|David and Carla Ramey met at a winemaker dinner|
How did you first get into wine?
I was doing an inter-campus visitation from UC Santa Cruz to UC Berkeley. I rented a room from a woman who had a home in the El Cerrito Hills. She led a salon of international people. We had wine in a room with a spectacular view. I grew up as an only child in a house with two parents who didn't talk much. Dinner was at 6 o'clock and was over in 20 minutes. When I discovered wine could turn dinner into a 3-hour conversation, I was moved.
How did you get into the wine industry?
I was on my way to what I thought was (a job) teaching English for two years in Colombia. I was driving through Mexico. I thought, when I'm done (teaching English), what am I going to do with that? I said to myself, Why not make wine? It makes people happy. It's an aesthetic statement. It's not harmful to the environment. This was 1974. In Santa Cruz we were quite eco-conscious. I broke a piñata in Mexico on Christmas Day. Two weeks later I was back at San Jose State in Chemistry 1-A. It took 4 1/2 years to go from Chemistry 1-A to an MS in enology at UC Davis.
Where did you go from there?
Because I hadn't taught in Colombia, I wanted to work overseas, especially in France, because those were the grapes we worked with in California. It's such an odd twist of fate that in Sonoma County with all the Italian families, we ended up making all these French varieties. I opted for Bordeaux. I wrote 14 letters and got seven replies: six no's and one yes from Christian Moueix. So I went to work for him. After I left Bordeaux I worked at a factory in Australia, Lindeman's, where we made bag-in-a-box "Riesling." There wasn't a drop of Riesling in it. It was 50 percent Sultana and 37 percent Shiraz. They had all that old-vine Shiraz that they didn't know what to do with. They carboned it, they pressed it off as white, and then we charcoaled it. Stripped all the color out.