Iowa Wino : Cindy you are always using the phrase "follow your passion". Where did this come from and can we say this is your motto?
Cindy: Wine has always been a passion of mine...I decided in 2004 to follow that passion and move to California to pursue it. Here I am today living that dream. I would say yes, it is my motto.
Iowa Wino: You were in law enforcement before wine making. Was it an easy transition?
Cindy: Law enforcement was a great career. I thought it would be a difficult move but following what I loved made it easy. The excitement of getting to do what I dreamed of doing made the transition a great one.
Iowa Wino: Can you give the readers some backround on the name Passaggio and your winemaking philosophy? What characteristics do your wines showcase.
Cindy: Passaggio means Passageway in Italian - it is a tribute to my great grandfather who came over from Italy to pursue his dreams. My winemaking philosophy - all great wines are made in the vineyard...to make awesome wines that are balanced and that go great with food. I believe that wine brings people together and that is what it's for...to pair well with food and to drink with family and friends. I believe the Passaggio Unoaked Chard and the Pinot Grigio are great food wines although they can stand on their own as great drink alone wines. They are fruit forward - balanced - and really showcase the varietal in which it is intended.
Iowa Wino: You produce a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay currently. Why did you choose those varietals and will you be expanding the portfolio any time soon?
Cindy: Unoaked Chard and Pinot Grigio - two great white wines...my label is "New Generation" - I wanted to showcase these two varietals in the California style without the oak. To create a fresh, crisp, clean, wine so that you could enjoy it just sitting out back watching the sun go down. I am hoping to expand the label Passaggio and want to produce a Rose in 2010.
Iowa Wino: You juggle a lot of hats at Crushpad being the lab manager along with winemaking and pouring/promoting your wines. What's happening now? Is the harvest in full swing or has the weather delayed the process?
Cindy: Juggling lots of hats is what I do...I manage the lab at Crushpad and in charge of over 1500 different barrels of wines. I also am in charge of the white winemaking in which we have about 80-90 clients that make white wine. I also have my own brand that I try to promote. I wear different hats for that too. I do the sourcing of the grapes, make the wine, marketing, selling, blogging, twittering, facebooking...you name it I do it...
Harvest is underway but at a slow start. Grapes are coming in anywhere from two - three weeks later than last year. I do believe it will be a great year for the white wine maker. Sugars are at great levels, acids are high, and you will see lower alcohols.
Iowa Wino: What time of day are the grapes for your wines typically harvested? How far are the vineyards from the winery?
Cindy: The grapes for my wines are hand picked very early morning. This year we picked on Sept 15th at 0630. The vineyard is about an hour from the winery.
Iowa Wino: For readers who are unfamiliar with the winemaking process can you explain what happens with the grapes once they are received at the winery until they become "heaven in a bottle"?
Cindy: Typically for my white wines, the grapes are brought in and weighed first (I pay the grower by the ton) - they are then whole cluster pressed and put into tank to cold settle. The next day they are racked off the lees and put into stainless drums. I add the nutrients and different yeasts to each drum. The fermentation period, hopefully, is about 14 days. I prevent malolactic fermentation. I do leave some lees in each drum for stirring. They are then stirred each week. I like to test for SO2 once a month and taste them then too. I will do trial blends and at some point along the way they will be racked off the lees and will get ready for heat and cold stabilization. Once they are stable they are ready for bottling...
Iowa Wino: You probably meet many different folks tasting wine from the beginner to the advanced taster. What's the best advice you have given to a beginner who may be trying to find wines they enjoy?
Cindy: I would say to the beginning wine drinker - taste as many wines as you can and find what you truly like. Everyone's palate is different so find the wines that you enjoy and stick with that. The fun part is tasting, tasting, tasting....
Iowa Wino: Final question as we wrap up the interview: Now that folks are interested in Passaggio wine (hint hint) where is it sold?
Cindy: You can find Passaggio in the tasting room at Crushpad 3105 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA - you can buy it at the Valley Wine Shack in Sonoma, CA - it is also available at the California Wine and Cheese Shop in Monrovia, CA - and of course on my website http://www.passaggiowines.com/
There is even a link upper left side of the Iowa Wino blog to the website.
A big thanks to Cindy Cosco for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us as I showcase her awesome "boutique" wines on my journey of wine. If you have not tried Passaggio wine I highly encourage you to pick up a bottle today. Crisp, clean and the flavors of fruit so well balanced. Mouth watering yet?