“I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life…”
– The Smiths, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before“
Sometimes getting a late start can be a good thing.
At least, that’s the kind of thing that I like to tell myself when I finally get around to writing up a tasting almost five months after it happened.
Take Ehlers Estate winemaker Kevin Morrisey’s foray into Napa Valley viticulture as an example.
Originally from Media, PA, he began his winemaking career at the age of thirty-five, when he enrolled at UC Davis to study oenology. Prior to that, Morrisey was a junior Hollywood cameraman, slugging out a living behind the lens in Paris and Los Angeles.
When I met him for a tasting lunch in NYC late in 2015, he struck me as the kind of Napa Valley personality that isn’t attempting to hide any douchebaggery, simply because he doesn’t seem to have any douchebaggery to hide. That might come from his Media childhood, or the fact that he’s now making wine with “relative autonomy” (though Ehler’s owners, Leducq Foundation, does require them to “be profitable”), or that he’s still just tickled pink to work for a winery in the Valley that has a real backstory to it (Sacremento grocer Bernard Ehlers founded the winery in 1886, after paying for its 42 acres in gold coin).
“It’s nice in Napa to have a stone barn that’s actually, you know, real stone!” he told me.
And that, to me, kind of sums up the sense of genuine pride and confidence and non-douchey-moxie with which Morrisey presents himself; it’s a sense that also permeates the Ehlers wines that he has made since coming on board in 2009.