Posted by: David Stewart | December 8, 2014

A bootleg shoe from Nike’s top designer?

I have no idea who Nike would consider their top shoe designer. But I can imagine they would be rather unhappy if their superstar was busy on the side designing a competitive shoe and selling it on their own time. I know for a fact that my own company takes quite a dim view of this kind of moonlighting if it’s in a field related to their day job.

In fact, I have a hard time imagining any professional making and selling their own private label product on the side.

Except in winemaking.

There is a dramatic plot line in the outstanding wine movie “Bottle Shock” where an assistant is making wine on the side. Once this little side project becomes known by the winery owner, [spoiler warning] he fires him on the spot.

Wouldn’t you imagine your own employer getting a bit concerned about you competing with them on the side? No?

Here in Oregon, I know of several outstanding winemakers who do exactly this – work by day for one winery but by night with their own project.

Stephen Goff – I first met Stephen at an event called “Tu Shea”, where he was pouring his sophomore effort, a 2011 vintage Pinot Noir made with Shea Vineyard fruit. Stephen (not to be confused with Joel Gott, who makes California wines) was a former assistant winemaker at Beaux Freres, and is currently the winemaker and vineyard manager of Colene Clemens. Since Colene Clemens uses only their own vineyard’s fruit for their wine, Stephen can use grapes from other great vineyards like Shea for his Pinots.

Michael Stevenson – I’m always looking for a bargain, and usually when I find Stevenson-Barrie Pinot Noir, it’s at a good price. When I can find it! It’s not easy. Michael Stevenson sources grapes from outstanding Willamette vineyard properties like Shea and Temperance Hill. The wine also seems to be held back from the market a bit for some additional aging. Again, Stevenson had a day job, making wine for Panther Creek. But now Michael is the winemaker for Elizabeth Chambers, I wonder if we will still see Stevenson-Barries wines any more.

Drew Voit – With phenomenal winemaking pedigree, like making wine for Shea Vineyards and Domaine Serene, you would expect Drew’s skills to be in high demand. I knew about his own label, Harper Voit. I was surprised at a recent open house tasting that he is consulting winemaker for a number of other outfits as well. What’s amazing to me though is how different wines taste when they are from different vineyards. Same year, same grape variety, same winemaker – totally different taste! If that’s not proof of terroir, I don’t know what is.

Scott Shull – Scott is the outstanding winemaker / owner for Raptor Ridge. His appearance on this list is thanks to the mentoring he has done with other winemakers. In particular, I know he was helping the folks at Atticus in their early years, though I believe he is only providing winery space to Atticus now. Scott has really helped out fellow winemakers in a couple of very tragic situations. Once was when Jimi Brooks died unexpectedly in 2004. Scott with others helped make sure that the year’s vintage was made. He also helped in 2008 when Bill Redman was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’m very happy to recommend Raptor Ridge wines, not only because they are terrific wines but because Scott is such an amazing person.

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