David Ramey is the vintner behind our wine-of-the-week winner – Sidebar, 2014 High Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $25. In this Q&A Ramey gives us a closer look at Ramey Wine Cellars’ new brand that kicked off with the 2014 vintage. Aside from the sauvignon blanc, there’s also a 2014 Kerner, a crisp white grape grown in Lodi’s Mokelumne River area, and a 2014 rosé made from syrah grapes grown in the Russian River Valley.
Q: What role do you play with Sidebar?
A: I’m like the executive chef who’s opened a second restaurant.
Q: Are you trying to embrace millennials with this brand? What about this brand appeals to millennials?
A: Actually, we hope Sidebar wines will be casually enjoyed by the young at heart of all ages.
Q: How was the brand conceived?
A: We wanted to be able to play with different varieties from a range of regions — all Ramey wines come from Sonoma and Napa — and bottle wines earlier, at a lower price point. These wines, while they will hold up, aren’t intended for cellaring.
Q: Why did you choose Lydia Cummins to be the winemaker? What sets her apart from the other candidates?
A: Lydia’s passion for fine wine, her excellent palate, her hard work ethic, her integrity of character, her length of service with us (seven years!), and her ongoing suggestions for making better wine. Plus, at 35, she’s younger than me.
Q: What role do your children play in the venture?
A: Claire is Owner in Training, to be joined by her brother Alan when he graduates from college in May. Claire’s husband Ivan, the Montenegrin soccer player, works part-time in our cellar while he finishes college.
Q: Where is Sidebar being produced?
A: At Ramey Wine Cellars for now; when we complete our new winery at Westside Farms, one of our two buildings in Healdsburg will become the sole home of Sidebar Cellars.