Focused on understanding and expressing the essence of this New Terroir -- seeking harmony, sustainability, beauty and balance.
In late 2000 I left my job as a programmer in the DC metro area to begin studies in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. On the drive down I-66 I was lured by a sign advertising wine tastings near Front Royal, VA so I pulled off to see what I might find. A budding wine enthusiast, I was not expecting much from the local Virginia wine scence, but what I tasted at Linden Vineyards blew me away -- carefully crafted wines that reflected their location, vintage, and an attention to minute details -- in short, wines of terroir. At that moment, I knew that my newly begun journey into understanding human interactions with their environment would lead ultimately to wine-growing. Years later, my friend David Achkio and I began taking courses in vineyard establishment and wine-making taught by Jim Law at Linden Vineyards. Emboldened by what we learned (and tasted!) we hatched a plan. With an understanding of what we were looking for in a vineyard site, I began an exhaustive search of soils databases and meteorological records which led me to purchase the first site that would become part of Mount Alto Vineyards.
My fascination with fermentation began as a homebrewer when I was in college back in the
early 1990s. This passion led me into the brewing industry, where I have worked as a
professional brewer for over 20 years now. At a point midway into my career, I found myself in
a small bottle shop in Richmond, VA taking a break from production brewing and exploring the
vast world of enology. Two things happened at this juncture. First of all, I developed a love and
understanding of terroir, which I felt brought a more nuanced understanding of fermentation
into my life. And more importantly, I met my friend Rob Burgholzer, who pushed me further
down the rabbit hole and into the specifics of the beautiful dynamics of Virginia soil. It was at
that point, I knew that I had to find a way to ferment this vision of Virginia. I embarked on this
journey with my friend and have never looked back.
My travels took me on a year-long stay in New Zealand in 2011. I was fortunate to land in the
Wairarapa where I promptly started working in the wine industry. My experiences in the tasting
room, in the vineyard, and in the cellar had me hooked. Upon returning to the US and settling
in Virginia, friends encouraged me to look into working in local wineries and breweries. Fast-
forward a few years and countless mowing, pruning, and earth moving adventures, I find myself
a part of the Mount Alto Project.