Having an eclectic past of working in different wineries, wine wholesale & the culinary world, Brandon Sparks-Gillis took his taster’s apprenticeship to co-found Dragonette Cellars with John and Steve Dragonette. Years of cultivation and experience helped them create a truly outstanding label that Brandon shares with the Wine Down.
We discuss growing in the central coast, working with luminary winemakers, and taste several excellent bottles from Dragonette.
John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis formed Dragonette Cellars in order to pursue a long-held dream to produce wines of the utmost quality and purity from the finest vineyards in Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast. Every bottle that leaves our winery is 100% produced by family members.
We have poured our experience into producing cool-climate expressions of Pinot Noir and Syrah from vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, and York Mountain, and Sauvignon Blanc from the uniquely suitable area of Happy Canyon.
00:01 Welcome to the Wine Down.
00:42 Introducing Brandon Sparks-Gillis.
01:45 The symbol and seal of Dragonette.
03:42 Tasting the 2011 Rosé.
04:27 Negotiating label politics.
05:29 Getting a wine education at Wally’s.
08:16 A lesson in growing grapes in Colorado.
09:34 The key to creating great wine: Fanatical Devotion.
12:50 Creating synergy with your partners.
16:52 Working with Manford Krankl.
18:49 Tasting the 2010 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc.
20:52 Showing off a piece of Serpentinite–California’s state rock!
22:51 Sourcing grapes from 18 vineyards and building the perfect wishlist.
26:22 The learning curve for the winery over the years, and learning to deal with heat waves.
29:36 Developing confidence as a winemaker; maintaining purity of perspective.
33:48 What to do with raisined grapes? Mitigating risk.
36:53 Tasting the 2010 Pinot Noir, and notes on the fabulous grapes.
40:44 Delegating responsibilities in a small family business.
42:15 Making the move to the boonies to make wine.
44:09 Tasting the “7,” and cool growth grape notes.
46:01 Finding the wines (wine club!).
47:07 Future goals for Dragonette.
48:22 Cheers and Goodbye!