Harvest Q&A with Tooth & Nail Winemaker Jeremy Leffert

Harvest Q&A with Tooth & Nail Winemaker Jeremy Leffert

Harvest is upon us in Paso Robles, and Director of Winemaking Jeremy Leffert is here to give you the inside scoop. Read on to learn more about the upcoming vintage, the power of a positive attitude and why Jeremy is drinking some wines he didn’t make: 

Q: How are things looking as you head into the 2021 harvest?

The summer weather has been the mildest I can remember since 2010 or 2011. Grape berry sizes are smaller than average which will increase concentration. Because it’s a smaller than average crop, could lean toward being a tannic vintage. It’s good to know that going in, because we can manage our fermentations accordingly and keep the tannins supple and approachable.  

If this weather pattern stays, it sets up as a perfect vintage. It’s also going to be a very long vintage. That said, if we get heat waves in September, that could speed things up. 

Q: What wine are you most excited about?

I’m jazzed about everything. I’ve spent a lot of time out in our vineyards since June, working to dial things in. I think that our Murmur Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, in particular, is going to deliver a rockstar vintage. In addition, our estate in Willow Creek is already delivering the goods and we are still three weeks out from harvesting Malbec and Tempranillo.  

Q: Any surprises this season?

Just how relatively cool it’s been in Paso Robles this summer—you can count the 100+ degree days on one hand. 

Q: Fill us in on your superstitions...

I eat Lime Chili Chicken Cup of Noodles every day during harvest. And Flaming Hot Cheetos are just goooood.

Paso Robles Morning in Wine Country

Q: What are harvest hours like?

I’ll work six days of 12-hours at the hardest point. But that won’t last too long. 

Q: Woah! How do you handle that?

We work all year for this moment. I’ve found that it’s mind over matter. I try to keep my mood up and stay even keeled. If I get stressed, then my team gets stressed. So I train my mind and I eat well, and the body follows suit.

I like harvest. It’s a time when 100 percent of my focus is on winemaking and what’s going on in the vineyard.  I have the ability to “simplify and focus,” and I live by these words.  

So I think it’s going to be fun. There’s a really cool energy in the winery, and everyone’s excited. I truly believe that a positive attitude makes for better wines. I also love the sense of discovery as the wines finish fermentation and begin to show off what they are made of.

Q: What do you do to unwind after a long day?

I play guitar and read about guitar and try to sleep past 7 a.m., if I can, on a day off. But I’ll often be out in the vineyard by 7 a.m. in order to plan the following week’s picks, and then I’ll get to the winery around 9 a.m.

Q: What's in your glass right now?

French Gamay. It’s fun and easy, and it’s just kind of where I’m at right now. I can’t drink my own wine all the time because then I don’t learn anything!