Author of Champagne
Today, Champagne is in the midst of a profound change. Over the past two decades, I’ve seen a palpable shift in the attitudes and aesthetics of champagne producers as well as a change in perceptions about the wine among champagne consumers and wine professionals. Much of the discussion about champagne in the last half century has focused on processes that take place in the cellar, such as the art of blending, the creation of sparkle through fermentation in bottle, and the wine’s aging on its lees. These all play a fundamental role in creating champagne’s inimitable character.
However, as is the case with others in the modern wine world, winemakers in Champagne are increasingly acknowledging that the most individual, authentic, and meaningful wines derive their primary identity from the vines, not the winemaking. While the twentieth century was about perfecting cellar practices, the twenty-first century is focused on the region’s vines, and it’s in the vineyards that Champagne’s contemporary philosophical, cultural, and intellectual debates are taking place.
Reprinted with permission from Champagne: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroir of the Iconic Region, copyright 2017 by Peter Liem. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photography copyright 2017 by Gentl and Hyers
Vino Farms, LLC
Craig Ledbetter graduated from California State University, Fresno; with a BS in Agriculture Economics. He is the part of the third generation that has joined Vino Farms, LLC, and the fourth generation in California farming.
Craig joined Vino Farms, Inc May 1st, 2006 as Vice President of Sales. While he manages the day-to-day operations of the family and clients 4500 acres of vineyards in Lodi. He also handles all winery relations and grape sales for Lodi. Monterey County and Paso Robles areas. He is part of the G3 generation that operates roughly 19,000 acres of vineyards throughout CA. He is also closely tied to several of Vino Farms large clients which requires him to be all over the state. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and family vacations with his wife and son.
ROCO Winery winemaker/owner, Rollin Soles has always made wine. After receiving a Masters in Enology/Viticulture from UC Davis, he made wine in Switzerland, California, Washington, Australia and finally Oregon where he founded Argyle Winery. In 2001, Rollin and his wife, Corby, planted the ROCO estate vineyard, Wits’ End in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Rollin holds the record for wines listed in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 (13 times) and produced the highest-rated domestic sparkling wine to date. He is dedicated to crafting sustainably farmed and produced Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Sparkling wine.
Wine Studies at Chemeketa Community College
Scott Dwyer is the Winemaking Instructor and Program Chair of the Wine Studies Program at Chemeketa Community College. He joined the Wine Studies Program faculty in October 2016.
Scharffenberger Cellars, retired
Tex Sawyer was the Scharffenberger Cellars winemaker from 1989 to 2017, and helped define the Mendocino winery’s house style. “The Anderson Valley is ideally suited to growing grapes for sparkling wine,” says winemaker Tex Sawyer. “It is the coolest growing region in California, so our grapes are allowed extra time on the vine and become fully mature before harvest.” Over the years, Scharffenberger Cellars also built strong relationships with select and trusted growers in the region. Tex enjoys surfing, woodworking, cooking and travel, as well as a cool glass of bubbly with his wife on the deck.
Originally a research associate and antibody fermentation specialist at Scripps Immunology, Darren entered the wine industry more than 17 years ago as a wine chemist in Trinchero Family Estates, covering wine and developing analytical methods. He moved to Santa Maria, California as the Central Coast Manager and trained ISO 17025 auditor of Vinquiry, accredited wine lab and yeast product company and left to become Director of Enology and Winemaking for Terravant, a winery and commercial laboratory that produced custom wines and private labels. He eventually became a winemaker for Laffort USA and made is way up to Washington state to Lyle, WA to start Tetrahedron Winery in the beautiful Columbia river gorge.