A few years ago I joined this thing called Twitter, you may have heard of it. I wasn't really sure what to talk about so I started talking about what I know...wine. These conversation have lead to numerous friendships both on and offline. One great friendship formed with Winemaker Beau Carufel. We took a few minutes to catch up on the phone last week and I asked Beau a few questions about his transition from wine buyer and blogger to winemaker. The Wine Key is thrilled to be the first to interview Beau since the inception of Random Wine Co.
Charlotte: Tell me about a memorable wine moment.
Beau: I don't know if there was just one moment but my father worked in the wine industry in San Diego and sold Ravenswood. I remember taking a trip to Sonoma with my Dad to visit Joel Peterson. We had dinner at his house in Sonoma and I remember drinking great wines and listening to them talk about wine which is where I started to absorb a wealth of information. There were also winemakers visiting us at our home in San Diego. Wine was just a part of our dinner conversations.
Charlotte: How did you get into wine? When did you know the wine industry would lead to a career path?
Beau: Through my Dad who was a distributor. He sold Californian and Italian wines. He was also the first to sell Gruner Veltliner. Growing up, I would have sips with dinner, wine has just always been a part of life. After attending flight school, September 11th happened and I decided it wasn't for me. I got a job at wine store then everything really blossomed. I moved to Oregon in October 2011 with no job lined up.
Charlotte: What wine certifications do you hold?
Beau: I am a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers but I don't plan to take it any further as I don't work in the hospitality side as much any more.
Charlotte: How did you get into winemaking?
Beau: The Kramers [of Kramer Vineyards] hired me as a harvest intern. I had always been intrigued by winemaker but it all seemed too technical and chemistry was never my thing. I always enjoyed drinking and talking about wine more. Once I got my hands dirty and made wine, I saw production in a whole new light.
Charlotte: When did the idea for Random Wine Co come about?
Beau: The Kramers asked me a decided question: "Why don’t you make some wine?” The name comes from both making different varieties of wine and my lack of originality. I'm not an artistic person. Random seemed fitting.
Charlotte: What varieties do you produce?
Beau: In 2012 the inaugural vintage, all fruit came from Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington. In 2013, I got some fruit from eastern Oregon and now the Willamette Valley too. I produce a Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Gamay Noir Rosé. What's unique is that I make my wine in the heart of the Willamette Valley but I don't produce a Pinot Noir or a Pinot Gris which are popular here. However, I have learned to make wine from Pinot Noir producers so I have a gentle touch when it comes to winemaking.
Charlotte: How many cases do you produce?
Beau: In 2012 I made about 125 cases. In 2013 it became 250 cases and 2014 looks like it will be between 300 and 400 cases.
Charlotte: Where do you source your grapes from?
Beau: Mostly at random as long as the quality of fruit is there. Like I said, the 2012 vintage all came from Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington with additional fruit coming from eastern Oregon and the Willamette Valley.
Charlotte: Where do you make your wines?
Beau: At Kramer Vineyard. I have about 10 barrels at their winery.
Charlotte: Do you have a winemaking philosophy?
Beau: I have a rather romantic notion when it comes to winemaking. A wine should taste like the site, grape, people or Terrior as the French say. I try to express the grapes the best that I can. I believe in getting out of the way and help the best fruit it turn into great wine.
Beau: I'm really liking the Rosé, but Pt. Verdot and cab franc currently in production are amazing. I did some whole cluster and the wines have lower alcohol and great savory flavors.
Charlotte: Do you use and new barrels or oak on your wines?
Beau: No new oak. I have to make wines I am comfortable with. I don’t like oak with grapes I produce. Wine should taste like fruit.
Charlotte: In 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?
Beau: Being a full time winemaker. I would love to make enough wine to support my family and pay all the bills. If it doesn’t happen though its ok but I hope it does.
As someone who recently tasting Beau's Tempranillo and Pt Verdot, I am super impressed! I truly love these wines and you can tell Beau really lets the fruit speak for itself. The wines are complex but balanced and great with food or just by themselves.