Chaney Claypool shows off the CC wares backstage in Philly (2017)
Being a prog music geek (actually, make that a music geek in general), we’ve had our fair share of literal rock star wine producer interviews here on 1WD, probably none as effortlessly entertaining as those with Primus’ Les Claypool.
Claypool, along with his wife Chaney, are the proprietors of Sonoma-based Claypool Cellars, whose development I’ve been following (and on which I’ve been reporting) for several years.
Me, my drummer, & Les Claypool (if you have to guess who is who, then come back when you’re sober)
With the release of the new Primus album The Desaturating Seven (highly recommended, by the way; think of it as a mix between the group’s older quirky-jam-based writing style, and the showmanship flamboyance of the more recent Primus and the Chocolate Factory) and its subsequent tour, Chaney and Les recently found themselves in Philly. By their invitation, my drummer and I found ourselves at their Philly stop pre-show, tagging along at one of the cooler aspects of Primus’ tour: fans can purchase a premium-VIP package that includes a Q&A session with the band, and (more pertinently in this case) a tasting of some of the recent Claypool Cellars offerings, with Les and Chaney (mostly the gregarious Les) taking questions and waxing philosophic about Sonoma County wines in general.
Since bringing on the Pinot Noir wunderkinder consulting winemaking duo of Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, Claypool Cellars has gone from promising-and-devoted-side-project to ageworthy-kind-of-cult-wine levels of quality, so for me it’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Claypools and their wines (funky-ass basslines or not). Here are some thoughts on their continued vinous progress (see what I did there…?)…
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I was recently asked by my friend Lana Bortolot for a quick interview, to help contribute to a piece she was writing about the value (or lack thereof) of certifications in the wine biz. Lana’s work has subsequently been published in a well-researched and well-considered article, SevenFifty Daily’s Guide to Wine Education.
My dime-store-level philosophizing can be found in the article’s section on the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). I was shocked, in a decidedly pleasant way, at how many of the other sources quoted in Lana’s article that I happen to know personally, have worked with, and/or consider to be friends, which I suppose underscores my comments that Lana quoted in the piece.
It’s kind of difficult to imagine, but there was a time a few years ago when certifications were a bit of a fire-starter topic in the wine blogging community; the value propositions of the programs in general were challenged in general. Over the years, I’ve tended to put up camp squarely in the wine-certs-are-a-good-thing territory, though I’ve often cautioned that not all of them are created equally (Lana hits on what I would consider the most important and widely recognized of the bunch in her article). The TLDR version of my past coverage: certifications are a means to differentiation, which is rarely a bad thing; but do your research, have an “end-game” in mind, and choose your certification path wisely to meet it.
If you’re considering getting your feet wet in the wine certification pool, give the SevenFifity Daily overview a read.