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A winemaker’s perspective
Greg Morthole readies for NH Wine Week

01/25/18



Next week is New Hampshire Wine Week and that means some renowned winemakers from around the country and the world will be coming to the Granite State for several events. The major highlight of the week is the Easterseals Winter Wine Spectacular, which is next Thursday, Jan. 25.

One of those winemakers is Greg Morthole, winemaker at Rodney Strong Vineyards and Davis Bynum Wineries out of California. This is Greg’s third trip out to New Hampshire Wine Week (one year he had to cancel due to the weather). I had a chance to catch up with him via phone recently. He said he enjoys coming to New Hampshire to connect with consumers and other winemakers, and to experience another part of the country. 
“For consumers, it’s an amazing event,” he said of the Winter Wine Spectacular. “It is very different in that you can purchase wine there [and then pick it up at a later date]. That is unique, especially at that scale.” 
Like many other winemakers who find their way into the wine business, Greg didn’t start out thinking he’d end up there. He grew up in Sacramento and attended the University of Wyoming, earning a degree in natural sciences. He later moved out to Sonoma County to be with his now-wife and ended up working in a wine lab for four years. He still lives there today with his family.
“I got the winemaking bug and had to go work at a winery,” he said. 
Greg started at Rodney Strong in 2005 as lab director, but his interest and passion for winemaking led to appointments as associate winemaker and then winemaker in 2010. He is now in charge of the Artisan Cellar, a winery within the Rodney Strong winery. 
In 2007, Rodney Strong purchased the Davis Bynum brand, which is a smaller label but is family owned like Rodney Strong. Greg said that while Rodney Strong is an established and recognized brand, being family owned is an advantage because they still have so much control over their winemaking — from growing the grapes in their vineyards, to bottling the wine, and everything in between. They can draw upon their history and their stories, while also being good stewards of the land. 
“It is really about the vineyards. Because we have our own vineyards, we get to do whatever we want, plant what we want, make whatever we want, and that gives us full control,” he said. “Having that control is something that not all wineries have.”
Today, Rodney Strong has 14 estate vineyards totaling about 815 acres and an additional 500 acres on long-term lease. They grow grapes in single vineyard sites under Davis Bynum, resulting in wines that no one else can make. Greg also noted that the Russian River Valley give the wines their own unique characteristics. 
I asked Greg what kind of wines he enjoys, and he said it is all about balance. That may mean a chardonnay with acidity and not so much oak and richness. He also mentioned pinot noir, calling it “an amazing grape,” and said that Sonoma County is one of the best places to grow it, though the area also boasts many other varietals including sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon, among others. 
Greg will be at CR’s The Restaurant in Hampton for a wine dinner next Wednesday, Jan. 24. Then, he will be at the Winter Wine Spectacular on Thursday night, where they will be pouring several Rodney Strong wines, including Symmetry, Alexander Crown Cabernet Sauvignon, among some other cabs, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. I am looking forward to stopping by their table. 
For more information about these events and more, visit nhwineweek.com. 





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