After spending two decades promoting the wines of Washington State, Allen Shoup founded Longshadows, a collective of partnerships leveraging internationally renowned winemaking talent to express the best of the Columbia Valley. Director of Winemaking, Gilles Nicault, describes how the partnerships work from both a business and winemaking perspective; what he’s learned from making wines with the likes of Michel Rolland to Randy Dunn; and how Washington State’s wine profile has been elevated from this concept.
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Detailed Show Notes:
Allen Shoup founded Longshadows
He was CEO of Ste Michelle Wine Estates (“SMWE”) for 20 yearsHis mentor was Robert Mondavi, who founded Opus One, a collaboration between the old and new worldAt SMWE, Allen started collaborations with Eroica (Dr. Loosen) and Col Solari (Antinori)Wanted to build partnerships for Longshadows - showcase the Columbia Valley, which is east of the Cascade Mountains and has very dry terroir (~6 inches of rain/year), enabling great diversity of grapes to be grown (Bordeaux, Rhone, Italian, Spanish varieties)The name “Long Shadows” refers to renowned winemakers casting long shadows over the Columbia ValleyPartnerships
Poet’s Leap, a Riesling w/ Armin Diel (Schollsgut Diel in Nahe, Germany)Saggi, a Super Tuscan (Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah blend) w/ Ambrogio & Giovanni Folonari (Tuscany)Pedestal, a Merlot w/ Michel Rolland (Pomerol)Pirouette, a Bordeaux style blend w/ Agustin Huneeus, Sr and Phillipe Melka (Napa)Feather, a Cabernet Sauvignon w/ Randy Dunn (Napa)Sequel, a Syrah w/ John Duval (Barossa Valley, Australia)Gilles crafts his own Cab / Syrah blend with 30 months in French oakAll partnerships were established when Longshadows was founded in 2003 except Folonari, which came in 2004
All are true partnerships - each partner owns 25% of their labels, which are separate companies. They are not consultants and are not paid any other fees
Longshadows does the sales & marketing for the wines
Working relationships w/ partners vary
John Duval can be there during harvest (Southern Hemisphere)Partners did not give any recipes for wines but pitched in and developed styles togetherFruit sourced from across Columbia Valley and its 15 sub-AVAs through acreage contractsSource both old vines and can work with growers to plant specific clones (e.g., German clones for Poet’s Leap Riesling vineyards)Volume of wines set by Allen Shoup and Dane Narbaitz (current President and Allen’s son-in-law), choose quality over quantityWines that don’t make the main wines go into 2nd label Nine HatsEach winemaker is so different. Gilles learned there are many ways to make wines
E.g., Randy Dunn wants the jacks of the fruit in the wine, whereas Michel Rolland wants all of them outWinemakers are interested in what each other does but do not work togetherEach winemaker has their own allocation of vineyards and blocks for their winesSelling Longshadows
The wine club “Key Club” is a big part of sales2 tasting rooms - at the winery (Walla Walla) and in Woodinville (near Seattle)Some distribution in the US and a few international marketsLongshadows was honored to be selected 4x to be served at the White House
The future - partners are getting older, and many are on the verge of retirement. Gilles to carry the flame forward with lessons he’s learned from them
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