Born of Passion, Bottled with Pride
Co^lluvial™ is the culmination of a project conceived several years ago. Following the financial crisis, I found myself out of work. My wife, Edna, suggested — both for my benefit and her sanity — that I consider immersing myself in something I was passionate about. My love of wine, a hobby I’d enjoyed since the 90’s, made the answer obvious.
While continuing my job search, I decided to enroll in the Intensive Sommelier Program at the French Culinary Institute (FCI; now the International Culinary Center). The program consisted of 200 hours of intensive study via textbook, lectures and (most importantly) the tasting of wines from all regions of the world. My teachers were Master Sommeliers who prepared us to sit for the first two examinations of the Court of Master Sommeliers. I graduated at the top of my class and went on to earn pins for successfully completing the Court’s two initial examinations, thereby earning my Certified Sommelier designation.
While I then took on several small projects — including the Wine Program of Star Chefs in NYC — my real break came from a phone call I received from Foxen Vineyards. That call led to my role as a Foxen Harvest Crew Member for three Vintages (2012, 2014, 2016) and a very strong relationship with both my crewmates and with Billy and Becky. Foxen’s Billy Wathen (Winemaker and Co-Owner) and his wife Becky Barieau (Controller and Co-Owner) not only opened their home to me, but also continued my education and exciting journey into the wine business.
My initial introduction to the area came as I traveled to attend the Wally’s Central Coast Food and Wine Celebration in 2005 where I met many extremely gracious and humbled winemakers. One of those winemakers was Jeffrey Fink, who has been a good friend and mentor for the past 13 years. Our relationship has grown over the years as he realized my passion for learning about wine, viticulture and the area was real then and continues to be the case now. Currently, with the help and mentorship of many including Billy, Jeff, Manuel Cuevas and David Whitehair, my project has grown from one of Négociant to Producer of artisanal small batch wines.
Co^lluvial™ represents, as the back label suggests, some of the best “terroir” in vineyards across the world. The artwork reflects my most cherished blessing — “Las Nenas”, my beautiful daughters, Ema, Adriana & Marisabel, as symbolized by the three roots.
I registered ClusterFreak™ Wine Vintners, LLC in 2015 and completed the trademark registration process for our brand names; Co^lluvial™ and ClusterFreak™ in 2017. Co^lluvial™ boasts classic varietals at a premium tier, while ClusterFreak™ introduces a diverse range at an approachable level.