Eric Mosheni is the winemaker for Zaca Mesa Winery in the Foxen Canyon area of Santa Barbara County. We were inspired by this picture because people may not realize how involved winemakers are with the growing and picking of the grapes they use for their wines. Eric was kind enough to take some time from his hectic harvest schedule to answer a few questions about the story behind this photo. You can also follow Zaca Mesa's harvest updates on Twitter and the entire Santa Barbara County harvest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #sbcharvest.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Bloom Photography
What vineyard block was this photo taken in? What day and time?
The Vineyard Block is our Chapel B Chardonnay up on our Mesa. It was taken on Tuesday, September 3rd @ 6:00AM. The name Chapel comes from the early years of the property when there was an actual chapel built on that part of the vineyard. The Chapel at some point was removed, but the name has stuck. The letters following Chapel indicate different sub blocks with different clones, varietals, etc. - We have Chapel A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The fruit from Chapel B will go into our Estate Chardonnay.
It is often said that wine is made in the vineyard. What are your thoughts on this?
Absolutely! Pruning, leafing, irrigation, crop load, etc. all have a direct influence on the quality and sensory of the wine.
Tell us how you work with your vineyard manager in determining when to pick.
Our Vineyard Manager, Ruben Camacho, gathers vineyards samples and we run analysis on them. I like to have base line numbers. I walk the blocks and taste everything. Based on what I taste, the numbers, and the weather forecast, I'll decide my picks.
What specifically are you doing in this photo?
I am sorting fruit... looking for any mildew, leaves, etc.
How long have you been the winemaker at Zaca Mesa? How did you get into the wine industry?
I've been here 13 years and head winemaker for 5 years. I was pre-med in college. Many people told me you better love what you do. I was a home brewer and loved fermentation science. Switched majors to Food Science and Chemistry and got a job at a wine shop. Never looked back!
Once harvest is over and you have a free day, what do you plan to do?
SLEEP! And then go quail hunting when the season starts.
Eric Mosheni's Bio. Winemaker for Zaca Mesa Winery.
Raised in Los Angeles, Eric graduated from California State University at Long Beach with a degree in food science and a minor in chemistry. His career began as a wine buyer at The Wine Country, a noted wine retailer in the Long Beach area. Mohseni aided in managing an extensive collection of wines while developing his knowledge of wine and the wine consumer.
In 1997, Eric took a sabbatical from wine retail, taking a harvest position at Edna Valley Vineyards. There he had his first dose of winemaking. “I will never forget the aromas from barreling down new wine into a new oak barrel. It gave me goose bumps.” In 1999, he furthered his winemaking knowledge by serving as a member of the harvest crew of Esk Valley Estate in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s fifth largest vineyard. Eric credits both of these experiences with igniting his passion for hands on winemaking.
In 2001, Eric joined Zaca Mesa as enologist. Over the years, he worked his way up to Assistant Winemaker, then to Associate Winemaker and finally to Winemaker in July 2008. Since joining Zaca Mesa, he has helped fine-tune the wine quality and refined the winery’s style resulting in wines that have character, integrity and a sense of place.
Eric lives in Orcutt with his bulldog Oswald. When Eric is not thinking of wine (which is rare) he enjoys quail hunting, trap and range shooting, cooking, traveling, and collecting a wide variety of music and film.