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Lifestyle

Uncorked: Winemaker looking to change old wine world

Pruning at Gary's Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
Pruning at Gary's Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Legacy is on Adam Lee’s mind as he looks to become a disruptor in the wine world.

His latest venture, Clarice Wine Company, will be a wine education site, a wine community and a wine club. Clarice’s website will have a Family Members only section. Lee will draw on his extensive contacts in the wine business to feature stories and interaction with an ensemble of rotating experts in different sectors of the wine world.

Because he wants Clarice Wine Company to be about more than the case of wine members will receive once a year in November, there also will be Family Members Only Facebook and Instagram pages. Lee hopes Family Members will be able to connect instantly.

“We want to pull like-minded people together for wine, travel, hotel and restaurant advice,” said Lee, who founded Siduri in 1994 and later stayed on as winemaker when he sold the label to Jackson Family Wines in January 2015. “I hope it becomes so interactive that a member can be at a restaurant, take a picture of a wine list, ask which bottle they should order and get a reply from another member.”

Winemaker spotlight

On a Texas dairy farm in the early 1900s, Adam Lee’s grandmother, Clarice Hosea Phears, wanted a warm meal ready at a moment's notice. In an era before frozen pizzas and microwaves, she favored a Crockpot. As a farmer, Lee’s grandfather Pleasant Phears, didn’t have regular 9-to-5 hours, yet she always had dinner ready if he came home after sundown.

While Clarice no longer lived on a farm when Lee was a child, she held onto Crockpot cooking. Today, the approach inspires Lee, who said the label is a “personal tribute” to his grandmother.

“Winemakers used to harvest by selection, breaking it down by clone and vineyard,” Lee said. ”The goal was to get everything ideally ripe and after malolactic fermentation, we’d go to work on the blends.

“My grandmother always used a Crockpot because my grandfather was a farmer and she never knew when he was going to be home. She always said she would add the spices early so they can even out. If you add them later they become more pronounced. Using that philosophy I started to pick vineyards together and found they were more harmonious.”

Clarice Family Members will be billed $160.82 monthly from March through August and will receive four bottles each of the Clarice Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Clarice Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, and Clarice Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.

These are vineyards I’ve walked through with Gary Franscioni and the Pinot Noir from them is consistently some of the finest available. Over the years, Lee has noticed the maturity of the vineyards and learned how to coax the best out of the harvest each year. There are only 700 spots available and sign up will begin in mid February. Visit www.claricewinecompany.com to submit your email.

While awaiting the wine’s release, Clarice Family Members will have two wine experiences: one on May 12 at Limerick Lane Winery and in another in November at a location to be determined.

“The community aspect of Clarice Wine Co. could be really fascinating,” Lee said. “You get four bottles of three different wines, but let’s talk about other wines and how to have a better experience. Let’s work together rather than trying to compete.”

“It really comes down to the fact that I’ve gotten to the point where I’d like to have a bigger impact on the wine world than I just made some good Pinots. I want to change the way we work together; explode the old wine world.”

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at news@daily-chronicle.com.

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