Father’s Day came a little early for Anthony Yount.
The new addition to the family of the owner and winemaker at Kinero in Paso Robles, California, arrived in early April when his wife, Hillary, gave birth to his second daughter, Loretta Lyla Yount, at their home on the Royal Nonesuch Farm.
“Everyone is healthy and happy, albeit a little less rested,” Yount said.
True to form, it was back to work the next day for Yount, who also makes wine at Denner and under the Royal Nonesuch Farm label. Thus is the life of a winemaker. It could be a harvest that turns into an odd-hour work binge that offers limited time with family, or a summer cold snap that sends them into the vineyard for some canopy removal.
These winemakers reflect on the time spent with their family, and how they’ll share their special day.
“It’s important to keep everything in perspective. I am very serious about my winemaking, but I recognize that my job isn’t saving lives or coordinating international world peace,” said Louis Martini winemaker Michael Eddy. “Sometimes, you have to prioritize your family and their important events. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic team of winemakers at Martini, and we are all able to support each other when we need to take some time for our families. Harvest is definitely the most difficult time of year for winemakers. We might be working 12-hour days, starting before dawn. It can definitely put a crimp on family life. My trick is trying to connect when you can. Sundays tend to be light, so that’s a day I’ll devote to my kids.”
For a winemaker who joked he started a white wine only label because his father had a strong dislike for it, Yount always has pushed the envelope in the vineyard and cellar. There’s nothing pedantic about any of the wines he makes.
Bottled the day after Loretta was born, the Kinero Cellars “Alice” Grenache Blanc 2019 continued Yount’s visionary exploration in the cellar as he traded concrete aging for cocciopesto opus, using an amphora-shaped jar made from small pigments of crushed terracotta, sand and stone.
He compared its effects to a concrete egg and said it has affected the “mouthfeel and richness on the palate” and “adds a complex savory element to the aromatics.” The technique traces its roots to Roman times, and the purchase of a case from kinerocellars.vinespring.com/purchase will net you a 20% discount.
Also with young children is La Crema winemaker Craig McAllister, who said the La Crema Russian River Valley 40th Anniversary Pinot Noir 2018 ($100), which is packed with fruit and spice flavors, could be on his grilling menu on Sunday.
“My kids are 10, 9 and 6, so they are probably more excited about Father’s Day than I am,” McAllister said. “I’ll probably be treated to a bit of a sleep-in, followed by breakfast in bed. My guess is that it will be a quiet day, we’ll probably go for a bike ride around Healdsburg, maybe stopping for ice cream, and will follow it up with some grilling in the backyard.
“There will be a couple of cold beers, IPAs, while I’m grilling,” McAllister said. “I’ll change gears and have a glass of pinot noir with dinner. La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir pairs fantastically with food off the grill, I’m thinking this will be the perfect wine for the day.”
Family-owned Charles Krug has a unique connection to the past and the future. Peter Mondavi Jr. worked with his father, Peter Mondavi, until he passed at age 101 in 2016. The co-owner of the iconic Napa Valley winery can count on a fourth generation carrying on the family legacy. He and his co-owner and brother, Marc Mondavi, both have children in the business.
“Father’s Day is a time to reflect on family: past, present and future,” Mondavi Jr. said. “Looking back at my work with dad has given me an informed perspective about how to help our kids engage with the family business. Our focus with them has always been about education and expanded horizons. It is important for them to embrace and appreciate what past generations have accomplished, but not to be bound or defined by it.”
For Eddy, the shelter-in-place orders will limit his social options, which is a perfect time to head outdoors. The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($40) is one of the best values in wine, as its currant, tobacco spice and cedar flavors offer the perfect snapshot of what the region’s flagship grape variety has to offer.
“Well, my ideal Father’s Day would be a relaxing day with my kids,” Eddy said. “For us, that means doing something engaging. I’d love to be able to do something like visiting a museum in San Francisco, a paintball excursion, swimming in the Russian River or maybe seeing a live concert. Then we’d wrap up the day with a casual, but nice, meal.
“Under the summer sun of Father’s Day, I’m more likely to choose a craft beer or cocktails, like a top-shelf Margarita or gin and tonic,” Eddy said. “If I choose a wine, I’d pull the Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It’s crisp, it’s cool, it’s perfect for the patio while reminiscing with your dad and kids.”
Because Justin Winemaker Scott Shirley marks another special occasion with Father’s Day, he takes time to soak in the day. Justin wines from a recent virtual tasting will be featured extensively next week. Any of their wines would be a great Father’s Day gift.
“Father’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary all fall in the same week, so we will usually combine the birthday and anniversary celebration with a weekend trip or special dinner and then have a quieter day with the family on Father’s Day,” Shirley said. “There is a restaurant in Avila beach that overlooks the ocean and has Justin Sauvignon Blanc on the wine list, which pairs perfectly with either their poke tacos or fresh diver scallops. They’re doing takeout during the shelter-in-place, so we could dine in the trunk of our car while watching the surf from the parking lot, which we’ve done once already.
“Similar to a day in the life for many dads, I think I’m always chauffeuring to dance classes, piano lessons, Girl Scout meetings, helping with homework and enjoying watching them grow up,” he said. “They don’t care that I’m a winemaker, except that we get to live in a beautiful spot with lovely California weather. Of course, it’s different during harvest – working six to seven days a week, 12- to 14-hour days, when they don’t see much of me. I leave before sunrise and try to return home in time to say goodnight. Which is easier now that they’re older and stay up later.”
This Father’s Day, make a call, cook a meal or simply pour dad a glass of wine, if you can, and enjoy the moment.
• James Nokes has been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.