With Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day just a few days apart, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for the wine, spirits, and beer industry. Joining Joe this week is a successful Australian-born winemaker and ginsmith who has jumped into the burgeoning ‘Ready To Drink’ space. His name is Gerry Rowland, and he’s the founder of Coit Spirits, the makers of what Gerry calls an “RTD that is actually RTD.”
About Gerry Rowland: I grew up in the Barossa Valley, Australia’s premiere wine region, and knew from an early age that I wanted to work in the wine industry. I received my degree from Roseworthy College, South Australia, where I studied viticulture and oenology, with further studies at the University of California, Davis.
I consider myself fortunate to have worked with some of the great pioneering wineries of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. I began my career working in the vineyards and winery of B. Seppelts and Sons, one of the oldest wineries in Australia. I was introduced to the Napa Valley as a harvest intern at Stags Leap Winery during the great vintage of 1987. At Chappellet Winery, one of the first post-Prohibition wineries, I worked as Assistant Winemaker from 1989 to 1997.
In 1991, while I was learning the art of making mountainside wines at Chappellet, I also began making my own wine under the Ramspeck label. In 1997 I left Chappellet to devote myself full time to Rowland Cellars. At the same time, I began consulting for William Hill Winery in Central Otago, New Zealand. The challenges of southern New Zealand intrigued me, and for ten years I made a New Zealand Pinot Noir under the Rowland label, before ultimately deciding to concentrate my winemaking in California.
My interest in making the best wine possible has led me to the invention of winemaking equipment, including a barrel stirrer that has been reproduced by many companies around the world. I’ve also consulted for a number of small private labels and vineyards. My current research is in the improvement of grape berry phenolic production and the prevention of berry dehydration.
When I’m not making wine, I roast my own coffee, play golf, go salmon fishing off the California coast, and cook great food that I love to pair with wine. I also spent three years hand-building a ’65 Shelby Cobra that I drive daily to the market.