Sep 3, 2013

Interview with winemaker David Coventry

Having recently tasted a Monterey wine that really got our attention, we thought it was time to find out who was behind it and how he got here. The wine was from Puma Road on the River Road Wine Trail in Monterey, and the winemaker is David Coventry. Dave believes that making wine is a vocation and that it tends to find the individual and not the other way around.

David grew up in California but was lucky enough, or unlucky to spend his high school years at an all boys boarding school in Massachusetts. Unlucky as it was all boys, but lucky in that there he learn how to be self sufficient, which was a big advantage when he returned to California and started college at UCSC. David received a B.S. in Biology w / minors in Endocrinology, Immunology and Neurology. Out of college David worked as a protein chemist making prescription drugs. Not too far down the road he found himself managing a rock band (taking drugs for a living). It was during this time another valuable life lesson was learned. No excuses and anything is possible, as the show must go on. Kind of like harvest and crush, oh and bottling and, well you get the picture. 

Comparing two identical Pinot Noir.
One with Cork and one with Cap.
What is your quest?
To continue to learn something new. To take the lessons of one vintage and apply them to the next and continue to make better and better wine that are recognized for their integrity and quality.

When did you first have an interest in wine?
During my senior year in college (was 21) I started going to the wine shops in Santa Cruz and searching through their older stock looking for gems. I even got to purchase some at the original price as marked in pencil on the bottles. A second major wine life event was in 1996 when working for the rock band and living in San Francisco I went to a significant tasting event. The tasting was of the best wines of 1994 held at Mister Liquor. Six of the top wines were poured. Wine of the year Beringer Chardonnay, a Broadley Pinot from Oregon,  Screaming Eagle Cabernet and a Zind-Humbrecht Vendage Tardive Riesling. Being there and tasting these amazing wines was a lightning strike.

How did you get started?
At the end of a tour with the band, I met the assistant winemaker for Chalone. As we talked, he was mentioning that he was not looking forward to returning to work, as all this lab work was there waiting for him to get started on. With my back ground, and time off on the way I said 'I'm on my way back to California, how about I help you.' There you have it, my first job in the wine industry.

What separates you from other winemakers?
I think partly my sense of balance. Also, the time in the vineyard and using my five senses throughout the process from vineyard to bottle. In some ways, making wine is like rearing children in that if you don't take care of them in the beginning it usually does not end well. Like a good parent you need to know when to intervene and when to just pull back. Again, back to finding that balance. 

We all have quirks. What would your co-workers say are yours?
Most would say that I am one goofy M___ F____! The others would probably say that I tend to enjoy some chaos and trying to tame it.

If you were not being a winemaker, what would you be doing?
I like to make people laugh so probably would be a stand-up comedian.

What is your favorite color?

Thanks to Dave for taking time out of his day to chat and share while enjoying some of his creations. Look, if you are in the Monterey area, go on by and have a taste of Dave's wine at Puma Road tasting room.  We 'recommend' you do.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Quote of the day “If you make the wine of your dreams, you have not dreamed big enough”-David Coventry

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We are always on a WineWalkabout looking for a good drop. Please comment and ask questions about the things you like or would like to read and see. Don't drink without pants on!