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Get To Know The Winemaker: Friedeman Wines

We had a chance to ask Brooks Friedeman, proprietor and winemaker at Friedeman Wines, a few questions about wine, food, music, and life in general. His wines have been selected for our wine club, so get to know Brooks Friedeman and Friedeman Wines a little bit better. They have received some serious critical acclaim: 

Wine Spectator: 93pts 2013 Lancel Creek Pinot Noir 91pts 2013 Dichotomy Chardonnay 90pts 2013 Dichotomy Pinot Noir

Wine Enthusiast: 92pts 2013 Lancel Creek Pinot Noir 91pts 2012 Dichotomy Pinot Noir 91pts 2013 Dichotomy Pinot Noir 90pts 2013 Lancel Creek Chardonnay Editor's Choice - 2013 Dichotomy Chardonnay

What is your name and title?

Brooks Friedeman, owner and winemaker, Friedeman Wines.

How did you get your start in wine? When did you know you wanted to make it a career?

Just gravity, that is what makes me think it was meant to be. Being from Chicago, my wife and I would pine for our trips out west, and had our WSET certifications, but could not even imagine making wine, at all, as recently as 2011. It’s still not a career, but when we are able to make it one, it's in pursuit of hands-on work that returns to you what you put in. The combination of art, science and gut-instinct is hard to resist.

What wine did you make that you are most proud of and why?  

Our Lancel Creek Chardonnay. The concentration of the fruit from this vineyard is unlike anything else. It’s a wine that we know rewards patience in the bottle, or decanting, but the complexity of flavors, vintage after vintage, makes it hard to put down. For a powerful wine, it is also delicate, so balancing the winemaking protocol is particularly stressfull, and thus far, ultimately rewarding.

What do you strive for in the wines you produce?

Achieving a bold and powerful wine, that at the same time does not sacrifice acidity or food-friendliness. California fruit is powerful and bold, but we aim to celebrate that without losing focus of the Burgundian origins of the varietals we work with.

What is the worst wine you’ve ever made and why was it so bad?

Fun question – our 2011 Dichotomy Chardonnay. We followed a ‘normal’ new oak barrel protocol and the fruit was just so weak and tepid in that vintage that it just muted all of the fruit and freshness. I am happy to say that was our first Chardonnay, and many lessons learned. One thing we have learned, especially at our top Chardonnay sites, is that you can’t over-oak a wine, but you certainly can under-fruit it.

What is your favorite thing about being in the wine industry?          

The people. Great people, top to bottom, and a very community-centric feel – its clique'ish, for sure, but great people that are typically very welcoming, entrepreneurial, hardworking, but at the same time relaxed and equally in awe of how they get to spend their days as we are.

How do you see the wine industry changing over the next 5-10 years?

I think there will be an increased shift towards smaller producers who are able to invest in quality and deliver something more than a commodity, platforms like Winestyr make this possible. Big brands can’t outrun technology and the ever increasing demand for quality, and knowing the people and story behind what we choose to consume.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

My conversations with my wife, Jessica, which typically involve wine-fueled diatribes about a wine, or a style, or an idea for a wine making, or viticulture practice. We drink as many, and as varied as possible, wines and are always evolving our thinking.

If you could meet any person, deceased or living, who would it be and why?

My grandfather, on my mom’s side. He died before I was born, and from what I can tell, I owe a lot of my interests and personality to him.

Did you ever have a lifechanging wine? What was it and how did it impact you?

No, but the pursuit of that is what drives us. If I had to list the best wine I have ever tried it would be a 1990 Dom.

It’s an early Fall evening, sweater weather, what are you drinking?

No two ways about it, a RRV or Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, probably something fermented with some stems.

The Quick Hitters:

What’s your favorite drink other than wine?  Maker’s Mark Manhattan.

What is your favorite food?  Napoli Pizza.

Favorite food and wine pairing?  Prosciutto and Barolo.

Favorite restaurant?  Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA or Barndiva in Healdsburg, CA.

What is your favorite band?  AC/DC – my good luck charm – EVERY grape that we have ever crushed was while playing AC/DC… when Thunderstuck comes around on the mix we put a special tag on that fermentor….no, really, we do.

Best concert you’ve ever been to?  U2, Vertigo Tour, United Center.

Place you’d most like to visit that you haven’t yet?  Tuscany and Burgundy.

Other than wine country, what is the best place for people to visit in California?  Mendocino.

Article of clothing or accessory you can’t live without? My Smith Sunglasses.

What is your favorite Hobby or pastime?  Hiking and Skiing.

What is your favorite book of all time and why?  It’s a sadly short list of books to choose from! I will say Freakonomics, because it shows how many very different ways certain acts or data can be interpreted. It makes me believe in creativity and art in the very scientific field of statisitics. I like how that applies to winemaking.

You can taste the very best wines from Friedeman Wines and many other acclaimed small wine producers by joining one of Winestyr's wine clubs. To learn more about our wine clubs, click here.