Nova Perrill, winemaker for Foppiano Vineyards, is back on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger. He was on the show back in 2018 on this episode, and again this time in 2019. His last appearance was here, in 2021.
Giovanni Foppiano founded Foppiano Vineyards in 1896. It is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in California. Try to imagine, as they do here, how Healdsburg in the 1890s was pure potential. The winery survived Prohibition by shipping dried grapes as a home winemaking kit. To ship to dry states, they had to add a flyer with a warning not to add water and sugar or else it would ferment.
Nova tells about how he got started in the wine business. He studied at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Ecology. He liked marine biology, having grown up on the coast. Then he took a Master’s in Crop Science. At the time the school was a dry campus and they learned about winemaking but did not make any. He got a job at Mount Eden where he laid the foundation of his knowledge, from start to finish. “Talk about grape to bottle, that was the experience I needed… Everything after that is creativity.
Foppiano Vineyards Tastings
They taste the first Foppiano wine, a Carignane. Foppiano Vineyards’ location is south of Healdsburg, at the northern tip of the valley. It gets sunshine, but also cooling influences from the river. They grow all the usual French varietals that are grown here.
Harry Duke asks Nova Perrill about how he made that transition from studying marine biology to winemaking. Many winemakers have told about a similar turn in their early career path. Nova tells about how he was never really committed to the first path and he also knew he had great interest in all things natural. He moved to the Santa Clara Valley after college and he simply sent his resumé to every winery in commuting distance. With agriculture, you have to enjoy working on nature’s demands and timetable, no weekends, etc. “Grape growing is not this extravagant lifestyle… You’ve got to be able to appreciate that if you’re going to make it.”
Nova has brought some wines (pictured above). He brought a 2016 Chardonnay from Foppiano Estate. The acidity is keeping it lively and fresh. It has some creamy lemon curd flavor.
Foppiano Vineyards does estate and reserve tastings and also large-party tastings. You can make reservations but drop-ins are also welcome. Nova Perrill explains that they strive to be casual and low-key. Being a historic winery and vineyard they try to capture that feeling for their guests. It is located right off Old Redwood Highway. It is only about five minutes from Healdsburg. Their wines are also available at Bottle Barn.