Q. When did you both know you wanted to make wine?
J. I started to really appreciate top wines in college, working in fine dining restaurants, drinking wine I couldn’t afford. When our uncle Joe built August Briggs in 2003 I came to work for him. Wine sales and Production at first, but it was the winemaking process I fell in love with. Working with my hands, but also the interpretation and planning that’s so integral to making top rated wine, it struck a chord with my art background.
A. It was about the same time for me. I was 25 and started to understand you didn’t have to be Michael Jordan to make great wine.
Q. Michael Jordan? You mean you didn’t have to be a high-profile person to make great pinot noir?
A. Yeah. Uncle Joe lived and worked in the Napa wine industry and most of my early memories of him are in that context. He made great wines, but also he was always just my uncle Joe. We’d visit him throughout the wine growing seasons, sometimes for a few days, sometimes a week, and there was usually a Napa Valley winery tour or visit involved.
J. We were always around the California wine culture.
Q. How do you mean?
J. It started off at the dinner table really. Whenever the family got together we always had August Briggs Wine. We visited wineries where he worked and it was very behind the scenes, more like hanging out in them than being ushered through.
Q. So you were behind the velvet rope?
A. Kind of. Once his winery was built we were exposed to every side of the wine industry. We weren’t just seeing the wine pairings, parties and tastings. We were meeting the wine growers and seeing the bottling happen.
J. I remember buying my first car, Uncle Joe driving me through Sonoma wine country, looking at what I could afford, and we’d stop at wineries and meet people he was working with.
Q. So it was less of an elitist thing to you, despite the high-end product?
J. I try really hard to stay away from the snooty part of the wine business. I love the community and the salt of the earth mentality that comes from the working part of the industry.
A. When I was a kid I thought of wine in two ways. There was the luxury lifestyle that seemed unattainable on one side and our family get togethers on the other. Wine was an integral part of that, you know, like Thanksgiving dinner.
Q. How has that changed over the years?
A. Well, as I got older wine became a way to enjoy family and friends, even on a Monday. That unattainable quality has given way to the sense of Thanksgiving everyday that I had as a kid.
J. I’d have to echo that. I’m still defining my personal sense of things. Ask me tomorrow what I think of the wine business and I’ll have learned something new and my overall perspective will be that much bigger. And different. The more I learn, the more intriguing the winemaking becomes.
Q. Sounds pretty sweet.
J. Yeah. Aaron and I love what we do.