Cabernet Franc, California’s Paso Robles & High Acidity Wines with Lori Budd



Are you curious about why Cabernet Franc should have just as much respect from you as a wine lover, if not more than Cabernet Sauvignon? What makes wines from California’s Paso Robles region unique? Why is it easy to fall in love with wines that have high acidity?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with winemaker, writer and podcast host, Lori Budd.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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  • What does it mean to be an alternating proprietorship winery versus a crush pad?
  • What was the inspiration behind the name Dracaena?
  • Why did Lori and her husband choose Paso Robles for their winery?
  • What is the geography of Paso Robles like?
  • Which pleasant surprises did Lori find after starting the winery?
  • Which unexpected difficulties came up when Lori and Michael started Dracaena?
  • Why are Lori and Michael so passionate about Cabernet Franc and why did Lori start Cab Franc Day?
  • How is Cab Franc Day celebrated around the world?
  • What taste differences will you notice between a cool climate and a warm climate Cabernet Franc?
  • Why did Lori and Michael choose Chenin Blanc as one of Dracaena’s flagship wines?
  • Why is it easy to fall in love with high-acid wines?
  • Which wines would Lori pair with her favourite childhood dish, ravioli?
  • What are the most difficult food and wine pairings Lori has encountered?
  • What’s Lori’s favourite wine gadget?


Key Takeaways

  • I’m so glad Lori highlighted Cabernet Franc as it’s such an under-valued, but terrific wine. We all need to show it a little more respect.
  • I’m looking forward to visiting California’s Paso Robles region after listening to Lori describe the wines, the land and the people.
  • I’ve always considered myself an acid head when it comes to wine: acidity gives wine its vibrancy and life. It also makes it so much more food friendly.

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About Lori Budd

Lori Budd began her career as a microbiologist, but her need for excitement led her into Adventure Education, teaching students how to rock climb, zip line and tie those all important survival knots. Along the way, she fell in love with wine and graduated from the prestigious UC Davis enology program, along with certifications from a number of other wine programs. She and her husband, Michael, own Dracaena Wines in Paso Robles. She’s consumed by the stories that unfold as each glass is poured, and shares those in her award-winning blog and podcast called Exploring the Glass.



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Lori Budd 0:00
Wines have acidity. Even red wines have acidity to them, but tannins calm it down. In a white wine, when the acid is high you take a sip and your tongue starts to salivate. Kind of like if you stuck on a lemon. That makes you crave another drink.

Natalie MacLean 0:16
Just as you squeeze lemon on a fish because it adds that mouthwatering acidity and makes the food taste better, I think the acidity also brings forward the flavour and the wine and makes it even taste better. Acid is our friend.

Lori Budd 0:29
Yes, there’s a balance.

Natalie MacLean 0:37
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Oh, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now past me that bottle please, and let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 182. Are you curious about why Cabernet Franc should have just as much respect from you as a wine lover, if not more than Cabernet Sauvignon?

What makes wines from California’s Paso Robles region unique? And why is it easy to fall in love with wines that have high acidity? You’ll hear those stories and more in Part Two of our chat with Lori Budd who hosts the podcast Exploring the Glass. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression, and Drinking Too Much. So I received my first in depth analysis from my editor at my publisher Dundurn Press. I was pretty nervous about what he’d say because of his background, which is actually why I wanted to work with him. His name is Russell Smith and he was a columnist for The Globe and Mail Canada’s national newspaper for 20 years covering arts and culture. He also hosted the popular CBC radio programme, that’s our NPR and BBC, about language called And Sometimes Y. He has taught creative writing for the Masters of Fine Arts degree programmes at the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, and published eight books, several of which were nominated for the coveted Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award, among others. So those awesome credentials made me choose him over another publisher. But those awesome credentials are terrifying when it comes to anticipating his feedback on my book, baby. So I’ll share with you the letter from him that accompanied the draft. Hi, Natalie attached find the annotated manuscript with some suggestions for small changes. I really enjoyed reading it, and I’m not suggesting any major restructuring. You’ll see that I am frequently suggesting small cuts to keep it focused and to avoid repetition. I was reminded when reading it of what is so powerful in this story. The section that describes the sexist attacks on you and the childishness of your opponents is jaw dropping. I feel genuine indignation, turning to anger. When I read what you went through, I think it is an important thing that you are doing to expose the illness in this culture, and the sheer cruelty of the online attacks. Then he added suggestions for clarifying some of the people in the book. I won’t go into that here because without context, it won’t make sense. He also had some great tips on how the witchy references should or shouldn’t be integrated. And he wrapped up by writing the ending is great. Oof. Holy smokes, what a relief. I am so motivated now to continue refining the book for my next deadline. I don’t know why my mind always goes to the worst possible scenario. I’m sorry, we have to cancel our contract with you. Other things, but there you have it. Have you ever anticipated the worst? Almost worked yourself into knots, and then pleasantly discovered that it’s going to be okay, relax. Let me know. I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at And this is where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know that you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript, email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Okay, so how does this work? You have the label, Dracaena Wines, do you have a winery building or you’re using a crush pad like a virtual winery right now to make your wine.

Lori Budd 5:59
So we are what is considered an AP an alternating proprietorship, which is a brilliant concept. And it’s done strictly so that the government gets their money. Basically what happens is it’s one winery and I think there might be 30 wineries that hold their O2 licence in that place. And when it comes time to process the wine, they literally sign paperwork over to us so we own the winery at that time. We process our fruit. We sign the winery back over to them. And then the next people come in and they own the winery. So what it is, is it allows us to have all access to all of the stuff the equipment you need for a winery, but I don’t have to pay for all that equipment because I can’t afford all of that equipment.

Natalie MacLean 6:46
It’s very capital intensive. It’s a massive investment. I mean, that’s why there are more and more virtual wineries. But this AP sounds interesting as well. Sounds like a relay team like okay, now your turn.

Lori Budd 6:57
Right, right. And the difference kind of is like when at a crush facility usually somebody else is making your wine. Right? We’re at this AP, it’s our winery. It’s our wine. We’re making the wine. There is a winemaker there if you want somebody to make your wine, but we hold our own licence at this winery. We’re at a crush pad. At a crush facility. it’s their licence and you’re making wine under their licence. At this. We’re making wine under our own licence.

Natalie MacLean 7:27
Got it. And so how many cases roughly do you produce a year?

Lori Budd 7:31
We are tiny. We are just under about 400 cases.

Natalie MacLean 7:36
Oh. very boutique. Yes.

Lori Budd 7:37
Yes. And that’s big. Our first vintage was 75 cases.

Natalie MacLean 7:42
You’re growing. That’s good. Yeah. And why the name Dracaena? What does that mean?

Lori Budd 7:47
So I will show you. So this guy here is Draco and he was our Weimaraner for 14 amazing years. And he was named after the constellation of dragons.

Natalie MacLean 8:02
Okay, so for people who are listening and can’t see that it’s a dog.

Lori Budd 8:06
It is a Weimaraner. Okay, there you go. It was named after the constellation of dragons. He was actually pre Harry Potter. So when he passed at 14, we put a Draco tree in his spot. I’ll show you on the reserve because it’s probably easier to see you can see the tree that he stands in front of you. So that is a Dracanea Draco tree and it is a cool tree. It’s very gnarly, and it’s out there. It’s originally from the Canary Islands, but it’s called a dragon trees. It all plays into Draco. It’s a dragon tree. And if you puncture it, the sap is blood red. And it’s called dragon’s blood. And it’s supposed to have mystical powers. In the wicken world, it’s got powers and healing easier. So it all ties into the Draco. So being the science dorks that we are, Dracaena is actually the genus name for a Draco tree. So Dracaena Draco is the Latin name for the tree. So that’s where the name comes from.

Natalie MacLean 9:09
Yeah, you were prerunner not only to Harry Potter, but Game of Thrones who got the dragons and there’s the red tree that blooms red in the middle of winter. It’s wow, you’re really prescient with your naming. Yeah.

Lori Budd 9:21
That’s so funny that you bring up Game of Thrones because people have such a difficult time saying Dracaena that a lot of them say Drac e anna or whatever, and I just. It’s Latin. Its Dracaena and we even have the pronunciation the phonetics on the back label. But when Game of Thrones was popular, people were like, Oh, you’re that Dracarys wine. And I’m like, you can say Dracarys but you can’t say Dracaena but I want you know Game of Thrones was not. So yes, it’s all dragon related. It’s all for our Weimaraner Draco.

Natalie MacLean 9:52
That is wonderful. And so you decided to make wine in Paso Robles from Paso Robles fruit. Why Paso Robles and not say Napa or another Santa Barbara or somewhere else.

Lori Budd 10:04
The people make Paso Robles. I don’t think there is a another place on earth that is like Paso. They are true believers of rising tide raises all ships or however that quote is. We visited Paso because when we were talking about retiring, we were really young, but we wanted to retire. I went to college in Southern California and I love Southern California. And then Mike, we had visited the wineries in Napa Sonoma. So Mike wanted Northern California and I didn’t want that. So one trip for vacation  we’re like, you know, let’s try this central coast thing. And we didn’t know about it. We didn’t know about Paso back then. I think there was probably less than 100 wineries there. And we visited and we were like, Oh my gosh, there’s wine here too. So we started tasting the wines. We started talking to the people. And it was love at first sight. And we’re like, this is where we are going to live. This is where we will retire to. This is where this winery is going to be. It’s a beautiful area that people are incredible. Everybody helps everybody there. You’ve got downtown now that is just exploding. It’s just a wonderful place and the fruit is amazing. Because of that diurnal shift we have it’s incredible.

Natalie MacLean 11:21
The daytime to nighttime change in temperature. So the nighttime cools down and preserves the freshness, the fruit the acidity, whereas the daytime is warm enough to ripen the fruit.

Lori Budd 11:30
Yes, absolutely. So yeah, we may get to 105 degrees during the day. But at three o’clock almost consistently three o’clock, the wind starts to come in the vines start to blow, you know, the leaves start to blow and then everything cools down. And it can be like 105 in the day and 50 – 60 at night. So huge, huge diurnal shift. So it allows the fruit to stay on the vines as long as we need them to stay on to ripen. But like you said, preserve everything.

Natalie MacLean 12:00
Yeah, exactly. And what does Paso Robles look like? Like to visit the region. What is the geography the terrain?

Lori Budd 12:07
Oh incredible. There’s so much variation. East side versus west side. East side is kind of gentle slopes, rolling hills. Mountainous on the west side, like you know, you can have mountains, beautiful mountains on the west side. Temperature variation is different. Rain variation is different, much more coastal influence on the west side than the east side. Although there’s like some dips in Templeton Gap comes in and that’s a whole other ballgame.

Natalie MacLean 12:35
What is the Templeton Gap?

Lori Budd 12:36
So it’s one of our AVAs, but it’s this gap that comes in and because of how the ocean influence comes in it just kind of comes in and keeps this one AVA very cool.

Natalie MacLean 12:48
What is it American viticultural appellation? Is that right? Correct? Correct? Yeah, like DOC. Okay. Yes,

Lori Budd 12:54
yes. So we have Paso Robles, and then we have the sub AVAs, we have 11 sub AVAs.

Natalie MacLean 13:01
Within Paso Robles, and Paso Robles. Right. And how big is Paso Robles in terms of production versus say Napa? Like roughly? Okay.

Lori Budd 13:11
Yeah, I don’t have exact numbers. We just reached about 300 wineries. Okay, so we’re much smaller than Napa and Sonoma Lake, what we consider a large winery is 6000 – 7000 cases. So pretty small. Yeah. You know, there’s the few 10,000s You know, we don’t have those massive wineries that Napa Sonoma have.

Natalie MacLean 13:34
Okay, cool. Was there anything that surprised you when you started into this business like in the business of making and selling wine?

Lori Budd 13:42
So the good surprise is being from Jersey, we don’t trust people very slowly. East Coasters were kind of, you know, everybody’s looking out for something. And the thing that surprised us most and why we love Paso so much is how open everybody is, like we source our fruit. We don’t want to be farmers.  We want to be excellent winemakers. We’ll let the farmers be excellent farmers. And there’s no written contracts. It’s a handshake. And that blew our mind. We were like, uh, I don’t know, I think we need a contract here. You know, but it’s a handshake. And it’s the best relationships ever. Like we don’t have any issues with these farmers. They’re fantastic. So that’s Paso. So that was good. The other good shock was when we first got into it, we were sourcing fruit from this vineyard. And we went to another winery that sources fruit from the vineyard and we wanted to taste their Cab Franc to see what it was like. And we went in and we tasted and we started talking in Paso. So for the majority of the time, most of the places you’re talking to the owners, you’re talking to the winemakers so it was the wife was behind the counter. And when we told her that we were tasting the Can Franc because we are just getting into the industry. She’s like, hold on, and she gets on the phone and she calls her husband who was out in the field working. And he leaves work comes in and spent two hours with us telling us what to look for, what to do, what not to do, how to make the fruit, the best fruit you can get on that vineyard site. And like, like we were blown away, like, you know, he left working to tell us about this. It’s the pass that on when people ask us questions, it’s the same thing. And that was a positive shock of the wine business.

Natalie MacLean 15:32
And sharing trade secrets, if you will.

Lori Budd 15:35
Yeah, that was a positive shock. The negative shock was all of the decisions that you never think you have to do. You know, like, choosing this bottle, choosing this bottle. Our entire dining room table had samples of bottles on it. And you’re looking okay, what’s the shoulder like? How long is the neck? How big is the punch? How fat? Is this? Is it a male bottle? Is it a female bottle? You know? What do you like?

Natalie MacLean 16:02
What makes a male bottle versus a female bottle?

Lori Budd 16:04
The shoulder size.

Natalie MacLean 16:06
Oh, are you talking about the slope for Burgundy? Yes. Yeah. Okay, versus the rounded shoulders of a Bordeaux bottle? Yeah, right. Okay.

Lori Budd 16:12
So the bigger the shoulders, the more masculine the bottle, you know, things like now. Okay, you know, okay, the label. Oh my God. The back colour of the label? How big the label should be? What the font is? So many tiny, tiny decisions that matter so much, because research shows you have eight seconds to catch somebody’s eye on a label if they don’t know who you are. So that was a negative shock.

Natalie MacLean 16:36
And just what before you leave that did the research show that brighter or whiter, lighter labels are perceived as more expensive bottles of wine. I’ve read that somewhere before more whitespace is perceived as upscale. Yes. more whitespace is more upscale.

Lori Budd 16:54
I think that goes to the Chateaux. When American labels have colours all over,  like the castle’s and all of that stuff, right?

Natalie MacLean 17:00
And did the research reveal anything else surprising about label design?

Lori Budd 17:05
Not about label design. But another research would that was interesting is they took wine drinkers, actual people who drink wine, no wine, and they put them in a blind tasting. And they took a bottle, and they opened it, cork, they made that cork sound. And they poured the wine in, and the people tasted it and they rated it. And then they took a wine and they unscrewed it and tasted it. So it was blind. All the people could do was hear the pop or hear the crack. And the cork bottle won outrageously better wine and it was the same exact wine. All they did was fake the screw cap.

Natalie MacLean 17:49
Oh, no. When was this done?

Lori Budd 17:51
I would say that was about seven, eight years ago. Screw caps have come a long way since then. But what that shows me is what the brain does. You know, your brain is an amazing thing. And it can make you have an opinion without you even really realizing you have an opinion.

Natalie MacLean 18:06
Very much. All right. In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently in terms of starting the winery?

Lori Budd 18:14
I love our wine. I love how we’ve done everything. I like that we started small and we’re not trying to be too big, too fast. Getting 90 plus ratings, every vintage. Wow. So major magazines, I presume? Wine Enthusiast. We’ve won multiple double gold medals. We’ve won Best of shows. So I guess we’re doing something right. If there was a wish, the wishes that I didn’t have to have a full time job to support the winery for all of this time, so that I could have been doing this 100%. And we could have a tasting room now. But you know, reality, you need money to pay for it. So I’m happy with where we are and what we do. I just I want to be more into it. You know, I wish we had a tasting room. I wish we had that type of thing.

Natalie MacLean 19:02
All sounds like you’re gonna get your chance to be more into it as of March 1. Yes. That’s gonna be exciting. Oh my gosh, that’s so close. Now you and your husband have a special fondness for Cabernet Franc, one of the five major grapes of Bordeaux, the others being of course, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The fondness for Cabernet Franc?

Lori Budd 19:21
So actually, that is because of a Napa winery, William Harrison. We were visiting one time and we walked into the winery. And the person behind the counter said that they just had a Club member come tastes so they had this extra bottle and would you like to taste it and like seriously, who ever says no to tasting an extra bottle? And so she poured it for us and we both fell in love with it. We were like this is the best one we’ve had all week. What is it? And they said Cabernet Franc. And we were like, oh don’t know Cab Franc. So again being science people that we are we purchase the wine and then went on a research mission and found out about Cab Franc and found out its history and what it’s like, and then went on a mission to find Cab Franc. And there wasn’t a lot out there. It just wasn’t there. So when we decided to start the winery, we’re small and there’s business sense and then there’s hearts sense, you know. And this kind of came together because as a small winery who’s just starting, you need to find your own little niche, right? You can’t be the little fish in the big pond. So you know, for us to try to compete with Zinfandel in Paso you know, we’re not going to compete with those wineries. The Tobin James that literally has the largest wine club membership in the world based on Zinfandel, or the J. Dusi that the family were the first families to bring wine, you know, grape vineyards to Paso and it was Zinfandel. You have to find your own little niche. So we’re like, you know what, we also don’t know if anybody is going to drink our wine. So if we’re going to make wine, it better be something that we like. So we sought out Cabernet Franc, and that’s our passion. We love it. And we promote Cab Franc. Not sure it’s the best thing for the winery, but we promote any winery that does Cab Franc.. I started Cab Franc Day to promote.

Natalie MacLean 21:18
Tell us why.  to promote the undervalued or under respected. More than a blending grape. That sounds like a song from Journey or something. More Than a Feeling, that’s what I’m thinking. Anyway, more than a blending grape. So you started this to get more recognition for it as a grape.

Lori Budd 21:34
As a grape. And again, being Jersey and having that Jersey attitude. There is Cab Sav Day. There’s Merlot week, a month I’m sorry.  There’s Merlot day. Merlot month. There’s Sauvignon Blanc day which is the other parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, you know, Cab Franc and Sauvignon Blanc come came together for Cabernet Sauvignon. Had a wild night or whatever it is you say and they produced Cab Sauv. That’s funny. Yes, they had a wild and crazy night together. And all of these wine holidays and there wasn’t one for Cab Franc that is responsible for Merlot, responsible for Carmenere, responsible for Cot which is Malbec. All of these relations. We have all of these other grapes because of Cab Franc. And nobody cares about Cab Franc. So in 2015, when we were going to be releasing our first vintage, I created Cab Franc day and I did it completely just on social media. Just started sending out let’s celebrate the grape. Let’s do this. And it ranked second on Twitter. Really? Yeah. And today, it is internationally recognized. It is on every wine holiday. All of the major people know it, all of it. So this is fantastic and more wineries are now producing a Can Franc. And I like to think I have a little part of that reason why they do that.

Natalie MacLean 22:48
You do so you decided on December 4 for the day. Why is that?

Lori Budd 22:54
Because I hate holidays that rotate.

Natalie MacLean 22:57
Okay, change dates like Easter changes dates every year, right?

Lori Budd 23:01
It’s the third Thursday of this summer. It’s the fourth Friday of this. I hate those days because nobody ever remembers when it is. That’s true. So I wanted a very specific day. I just figured you can’t just pick a day out of a hat. There has to be a reason for it. So December 4 is actually the anniversary of the death of Cardinal Richelieu and he is really the father of Cab Franc. Who is he now? Depending on how you look at him, he either was a very good guy or a very bad guy in history. Most people lean towards the bad guy. If you watch the Three Musketeers, he’s in there. He’s the bad guy in there. He’s a clergyman, right? Yes, with very high aspirations for himself. But he enjoyed Cab Franc and he brought Cab Franc cuttings from Bordeaux to the Loire Valley where they flourished, which is where they really, you know, that’s the true home. Yes, it’s Bordeaux and they make these blends with Cab Franc. But it’s a minimal portion of Bordeaux blends. In the Loire Valley, it is Can Franc. It leads.

Natalie MacLean 24:02
So that would have been in the 1600s or so because he died in 1642. Yes. Wow. Yeah. Well, no, I did a little research but I want you to fill in the gaps so but it’s his death that you’re celebrating or you are not celebrating this anniversary.

Lori Budd 24:18

Paying homage to what he did for a Cab Franc. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 24:22
Yes, the good part of his life history. So what kind of reaction has there been to Cab Franc Day? I mean, more and more participating? Do people do anything unusual, aside from opening and drinking Cab Franc?

Lori Budd 24:33
A lot of wineries celebrate by doing offers or free tastings or things like that.  Through Exploring the Wine Glass, I run a social media promotion every year where I organize for wineries that are interested I send out samples. I arranged for the samples to be sent to wine writers so that they can write articles about the wines. My usually like the whole month of November into December 4 my Exploring the Wine Glass page is filled with the wineries that are part of the promotion. And my husband and I got to travel to Hungary to Villàny to talk about Cab Franc Day because Villàny is their Cab Franc or Cab Franc is what they rest their claim on. So, yeah, it was wonderful. It was a Franc and Franc symposium. It was an incredible experience. Yes, talking francly. Yes.

Natalie MacLean 25:27
In Canada here, Cab Franc is one of our leading reds. We have a cool climate as you know. So I was curious when you said Cab Franc and Paso Robles, because I think of Paso Robles is a very warm climate. How do you grow and be successful with Cab Franc?

Lori Budd 25:43
So for those who don’t know, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, they have this compound in them called pyrazine. And these pyrazines are what gives that bell pepper. And so in a cool climate Cab Franc, you’re going to get a lot more of that bell pepper.

Natalie MacLean 26:00
Or green pepper some people call it.

Lori Budd 26:02
But yeah, green pepper. Vegetal. Yeah. And that’s because these pyrazines get broken down by sun. So in the cooler climates, there’s not enough Sun. Sun regions have much more difficulty allowing the Cab Franc vines to ripen fully, so you’re gonna get more of that vegetativeness in there. In a warmer climate, that vegetative aromas and tastes kind of burn off. So in Paso it’s a very different Cab Franc.  There is bell pepper or green pepper in here because Cab Franc has that it’s just part of its DNA. But we actually not fans of the green pepper or the bell pepper so the vineyards we chose very specifically farm to burn off that pyrazine. So we’re not in your face green or bell pepper Cab Franc.

Natalie MacLean 26:57
Right, right. Yeah. And when you say it has it in it, bell pepper, again, no one’s adding bell pepper, but it has a molecular structure that will mimic what a bell or green pepper smells like. So you’re getting that at the molecular level. So for a warmer climate, that’s great that it gets rid of the pyrazine genes, but what about the risk of over ripening or burning the fruit?

Lori Budd 27:20
So one of the things we love about our vineyard site is how it’s designed. Joe Plummer, who is our vineyard owner and manager, he is an engineer before he went into farming. So again, science geeks unite. Yes, you found each other. Yes. And the way the vines are aligned, they’re eight degrees off what would be a dead centre to the sun. And so as the sun comes over our vineyard site, the way we train the vines, and the way we cut the leaves back, and we do all this is that the vines are getting the sun in the morning when it’s not as intense. And then as it comes over and goes to the backside of the vines, we have much more green on that side. The canopy is protecting the grapes. So we’re getting to burn off those pyrazines when the sun isn’t so intense. And then when the sun is intense, we’re getting dappled sunlight, you know, in the back. So we’re still getting to burn off the pyrazines, but we’re not concerning ourselves with that intense sun that we can have. And then as I said earlier, right, the temperatures cool down at night, and the grapes get to go to sleep a little bit and they get to kind of rejuvenate themselves and go back at it the next day.

Natalie MacLean 28:39
Well, I always think of it as like a workout, you know. You work out you work hard, and then you’ve got to rest because that’s what muscles build up. Not that that’s the right metaphor, but you’ve got to rest to actually work out again. Anyway, that’s what’s happening for the grapes. So now you chose the white grape of the Loire Valley Chenin Blanc as one of your flagship wines as well. Why did you go with that one? Oh, there we go. Showing the bottle.

Lori Budd 29:01
This is our Chenin Blanc. And this actually is the only wine we make because we also make a Rosé but this is the only wine we make that does not come from Paso and that is because of the temperature in Paso. Chenin also like silt soils and we have calcareous soils.

Natalie MacLean 29:22
What does calcarious mean? Is it chalky or what is its chalk?

Lori Budd 29:25
So the ocean right? They came in we had the ocean we’ve got all of those fossils of ocean life all of those bones that are in there, that chalkiness that’s in there. And it’s similar to silt. Similar kind of, but it’s different and we go where the grapes are the best. So for our palate, very distinctive our palate,. Paso was too hot for Chenin. So we went to Clarksburg for that. Where is that in relation? Yeah. North and it’s close to Sacramento closer to the Lodi wine growing region then to Paso. So that’s where we get our fruit for the Chenin and we chose Chenin Blanc because of its relationship to Cab from the Loire.

Natalie MacLean 30:13
Right. That totally makes sense. And you’ve described yourself as an acid head. What do you mean by that? I love that I’m an acid head to by way of so but I want to know what you mean by it.

Lori Budd 30:22
One of these why love Albarino so much. Also, wines have acidity to them. Even red wines have acidity to them, but those tannins kind of calm it down a bit. You don’t get so much of it. But in a white wine, when the acid is high, it’s salivating. You know, you take a sip of the wine and your tongue just starts to salivate kind of like if you stuck on a lemon, you know, right that acid, it salivates and what it does is it makes you just crave another drink just makes you crave another sip of that wine. And I love a high acid wine in balance, but I love high acid wine. Chenin is a high acid wine.

Natalie MacLean 31:03
Absolutely. And just as you squeeze lemon on a fish or whatever, because it adds that mouthwatering acidity and makes the food taste better. I think the acidity also brings forward the flavour and the wine and makes it even taste better. Absolutely. Acid is our friend.

Lori Budd 31:19
Yes. There’s a balance. You need to have a balance but yes.

Natalie MacLean 31:23
Sure, yeah, absolutely. Wow, the time has flown. I’m going to ask you some quick questions, Lori, before we wrap up because I just love these stories. Can you tell us about a favourite childhood food? I don’t know if you how long you’ve been a vegetarian but was there a favourite food you used to eat as a child and what would you pair with it now?

Lori Budd 31:41
My favourite food as a child, and it has probably more to do with the story of it, is ravioli. Oh, and that’s because my great grandmother, I have memories of me being table high like my arms were like this to reach on top of the table. But my great grandmother making ravioli with me and that is my favourite childhood memory. Making ravioli with homemade ravioli is with great grandma. And they can pair with so much a Barolo you know.

Natalie MacLean 32:14
They’re pretty neutral. I mean, they’re flavorful, but they’re very versatile.

Lori Budd 32:17
Yeah. And again, mine would only be cheese in there. So there you go. Yeah, a Barolo or depending if you add, depending on what the sauce was. You know, you could change up what the wine is, depending on what you’re putting in that sauce, how hot the sauce is, or if it’s just plain marinara sauce.

Natalie MacLean 32:36
Sure. Sounds good. What’s the weirdest wine pairing you’ve ever had? I probably shouldn’t keep asking wine pairing questions. But anyway, if you can recall anything.

Lori Budd 32:46
You know what? Anything with asparagus. Oh, okay, with Asparagus. Asparagus is really a tough word to pair.

Natalie MacLean 32:53
Yeah, because it has that cynarin or cynarin that makes everything taste sweet.

Lori Budd 32:57
Yeah, it’s just an odd. It’s an odd thing. And you know what else I find is very interesting and odd pairing. Everybody’s like wine and chocolate. And that is a very difficult pairing. That is hard. You need some help when you’re pairing wine and chocolate.

Natalie MacLean 33:10
And even dairy content wrecks havoc. But so back to asparagus with the Chenin. What would you pair with asparagus?

Lori Budd 33:17
It does work with the Chenin. It’s not what I would say is the best pairing for Chenin but it does work with the Chenin. I don’t eat this. But our club members sent me so many text messages of scallops with the Chenin. I’ve never received so many messages about scallops in my life. But when we first released it in the club members got it people were sending us messages of Oh my God, this is so good. And everything was a scallop. Like okay, a lot of people like scallops.

Natalie MacLean 33:44
Sounds good. I don’t know if you have it or can describe it but the Auger spinner. Oh, what is that? Because we like to figure out why and gadgets on this podcast, but I was listening to you talk about it somewhere else. So maybe you can tell me what it is.

Lori Budd 34:01
Its an aerator. What is an Agar? Agar is, as a microbiologist, it’s food for micro organisms. So there’s like potato dextrose or you know, so you’re taking this food and you’re putting it in a petri dish. And then the microorganisms if there’s microorganisms in the food, you swipe it and the microorganisms will grow because they’re eating the food. They’re eating what’s in the in the petri dish, right. Okay. Okay. So when you’re making the agar, it’s a magnet and it spins and then you put this agar spinner in it and it spins. You know, it’s a vortex. It makes a vortex. So when I saw this gadget, I was like, oh, that’s an agar spinner. That’s pretty clever. So I sent an email said is this auger spinner and he was like, yeah kind of  ba ba ba. So he sent me one to try out and it’s cool. You you put any decanter you want on this spinner, and then you put the metal spinner in it. You turn it on for a certain amount of time and what it does is it creates a vortex. So it does exactly the same thing as if you’re doing this to you’re.

Natalie MacLean 35:05
Okay, spinning it by the neck.

Lori Budd 35:09
We swirl our glasses to release those aromatics and things like that. Or you take the decanter and you do this if you want to speed it up a bit. You’re just putting micro oxygenation into it but it does it through a metal spinner. And so that’s it. I love it. You know, it really does decant a lot faster because you’re putting air into it.

Natalie MacLean 35:29
And you call it a D spinner like D as in dog. V oh V Spinner as in victor. Yeah, V spinner. Interesting.

Lori Budd 35:36
And now I’ve seen he was the first one who came out with this product. And now I see that there’s other variations on it. Other people have taken his, I guess he came off a patent. And now people are doing it.

Natalie MacLean 35:49
It’s copycats. Did you say someone wants to put wine in a blender?

Lori Budd 35:53
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of like you see it on TV or you see street stunts. Yeah, you can take wine and you can put it in a blender and you spin it and all you’re still only adding oxygen to it. But a blender is I don’t recommend a blender. That’s that’s really kind of rough on the wine.

Natalie MacLean 36:11
It’s rough. Can wine actually bruise?

Lori Budd 36:15
I think is it just over oxidizing it. I think you gonna miss that point of good, you know?

Natalie MacLean 36:21
Yeah. Interesting. I’m just I’m a geek when it comes to gadgets. So I was just curious.

Lori Budd 36:26
This isn’t a gadget. But one of my favourite wine stories was in Napa. We were tasting Zinfandel. And I tasted it. And I said to the man who was working in the field when we pulled up so doing whatever he’s doing in the field, and we pulled up, walked into his bar, and he starts pouring us wine. And I tasted the Zin, I’m like, Oh, this will be good down the road but it’s pretty tight right now. So he takes the glass out of my hand, takes his other hand, puts it over the glass, shakes it, and then hands it back to me and says it just aged five years.

Natalie MacLean 36:58
Oh, well, his hand was all over the wine. Pre COVID I assume…

Lori Budd 37:02
Very, ver, very pre COVID. That was actually my first lesson in aeration. Because we were really young in the wine world. You know, that was like our second trip first trip to Napa. So very young in our wine world. And that was my first learning of aeration.

Natalie MacLean 37:19
I might try that or not tonight.

Lori Budd 37:23
It is your hand so do it. It is interesting. It’s a nice thing.

Natalie MacLean 37:27
To do a before and after would be interesting. To taste the wine first and then do it and then see, okay, what does it taste like now?.Interesting.

Lori Budd 37:34
Do it over a sink just in case.

Natalie MacLean 37:37
Yes, exactly. Yeah, no, I’m not gonna take any chances for sure. Maybe even in the shower, I don’t know. Well, Lori, this has been wonderful. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention now?

Lori Budd 37:48
No, just people can find me on social media. Under both Exploring the Wine Glass is where I do things wine oriented, that are not Dracaena wines. And then the other is @DracaenaWines all over the place. We did just get our score for our latest vintage and it is a 90. So we’re still 90+ on every vintage. So we’re pretty excited about that. And I think I mentioned that we did do a Rosé also. Yes, that’s right. And drink more Cab Franc.

Natalie MacLean 38:25
We will. We will. Hashtag Cab Franc. So your website is

Lori Budd 38:31
Correct. The website is And there is a website Exploring the Wine Glass but that does link you back to Dracaena Wines.

Natalie MacLean 38:39
Okay, we’ll put those in the show notes for sure. That’s where the link blog is.

Lori Budd 38:43
And the podcast. And I do want to mention, I do a monthly podcast episode called Winephabet Street. I take the letter, the next letter of the alphabet each month, and we explore grape variety. And this Monday, if you go to This Monday, we are talking to Christina NetSol. I’m going to have to make sure I’m saying her name correctly in Austria, because we are learning about Zweigelt.

Natalie MacLean 39:10
Oh, that’s a zesty red wine, cool climate red, good for acid heads I would imagine.

Lori Budd 39:16
So that’s a monthly thing. So that’s another thing that I do.

Natalie MacLean 39:20
Also, well, definitely lots of resources and ways to find you online, Lori. Again, we’ll put it all in the show notes. And I’m looking forward to chatting with you on your podcast soon.

Lori Budd 39:29
Yes. I’m very excited to have you as a guest. And thank you so much. It was so nice to meet you officially.

Natalie MacLean 39:36

Lori Budd 39:36
It is a pleasure. And like I said, it’s like I follow you. So it was wonderful to be talking with you.

Natalie MacLean 39:43
Oh, great. Well, I follow you too, Lori. I think you’re doing a great job with your podcast and all the other initiatives including Cab Franc day, so keep up the good work. And I’ll say bye for now but I’m looking forward to chatting with you again soon.

Lori Budd 39:55
Absolutely. Thank you.

Natalie MacLean 39:57
Okay, thanks Lori.

Well there you have it. I hope you enjoy part two of our chat was Lori. Here are my takeaways. I’m so glad Lori highlighted Cabernet Franc, as it’s such an undervalued but terrific wine. We all need to show it a little more respect. Two,. I’m looking forward to visiting California’s Paso Robles region after listening to Lori describe the wines, the land and the people. And three, I’ve always considered myself an acid head when it comes to wine. Acidity is what gives wine its vibrancy and life. It also makes it so much more food friendly. In the shownotes, you’ll find my email, contact the full transcript to my conversation with Lori links to her podcast and website, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, and where you’ll find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook, and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at If you have a sip, tip, question or want to be a beta reader of my new memoir, email me at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when we chat with Stevie Kim, the managing director of Vinitaly International, the world’s largest wine trade show, as well as the host of the Italian Wine Podcast. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 23, go back and take a listen. I chat with Randall Graham about California wines, and his blend of wit and wisdom. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Unknown Speaker 41:46
The name Rhone Ranger has been very catchy, and it’s been helpful to my cause. The issue I have though, is that we in California ultimately somehow need to get out of the shadow of our European colleagues and somehow learn how to redefine ourselves on our own terms rather than is something derivative or something referential to something else. Who wants to be the second best? You want to be your own thing. I think we in the new world have to get there somehow. I’m working on it. And I think the way to get there for me personally is trying to figure out what can we do in the New World that can’t be done in the Old World that’s interesting and wonderful and pleasurable. But let’s do it and find the grapes that are uniquely suited to our sites. Rather than take something else and try to make Burgundian style Pinot Noir or Côte-Rôtie like Syrah or Barolo-ish Nebbiolo for example.

Natalie MacLean 42:50
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a juicy Cabernet Franc.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie Meet me here next week. Cheers.