JUNE: Dan Petroski
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!