignon blanc coming out of Napa Valley to be really quite difficult to sell. Not impossible, but it is such a specific style. The audience for that style of wine is so specific. And that was not necessarily the expectation of most people about what Napa Valley sauvignon blanc was like.

Emma Swain:

That's true, because there's there's such small quantities as well that you don't get as much exposure to those wines. Thoughts on blending a Sauvignon Blanc with semillon, other varietals? What would you see sort of as the trends?

Kelli Audrey White:

Well, I mean, I think that, you know, there's so how long has that classic partner in semillon which I think is really successful in a place like Bordeaux. Here, it can make really exciting wines. But I think that one of the other characteristics oof sauvignon blanc that's so compelling is its kind of ability to make delicious wine over a spectrum of ripeness.

Kelli Audrey White:

So you could almost blend sauvignon blanc with itself, just picked at a different ripeness, and achieve that same sort of enriching that that increasing complexity that you can by blending it with with semillon. As far as blending it with other things. I don't really know that I've had sauvignon blanc blended with too many things other than semillon. I'm sure I have...i can't think of it right now.

Emma Swain:

Well I have to say that is something we do at St. Supéry, with 220 acres of Sauvignon Blanc. We definitely pick at different ripeness levels to do exactly as you said, achieve those different levels of flavor and complexity in the wine. Anything that you're seeing stylistically that's coming up with from cutting edge producers, as new trends in Sauvignon Blanc.

Kelli Audrey White:

Well, I would say that part of the reason why I'm happy that Dan is here is that there seems to be - there was this idea that sauvignon blanc was either kind of cheap and cheerful or it was being made a style of white Bordeaux. And those were kind of - those were the options. And now I'm feeling like I'm seeing producers, Massican is a great example, As is St. Supéry, you re taking sauvignon blanc a lot more seriously, but without taking it so far in that kind of classic, you know, new oak plus semillon direction, that's not the only route to taking the variety seriously.

Kelli Audrey White:

And so what I mean by taking it seriously and treating it with a lot of loving care and not making it a kind of a cash flow support unit for your cabernet production and really taking the wine and making it - giving it a lot of honor in the cellar maybe experimenting with different fermentation vessels, differing levels of brightness as we discussed, and not bottling it.

Kelli Audrey White:

You know, not this sort of stainless steel, bottle a couple of months later, boom it's on the market. Like treating it more like a serious wine and not just an appetizer. So I'm seeing I feel like I'm seeing that but maybe it's because I really like that style of sauvignon blanc. I like the - I really enjoy Napa Valley sauvignon, but especially when it's treated with a lot of care and not just kind of churn and burn

Kelli Audrey White:

So I look for it, and that's probably why I see it - feel like I'm seeing it a bit more.

Emma Swain:

Well, you know, I think that's interesting too, because I think that that's really happening as you say, the simple steps to the more serious wine. I think we're seeing that with rosé as well. You know, you're going from the porch pounder to wine that's serious. That you're really enjoying the expression of the fruit and flavor in the skill of the winemaker and the the terroir that you're seeing.

Emma Swain:

So it's fun to see that happening with a couple of varietals that are being taken a little more seriously. Dan, you know, you are very terroir driven in your approach. And I know you believe that Sauvignon Blanc should be treated with a lot of respect and your Sauvignon Blanc is. Do you want to share with us some of your thoughts on Sauvignon Blanc and how we're we're producing out here in Napa Valley and around the world for sure.

Dan Petroski:

And I do think I want to add to what Kelly was saying about giving this great variety a little bit more respect and love from the winemaking perspective in the cellar. Back in 2008, 2009, when I was at larkmead, we decided to change the evolution of our Sauvignon Blanc from a fresh bright appetizer wine to something that deserves a greater time spent on the table over a longer course of the meal.

Dan Petroski:

And the easiest way we did that and the quickest way to market to think of that was we treated sauvignon blanc like Chardonnay. We wanted it to feel like Chardonnay, but taste like Sauvignon Blanc because everyone knows that Chardonnay has a little bit more elevated luxury style. And where Sauvignon Blanc had this little bit more of that, as you said earlier, the oysters and goat cheese style which is the fresh and the fast. So I think the whole Napa Valley took turns at figuring out what worked for them, whether it be the 100% new French oak approach that Phillipe Melka took, actually you know early on at vineyard 29 and price the wine over $100. He did the same thing at Lail. And then as you saw we still have a marketplace here like the Honigs and the Long Meadow Ranches and the Duckhorns that are - that have an entry level brightness bringing into the into the sauvignon blanc and so that valley has done a great job of of kind of swinging the pendulum to

Steven Jones:

sauvignon blanc. But unfortunately in the last ten years, as you mentioned and we are we're seeing less plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Napa Valley as a wine growing region is so hands on. Our craft of viticulture is more about making wine and being in the vineyards. And, and unfortunately Sauvignon Blanc wasn't, you know, commanding the price points for farmers.

Dan Petroski:

So, you know, three tons of Cabernet Sauvignon worth $30,000 for you. Where six tons of Sauvignon Blanc, which takes a little bit more time to harvest on the on that that August morning is only worth $18,000 to you. So there was this easy, quick and easy dirty math on the back of an envelope that said sauvignon blanc is not right for this place. Although we need it here! It is right for this place! It works perfectly with everything we do stylistically.

Dan Petroski:

And that for me is it's a shame here in Napa Valley. And I'm glad that you said to hear you say, Emma, that you have 220 acres under vine for sauvignon blanc. You are fully committed to it. We're sitting here talking about it because honestly, I jokingly, and it's not a joke, said that Sauvignon Blanc deserves the title as one of the world's greatest noble grape varieties.

Dan Petroski:

Meaning, in nobility, in a grape variety, is its ability to travel. And not only has sauvignon blanc traveled to New Zealand, to South Africa, to Chile, to Napa Valley, to Friuli, to Alto Adige, from Bordeaux to sancerre. It has actually created industries. It created an entire industry in New Zealand. It created the entire sweet wine sauternes industry in France, in Bordeaux.

Dan Petroski:

Like this is a grape variety that that needs to be on the pedestal with Pinot Noir and Cabernet, as we think about some of the world's great, grape varieties. And to me that is - And then the styles that that both Stephen and Kelli talked about and the variations in the diversity and the approachability is amazing. And from a winemaking perspective, yeah.

Dan Petroski:

This quick turnaround... Sauvignon blanc doesn't get bottle shock. You can bring it in, get it fermented, keep it reduced, keep the aromatic intensity in there and then bottle it very quickly and put it to market in February, March, April and have a delicious wine. So I think there's so much so much love from my for my little corner of the world for Sauvignon Blanc.

Dan Petroski:

It it's and I'm glad you guys are sitting here talking about it on a on a morning and not a valley. It's amazing.

Emma Swain:

So Dan, you know, you are seeing a lot of different styles going on in Napa Valley and around the world. You're much more in tune to it as a winemaker than the rest of us are. Do you want to kind of comment on some of the innovation that you're seeing and how that innovation is being expressed to the consumer?

Emma Swain:

Because, you know, our guests are are seeing names on a wine list and they're seeing a varietal on a wine list. But maybe they're not understanding what those variances are in the winemaking technique. And how do we how do we know about that and convey that.

Dan Petroski:

Oh, for sure. I don't think the Bordelais get enough credit for for the implementation of skin contact. You know, I think everyone wants to immediately go to northeast Italy and Friuli and grape varieties like Ribolla Gialla. But for hundreds of years, you know, the Bordeaux winemakers were macerating their Sauvignon Blanc because there's a tremendous amount of acidity and that acidity was too fresh.

Dan Petroski:

It was too cool of a climate for them to ripen the grape variety to the point of desirability and approachability in the glass. They were spending, you know, 24 or 48 hours after destemming, soaking the sauvignon blanc on its skins and allowing that juice to soften its acidity and raise its PH. So this has been happening for hundreds of years.

Steven Jones:

So they have been doing things like that - that have been, you know, that have been kind of innovative in a way of bringing a forefront to kind of a new style wine, which is something called orange wine. But I go back to what both Steven and Kelli said about people being New Zealand wine drinkers are California sauvignon blanc drinkers or something, versus Bordeaux.

Dan Petroski:

We have found our pathway in a very short period of time. I think a lot of people don't realize that the New Zealand wine industry kind of mirrors the Napa Valley, Sonoma County California wine industry, where it came to the forefront in the eighties after phylloxera ripped through both territories and the replanting started to happen. Prior to sauvignon blanc in New Zealand, you had like Müller-Thurgau and a bunch of other grape varieties that allowed them... that weren't even very respected in the marketplace and able to get rid of them and then bring in sauvignon blanc or chardonnay and things like pinot noir. That time table in New Zealand was very similar to what was happening here. In the Napa Valley, we had to overcome a decision Bob Mondavi made in 1966 1967 when they did not wish to use the words sauvignon blanc on his wine and called it, you know Fumé Blanc like as in Pouilly-Fumé. And that was a huge marketing win for Mondavi at the time and it allowed us in the California wine industry to put a fresh white wine under cork.

Dan Petroski:

And it took us a while, almost 40 years to come back to our love and respect for the Napa Valley. And the style here is just, it's just glorious. And I do think that we've kind of, we reached the, the epitome of what an American Napa Valley wine drinker wants in a glass and that's, that's pretty awesome.

Emma Swain:

And so you also work with a lot of other white wine varietals that are very aromatic at Massican. Can you share why you include Sauvignon Blanc with that and what you sort of enjoy about aromatic whites?

Dan Petroski:

So my original foray into the wine industry was I moved to Italy in 2005, 2006 for a year and in the Mediterranean climate, I drank a lot of fresh white wines and it was just something that was culturally significant for, with regards to the food and wine pairings. And I moved to California and I realized very quickly that, you know, we're, we're in a community that creates a lot of big rich, bold, fruitful wines.

Dan Petroski:

And whether it be Pinot Noirs in Sonoma or cabernets in Napa, and I found that there was a cultural disconnect of the food and wine scene here. The wather spoke to the Mediterranean. But the dinner table spoke to, you know, hedonistic, rich and powerful wines. And I think that that was a little bit of a disconnect when I started kind of reminiscing and romanticizing and being nostalgic for the time I lived in Italy and in the wine that I drank at that time.

Dan Petroski:

So I had asked about, you know, actually Kelly asked about or mentioned earlier that she may not recall some of the sauvignon blancs and all the grape varieties they had been blended with over the years. I have shared a lot of Friulian wines together. That's my one true love. And a lot of those wines include sauvignon blanc and tocai friulano, and You know, Ribolla Gialla, sometimes Riesling, pinot grigio is blended into there. So I wanted to make a singular 'Cal-Ital' style wine with Sauvignon Blanc as part of the blend.

Dan Petroski:

And then I realized very quickly the vineyard i had sourced was very powerful and and pungent, and you have a big ego on on the nose and on the palate. And even at a small blended component of 5%, the wine was sauvignon blanc based. And I wasn't interested in making a sauvignon blanc based blend. I was interested in making a 'Cal-Ital' style white wine, very aromatic and bottled sauvignon blanc on the side.

Dan Petroski:

50 cases. And then I went from 50 cases in year one to something that I just can't stop trying to sort through and grow my production and, and put in glasses wherever I can nationwide well.

Emma Swain:

I love your your passion for all wine, Dan, and your creativity. That's what we enjoy in Napa Valley is always striving for excellence in all we do, whether it's a red wine or white wine and particularly Sauvignon Blanc. So tell me about, you know, how people are choosing Sauvignon Blanc on by region, which is also sort of seeming to be quite stylistically chosen.

Emma Swain:

How important is Sauvignon Blanc on a wine list? And maybe, Steven, you can kind of comment back to that is it important to have all the regions represented? And what do you think some of the best pairings are on your menus?

Steven Jones:

I think having sauvignon blancs on our wine list is very important. But again, based upon those of us who have been in the restaurant world, you're going to look at what your clients are actually and your members are actually drinking. As a wine drinker myself, I'd love to have every region represented on on the wine list. But if you're going to go to go where your sales are dictating whether you've got, as you said, a group that are currently drifting towards the New Zealand style or they want them on the the Napa style, where you've got the individuals that are going to the Loire Valley with sancerres and the Poully Fumes of the world I think it's still very important that you represent - the winds are represented both by the glass and obviously by the bottle on all you want programs whether you we've got the wine programs, whether it's should have a poolside food drink concept or going through to some of the other dining out, which from a pairing standpoint, as I mentioned, we're we're Florida.

Steven Jones:

It's great summer. It's a beautiful day today. Here, great seafood, great salads. And it's a it's a very, very - we spoke before - It's a very, very approachable wine. And I think for a lot of people, it's also that wine that takes them into the into the next step of their exploration of the wine world, gets them out of drinking the lower intro wines.

Steven Jones:

It's for them, it's a bit more sort of nuances, a few different profiles on on the on the palate. And it takes them off. Now they can then start exploring the world of wine. I think you want is that a stepping stone for a lot of people.

Emma Swain:

You Kelli, any thoughts from you on how to craft a great wine list around sauvignon blanc and what you should be including.

Kelli Audrey White:

Sure, I mean, and this may not be a direct answer to your question, but I remember when Scott and I were getting established at press back in 2010 we were we had a kind of a mission to get people to stop drinking cabernet with their oysters. And so I mean I think my husband wore holes in the carpet just running around frantically wit sauvignon blanc giving it to people for free to just, you know, knock it off. But that was ultimately a losing battle.

Kelli Audrey White:

Because they enjoy cabernet with oysters to this day, I'm sure. But it was, it was, you know, it was important for us in the context of that specific wine list and block. And this is maybe to its to its demise. So what was important in the context of an all Napa wine list for a lot of reasons stylistically from a food pairing perspective.

Kelli Audrey White:

But also they offered a price point from Napa that was kind of a weigh in for sometimes, you know, Napa Valley wines like love it or leave it. It's you know, you have to discuss the fact that generally speaking, they have a higher price point than other regions around the world and certainly other regions in California. So because of that, you're often catching a wine drinker.

Kelli Audrey White:

Or a wine lover kind of later in the arc of their their life and sauvignon blanc from a blue chip region like Napa Valley, though not, you know, the Cabernet that those people kind of come here for is a way in. And so it just it provided stylistic diversity, more food pairing versatility, but also diversity of price point, which I think is important.

Kelli Audrey White:

So so that was really key, you know, out in my former life working with international wine lists in New York City. So I mean, like for all the reasons that we've already discussed, you know, tells a global story, it's a really interesting kind of way to to talk about, you know, terroir because it has all these different expressions.

::

Kelli Audrey White

It's a really great way to talk about market forces because there are reasons why the grape has kind of flourished in the places that it has. We talk about climate. And I also always found an interesting point from a teaching perspective. And how to talk about pyrazines. Because I think, you know, one of the things that we we haven't really discussed and that's probably my fault to talk about the flavor profile is that, you know, so we want has a signature sort of piracy and stamp, and that can manifest in a variety of ways.

Kelli Audrey White:

I think that that kind of gooseberry grassy nuances of Marlborough or sodium blanc are one expression in Napa Valley where things are a little bit riper. We might get more like a minty kind of quality or a cucumber quality that is also an expression of pyrazine And so South Africa has, I think, a pretty intense level of pyrazine expression.

Kelli Audrey White:

And, you know, that's something it's it's a way to kind of explain what's happening in Cabernet. So we cabernet franc, which are all, you know, very close relatives or cabernet. And so we're walking the mommy and daddy of companies that we own. So, you know, I think it's it's a way to kind of comfort the consumer that they don't need to be afraid of green flavors, that they actually like them and other wines.

Kelli Audrey White:

And so it's just it's just it's just a really fertile wine subject to take in a lot of different directions.

Emma Swain:

Yeah. I think that's a great example of I love the green good green flavors and Cabernet Franc as well and just as well as in Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on how they're expressed and Dan, any any thoughts on, you know, as a wine maker, when you walk into a restaurant and you go to choose a sauvignon blanc, what what are some of the things you want to see from a diversity perspective on a wine list?

Dan Petroski:

It's a great question. I'm actually a little bit of a traditionalist in that way. I just kind of born and raised in New York City and I remember the days of eating and drinking in New York City restaurants and you go to a bistro and on the list was sancerre by the glass, there was chablis by the glass there was cabernet by the glass.

Dan Petroski:

And that's how you chose. You didn't know the producer, you didn't know the vintage and it was just kind of took the conversation off the table and made it more about being around the table and spending time eating and drinking. Well, today I am I am definitely the first person who wished to raise their hand. And once by that, I mean my love for restaurant wine list.

Dan Petroski:

I think it's really hard here living and working in Napa Valley to see the diverse world of Sauvignon Blanc come to our restaurants. I think when, you know, our our businesses here is is is built on travel and tourism and people come here to drink the wines in Napa Valley. And therefore, we have such an absolutely great ability here to go from, as we mentioned, the price points to the stylistic variability.

Dan Petroski:

It changes and you can find that letter so you can go and have a really beautiful friendly sauvignon blanc at Bouchon. You can have a little bit more barrel friendly, richer style at a more fine dining restaurant, up here in St. Helena at Press or the restaurant at Meadowood or the like. So I like the diversity.

Dan Petroski:

I just don't think we we get enough of it here and other places like Bordeaux or Chile, Friuli for that matter, South Africa, all those wines I'm always scouting them out when I'm on the road and at restaurants.

Emma Swain:

You know, that is the nice thing about being in the north is there's always a greater influx of different wines from around the world that you can trade, particularly from Europe. And here in Napa Valley, we do support our local our local businesses as well. And so how important do you think, Dan, is Sauvignon Blanc to Napa Valley in particular?

Emma Swain:

You know, we've seen it evolve over the years and we've seen a lot being removed. What do you sort of see the future of sauvignon blanc, because we're seeing a lot of wineries going outside of Napa Valley for that Sauvignon Blanc and and for me one of the things that makes sauvignon blanc special in Napa Valley is all the same things that make cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon special in Napa Valley all those warm days and cool nights and I'm just not going to get that same flavor profile to me moving outside of Napa Valley. And what are you sort of seeing for the future?

Dan Petroski:

It's not a very promising future for sauvignon blanc, although me being a winery, that sources, I am very fortunate to be meeting new growers who are finding a little bit more Sauvignon Blanc here and there in the climate changing world is reflecting about in a world the Napa Valley, where we would unfortunately have the tragic fires in 2017, 2020.

Dan Petroski:

And farmers are looking for cash crops, for lack of a better term. They're looking for crops that are going to harvest earlier in the season that will provide them an economic value and cash flow. So I do think that there is going to be a little bit of a bump in our recent plantings of sauvignon blanc. But overall the economics have to bring this to a conversation about economics of living, working and making wine in Napa Valley.

Dan Petroski:

So Sauvignon Blanc is a great variety, doesn't warrant the pricing and it doesn't warrant consumer demand at the levels in which you have to sell those bottles of wine to kind of make back some of that money. It's very unfortunate. So I think we'll will still see within a very small percentage of the planted acreage here in Napa Valley.

Dan Petroski:

But I do I do feel there is positive benefit in being a little bit less of a monoculture and then diversifying your crops. So that you have when the unfortunate circumstance or tragedy happens like a wildfire, we will be able to kind of at least get some of the grapes off the wine in the cellar and hopefully a little work for our consumers.

Emma Swain:

Yeah, for sure. Kelly, any any thoughts on kind of looking to the future of Sauvignon Blanc in Napa Valley and around the world?

Kelli Audrey White:

Well, I am also appreciative that we're having this podcast and that you're taking the time to celebrate it because I really believe in the sauvignon blanc as Napa Valley's white. It just makes so much sense. Not only is it kind of the companion of Cabernet Sauvignon, but also in a sense it's a much better fit than Chardonnay.

Kelli Audrey White:

And, you know, last time I looked at the crop report, Chardonnay was still the second most widely printed grape here in Napa Valley. Which is wild. And of course, most of that is concentrated in the South, you know, in the colder areas. But unlike Chardonnay, that really needs a colder climate in order to stay kind of interesting. So you want regimes of acidity at at high heat.

Kelli Audrey White:

It retains its quality at a higher crop load. I just think it responds well to our volcanic soils and the range of the different kind of wise that we have here. And so I think it's really worth fighting for. And I know these pesky market forces aren't hard to argue with, but they are from a purely qualitative standpoint, there's a lot of reasons to favor Soviet water.

Kelli Audrey White:

So I definitely think that the plantings are going away. I think Dan is absolutely right. It just makes sense from a diversification portfolio. You know, let's not all have our eggs all in one basket, but but hopefully, hopefully it's futures. You're not sure that exactly answers your question?

Emma Swain:

No, I think that's a great answer. I hoping that, you know, we're still going to see Sauvignon Blanc as a force in Napa Valley. Obviously, it's important to us. We have it planted on a variety of different soils. And we do find that, you know, it does well for us in a you know, in the same soil that Cabernet Sauvignon does, but it also does well in other soils.

Emma Swain:

And, you know, we we do a lot of Clone 1 Sauvignon Blanc, and in a higher magnesium soil, we find that we get some really just beautiful tropical flavors, a lot of pink grapefruit flavors. And and there's soils that we have at Dollarhide that we feel, you know, sauvignon blanc kind of excels in. And so hopefully there are some other spots in Napa Valley where, you know, the soil is a little bit more in tune to Sauvignon Blanc over Cabernet Sauvignon.

Emma Swain:

And kind of looking at that diversity, I mean, we have half the world's soil orders here. So hopefully as we look around, we'll see some plantings in some spots that maybe from like, oh, I'm not getting the best cabernet from this spot. Maybe it's time to swap it over. I mean, at St. Supéry, we used to have a lot of merlot where we have Sauvignon Blanc planted and the merlot was not fantastic at all.

Emma Swain:

And the Sauvignon Blanc is. So, you know, sometimes there can be some of those economic decisions can be can be positive for Sauvignon Blanc, we just need a few more of them to be to be positive for it. And Steven anything you want to add on how you see the future of Sauvignon Blanc from a wine list perspective or a variety or location perspective?

Steven Jones:

I get what dan was saying from an from an economic standpoint. I mean if I owned the vineyard area as well, you want to make the most cash out of your land that you've got, which which is understandable. But from a client standpoint, from a consumer drinker, I think you have to have Sauvignon Blanc. It's such a - we keep saying - it is such a versatile grape and it appeals in all parts of your menu.

Steven Jones:

It gives you that flexibility, whether it's - you can have it as an appetizer. You say you go through the main course, you've got the sweet end to close your evening out with. So it's got it's got so many so many hats. You can play with it. It just has to be that we have, you know, a plethora of restaurant and restaurants in between the group.

Steven Jones:

We have 17 different outlets, as I mentioned before, from a poolside food truck, which we can serve in tervis tumblers and stemless plastic glassware. But we still serve wines by the glass around the pool, which is great fun to everything, to Oceanside and to fine dining. And Sauvignon Blanc has its place in all the outlets. So for us, I want to see more of it.

Emma Swain:

So let me tell you, I mean, we make a lot. Wwe make four different styles of sauvignon blanc and we love them all and they all have their, their place. There's no favorite child. The favorite child is, is wine. And so just thank you so much for all of you joining me today. But I would like to just say if there's anything else that I failed to ask or final thoughts on Sauvignon Blanc or anything wine that you want to share, maybe we start with you, Dan if you anything else you. want to say.

Dan Petroski:

You know, just we appreciate you for doing this and continuing to shine a light on Sauvignon Blanc. And I'm looking forward to sauvignon blanc day and raising a glass with you. And it's going to be a lot of fun, but I'm just I'm just hopeful that Sauvignon Blanc will go down and the archives of it's one of the greatest grapes on this planet for for for making diverse and approachable wines at all levels. And thank you again for having us.

Emma Swain:

Thank you, Kelly. Anything you want to add?

Kelli Audrey White:

Just wanted to echo Dan's sentiments. So happy to be here and to be furthering this conversation. So thank you so much.

Emma Swain:

Thank you. Well, and Stephen thank you.

Steven Jones:

Thank you.

Emma Swain:

And we appreciate you all joining us and and we will be celebrating sauvignon blanc day on May 6th and as we as we always do at to St. Supéry it's a very important day for us so we love to celebrate sauvignon blanc we'll raise a glass with all of you. So thanks for joining us and next up on our St. Supéry sips will be Rosé and we'll have another conversation about Rosé and all of the wonderful styles of Rosé

Emma Swain:

From the porch pounder to the serious sips that are coming to the marketplace today. So thank you all for joining us.

Kelli Audrey White:

Thank you. Great to see you.

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