Davis Bynum winemaker Greg Morthole is back on California Wine Country with Dan Berger and Harry Duke, who is sitting in for Steve Jaxon. Katie Lalonde, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Davis Bynum, is also in today.
Greg has been on CWC a few times, most recently on this episode of December 1, 2021.
Today Dan Berger has brought another wine from his vast collection, only this time it is not a cellar wine. Instead, it is a 2022 Chardonnay from Jesse’s Grove Winery in Lodi, made with no oak at all. Dan calls it a drink-it-now wine. They make Carignane, Sinsault, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah, a lot of red wine. The winemaker is Greg Burns and he is also the owner of the property. They sell grapes to winemakers all over California and are gaining a reputation for their own wines too.
Davis Bynum, wine pioneer
First, Greg Morthole tells the story of Davis Bynum Winery, one of Sonoma County’s historic labels. Davis Bynum started making wine commercially in Albany, California, in 1965. Later he purchased a vineyard in Napa Valley and got to know all the original winemakers there. In late 1972 he tasted a bottle of. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that reminded him of Burgundy. It made such an impression on him that he began making it. He purchased the River Bend property and made the first single vintage Pinot Noir from grapes grown by Joe Rocchioli. Dan says it is rare to have moved from Napa to Sonoma. Davis Bynum was the first to care about Pinot Noir from Russian River, which put him ahead of almost everyone else.
Greg tells his story and background as a winemaker. He grew up in different places including Wyoming, where he attended college and took a degree in sciences. Art was also important to him. He got a job in a wine lab in Sonoma County. Then he got an opportunity to work for Rodney Strong in 2005, which was interesting because of the many varieties they produce. He got to know Davis Bynum when he was in his 80s. As Greg remembers him, Davis Bynum was inquisitive about both the art and the science in wine. He too likes leaning into both of those aspects of winemaking.
We also get to meet Katie Lalonde. She is the Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Davis Bynum . They have finished their 2023 program of events so they are planning the 2024 schedule now. The most recent event was a wine blending session with winemaker Greg Morthole. That was a lot of fun and they plan to do another one next year.
Greg also remembers how Davis Bynum loved balance in his wines and he strives for that too. The rest of this episode is a tasting and discussion of Greg’s two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs.