Frog’s Leap Winemaker John Williams Shares Witty & Wise Stories

Apr1st

Introduction

Do all wines taste better with time? What similarities are there between winemaking and cheese-making? Why is Zinfandel your perfect summer drink? How does dry farming impact the flavour of wine?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with one of the wittiest, smartest winemakers, John Williams, winemaker and owner at Frog’s Leap Winery, about the unique benefits of organic winemaking and dry farming.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

Highlights

  • What makes Napa Valley such a diverse region despite its small geographical area?
  • Why should you visit Rutherford in the Napa Valley?
  • How is Rutherford particularly well-suited for Cabernet?
  • How did Frog’s Leap Winery get its name?
  • What sense of personality will you get from Frog’s Leap’s packaging and branding?
  • Why should you join the Fellowship of the Frog?
  • Do all wines get better with time?
  • Is Frog’s Leap wine organic?
  • Why is the Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc held up to such a high standard?
  • What tasting notes should you look out for with the Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc?
  • How can you make a fantastic food pairing with the Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc?
  • What three elements will you find in all Frog’s Leap wines?
  • What tasting notes should you look out for with the Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc?
  • How does co-fermentation affect the flavour of wine?
  • Why is Zinfandel your perfect summer drink?
  • What is dry farming?
  • How does dry farming impact the flavour of wine?
  • Is dry farming advantageous in periods of lower rainfall?
  • Why should you save a case of Frog’s Leap wine?
  • Why should you renew your love for Merlot?
  • What types of versatile food pairings can you have with Merlot more than other wines?
  • How do you experience Rutherford dust when drinking Frog’s Leap Cabernet?
  • Why did John’s work-study programme help him realize he wanted to work in the wine industry?
  • What was the worst moment of John’s wine career?
  • What was the best moment of John’s wine career so far?

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About John Williams

John Williams made his first pilgrimage to Napa Valley in the early 1970s and began making wine for a little-known winery called “Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.” He met physician Larry Turley while camping out illegally on his property, which was a former frog raising farm. In 1976, John and his now friend Larry Turley made their first barrel of wine at the “Frog Farm” with “borrowed” grapes from Stag’s Leap, and coined the name “Frog’s Leap” as an inside joke. In 1981, John and Larry decided to get serious and the rest, as they say, is history. As the motto says, Time’s Fun When You’re Having Flies!

 

Resources

 

Wine Reviews

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Thirsty for more?

  • Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
  • Join me on Facebook Live Video every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern for a casual wine chat.
  • You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
  • The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.

 

Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 69!

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with one of the wittiest, smartest winemakers I’ve ever met, John Williams, winemaker and owner at Frog’s Leap Winery in Napa Valley. John shares colourful stories about organic winemaking, dry farming, cheese-making and as they say, so much more. You’re gonna love him!

This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video a couple of years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for John’s comments. Also, you’ll occasionally hear me respond to viewer questions. You can be part of that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern.

I’ll put a link where you can find us in the show notes, as well as links to John’s website, social media handles, the wines we tasted and the video version of this conversation at nataliemaclean.com/70.

Speaking of dry humour, you’ll get a glassful of that when you sign up for my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)

Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!

Okay, on with the show!

 

You can also watch the video interview with John that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.

 

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with John Williams.

Here are my takeaways:

  1. I always knew that Napa Valley was the best-known region in Californian winemaking, but I had no idea how diverse the soils and micro-climates were in this small geographical area. His comparison of having to go from Norway to Spain to cover the temperature changes from the top of the valley to the bottom was illuminating.
  2. I loved how John drew the similarities and differences between making wine and cheese. His background in making cheese brings a positive nuance to his winemaking.
  3. John helps us understand why Rutherford is particularly well-suited for Cabernet, it’s pivot point in the Valley.
  4. I found his explanations of how dry farming and co-fermentation affect the flavour of wine very helpful.
  5. You gotta love John’s honesty about whether all wines get better with time. If they were ugly as youngsters, they’ll be ugly when they mature.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that John shared. You’ll find links to his website, social media handles, the video version of this conversation and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/70.

Finally, if you want to connect with me personally, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.

You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with the man I consider the godfather of Canadian wine writing, such is both the quality and the quantity of his work. Beginning with regular wine columns in the Financial Post and the Vancouver Sun in 1974, he published his first book, The World of Canadian Wines, in 1984 and has since written fourteen books on Canada’s and British Columbia’s wines and wine culture. He joins me from his home in Vancouver to chat about wines from British Columbia that he considers icons. It’s a bucket list of wines you should try from that region before you croak… apologies I still have Frog’s Leap on the brain.

Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine that makes time fly!

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