We won’t go so far as to say that our next superstar Sunday School preachers are godlike but we bet that many in Napa Valley wouldn’t be surprised if one day these two found a way to add “walks on water” to their resumes ;) Please help us welcome father/son duo Chris and Josh Phelps! On Sunday August 12, these two will share with us almost 4 decades of winemaking experience covering everything from launching their own brands, to working for some of Napa’s and Bordeaux’s most storied properties, to growing up in St. Helena and more. Read on to learn more about what these two bring to the table…
Growing up in Livermore, CA, Chris has been surrounded by vines since day 1. Early on he developed a deep connection to both the land and the French language. So when it was time to head off to college the decision was easy. Chris made his way to UC Davis majoring in French & enology. Upon graduation he wasn’t quite ready to stop learning and enrolled in the Institute of Enology at the University of Bordeaux in 1981. While there, Chris needed to get some practical experience and casually dropped into the position of winemaker at Chateau des Laurets in Puisseguin-St. Emilion just in time for the landmark 1982 vintage. While in Bordeaux he met two men that would prove to be just the mentors he needed to launch his career in turning water into wine :)
These two men were Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet of Bordeaux’s esteemed Chateau Petrus. This association afforded Chris the opportunity to spend a winter working at the famed chateau and landed him a new gig back across the pond in 1984 as winemaker at Moueix’s brand new Napa Valley project - Dominus. For 11 years Chris helmed Dominus and from there he went on to become winemaker at Caymus, Swanson Vineyards and finally his very own label - Ad Vivum.
Launched in 2007, Ad Vivum is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced solely from the Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville. A true expression of terrior, the Ad Vivum wines showcase Cabernet at it’s best vintage after vintage. Never one to sit idle, Chris still consults for Swanson and is the newest consulting winemaker at Inglenook beside Philippe Bascaules (of Chateau Margaux). When he’s not in the vineyards you can find Chris sipping margaritas and making homemade pizza pies in his very own outdoor wood fired oven.
Growing up in St. Helena, CA with Chris as a father, Josh was ensconced by the winemaking industry from the very beginning. Josh further forged his connection to the wine industry throughout college - selling wine, working harvests, and making some damn good juice with his dad. Upon graduation, Josh took a position working production for Joel Gott before moving on to helm Kimberly Jones’ Sacramento market to learn more about the business of importation and brokerage. During his time with Kimberly Jones, Josh took a leap of faith and co-founded his own brand - Taken Wine Co. - in 2010. He grew the business from a small 100 case production project to a nationally known name before selling it in 2017.
Ready for the next challenge(s), Josh launched his next passion project, Grounded Wine Co. in early 2017 and is now working with Vintage Wine Estates on the sales and distribution side of things. With help from his dad, Josh has selected top vineyards in Napa, Washington and the Central Coast to fuel this new project. Grounded Wine Co. currently produces ‘Steady State’ - a Napa Valley red wine - ‘Collusion’ - a Washington Bordeaux blend - ‘Public Radio’ - a Central Coast Grenache-based blend - and ‘Space Age’ - a Paso Robles Grenache rose. When he’s not out in the vineyards, at the winery or on a sales call for Vintage Wine, Josh can be found at PRESS’s bar sipping on frose (made with his ‘Space Age’ rose) or our signature ‘Some Like it Hot.’
Ladies & Gents please help us welcome Sir DLynn Proctor (still waiting to be knighted) and Mademoiselle Chelsea Hoff to the stage as our fourth (and fifth :)) preachers!! This fearless duo will be joining us on July 29th to spread the gospel of Chelsea’s brand new rose (aptly dubbed Fearless), the ethos behind Fantesca Estate & Winery (DLynn’s current professional home) and drop some wine knowledge from their combined winemaking and tasting experience. It’s time to drink pink!
Most notably known as “Busser of the Week,” one fateful week in 1996 ;-) DLynn Proctor has extensive experience working just about every position a restaurant has to offer with a number of Michelin starred chefs. But in all seriousness, some may recognize him as one of the four sommeliers featured in the Somm movie (or from the second film or soon to be released third Somm movie). Others may know him from his impressive career as Winemaking Ambassador for Penfolds throughout the globe. A few of you may have caught a glimpse of him in Dallas, Adelaide or Vegas at one of the many restaurants he’s helmed and there’s a chance some of you may even have had the opportunity to call him ‘teach’ if you were a student of his at the San Francisco Wine School and prestigious universities.
Throughout his 15 years as a prominent figure in the beverage & hospitality industry, DLynn has established himself as a guru in everything from retail/web sales, to corporate sales, marketing strategy, sensory testing, to winemaking and beyond. Whether you’ve crossed his path before or only know him from the big screen the point is, we are very excited to welcome such a well-rounded, well-studied and well-dressed fellow Somm as our next preacher. As a well-seasoned professional he is able to sing the gospel on everything from international wine travel, to the brokerage of rare & fine wine deals, to what it’s like to work your way up from busser of the week to “Best New Sommelier in America” (Wine & Spirits 2008), a finalist in the esteemed The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Société Mondiale du Vin ‘Best Sommelier in America Competition’ (2008 & 2009), a “Top ’40 Under 40’ Tastemaker for 2014“ (Wine Enthusiast 2014), creator of “Best Dressed Sommelier” (GQ Magazine 2014 & 2015) and more! When he’s not globe trotting or moderating at a fabulous event you can usually find him parked at PRESS’s bar enjoying a beer or negroni.
Chelsea Hoff’s entre into the wine world began at a young age as her parents established Fantesca in 2004. Catching the winemaking bug early on (Miss Hoff used to make mixtures of shampoo, shower gel & lotion before setting them aside to ‘age’) Chelsea immediately immersed herself in all things Fantesca upon moving to St. Helena in 2007. After graduating from St. Helena High School, Chelsea accepted her spot at UC Davis with vigor, determined to soak up everything she could about viticulture, viniculture and winemaking. During her time at Davis, she was able to intern in Italy and Dijon, FR which opened up the opportunity for her to be Chateau Smith Haut Lafite’s harvest intern upon graduating in August 2015.
Not ready to head back to Cali yet, Chelsea also did a harvest internship in Australia’s Barossa Valley at Charles Melton Wines before returning home to work under Heidi Barrett in the family biz. Ready to branch out on her own, Chelsea launched her brand Fearless Wines in January 2017 and released her first 100% Grenache Rose sourced entirely from Amador County in early 2018. When she’s not in the vineyard, up at Fantesca or hosting one of Fearless’ amazing ‘pick up’ parties, Chelsea can be found at PRESS with her parents sipping on 1997 Heitz Martha’s or Dominus’ new project, Ulysses.
Up next we welcome Napa’s very own Renaissance Man. Our June guest is a man of many talents in the truest sense…he’s had a career as a journalist, has a business management degree from NYU, is head winemaker for one of Napa’s oldest & most iconic brands and in all his free time works on his own wine/vermouth/beer side project. Any guesses?! Drum roll please, we are SO excited to have Dan Petroski (of Larkmead & Massican) preaching for us on Sunday, June 24th!!!
Named 2017’s winemaker of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Dan is to Napa Valley what the Pope is to Italy (and even spent some time in the Pope’s ‘hood when kick starting his wine career). A Brooklyn native, Dan caught the food/wine/travel bug early on through his fascination with the scenic places & delicious looking food featured in magazines. As a result, when it was time for Dan to join the workforce he initially threw himself into the world of magazine journalism & publishing were he worked for a decade for small names like TIME Magazine & Sports Illustrated. It was in 2004 that Dan had a come to Jesus moment, realizing he’d likely be working for the next 40+ years, and re-evaluated what he was doing with his life.
It didn’t take long on this journey of self discovery for Petroski to decide that desk life was no longer his passion. A change had to be made, and by early 2005 Dan had packed his bags and was living in Sicily where he worked Monday/Wednesday/Friday at a local winery and spent all his days off traveling throughout Italy’s wine regions. During his time in Italy, Dan claims that ‘he learned to appreciate wine, not make it.’ And boy is that a valuable lesson! After a year Dan was ready to come back stateside and thought that at best he’d be working for some Italian focused distributor - but fate had another plan…
Through friends of friends (& some strangers turned friends), Dan became connected with Andy Smith (then of Dumol & Larkmead) and by mid-2006 had re-located to Napa Valley to work Dumol’s harvest as Andy’s intern. It was during a harvest dinner for Dumol that Dan had the opportunity to taste the 1985 Haut Brion and from that point on he knew he wanted to make a Cabernet as ethereal as that. Seeing his passion, Andy offered Dan a job as the ‘man on the ground’ for Larkmead just a few weeks later and for 6 years Dan worked solo (except for during harvest) day in & day out in Larkmead’s cellar. He was promoted to head winemaker in 2012.
In the midst of his work at Larkmead Dan got hit with the white wine bug. In 2009, after learning about some rogue Tocai Fruliano planted in the valley Petroski took a leap of faith & launched his own brand - Massican - with the goal of creating a white wine reminiscent of the bright white Italian blends he had fallen in love with while in Sicily. But like most well-laid plans, Murphy’s Law intervened and Dan quickly diversified Massican’s portfolio to feature three unique white wines. Since these first flagship wines, Dan has added a fourth & diversified even more! Now making white & red vermouth and a Belgian style wheat beer. So whether you’re a wine drinker, beer chugger, vermouth sipper or martini gulper Dan covers it all. When he’s not knees deep in work, he can be found at PRESS’s bar enjoying a martini (or two), some old Barolo or from time to time a bottle of bubbles!