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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series 

Zelma R. Long 


With an Introduction by 
Dr. Ann Noble 

Interviews Conducted by 

Carole Hicke 
in 1991 and 1992 

Copyright c 1992 by The Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research 
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous 
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity 
and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed 
in final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable . 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Zelma R. 
Long dated September 23, 1991. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Zelma R. Long requires that she be notified of the 
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

Zelma R. Long, "The Past is the Beginning 
of the Future: Simi Winery in its Second 
Century," an oral history conducted in 
1991 and 1992 by Carole Hicke, Regional 
Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, 1992. 

Copy no . 

Zelma Long, 1991. 

Photograph by David Buchholz 

Cataloging Information 

LONG, Zelma R. (b. 1943) Winemaker, winery executive 

The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its Second 
Century . 1992, ix, 103 pp. 

Development of the winery under Long's direction, 1979 to present; 
evolution of California wine industry, 1970s -1990s; Robert Mondavi Winery, 
1970s; research methods at Simi. 

Introduction by Dr. Ann Noble, Professor, Department of Viticulture and 
Enology, University of California, Davis. 

Interviewed in 1991 and 1992 by Carole Hicke for the Wine Spectator 
California Winemen Oral History Series, The Regional Oral History Office, 
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 



INTRODUCTION --by Dr. Ann Noble vi 




Family and Childhood 1 
General Education 

Winemaking Studies 3 


Joining the Winery 6 
Early Responsibilities 

Change and Innovation 8 

How Winemaking Evolved In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s 11 

Experimentation in the 1970s 13 

Becoming Head Enologist: 1972 16 

Cooperage 20 

Vineyards and Grapes 23 

Winemaking Decisions 25 


Deciding to Join Simi 29 

Simi Winery in 1979 31 


People 36 
The Must Chiller 

Winemaking ^3 

Viticulture 45 

Viticulture: The Vineyards 52 

Management 59 

Developing an International Business 64 


Linkage Between Viticulture and Winemaking 66 
The Concept of Terroir 
The American Appellation System 

Evolution of the Use of Wine Varieties 76 

Phylloxera 78 
The Leading Role of California in the Worldwide Wine Industry 81 




A. Resum6 and list of publication 94 

B. "History of Simi Winery," 1984 99 

INDEX 101 


The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the 
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated in 1969 through the action 
and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a state marketing 
order organization which ceased operation in 1975. In 1983 it was 
reinstituted as The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series 
with donations from The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The 
selection of those to be interviewed is made by a committee consisting of 
the director of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; 
John A. De Luca, president of the Wine Institute, the statewide winery 
organization; Maynard A. Amerine, Emeritus Professor of Viticulture and 
Enology, University of California, Davis; the current chairman of the 
board of directors of the Wine Institute; Ruth Teiser, series project 
director; and Marvin R. Shanken, trustee of The Wine Spectator 
Scholarship Foundation. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on 
California grape growing and winemaking that has existed only in the 
memories of wine men. In some cases their recollections go back to the 
early years of this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are 
of particular value because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of 
not only the industry itself but also the orderly recording and 
preservation of records of its activities. Little has been written about 
the industry from late in the last century until Repeal. There is a real 
paucity of information on the Prohibition years (1920-1933), although 
some commercial winemaking did continue under supervision of the 
Prohibition Department. The material in this series on that period, as 
well as the discussion of the remarkable development of the wine industry 
in subsequent years (as yet treated analytically in few writings) will be 
of aid to historians. Of particular value is the fact that frequently 
several individuals have discussed the same subjects and events or 
expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from his own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in 
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State 
Library, and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its 
collection of in many cases unique materials readily available for the 
purpose . 


The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed 
significantly to recent California history. The office is headed by 
Willa K. Baum and is under the administrative supervision of The Bancroft 

Ruth Teiser 
Project Director 

The Wine Spectator California Winemen 
Oral History Series 

July 1992 

Regional Oral History Office 
486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 


Interviews Completed July 1992 

Leon D. Adams, Revitalizing the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Leon D. Adams, California Wine Industry Affairs: Recollections and Opinions. 

Maynard A. Amerine , The University of California and the State's Wine 
Industry. 1971 

Maynard A. Amerine, Wine Bibliographies and Taste Perception Studies. 

Philo Biane, Wine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit 
Industries . Inc . . 1972 

John B. Cella, The Cella Family in the California Wine Industry. 1986 

Charles Crawford, Recollections of a Career with the Gallo Winery and the 
Development of the California Wine Industry. 1942-1989. 1990 

Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente , and Andrew G. Frericks , The California 

Wine Industry During the Depression. 1972 

William V. Cruess , A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology. 1967 

Jack and Jamie Peterman Davies, Rebuilding Schramsberg: The Creation of a 
California Champagne House. 1990 

William A. Dieppe, Almaden is My Life. 1985 

Making California Port Wine: Ficklin Vineyards from 1948 to 1992. interviews 
with David, Jean, Peter, and Steven Ficklin, 1992 

Alfred Fromm, Marketing California Wine and Brandy. 1984 

Louis Gomberg, Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry. 1935- 
1990. 1990 

Miljenko Grgich, A Croatian- American Winemaker in the Napa Valley. 1992 
Joseph E. Heitz, Creating a Winery in the Napa Valley. 1986 

Maynard A. Joslyn, A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry. 

Amandus N. Kasimatis, A Career in California Viticulture. 1988 

Morris Katz, Paul Masson Winery Operations and Management. 1944-1988. 1990 

Legh F. Knowles, Jr., Beaulieu Vineyards from Family to Corporate Ownership. 


Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi , California Grape Products and Other 
Wine Enterprises. 1971 

Zelma R. Long, The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its 
Second Century. 1992 

Richard Maher, California Winery ManaEement and Marketing. 1992 

Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini, Wine Making in the Napa Valley. 

Louis P. Martini, A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry. 1984 

Eleanor McCrea, Stony Hill Vineyards: The Creation of a Napa Valley Estate 
Winery. 1990 

Otto E. Meyer, California Premium Wines and Brandy. 1973 

Norbert C. Mirassou and Edmund A. Mirassou, The Evolution of a Santa Clara 
Vallev Winery. 1986 

Peter Mondavi, Advances in Technology and Production at Charles Krug Winery. 
1946-1988. 1990 

Robert Mondavi, Creativity in the Wine Industry. 1985 

Michael Moone , Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World. 
Inc. . 1990 

Myron S. Nightingale, Making Wine in California. 1944-1987. 1988 
Harold P. Olmo, Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties. 1976 

Cornelius Ough, Researches of an Enologist. University of California. Davis. 
1950-1990. 1990 

John A. Parducci, Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County. California. 

Antonio Perelli-Minetti , A Life in Wine Making. 1975 

Louis A. Petri, The Petri Family in the Wine Industry. 1971 

Jefferson E. Peyser, The Law and the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Lucius Powers, The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block, Perspectives on California Wines. 1976 

Edmund A. Rossi, Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry. 1971 

Edmund A. Rossi, Jr., Italian Swiss Colony. 1949-1989: Recollections of a 
Third-Generation California Winemaker. 1990 

Arpaxat Setrakian, A. Setrakian. a Leader of the San Joaauin Valley Grape 
Industry. 1977 

Elie Skofis, California Wine and Brandy Maker. 1988 

Andre Tchelistcheff , Grapes. Wine, and Ecology. 1983 

Brother Timothy, The Christian Brothers as Wine Makers. 1974 

Louis (Bob) Trinchero, California Zinfandels. a Success Story. 1992 

The Wente Family and the California Wine Industry, interviews with Jean, 
Carolyn, Philip, and Eric Wente, 1992. 

Ernest A. Wente, Wine Making in the Livertnore Valley. 1971 

Albert J. Winkler, Viticultural Research at UC Davis (1921-1971). 1973 

John H. Wright, Domaine Chandon: The First French-owned California Sparkling 
Wine Cellar, includes an interview with Edmond Maudiere, 1992 


INTRODUCTION- -by Ann C. Noble 

Zelma Long is a tall, slender, and elegant individual with a shock 
of blond hair. Long before the casual look was approved as a career 
woman's style of dress, Zelma patented it. Beyond this superficial 
description of her appearance, on talking to her, one immediately 
realizes that she is a very poised, articulate, and strong person, who 
can be very intensely focused or can switch gears and be ready to laugh 
and enjoy life equally intensely. 

I first met Zelma in the mid- '70s through University functions, such 
as short courses. Over the years, I have increasingly had opportunities 
to interact with her on both a professional and personal basis. As she 
first emerged in the mid- '70s as a recognized enologist, the press was 
eagerly reporting on her and the few other women in the wine industry, 
perhaps incorrectly giving the impression that they were token women. 
Zelma Long and Mary Ann Graf with a few others did serve as pioneer women 
winemakers in an industry previously dominated by males. However, within 
the industry, from the start Zelma and Mary Ann were recognized for their 
skills, not for being female winemakers. In addition to her activities 
described in this text, Zelma was the informal founder of the Goddesses, 
a group of women in the wine industry and related fields, who meet to 
celebrate life and their achievements. Through these rafting, hiking, 
horseback riding, and camping outings I have gotten to know Zelma and 
truly appreciate the intensity of her approach to her work and to life. 

This oral history chronicles very well the development of Zelma' s 
winemaking career, which parallels the explosive growth of the California 
wine industry in numbers of wineries, personnel, capital invested, and 
level of experience. It also documents her personal growth, from her 
apprenticeship under Mike Grgich where she learned details of winemaking, 
through the development of her own winemaking style as she integrated 
what she had learned. From this synthesis of her experience, she has 
structured her own winemaking philosophy and direction. For several 
years , Zelma has given the last lecture in my Sensory evaluation of wine 
course. Although she excites the students each year with her 
presentation, her approach has changed reflecting her recent development 
as a leader in the wine industry. She has shifted her emphasis from 
reviewing details of winemaking, which of course is valuable information 
for the students, to focusing on the importance of establishing one's 
winemaking goals. This change in orientation is a valuable and exciting 
one; at the University we can give students a scientific background, 
through internships they can learn practical details of winery 
operations, but only by seasoned thinking winemakers can they be 
challenged to set their focus on a goal rather than on the details. 


Zelma and others in the wine industry have played a leading role in 
supporting research. Without the far-sighted outlook of such individuals 
and their keen interest in continually improving wine quality, the 
initial dramatic contributions which the University made to improve the 
quality of California wines would not be continuing today. 

Ann C. Noble 

Department of Viticulture and 

May 1992 

University of California, Davis 



Zelma R. Long, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simi Winery, 
was interviewed as part of the Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral 
History Series to document the history and evolution of Simi through the 
1970s and 1980s. The Simi winery, the first to be built in Healdsburg, 
dates from 1890. The business was established in the 1870s, then 
purchased in 1881 by the Simi brothers, Giuseppe and Pietro, who operated 
it for many years . The winery survived Prohibition and continued as a 
family operation until purchased in 1970 by Russell Green. By 1974 it 
was owned by Scottish Newcastle, and Michael Dixon was president. Dixon 
stayed on when the winery was sold to Schlieffelin & Co, which became the 
property of the French Champagne company, Moet-Hennessey, in 1981. 
(Moet-Hennessey now belongs to parent company LVMH Moet-Hennessey Louis 
Vuitton.) In 1979 then President Dixon hired Zelma Long as winemaker and 
empowered her to manage a new direction for the winery to be fueled by a 
$5.5 million capital investment. 

Creative, innovative, and research-oriented, Long had been head 
enologist at the Robert Mondavi winery, where she participated in the 
whirlwind growth that took place in the 1970s of the winery, the wine 
industry in general, and knowledge of winegrowing. In her oral history, 
Long emphasizes the "winegrowing" aspects --the integration of viticulture 
and enology to produce the end product, wine. At Simi she brought to 
bear her skills and philosophy, concentrating on aiming for the highest 
quality wines, particularly Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon 
Blanc. She has written and spoken extensively about wine, and has come 
to play a leadership role in the industry internationally. She has 
received several awards for her accomplishments in the field. 

Long was interviewed at Simi on September 22 and 23, 1991, and on 
January 21, 1992. She reviewed and promptly returned the transcript, 
making a few slight changes. Her assistant, Gayle Curtiss, was most 
helpful in arranging appointments and furnishing photographs and other 
materials. Dr. Ann Noble of the University of California at Davis, who 
has worked with Long at Simi in conducting experimental research, kindly 
agreed to write the introduction. 

This series is part of the ongoing documenting of California history 
by the Regional Oral History Office, which is under the direction of 
Willa Baum, Division Head, and under the administrative direction of The 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 

Carole Hicke 
Interviewer -Editor 

May 1992 

Regional Oral History Office 

Berkeley, California 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


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[Interview 1: September 23, 

Family and Childhood 

Hicke: I'd like to start at the beginning by asking when and where 
you were born. 

Long: I was born in 1943 in The Dalles, Oregon. I lived in that 

town through my high school graduation. I completed college 
in Oregon and then moved to California. 

Hicke: Was there any member of your family who had a lot of influence 
on you? 

Long: With regards to wine? 

Hicke: With that, but also in your general life and ways of doing 
things . 

Long: You know, I can't say there's a stand-out person. Of course, 
your parents are always your main influence. Certainly there 
were no influences relative to wine, because no one that I 
knew grew grapes, drank wine, or talked or thought about wine. 

Hicke: Where do your parents come from? 

! This symbol (##) indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. A guide to the tapes follows the text. 

Long: My parents both grew up in eastern Washington. 

General Education 

Hicke: You went to school in Oregon until you came to California? 

Long: I went on to Oregon State University. I started studying home 
economics with an intent to become a dietitian, so I was 
majoring in home economics and minor ing in dietetics- -in 
nutrition, actually. I really disliked home economics, so 
after the first year I went to an advisor and asked what I 
could major in that would allow me to continue my nutrition- - 
developing my nutrition background in courses . The advisor 
steered me into a general science major, which was a wonderful 
major because it allowed me to study a wide range of science -- 
chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology- -but it wasn't so 
confining or constraining that I wasn't able to study a wide 
range of liberal arts courses, too. 

So I majored in science and minored in nutrition. In 
fact, in the long run that turned out to be a very good 
background, because it was that science background that later 
was going to enable me to go into the master's program at UC 
[University of California] Davis without backtracking. 

Hicke: Then you started an MBA [Master of Business Administration] 
program, is that right? 

Long: No, my education followed the path of college education, 

dietetic internship for a year at UC Medical Center in San 
Francisco, then a few years later returning into the master's 
program in enology and viticulture at UC Davis in 1968 and 
continuing in that program on a part-time basis through 1970. 
The MBA work I did when I first came to Simi in the early 
eighties, again on a part-time basis. Then in 1988 I went to 
Stanford for two months for a program called the Stanford 
Executive Program. 2 I got a broad- spectrum education, which 
is what I've appreciated. 

2 The MBA was not completed. The Stanford Executive program was. 

Winemakine Studies 

Hicke: You went to UC Davis, and I'd like to hear about your studies 
there . 

Long: I moved to the Napa Valley in 1968. At the time I moved there 
I had completed my dietetic internship, I'd been working as a 
dietitian, and I decided that I didn't want to pursue that 
career. Even in 1968 in the Napa Valley you had a sense that 
it was an area that was all about grapes and grape growing and 
agriculture and winemaking, so I thought it might be fun to go 
back to UC Davis. In addition, my husband's parents had 
purchased some property in 1966 in the eastern hills of the 
Napa Valley, and they had started to develop a vineyard. So 
from '66 to '70 they were slowly planting a small parcel of 
vineyard, and they were talking about wines and someday having 
a winery. We actually made a little bit of wine in 1969, just 
home winemaking. 

Partly living in the Napa Valley and partly having this 
family interest developing in vineyards and wines triggered my 
interest in going back to school in winemaking. I was 
thinking, "Well, if they're going to have a winery someday, 
maybe I can learn how to make wine and contribute . " So I went 
to Davis in '68 and applied for admission into their master's 
program. Again, because of my science background I was 
qualified to go into the program. I started to take classes, 
and I was living in Napa Valley and commuting over there, 
taking classes three days a week. That continued in '68, '69, 
and '70. 

Hicke: Didn't you study with Dr. [Maynard A.] Amerine? 

Long: Dr. Jim [James A.] Cook was teaching viticulture, as was 
[Dr.] Lloyd [A.] Lider. Amerine was teaching sensory 
evaluation; Harold Berg- -Hod Berg- -was teaching wine 
stability; [Dr.] Ralph [E.] Kunkee was teaching wine 
microbiology, and [Dr.] Vern [Vernon L. ] Singleton was 
teaching phenolics. 

Hicke: You had some of the masters. 

Long: Yes, but I didn't take all those courses; I didn't have Vern's 
phenolics course. Our classes were very small, and it was 
very easy to know those professors personally. They were 


wonderful people, really supportive, so it was a tremendously 
rich educational environment. 

George [M.] Cooke was the extension enologist, and he 
would come over and look at the vineyards with Bob Long's 
parents, Bob, and myself. He worked with us when we were 
doing our first fermentation. We felt integrated into that 
department and the people there. Those were some lifelong 
friendships that we established. Jim Lider, Lloyd Lider's 
brother, was the Napa County extension agent at the time, and 
he was the one who had made the original recommendations for 
the grapes to plant at Long Vineyards. So we really knew him 
before we knew his brother, who was a professor at UC Davis. 

Hicke: What did you plant? 

Long: It's interesting to look back. We planted a lot of 

Johannisberg Riesling on Jim's recommendation. We planted a 
very small amount of Chardonnay, and he really didn't 
encourage us to plant more, because he felt that Chardonnay 
had been very unsuccessful. [laughter] You know, it's funny 
to look back. Also, in those first few years my parents-in- 
law had a home in Angwin, and my husband and I bought a house 
in Angwin. We traveled up and down the hill from St. Helena 
to Angwin, and one of the wineries along the road was 
Souverain [Cellars]. Souverain and Stony Hill, when I came to 
the Napa Valley in the sixties, were two of the wineries that 
were the avant garde , making new wines and fine wines . 

I got to know Lee Stewart, the owner of Souverain . In 
fact, his wine was the first California wine I ever tasted. I 
remember Lee Stewart saying, "Chardonnay will never make a 
great wine in California. It's just not that good a variety." 

So we planted a lot of Riesling and a little Chardonnay, 
and we grew those varieties for about ten years. Then, from 
1979 or '80 through 1987, we proceeded to either T-bud or 
replant almost all the Riesling to Chardonnay [laughs], 
because Chardonnay in fact was extraordinarily successful in 
that site. We've made some great Rieslings, but Chardonnay 
was more of a commercial success. That pretty much mirrored 
the whole pattern, and there were very good reasons for it. 
In those days the Chardonnay clones that were planted in the 
valley that were "unsuccessful" were unproductive, susceptible 
to disease. From a farming point of view they were very 
undependable and unsatisfactory. It wasn't until the more 

productive clones of Chardonnay that [Dr.] Harold [Paul] Olmo 
developed at Davis came into commercial use, which was pretty 
much in the seventies, that Chardonnay became of more 
commercial interest for a grape grower. That coincided with 
more public interest and more success, and it just rolled out 
from that. 

Hicke: He probably had part of that right, if that clone development 
hadn't taken place. Or had it already taken place by then? 

Long: It's hard to know. I would say that certainly the planting 
decisions of the time were made with the best information at 
the time, but in fact it turned out to be just the opposite of 
what worked really well. 

Hicke: Why is Chardonnay so much more popular than Riesling? 

Long: That's a good question. I think in a general way that it's 

the flavor quality of Chardonnay that makes it unique. It has 
a rich texture and flavor. As you drink good Chardonnay, it 
always has the sensation of richness and silkiness, and it has 
a particular personality or group of flavor components- -the 
butter, honey, vanilla, coffee characteristics- -that I think 
are flavors that the American public really likes; these are 
all flavors that Americans like intrinsically. So the 
texture, the body, and the flavor personality of Chardonnay 
honed into a spectrum of tastes and sensations that just had a 
broad general appeal . 


Joining the Winery 

Hicke: How did you actually get into winemaking? 

Long: By 1970 I had spent about two years at Davis, and I was in 

the process in August of 1970 of getting ready to go back to 
school to complete my master's course, with really little 
thought of doing anything but that. But Mike [Miljenko] 
Grgich, who was the enologist in charge of the winemaking at 
Robert Mondavi, called me- -I didn't know who he was- -and left 
a message that he would be interested in having me come to 
work for the harvest. I called him back, and we chatted. It 
turned out that Robert Mondavi was just starting the harvest, 
and Mike desperately needed someone to work with him, just 
for the harvest period, to do pretty basic work- -keeping some 
of the winemaking records and doing the rather simple 
analysis that's done around harvest. Someone at the 
University had given him my name. 

Hicke: I was wondering how he found it. 

Long: Really, to this day I don't know who that was. I started out 
by declining his offer, because my mind was on returning to 
school. He called me back, and he said, "You know, this is a 
really good opportunity; it's a good learning opportunity, 
and you should seriously consider it." So I thought, "Well, 
maybe I should give it a try." I went down and talked to 
him, and I started soon after that. They had already started 
to harvest, and Robert Mondavi that year, 1970, as I recall, 
crushed about 1,700 tons of grapes, which would be about a 

hundred thousand cases, not necessarily a small amount for 
the time- -a fairly large amount- -but certainly small compared 
to what they ultimately developed. 

I was immediately fascinated. I was hooked. 

Early Responsibilities 

Hicke: So for that first crush you were keeping records? 

Long: I was keeping production records and doing analysis. I would 
go around with Mike every day and check each fermenter and 
record the Brix and the temperature and taste it. It was a 
wonderful time , because Mike was a winemaker with both the 
European traditional roots of winemaking- -his family made 
wine when he grew up- -and what was for that time some very 
sophisticated experience that he'd had at Beaulieu [Vineyard] 
for ten years working with Andre Tchelistcheff . He also 
worked with Lee Stewart, so he'd been working with some very 
high-quality grapes and some of the top people in the valley. 

As we would go around from tank to tank recording the 
information, he would talk about the wine and how it was 
being made and the personality in a mixture of the technical 
information and the European, rather romantic way of talking 
about wine- -which you've experienced, for example, if you've 
ever talked to Andre Tchelistcheff; the Europeans take a very 
different way of thinking and talking about wine . 

Hicke: It has a little bit to do with that mystifying and 
demystifying aspect. 

Long: Exactly right. They haven't lost the sense of romance and 
beauty and humanity and spirituality. I think they haven't 
lost it, and we- -you know, it's there for us. Intrinsically 
that's what provides the attraction for the industry, but 
it's not something that we talk about as easily as the 
Europeans do. 

Hicke: Where did Mike get that? 

Long: He was Yugoslavian, and that was part of his background and 

Hicke: Did you stay on with them for the rest of the year? 

Long: After harvest Mike asked me if I would consider continuing to 
work part time, and I decided I would do that, because in 
fact I found the winery work was completely fascinating. It 
was so interesting and so different from anything I had ever 
done. There were so many variables. It was very complex and 
therefore intriguing and intellectually challenging. 

So I continued to work part time there that first year. 
Then the second harvest rolled around, and as I recall we 
doubled our production from the first to the second year, so 
that was a significant amount of work; that was the '71 
harvest. I started to work full time, and I'm still a little 
hazy about exactly when that started, but I was obviously 
working full time at harvest, and after the harvest of '71 I 
continued to work full time. 

Change and Innovation 

Long: There was a lot of physical change at Mondavi's in that time 
period. When they started, the laboratory was up in the 
tower, what are offices now was their barrel room, and they 
had just completed what is now the main part of the winery. 
So in that first year that I worked we moved into a brand-new 
laboratory, and the winery continued to grow. At the same 
time, the Mondavis clear through the seventies had a tendency 
to try everything new that they came across. It seemed like 
every year we had a new press, a new centrifuge, some new 
piece of equipment. There was growth in the amount of wine 
that was being produced, and there was also a lot of change, 
both in the physical circumstances at the winery and in the 
kinds of equipment and techniques that we were using. That 
was just the start, but it was a continuing period of 
tremendous change from year to year. 

Hicke: All that change was basically Robert Mondavi's thrust, or was 
Mike in on that, too? 

Long: If I remember correctly, Mike [Michael] Mondavi worked with 

Robert from the beginning in 1966, so he was really in charge 
of the winemaking in a very general sense at that time, but 
Mike Grgich was the person who was making all the day-to-day 
decisions with the interaction of Robert Mondavi. Bob 

Mondavi would come around--! was describing this daily 
morning tasting of all the fermenters- -and join us on those 
tastings from time to time and give his input. When we were 
doing winemaking tasting decisions, he would join us with 
some regularity. 

Certainly through most of my tenure at Mondavi, Robert 
Mondavi, particularly in the first six years, was the person 
whom I thought of as giving the basic, general imprint to the 
wine. Then in the years that Mike Grgich was there, he was 
the person who would take the general direction and turn it 
into action and interpret it into daily decisions. When Mike 
left, it became my responsibility to take this general 
direction and turn it into specific action on a daily basis. 

Hicke: I'm particularly interested in this foment of change, because 
I see that in Simi since you came here. It's clearly going 
on today. Did you pick that up there, or was that Robert 
Mondavi's style? 

Long: It was his style. Our industry really has been a fantastic 
opportunity. With his style, he had a tremendous energy and 
a tremendous curiosity, so it's almost for me as if I never 
knew another way. I do have this sense that the wine 
industry tends to attract people either from an intellectual 
or a sensual, sensory basis; it gets people either in one 
place or another or both. From my perspective, the core of 
what was happening there was seeking to continue to evolve 
quality and style and looking at all kinds of tools to do 
that. In that decade there were more winery tools- -barrels, 
presses, fermenters, centrifuges- -that were used to control, 
modify, manage, and enhance the winemaking process. 

When I came to Simi, I saw the tools as the vineyard, 
and I still do. I think the general vision that Robert 
Mondavi gave the industry in that time period relative to 
winemaking was the sense of, "Let's ask a lot of questions 
about the process, and let's try a lot of things." In doing 
that, we were able to refine our winemaking, and it was all 
in the milieu of this enormous growth. In four years we went 
from 1,700 to about 7,500 tons of grapes crushed, and believe 
me, that is a considerable expansion. So it was a crazy, 
exciting environment to work in- -both crazy and exciting. 

Hicke: If there is any one way you could describe it, can you 
encapsulate the reasons for his success? 


Long: I think Mondavi's success is relevant to his vision. He 
could see something and had clarity of that vision, the 
intensity of belief and his confidence in that vision- -the 
vision was the quality and the place of California wines in 
the world. He had this vision and a great deal of confidence 
to support that vision, and a tremendous amount of physical 
energy to apply toward it. The physical energy wasn't just 
in terms of how many hours a day you could work. It's this 
positive force that motivates people to see things the way 
you see them and want to achieve what you want to achieve . 
It is physical energy carried to a charisma that is a 
tremendously motivating force on people. 

Hicke: So he was really an inspiration? 

Long: For me, working at Robert Mondavi for those ten years was a 

tremendous opportunity. I had an opportunity to probably try 
and experience and experiment with every different kind of 
grape, source of grape, every piece of winemaking equipment. 
Then I also directed a research program, so we were able to 
raise and answer many, many questions in winemaking. I was 
able to see the result of many more techniques than we 
actually used on a daily basis, so it was just an incredible 

It was really a wonderful opportunity to work with 
Robert Mondavi. I have enormous respect for him. I was 
recently at the winery's twenty- fifth anniversary, and as you 
listened to the past employees talk about Robert Mondavi, 
they all have stories to tell. Many of them are very funny, 
but they're all told with this underlying affection. I think 
Mr. Mondavi often could ask for things that were impossible 
to do. We used to tease him and say, "Look, we can do 
anything, but we can't do everything all at once." There was 
always this underlying positive expectation that each person 
was really contributing and an expectation of a positive 
outcome of events --and good will, just a tremendous amount of 
good will. 

Hicke: He has outstanding "people" skills, obviously. 

Long: Yes, he does, and he certainly had outstanding people. 

Hicke: What was the research program you conducted there? 


Long: When I first started there and was really an apprentice, for 
every question we answered, we probably raised three 
questions --and we still do. For example, if you're making 
Cabernet, what's the desirable length of fermentation? How 
often should it be mixed or pumped over? How often, how 
long? What would the highest fermentation temperature be? 
How long should it sit on the skins before pressing? Should 
we separate the press wine? With every wine, as we talked 
about the whole game plan for making that wine, we would have 
a hundred alternatives. 

You know, in those days there was very little 
experience in the industry; there wasn't the body of 
knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation. 
All of the people making wine in the seventies were really 
young winemakers looking to get as much information as they 
could through their own experience. The experiments would, 
say, designate ten barrels of Chardonnay and use a different 
yeast with each barrel. Or we would do small -lot winemaking 
and make some variations in how we made a particular lot of 
wine. They were a way for us to learn ourselves about how 
the variables in winemaking affect the wine itself. They 
enabled us to fine tune the winemaking process, and they 
taught us about the winemaking, in that we could take 
information and use it to transcend a particular situation 
and allow us to make better decisions in other situations. 

That research program in the first few years was 
casual. Then later, by the mid- seventies, there was a 
research enologist hired, and during harvest we had a small- 
lots winemaker who spent time making five-, ten-, and 
fifteen- gallon lots of wines with different variations. A 
whole research branch of the winery developed. 

How Winemaking Evolved In the 1970s. 1980s, and 

Long: In general, I see three differences in the three decades of 
winemaking. In the seventies I see this seeking to 
understand the winemaking process in the winery. You're 
dealing with a very young group of winemakers: how do we 
really make wine, how do we learn how to make the decisions 
in the winery, what's the proper kind of barrels and 
equipment? We were exploring fermentation strategies, barrel 
aging strategies, and many different things. In the eighties 


the question became: what is it in the vineyard that we can 
learn about and use that's going to impact positively the 
style and quality of the wines? In the eighties there has 
been a tremendous burst of experimental work in the 
vineyards. In the nineties, the questions are: what are the 
characteristics of each specific site, and how, in any given 
vintage, can I modify my winemaking to best suit the grapes 
from a particular site? 

To take one variety as an example, in the 1970s we 
would have been saying, "What's the best fermentation 
temperature for Chardonnay? Should it be barrel -fermented or 
not? What kind of barrels should it be aged in? Should it 
have skin contact? How much skin contact?" In the eighties, 
the questions would have evolved into, "What's the right 
harvest timing for Chardonnay? What are the right sources of 
Chardonnay? Are clones important? What about proper crop 
load?" And then refinement of winery technique. By the 
eighties, barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation 
were accepted, and we looked at nuance of skin contact, 
direct to press, press separation, lees contact, lees 
stirring, and really looked at the nuances in the use of 
barrels. But at the same time we were raising all these 
questions about the vineyard. We had refinement of 
winemaking technique, and now came the basic questions of the 

In the nineties I think we will see refinement of 
viticultural technique applied to winemaking, and then we're 
going to see these questions about, "Well, we're not really 
talking ' Chardonnay ' when we make Chardonnay ; we ' re talking 
about 'Chardonnay in 1991 from this four-acre plot of land in 
northwestern Alexander Valley on rocky loam soil that's a 
seven-year-old planting. ' How do we fine-tune our winemaking 
to that Chardonnay?" Winemaking questions about Chardonnay 
as a varietal will evolve to questions addressed to 
Chardonnay in a specific site in a specific vintage. It is 
called site specific winemaking. That's going to be what 
happens in the next ten years . At the end of the nineties 
the people who can most successfully answer that question and 
practice site specific winemaking will be the best 
winemakers; they'll be producing the best wines. 

That's integration of winegrowing and winemaking- - 
integration of the vineyard, the viticulture, the vintage, 
and the winemaking process. 


Hicke: The kit of maps with the different kinds of soil and 

different clones and varieties was fascinating. I see where 
that's going, but 1 don't know how you can keep track of all 
that. [See maps following page 59] 

Long: It's like anything else; you do little generalizations. You 
don't maybe know the details of every single soil that you're 
working with, but you begin to group them into certain types 
and behavior patterns and so forth. 

Hicke: We leaped ahead here, but that's a nice overview of how 
things have gone . 

Experimentation in the 1970s 

Long: You were asking about the experiments and what they mean to 

winemaking today. In many ways they're not directly relevant 
to winemaking today. They were relevant to the time. Still 
and all, they established a base of information that we 
almost know instinctively now and take for granted. The 
things that we do now routinely, for example with 
Chardonnay--malolactic fermentation, barrel fermentation- -it 
wasn't until the end of the seventies that people were more 
or less using those techniques. So what we don't even think 
about much now was still being developed and explored in that 

Hicke: It's an amazing amount of change, isn't it? 

Long: It is, and what's true about that change is that you have to 
come back and ask the same questions over again. For 
example, the issue of skin contact- -in the seventies it was 
discussed, and there was a certain general direction taken 
for use of skin contact for Chardonnay because people had a 
certain expectation of what Chardonnay should be like: big 
and rich. The general use of new barrels in the seventies 
was "the more the better," and that was all in the context of 
thinking that the best Chardonnays were those big, oaky, fat, 
buttery ones. In the eighties that changed. The perception 
of what a good Chardonnay was changed; it evolved. So all of 
the time that the winemaking was evolving, so was the palate 
of the winemakers, the palate of the public, and the 
understanding of what a great wine really was. What was an 
appropriate technique within the style and quality goals of 


the seventies was not necessarily appropriate in the eighties 
and will not necessarily be appropriate in the nineties. The 
standards change. 

The change of our standards for a fine wine is not 
talked about very much and is probably the most important 
change. I believe that the approach should be the opposite 
from the way most people talk. Most people start with the 
process and end up with a product; but with wine, most 
important is to start with what you want to make: what is in 
your head? What's a great Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, 
whatever it is you want to make? What does it taste like, 
what does it smell like, what does it feel like in your 
mouth? And then you work backwards to the process, how you 
can achieve your ideal . 

That vision of the wine really changed in each decade, 
so that as I look back on the wines of the seventies now, I 
think they were very rustic wines. I mean, they were woody 
Chardonnays , herbaceous Sauvignon Blancs , and astringent 
Cabernets. [laughter] The decisions that were taken to make 
those wines are obviously not going to be the decisions that 
we would make now, so the questions have to be reexamined in 
the light of new standards. I've been lucky to have been 
here for a while; I can see us coming around and asking the 
same questions again. But it's often the same questions set 
against different standards, different expectations, 
different grape material, different style goals. 

Hicke: How do the goals and standards change? 

Long: In the early seventies you had an inexperienced group of 

winemakers and an inexperienced group of wine drinkers. As 
time went one, the palate of both the consumer and the 
producer have developed. We spent a lot of time in the 
seventies and eighties- -myself personally and we as an 
industry- -traveling around the world and bringing people in 
from other parts of the world, tasting wines and developing 
our taste. It would be similar to someone who has never 
heard music, hears music for the first time, and then listens 
to music and considers the composition and the way music is 
produced- -how they would evolve over a twenty-year period. 
They would be much more sensitive to the nuance and to the 
harmony, the balance, the style, and the personality. Well, 
the same thing happened with wine. I think the tastes of 
both consumers and the winemakers became, over time, with 


this attention to the wine on a world stage, much more 

And that's still happening. I interviewed for an 
assistant winemaker position this year, and one of the things 
we asked candidates to do was to bring us wines that they 
considered to be great wines in world terms and to pour them 
and talk about why they felt they were great in world terms. 
Certainly in my experience and opinion, some of those people 
were very on- target, and some were way off target. That was 
very important to me, because that goes back to where a 
person's head is; what are they thinking? The biggest 
inhibitor to achievement is your mind, or the biggest 
enabler. People can only do what they can see. You were 
asking why Robert Mondavi could do all these things. Well, 
he could see them, and some people just don't see. 

In a very general way, the vision of California 
winemaking has evolved and expanded and become refined over 
the last twenty years. 

Hicke: It is artistry in a sense, and also it's so true of an 
artist- -that an artist can usually see much more than 
somebody who is not an artist. But I'm still a little vague 
on- -for instance, the taste of somebody learning about music 
might approach that of Beethoven. In winemaking, do you get 
closer and closer to Bordeaux style, or is there something 
out there that you are heading for? 

Long: I think that in any art or craft form there are elements of 
balance and harmony. In wines, quality in my opinion is 
concerned with issues of complexity, flavor concentration and 
length, balance, harmony- -that is, the whole internal harmony 
of the wine, how the smell of the wine relates to the taste 
of the wine, the internal components of taste, the acidity, 
the flavor concentration, and the tannin structure. So 
balance and harmony, length, complexity, structure, ability 
to age and develop- -and these characteristics can be applied 
to any wine in any country of any variety. The particular 
personality that the grape gives is a flavor profile that's 
different with Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet, and it's 
different with Cabernet in Bordeaux and Cabernet in 
California. But those flavor profiles can still be expressed 
with complexity, balance, and harmony. 

Hicke: So they're objective standards, not just subjective? 


Long: Well, they're subjectively objective. We talk about that in 
terms of difference of style and quality. There are certain 
issues of quality that we think are transcendent, and you can 
have differing styles and differing personalities and still 
maintain those quality levels. 

Hicke: That enables you to work with different varieties of grapes 
and different years . 

Long: And different places. When we taste here at Simi, we're 
always seeking wines that we think are great wines, wines 
that exhibit at a particular time those characteristics. 
There are vineyards in the world that are known to do a 
better job of consistently expressing a very high level of 
these transcendent quality values. 

It's different from trying to make one wine like 
another one. Even in people --you could see someone who you 
think was educated and sensitive and worked well with people, 
and you could say, "I'd like to have those characteristics." 
You could think about achieving some of them and still being 
yourself. You can pretty easily conceptually separate the 
sense of personality and quality in wine. 

Hicke: That's a good explanation. 

Becoming Head Enologist: 1972 

Hicke: Getting back to the seventies, in '72 you became head 
enologist . 

Long: Yes, Mike Grgich left. Robert Mondavi had retained a 

consultant, Karl Werner, who was a German. To the best of my 
recollection, Karl came in '71. Mike left to go to Chateau 
Montelena and to become the winemaker there. Karl had 
evidently recommended that I be promoted into Mike Grgich 's 
position of enologist. You know, I'm not honestly sure 
whether it was '72 or 73. Mike Grgich might be able to tell, 
because it was completely tied into his transition. I don't 
remember if his first vintage at Chateau Montelena was '72 or 

So that transition occurred, and I took over the 
winemaking. Karl was there, if I recall, for a couple of 


vintages. His area of expertise was white wines, 
particularly Rieslings. He also had a long experience of 
winemaking, and he was a good consultant for me. I was still 
fairly young and green at the time . 

Hicke: What kinds of things did you learn from him? 

Long: All through that time, the thread through the early seventies 
was Robert Mondavi with general style directions and 
participation at the tastings. What I learned from Mike 
Grgich--! always felt that Mike instilled me with basic 
winemaking principles, so I learned my basic winemaking from 
him. Karl provided me, at a time when I had really been 
there for a short period of time and was then moved fairly 
quickly into a highly responsible position, with someone I 
could go to in a very specific situation and say, "This looks 
like a difficult situation. Here 're the alternatives. Do 
you have any input you'd like to give me?" So I would say 
more than anything he supplied some professional, experienced 
input . 

Hicke: That was a lot of responsibility. 

Long: Yes, it was. [laughs] Although, you know, I really didn't 
think about it at the time. You know how it is; you just 
sort of --it was such an exciting business. It was really 
fascinating, totally fascinating. There really wasn't time 
to worry about things , because we were so busy trying to take 
care of an ever- increasing amount of wine and address all 
these issues of quality in winemaking, and go through 
organizational change and expansion. We were just on the go. 

Hicke : What was the reason for this enormous growth? 

Long: I think it was intrinsic in the industry at that time. It 

would be interesting to go back- -I haven't done it recently- - 
and just look at the grape acreage growth and the numbers of 
wineries. When I first started in the Napa Valley, there 
were very few wineries and not a lot of grape acres. So the 
basic reason was the consumer out there who really wanted to 
learn to drink wine and was excited about it. I think at the 
same time there was the beginning of intrigue with food and 
the quality of food, new restaurants, disposable income, 
travel, and wine as a measure of sophistication. Wine just 
grabbed other people like it grabbed me: "This is really 
fascinating. " 


That was what supported the growth at Mondavi, 
particularly that the wine quality was very good, the quality 
goals were high, and the marketing and sales energy were very 
successful; the wines had good publicity. 

Hicke: What were some of your biggest challenges? 

Long: I think really the organizational challenges were the biggest 
challenge. For example, in 1973 Robert Mondavi saw that 
there was a lot of Zinfandel in Lodi available for purchase, 
and he decided to purchase a lot of it. I think it was 
within a month of harvest. He had committed to a level of 
tonnage that was larger than we could actually store at the 
winery, so we had to find other storage facilities and 
prepare them to receive the wine- -just the sheer logistics of 
doing that. There were always these organizational changes 
that went on, just every year, that demanded that we both 
improve quality and address these issues of growth and 
organizational change. That was the core of the job; that 
was the biggest challenge. 

Hicke: Did you have to hire people? 

Long: Oh, yes. Our winery staff grew. When I started in 1970, 

there were two of us, Mike Grgich and myself. By the time I 
left, there were in the winemaking department probably five 
enologists, a laboratory staff of five, and an experimental 
department of three people. There was constantly growing 

Hicke: You had to find space for the people as well? 

Long: Oh, yes, there was physical growth. We had to find space for 
people, space for wines. During that time period the winery 
outgrew its ability to barrel-age the wine, so barrel cellars 
were developed in Napa. I think by the time I left there 
were probably fifteen thousand barrels, and when I first came 
there were probably three hundred. 

Hicke: What about technology? Did you have to start with computers 
about that time? 

Long: We did. Sometime in the mid- seventies we started working 
with IBM. They had what they called a process control 
computer, and they were interested in what processes in the 
winery they could control, which in fact were very few. But 


we did develop a system to monitor and control fermentation 
temperatures. We worked on other systems, but that was the 
only thing that really became applicable. In fact, a lot of 
time was spent on that function, which I think was not 
particularly productive. 


Hicke: You talked a little bit about centrifuge; that was something 
new at that time? 

Long: Right. We went through changes in pressing. I worked with 
three or four different kinds of presses. Nineteen seventy 
was the first year they tested the centrifuges, and through 
the seventies they were the primary means of clarification, 
although decanters, which are another form of centrifuge, 
were used towards the end of the seventies. I think in the 
early seventies there was this equipment fascination: "What 
can presses, centrifuges, filters, tanks, do for us?" As we 
worked through some of those questions and became more 
sensitive to quality issues, we were looking to a way to use 
these pieces of equipment as a positive tool without over 
using them. 

For example, when I came to Simi I didn't really want 
to centrifuge all of our juice. What I wanted to do was to 
let it settle naturally by gravity and then use the 
centrifuge as a backup tool. If there was a particular 
condition of the skins where they didn't settle, or we had a 
lot of grapes coming in in a very short period of time and 
there wasn't time for everything to settle, the centrifuge 
could get us through a difficult period. But it was really 
sort of an aid rather than an integral part of every wine. 

Hicke: Is that just because moving the juice around makes it that 
much more subject to changes? 

Long: Wine is really sensitive. I believe that the more you 
accomplish up front, in a natural way, with the wine to 
better the wine- -as the time has gone by, that would mean 
moving clear back into the vineyard and saying, "What can we 
accomplish in terms of grape ripeness, condition, and balance 
in the vineyard first that will minimize any special handling 
that we have to do in the winery? Then if we need to do 


something in the winery, what can we do right at the 
beginning before the fermentation?" 

We were looking at acid adjustments in the case that 
the grapes were low in acid. Acid used to be adjusted toward 
the end of the winemaking process, and we've moved it up to 
the beginning of the winemaking process when you have juice, 
which is less sensitive than wine. The ideal now is to 
achieve the acid balance we want in the vineyard before the 
grapes are harvested. 

People see it as a more natural handling of the wine; I 
see it as just kind of a natural development of the skill of 
the winemakers , more experienced, intuitive sense about what 
is the best thing to do with each wine. I would say that one 
of the basic principles of winemaking that I was taught by 
Mike Grgich was that the less you do with the wine the 
better; wine is really sensitive. 

Hicke: That's standing behind this last little bit that you've told 
me, that if you've got it in the grape, and you don't mess 
with the grape- - 


Hicke: Barrel fermentation and care of the barrels you talked a 
little bit about with Margrit [Biever Mondavi]. Was that 

Long: Yes. There were three important aspects of barrels. One was 
selection of barrels, one was their care, and one was the use 
of them. We experimented with use for fermentation with 
Chardonnay--the amount of new oak, the length of aging with 
any variety. We also learned a lot about how barrels are 
made and began to appreciate that the manufacturing style of 
the barrels would have a tremendous impact on the wine. How 
do you understand that, and how do you take that into account 
in the winemaking? During that time period we experimented 
with many different kinds of oaks- -American oak and French 
oak from different forests- -and we came to appreciate the 
kind of oak, the kind of seasoning the oak had had before it 
was made into a barrel, the technique of barrel -making, and 
the fact that all of those impacted the wine in some way. 


We put a lot of attention into just caring for the 
barrels, keeping them clean and fresh. That's a basic. If 
you don't have good, clean, fresh barrels, you can't make 
good wine. Yet it took a long time to develop a really good 
system for keeping barrels in good condition when you're 
handling thousands and thousands of barrels. That was 
certainly as much the work of our cellarmaster at Robert 
Mondavi as myself, but it was a big concern of myself because 
the barrel care impacted the wines. 

It's interesting about the industry I think most 
people have a good system for taking care of barrels now, and 
you don't hear them say much about it. But when you go in to 
talk to a group of people who are new to using barrels, 
that's the first thing you talk about- -how you take care of 
your barrels. If you don't take good care of your barrels, 
nothing else matters. It doesn't matter what kind of wood, 
what kind of cooper, what kind of wine; nothing else matters. 
So that's the beginning. 

In the 1990s, the questions about barrels have been 
refined. There has been better understanding of some of the 
coopering techniques, and some of the nuances in coopering 
techniques are better appreciated. There has also been a 
development, which I think is really accurate, of the sense 
that the cooper is essentially like a winemaker. The cooper 
is selecting the wood, aging the wood, and developing the 
technique to bring that wood together in a barrel. All of 
those decisions, of which there are many, result in a barrel 
from the cooper that tends to have its own personality. So 
we tend to find an association of personality around a 
cooper, just like you'd find a style or personality of wine 
around a wine . 

So winemakers are now thinking, "Which variety works 
with which cooper?" But they're going beyond that and 
thinking, "Which vineyard--" 

Long: They think about the barrel from a cooper as having its 

particular personality, and they're seeking to match that 
personality with a particular wine or a particular vineyard. 

To come back to the questions of the nineties, they 
will be, "This Chardonnay- -in this vineyard site, in this 


vintage, with this certain style goal- -needs barrels from 
which cooperage?" That's how it will be. 

Hicke: [chuckles] Will the coopers start signing their barrels? 

Long: The barrels are an enormously important and expensive part of 
our winemaking technique , and of the wines . They give 
complexity, structure, longevity, and flavor. 

Hicke: When you talk about the technique of making barrels, do you 
mean things like how tightly the staves are fitted together? 

Long: It can be the shape of the barrel, the thickness of the 
staves, the way the wood was aged after it was cut into 
planks and before it was cut into staves, how it was 
seasoned, the conditions under which it was seasoned. Then 
what is the shape of the barrel, what is the thickness of the 
stave, how are those staves bent to conform to a barrel, and 
how is the inside treated? Just to give you an example that 
we found at Simi, there's barrel called an export barrel that 
is a thicker-walled barrel than what they call a chateau 
barrel, which is the barrel they use locally in Bordeaux and 
which is thinner-walled. You put the same wine in both of 
those for a year and a half, and the wines are different. 
The thickness of the stave of the barrel has an impact on the 

Hicke: The oxygen? 

Long: Presumably. Another thing is that, for example, in Burgundy 
the barrels traditionally are shorter and rounder, so to get 
the bend of the staves they have to spend more time over a 
fire. The inside of the staves generally have a kind of a 
toasted look to them; instead of a nice, light, oak color, 
they would be like bread in a toaster- -kind of light brown. 
That difference affects the flavor of the wine. 

There are many different ways to achieve that barrel 
shape. Some people dip the barrel in hot water and then fire 
it; some people use steam and fire; some people cover the 
barrel with a lid while they're firing it; some people use a 
small, hot fire; some people use a larger, cool burning. 
It's just incredible, the nuances, and what we found is that 
they all have an impact on the wine. 

Hicke: How many different kinds of barrels do you have here now? 


Long: I think every winery operates in the same way. Our system 
has been to work with some coopers that we really like and 
whose barrels really seem to go well with our vineyards and 
our wine personality. 

Hicke: Are they local? 

Long: No, they're European coopers. Our Chardonnay barrels are 
made primarily by Francois Frere in Burgundy. 

Hicke: I saw that name on the barrels; they really are signed! 

Long: Yes, they are. The barrels for Cabernet are primarily from 
the Taransaud cooperage in Cognac. We are constantly trying 
other barrels; I think we have probably eight or ten other 
barrel sources, and we may have anywhere from two to a 
hundred barrels from each source. It's a never-ending 

Hicke: Yes, there are infinite numbers of combinations. 

Long: Through trial and error we have established our main 

suppliers of barrels that work well for us for our vineyards 
and our wine style, and then we bring in other coopers to 
investigate [new possibilities]. We think they add 
complexity and keep a good frame of reference for the people 
we are using. 

Vineyards and Grapes 

Hicke: You were head enologist at Mondavi for seven years? 
Long: Yes, until I left in 1979, right around harvest. 

Hicke: Is there anything else about those years that we should be 
sure to discuss? 

Long: I think we've talked about the tenor of those years, the 

change, the experimentation, the growth, the opportunity to 
work with grapes. Bob Mondavi brought grapes up from Santa 
Maria, grapes down from Washington, so there was opportunity 
to work with a real diversity. I spent more time in the 
latter part of those years in the vineyards, just so I could 
visualize each vineyard we were making wines from. About the 


end of that time period I came to believe that we really had 
to know more about the vineyards; that we had appropriately 
addressed the winery questions, and we needed to really start 
developing vineyard questions. In that time period there was 
very little of that, very little. 

Another thing in those years which epitomizes that was 
our way of paying for grapes. We had a pretty intricate 
system of Brix payment, that is, the sugar analysis of the 
grapes, and a payment relative to the Brix level. There 
would be some minimum Brix, and at the next highest sugar 
level there would be an increase in payment. Some sugar 
level would be a maximum, and then it would decline again. 
It was a system that in essence said, "The sugar is the most 
important thing in the grape." The other thing I saw in that 
system, particularly when I first came to Simi, was that it 
was a bad system [laughs], because it wasn't really true; the 
sugar wasn't the most important thing. You couldn't really 
say that every vineyard of Cabernet, for example, would be at 
its perfect peak of ripeness between 23.5 and 24.5. 

That period of the seventies was still for everyone a 
period of growing grapes and making wine, so you had two 
different businesses; the end product of one was grapes, and 
the end product of the other was the wine, and there was the 
transfer in the middle. That was an important characteristic 
of those years , and by the end of the seventies there was 
really a need for change. 

Hicke: So presumably you made that change when you came to Simi? 

Long: At Mondavi my responsibilities were not viticultural ; I 
didn't purchase the grapes, I didn't even make 
recommendations for what grapes to purchase. But basically 
out of my own volition, I did spend time with the grape buyer 
and saw the vineyards that we were getting grapes from. When 
I came to Simi, I immediately had responsibilities for grape 
purchase . 

Just to go back to the seventies, I think there are a 
lot more things that could be said about that period, but I 
think if you look at it in a very general, evolutionary 
sense, I think I've covered most of it. There are some more 
specific things, which I addressed in my book about the 


HIcke: What I'm asking you is for the kinds of things that you put 
into it and got out of it, from your viewpoint, and you've 
told me quite a lot of that. 

Winemaking Decisions 

Long: I'm still thinking about what could be mentioned about the 
period of the seventies for me. In that time period there 
was even an evolution of varieties going on. When I first 
came into the winery, we were taking a lot of varieties -- 
Mondeuse, Mataro, Carignane, French Colombard- -that were 
necessary to get the Chardonnay and Cabernet that we needed. 
We were making Sylvaner, Zinfandel, and eight or nine 
different kinds of wines, and as we went through that decade, 
we really narrowed the kinds of wines that we were making. 
There were more and more grapes that became available for the 
kinds of wines that we wanted to make. 

There were enormous changes in the actual winemaking 
process. One of the things we really didn't talk about in 
any great detail- -the Cabernet winemaking, Chardonnay 
winemaking, Riesling winemaking, I think particularly in 
those varieties there was a tremendous evolution in the 
winemaking techniques. We talked about the equipment, about 
the barrels, and about some of the research, but those were 
all accessory to the central theme, which was each year, 
looking at each varietal, and saying, "How are we going to 
make Chardonnay this year? What do we think are the critical 

I just want to come back to this. The flow is really, 
"What is it that we are trying to accomplish, and how does 
that evolve over time as far as wine style and quality?" And 
then, "What are we really going to do this year, and what are 
the sorts of activities that fall out from that?" The 
fallout might be research work, small lot work, trying new 
barrels, trying a new press. Again, all that stuff is tools, 
and the core, the theme, is the wine itself and the decisions 
you make . 

The other thread that went through the seventies for me 
personally was just an evolution in my palate and my own 


evolution of thinking what the vision of the wines should be. 
In a sense, when I came to Simi I had a pretty well -formed 
vision of Cabernet and Chardonnay that integrated a lot of my 
experiences . We did some really wonderful things with 
Riesling in that time period- -developed some new styles of 
Riesling that of course I didn't bring over here, because we 
weren't making Riesling at Simi. 

Hicke: How were those decisions made as you came in, as you looked 
at what you wanted to do? 

Long: Except in the very early years, there were usually three or 
four people working all together, enologists. There was a 
pretty collegial atmosphere of winemaking, and I was the 
leader. It was really my responsibility to identify what I 
thought were the critical tasting decisions and to get the 
family involved in those. The family in the early years was 
Robert Mondavi, and in the later years it was Tim Mondavi. 

Hicke: Just to make it very specific, you would come in and say, for 
instance, "This year we need to age the Chardonnay a little 
longer because of such and such"? 

Long: No, it's not that way at all. First of all, your assessment 
of your wines and the process is continuous; it's constantly 
going on. There would be some point during the year prior to 
the next harvest where you would sit down with the people who 
were the primary people in the enology department and say, 
"Okay, based on everything we've heard, all the input --your 
opinions, the family opinions- -what do we think are the 
issues with Chardonnay that we'd really like to address? 
Where can we improve? Where can we evolve? Let's talk about 
those, and let's talk through this process- -through this 
winemaking for this grape- -and see what we think are critical 
issues or new issues, and let's design some experiments, or 
let's recommend a new piece of equipment. Let's go and try 
something in the vineyard." It's a time when you bring out 
all of this stuff that's fermenting in your head and put it 
on the table, look at it, and draw up a game plan for the 
next year. That's the game plan, and that's related to 
certain quality and style goals. 

Hicke: What about marketing information? 

Long: Actually, that's something that I wasn't much involved in. 

There was some decision to make a certain amount of wine, and 
that was transferred to the grape buyer who bought those 


grapes. It was my job to receive them and to make the wine. 

The game plan is then turned into a specific set of 
actions every day. Every day you have grapes coming in 
during harvest. There's the decision to harvest, and then 
how are you going to handle those grapes from the time they 
appear on the scales to the time that they're shipped out of 
the warehouse in a case? The handling is related to this 
general game plan, but it's always being fine tuned to any 
particular circumstance at any particular moment. 

I've never been a teacher, but I can envision that it 
might be the same if you were a teacher. You are assigned a 
certain game plan for a semester, and you need to cover this 
material. Let's say you are pretty happy with what you have 
been doing, but you want to maybe achieve something slightly 
different with this class, so you're going to modify your 
teaching a little bit and employ some new techniques. Then 
the class arrives, and you may completely change what you're 
doing or modify your plan, or you may modify it for 
particular people. It's the same thing with the grapes. 

Hicke: That's a good analogy. You respond to the conditions as well 
as to your game plan. 

Long: Exactly right. You are absolutely responsive on a minute-by- 
minute basis. 

There are two more things before I go into the 
eighties. I was able in the seventies to go to Europe. In 
1973 my husband and I went to Germany with Karl Werner and 
really looked at the German wine industry. In 1976 I went to 
Germany and France with Andre Tchelistcheff and a group of 
winemakers and visited Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne. 
Then in 1978 Robert Mondavi made his first big trip to take 
his staff with him, and again we visited Burgundy, Bordeaux, 
and Champagne and Germany. In 1979 my husband and I and some 
friends spent a week in Burgundy. So in that decade I had 
substantive international experience, and that was very 
important to my own basic development, contribution, and 

The other thing that's really important is this 
development of your palate- -this combination of what you 
think you want to create and your ability to taste if you are 
really doing that or not. 


Those are core issues, whether we are talking about 
seventies, eighties, or nineties: the vision of style and 
quality, the ability to perceive that and taste that, and 
then the ability to bring together the techniques- -the 
people, the equipment, the grapes, and the process to create 
that wine . 

When I came to Simi, I think it was a really good time 
for me, because I evolved; these concepts that I've been 
telling you about were pretty well formed. I knew; it was 
easy to come here, and it was clear what needed to be done, 
given the goals of the winery. I identified the crucial 
issues as the winery and its equipment, which are your tools; 
the people that you hire --the staff and the structure, which 
are ultimately the most important; the grapes; and the 
winemaking technique and process. Winemaking technique and 
process were fairly well formed for me, but the grapes were a 
big question mark because I hadn't been active in grape 

That brings us into the next decade. 

Hicke: Let me back up and ask a couple of things. Was the stimulus 
for the change in the grape varieties consumer demand, or was 
it the winemakers? 

Long: It would have been consumer demand. It's ultimately 

economics. People who grow grapes will grow what sells the 
best for the highest profit, and that's going to be whatever 
grape it is that the consumers are looking for out there in 
the market. For the most part, in the last twenty years 
that's been Chardonnay more than any other grape. 



Deciding to Join Simi 

Hicke: How did you hear about Simi, and how did they hear about you? 

Long: I first heard about Simi through a friend I met in 1976 when I 
went on this European trip with Andre Tchelistcheff . I met 
Mary Ann Graf, whom I had heard of for many years, because she 
was known to be the first woman who had graduated from the 
enology department at UC Davis. Although I had known of her, 
I hadn't really met her until this trip, and we became very 
good friends. She was the winemaker here at Simi from '72 or 
'73, and she had left Simi in early 1979. I was aware of 
that, and that was about all, without giving much thought to 

Then I was approached by what I guess you would call a 
headhunter, who said that Simi was looking for a winemaker and 
that they had plans to make substantial investment in the 
winery and to change and evolve the wines . They were looking 
for someone to direct that program, which was interesting to 
me. I hadn't worked in Sonoma County, and although Simi was 
known to have produced some good Cabernets, it wasn't, in my 
perception at least, an active winery on the cutting edge in 
the seventies. But what he was describing was interesting 
enough to consider it. 

That was how it happened, with this opening discussion 
and the description of an opportunity. The opportunity that 
is always wonderful for any winemaker is this ability to bring 
all the elements together. At Mondavi my focus had been 
primarily the winemaking, so here was an opportunity to bring 


together the grapes and the winemaking process , the people who 
were involved in it, and the equipment, and they were talking 
about building a new winery and a new cellar and so on and so 
forth. That was a very seductive thing to consider, 
naturally, for any winemaker. 

In the course of talking about it, it sounded like a 
really good opportunity. Those kinds of opportunities in our 
business have traditionally also been risks, because it takes 
a tremendous amount of capital to do those kinds of things. 
Many times individuals with really good intentions as winery 
owners or managers but without a realistic grasp of the 
investment, you know, lay out a set of plans and expectations 
and are not able to carry them through. That was the risk 
that I was taking. 

Hicke: After you talked to the headhunter, whom did you talk to? 

Long: Michael Dixon, who was the president of Simi, and after that 
the members of his board of directors. That happened over a 
period of probably four to six weeks; there was a fair amount 
of time to think about that and consider it. Then I took the 

Hicke: Do you know what it was about you that they particularly 

Long: I know in retrospect that they were looking at several 

different people. It was my understanding that they were 
basically setting out in a new direction with a big 
investment, and they were looking for somebody who could 
manage that direction- -set the direction and manage the 
investment. I figured I was of interest to them because I had 
had ten years of just constant new direction/new investment 
and every kind of experience one could have in the wine 
industry, in a winery producing outstanding wines with a great 
reputation. In my mind it was simply whether I wanted the job 
or not. [laughter] It never occurred to me that I wouldn't 
be the best candidate- -never . It was just never my thinking. 
My thinking was really always focused on, "Is this what I 
really want to do?" 

Hicke: Do you remember somebody calling you up and saying, "Do you 
want the job? Can you start tomorrow?" 


Long: I really don't. I think those kinds of things evolve. You 
interview a group of people , you narrow down to the ones you 
like, and you talk to them some more. It seemed pretty 
natural . 

Simi Winery in 1979 

Hicke: Could you describe the winery and the status quo here when you 

Long: When I came there was this old stone building, and it was the 
only building, so all of the winemaking functions- -the tank 
fermentations, the barrel fermentations, the barrel aging, the 
tank storage- -were taking place in this building. Next to the 
building on the west side was a large area that had been 
excavated in anticipation of building a new fermenting cellar. 
The first year I was here, the fermentation tanks for the red 
wines were big, open, redwood vats that held about forty tons, 
and some stainless steel tanks. Considering that they were 
doing- -I think that first year they did thirteen or fourteen 
hundred tons --there seemed to be a very small number of tanks 
to receive and hold that tonnage. 

There were some old Vaslin presses, there was the 
warehouse, and that was pretty much the physical status. I 
came in the middle of harvest, and my job was not primarily to 
run harvest but to do the planning for this fermentation 
building that was supposed to happen the next year. Andre 
Tchelistcheff , who had been their consultant, was here, and he 
was running harvest, so during that first month I really 
turned my attention to the plans . 

Simi Winery 

Left: Visitor center tasting 
room, 1991 

Below: Visitor center, 1991 

Photographs by Carole Hicke 




Long: I immediately increased the size of the building. 
Hicke : Why did you do that? 

Long: I had quite a bit of practice at Mondavi in gauging 

fermentation space needs. As we had expanded our crush, I had 
developed some very good systems for estimating the number of 
gallons of additional cooperage that we were going to need to 
handle- -how you go about figuring that out. I laid out a 
fairly complicated set of assumptions based on the number of 
tons that Michael presented- -the varieties, the expected 
delivery dates- -and just developed a system that identified 
the total capacity and the tank size. 

Hicke: They were just going by guess and by gosh? 

Long: They had some basis, and I honestly don't remember what it 

was. It was part of the expectation that I was going to come 
in and look at all of this, so I did. We very quickly hooked 
up with an engineer and a contractor and began to turn these 
plans into an actual draft with floor plans and drawings. I 
spent an enormous amount of time on the plans . The building 
was built starting in the late spring of 1980, so between the 
time I cane in September until April was all the concept, the 
specific development, the ordering, the specification- -and I 
had to specify and order all the tanks, hoses, barrels, pumps, 
presses, and so on- -the development of the construction 
drawings, a lot of the mechanical engineering details, design 


of the laboratory, and a lot of things that aren't very 
glamorous . 


Hicke : 


Hicke : 

I believe that in a winery efficiency is quality. At the time 
of harvest you have people working in the winery, and there 
are only so many hours in a day, and there is only so much 
physical energy. What you want your people to do is to turn 
that physical energy to the things in the winemaking that make 
a difference in the wine quality. For example, in running the 
press you want them to be concerned about how the press is 
operating, about the change in the characteristic of the juice 
as it's coming out of the press and how they're going to 
respond to it in the operation of the press. You don't want 
them to worry about whether the press is running or not or how 
they're going to get the pomace out of the press. It goes 
back to the barrel care: there are some basics that you have 
to get out of the way before you can really do sophisticated 

The design of the cellar is so that it is efficient: 
the floors drain, there is enough space in the aisles to work, 
there are enough places to plug in your electrical cords, 
there is hot and cold water at all the right places, it's safe 
to work there- -all of those things that make it physically 
flow during harvest. Those were a lot of the issues that we 
were addressing. 

It sounds like it's kind of like learning to drive; you have 
to fiddle with all of these details until it becomes a routine 
and you can do a certain amount without thinking. 

It's not that different from designing a home. Let me come 
back to the design process, since that's what I was doing at 
the time. What I really started with, in working on the 
winery design, were two things: what were the kind of grapes 
and the volume of grapes that Michael wanted to crush, and how 
did I think we should be making the wine? So the actual 
winemaking process- -from that picture, everything else flowed. 
The number of tanks, the type, the size, the number of 
barrels, and all of the details flowed out of the picture of 
those issues- -how to make the wine, and how much wine you're 
going to make. 

How did he make that decision? 
whatever he wanted to make? 

How did he come up with 


Long: He didn't address himself to how the wine should be made. 
Hicke: No, that was clearly your-- 

Long: He would have been doing that with the marketing- -with the 
company that owned Simi. 

Those were the design issues, and I liken it again to 
designing a house. As an architect will tell you, the right 
way to design a house is to think about how you want to use 
it, how you want to live in it, what it wants to feel like, 
what are the functions you want to do. Do you like to cook? 
What do you have in your kitchen? How do you want to work? 
Where do you want to store things? When you answer the big 
questions, then the details fall into place. But a house is 
eminently more liveable in the degree of details you have 
addressed. Do you have a place to store everything? Is it 
accessible? Is it well organized? Just so many of those 
things, and the winery is exactly the same way. 

Once we had established what to make and how, I was 
working on the practical details of making that possible in a 
working environment. I had a professional associate, Barbara 
Lindblom, who had worked for me as lab director at Robert 
Mondavi and then left to go to Europe. She came back right 
about the time I was doing the design, and I hired her as the 
lab director. She did the specific design of the laboratory, 
because the laboratory is really like a kitchen. It's an 
extraordinarily complex small space. 

The other thing that was a benefit at Robert Mondavi was 
working with winery design engineers enough to recognize that 
they really don't know very much about winemaking processes, 
and therefore can't be counted on to really design a 
functional winery. At Simi we didn't have an architect. We 
had an engineer, and he addressed himself to structural issues 
and to the drawings- -pulling the whole project together and 
creating the construction drawings. I had a mechanical 
engineer who helped me work through all the electrical, water, 
and mechanical systems. There was also refrigeration; I had 
to figure out how much refrigeration we needed and then select 
a system that would provide that refrigeration. That was a 
big investment. 

Hicke: You had an architect- -it was you. 


Long: Right, and it wasn't that difficult. I had a tremendous 

amount of background to bring to bear to that project. It was 
a lot of things to do in a short period of time, but it wasn't 

That took place in 1980, and by the harvest of 1980 we 
had that new fermentation cellar complete and did our first 
harvest there. At the same time I had been out in the 
vineyards and looking at the grapes, so that was the first 
year I was really able to pull together the grapes and the 
winemaking. That was a year where we had new grapes, a new 
building, new people, and new techniques, and we were putting 
them all together. It was really exciting. 

Hicke: Did you make decisions about the varietals at that point, or 
did that change more slowly? 

Long: When I came to Simi we were making Gewurztraminer , Zinfandel, 
Camay Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Rose of 
Cabernet, and Chenin Blanc- -eight varieties. After 1979 what 
did we make? I can't remember. I think 1980 was the last 
vintage of Gewurztraminer. We dropped Camay Beaujolais; '79 
was the last vintage of Camay Beaujolais. Zinfandel we 
continued through 1982, and Pinot Noir I think through '81 or 
'83; I can't remember. 

Certainly in that time period there was a lot of 
discussion about varieties and which ones we didn't want to 
continue, and in that time period we picked up Sauvignon 
Blanc. By 1983 we had rationalized the varieties that we were 

Hicke: So that really didn't affect the kinds of equipment or the 
amount of space you needed? Or did it? 

Long: We did continue to change the physical features of the winery, 
as you always do. I mean, you never stop. But we did another 
big project in 1981; we renovated this stone building. We 
completely took the cellar out, gutted the top level, put 
complete new floors in it, and did a lot of structural change, 
again with structural engineering supervision, to make the 
building more solid and to make it more space effective. It 
had been a fermentation and aging center, but it was 
transformed into primarily a barrel-aging building, which it's 
very nicely suited for, because it's set back in the hill, 
part of it is underground, and it's got these wonderful, thick 
stone walls; it's great for that. 


That, in a way, was a much more complicated project than 
designing and building the fermentation cellar, because you 
are working with something that is already there, and it has a 
lot of limitations- -and a lot of opportunities. We spent a 
good deal of time on that, and it was a major project. 


Hicke: We've talked about the winery equipment; what about people? 

Long: When I came, there was a cellarmaster and four or five people 
working in the cellar- -the cellarmaster 's assistant and a 
couple of cellarmen who doubled working on the bottling crew, 
warehousing, and so on. The person who at the time was 
functioning as my assistant, Chris Markel, left and went to 
Piper- Sonoma [Cellars] to become their sparkling winemaker, so 
I hired an assistant winemaker in '81. We had a much more 
expanded laboratory function, so I had a laboratory director 
and a microbiologist to work with her. One of the people who 
had been here in the cellar, Bill Biggers, was promoted to 
cellarmaster, and our cellar staff expanded as we grew. 

One of the things that really created the expansion in 
personnel was the barrel aging. We haven't grown an enormous 
amount in tonnage --we were crushing 1,300 tons then, and now 
we're crushing 2, 600 --but in those days a very small 
proportion of that tonnage was barrel aged, and now almost all 
of it is. I would say it is over a tenfold increase in 
barrels, and barrels are much more time-consuming to work 
with; they take more labor, and they make a completely 
different kind of wine. Part of the transformation in the 
winemaking process itself was to move the wines out of these 
big redwood tanks where they had been aged and move them into 
a French-oak-barrel aging process. 

As a result, we really expanded our cellar staff and 
hired quite a few new people in the early eighties. A large 
number of those people are still here. Right now at Simi we 
have an enormously experienced and talented cellar staff, just 
a fantastic crew. Winemaking from a cellar perspective- -the 
people who actually receive, crush, press, rack, chill, 
barrel, cleanthey are the people who are physically making 
the wine. Their expertise has an enormous bearing on the 


intrinsic, basic quality of the wine. That's another one of 
those basic building blocks of quality. 

Through the years our laboratory has expanded, but not a 
great deal. In the ten-year time period, particularly 
relevant to the issues I was telling you about vineyard, we've 
developed a viticulture department. When I came there was no 
one; I was buying the grapes. If there was anything to do 
with grapes, I was doing it, and now we have a 
viticulturalist, Diane Kenworthy, who started here in 1981 on 
a part-time basis and grew that job. She has a full-time 
assistant and a part-time assistant. We've worked very much 
through the years in developing a very strong link with the 
vineyards to address some of these issues, which I'm sure 
we'll get into. 

Developing the team and putting it in place was very 
much a part of the work of the early eighties. 

Hicke: Did Michael Dixon have ideas about the people he wanted or the 
kinds of people or the numbers of people? 

Long: No, he didn't. He was a real pleasure to work with, because 

he would provide an outline of the goals and the direction and 
then let me take it from there. The working relationship was 
really effective. The style at the Mondavi organization was 
that a lot of people were involved in decisions, so to 
implement a decision was very time consuming because so many 
people had to participate in that decision. When I came here, 
the only person who really had to participate in the big 
decisions was Michael- - [such as] the decisions on kinds of 
presses. I could involve my people, we could come to a 
conclusion, I could make a recommendation, and then we would 
go with it. 

It was a wonderfully effective way of working, sort of, 
"Let's think about it; let's think why we want to do it," and 
then, "Let's do it." Of course, he would look at the reasons; 
if I had something to propose, it was "Why?" as any good 
executive would want to know. But he was a very supportive 
person to work with and also very good in terms of this quick 
ability to come to decisions and take a direction. 


The Must Chiller 

[Interview 2: September 24, 1991 ]## 

Hicke: Yesterday we were talking about the status of the winery when 
you came . We had covered the people and the equipment , so 
today I thought we could talk about the grapes and the 
winemaking. But there's one thing I wanted to go back to, and 
that's the must chiller that you started. Can you tell me 
about that? 

Long: To step back and talk conceptually, when you start something 
new- -in this case it was building a fermentation cellar; in 
other cases it's starting a vineyard- -you have an opportunity 
at that time to look at new ways of doing things. In 1980, 
when we were designing the fermentation cellar, as I said 
yesterday, we started with how much wine we wanted to make and 
how we wanted to make it, and what falls out is the particular 
equipment. But there were a lot of changes that were made in 
that new cellar design. One, of course, was just to provide 
much more fermentation space, which allowed us to receive our 
grapes when they were ready to harvest. 

One of the big decisions in designing any winery is how 
many tanks you want to have. If you have a larger number 
relative to the number of tons you're going to crush, it 
allows you to receive grapes in a shorter period of time. If 
you have x number of grapes to crush- -let's say a thousand 
tons- -you can choose to have several different levels of 
fermentation space. The greater space you provide, the more 
it allows you to take in grapes in a very short period of 
time. What that means is that in a few years, oftentimes one 
out of ten, you have weather conditions- -sometimes it's heat, 
sometimes it's rain- -that drive the harvest of the grapes and 
make it critical to bring in a lot of grapes in a short period 
of time. 

We were fortunate to be able to afford to have a large 
amount of fermentation space to allow us to bring all grapes 
in quickly if needed. What happened in 1984 was that we 
brought in 90 percent of our grapes in three weeks, where a 
normal harvest period is six to eight weeks. The important 
things in that original cellar design, as I talked about 
yesterday, were to be efficient and to be good for the people 
who work in it so they could focus their energy on the 
winemaking, thinking about the wines rather than worrying 


about whether the equipment was functioning, if they had 
enough equipment, if it was properly designed to do its job. 

The new fermentation cellar had several newly designed 
pieces of equipment. One was our system for pomace removal of 
the skins and seeds, which was a blowing system instead of a 
screw conveyor. The benefits of that had nothing to do with 
wine quality, simply ease of handling and safety. We also put 
in overhead tanks, which allowed us both to do skin contact 
where we needed it and to hold grapes for our presses as we 
went through our press cycle . 

Then we put in the must chiller in 1981. The reason for 
the must chiller was first the observation that in European 
wineries usually the harvest is later, the temperature is 
cooler, and the grapes come in cold. In our conditions the 
grapes are often cold in the morning- -they 're usually fifty or 
fifty- five degrees until about noon- -but after the sun comes 
out and the grapes warm up in the afternoon, they can be 
eighty or eighty- five degrees. That's very dependent on the 
weather. This year, 1991, they will be very cool when they 
come in. 

I believed that made a quality difference, so we were 
able to invest in this must chiller that allowed us, as soon 
as the white grapes were crushed, to chill them down. 

Hicke: Did you design it? 

Long: Larry Alary, who owned an industrial refrigeration company in 
Healdsburg (IRAP), designed it to meet our needs. 

Hicke: But there was no such thing before this? 

Long: Yes, there were. There were a few must chillers around, but 
very few. The use of the must chiller was not a part of 
normal premium winemaking in California at that time. It has 
become an intrinsic part since then. 

Hicke: Is it for the same reason that people turn to night picking 
now? You can do one or the other? 

Long: I had a new winemaking assistant at that time, Dave Ramey. He 
had just graduated from Davis and had just finished his 
master's degree, if I recall correctly, and he did some 


research for me on this must chiller. That year we took 
grapes --the same grapes, Chardonnay- -in at four different 
temperatures: a normal field temperature- -we selected a hot 
day, so it was relatively warm, roughly seventy-five degrees- - 
a little cooler, sixty-five; a little cooler, about fifty- 
eight; then a little cooler about fifty. So there were four 
different temperatures, and of course we used the must chiller 
to get the temperatures down. 

We held the grapes in our overhead tanks for twenty -four 
hours, and during that twenty-four-hour period we took 
samples, so we could see how the juice changed depending on 
the skin contact temperature through that twenty-four hours. 
Then we made wine from them. 

Hicke: Keeping them separate all this time? 

Long: Keeping them separate the whole time. We noticed two things. 
First of all, we noticed that the phenols- -the compounds that 
give wine its body and some of its aromas, and if excessive 
can give astringency and bitterness- -were extracted faster at 
warmer temperatures. We had known before that the longer the 
crushed grapes, skins, and seeds were together, which is the 
"period of skin contact," the more phenolic extraction you 
got. So we knew length of time was important, but this 
allowed us to quantify the role of temperature , and it turned 
out in these studies that temperature was much more important 
than time. We were getting in about two hours at a hot 
temperature the same level of phenolic extraction that we were 
getting in twenty-four hours at a cold temperature. 

What we saw, then, which was new, was that temperature 
was more important than time. The reason it was important, 
related to our style goals- -and it goes back to the concept 
that everything that you do and the judgments that you make 
have to be in some framework of quality and style- -was that we 
wanted to make a more delicate, elegant style of wine. As we 
looked back at the Chardonnays of the seventies, they seemed a 
little big, a little clumsy, a little unsophisticated. 

We followed these four wines for a couple of years, and 
what we saw was that in the first six months the wine made 
from the long, hot skin contact was the most interesting. It 
was immediately accessible, fragrant, and sort of rich and 
fat. The others were lean, tight, and closed. At the end of 
the year, that wine had gotten sort of heavy and clumsy, so by 

the time it would have been released it had lost its charm. 
After a year the next one, the roughly sixty -five -degree skin 
contact, was the most interesting. It was open and with good 
body and flavor, but in time that deteriorated. What we saw 
was that the wine with the coldest skin contact, i.e., the 
lowest phenolic extraction, was the wine that really went the 
longest and in time opened up and became the most 
sophisticated and refined of those wines. 

So we adopted that practice of chilling the must. And 
the other thing we did that was really important together with 
that was to eliminate the use of S0 2 in the juice. The 
practices of the seventies had been to add S0 2 to the grapes 
at the crusher to inhibit oxidation of the juice. We began to 
question that, saying, "We really don't want to use S0 2 unless 
it's doing something beneficial, and is it really beneficial 
to protect juice from oxidation?" What we found was that the 
S0 2 had a beneficial effect when you didn't have a must 
chiller; that is, when the grapes came in and they were warm, 
you could possibly have a wild yeast fermentation start up, 
and the S0 2 inhibited that. On the other hand, when the 
grapes came in and they were cold, you didn't need to worry 
about your fermentations; you were going to add the yeast, and 
it was going to take off in good time. 

The other question was, "Are we really concerned with 
this oxidation of the juice?" What we found out was that if 
we allowed the oxidation of the juice to take place in the 
absence of S0 2 , we got two benefits: one, we got lower 
phenols in the wine, a more delicate wine in the mouth, longer 
life; and, two, our malolactic fermentations were easier to 
complete. So the must chiller not only had an impact on the 
mouth feel of the wine; it allowed us to eliminate our use of 
S0 2 prior to fermentation. 

So it wasn't just one thing happening; it was a group of 
winemaking goals coming together: achieving malolactic, 
achieving delicacy through lower phenolics, both by 
precipitating the phenolics through the oxidation of the juice 
and reducing the tendency of the juice to have phenolics in 
the first place by reducing the extraction from the skins. 

The general direction that we saw at that time was that 
we wanted lower phenolic wines, although the winery we had 
designed in 1980 had allowed for fairly significant skin 
contact times. Our first change was to make the skin contact 


cold, so we basically reduced the rate of skin contact 
significantly, and then over time we actually reduced the 
time. We went through a major evolution in the handling of 
the grapes. Of course, now we're experimenting with wild 
yeast fermentations. At the beginning of the eighties we were 
concerned about having wild yeast fermentation, and now we're 
intrigued by the possibility that they may add to mouth 
feeling complexity. That's winemaking! 

It's an illustration that everything that you consider 
about winemaking has to be done in the context of what your 
wine goals are and what your grape material is. I've seen 
through the years people talk about some part of the 
winemaking process as right or wrong, and I've never felt 
there was truth in that. Right or wrong is always relative to 
the vineyard, the grapes, the vintage, the wine style goal. 
Winemaking is really a system of decisions; it's not a series 
of right and wrong decisions. It's a series of decisions that 
have to fit together in a harmonious way. 

One of the lessons that I've learned is that if you are 
looking at the winemaking of a variety or of a site, you can't 
just change one part of it. Oftentimes if you change one part 
of it, the rest of the system has to change, so the series of 
decisions that are made in working with wine are a system of 
decisions; they're not a group of individual, isolated 
decisions . 

Hicke: This discovery of the relationship of temperature to 
everything else was really crucial? 

Long: It was crucial, and it was a major step in understanding. 

People say, "What about technology and science --how does it 
relate to winemaking?" It was an illustration that we had a 
piece of information. People at some level had intuitively 
thought that temperature was important, but we had a piece of 
information that really told us what was going on and how it 
affected the style. With that information, winemakers could 
choose to either use it or not use it, or to use it to some 
extent. That was a piece of information that would allow them 
to make a whole range of choices , once they had that 
understanding. The must chiller was basically a tool to allow 
us to impose those controls . 

People subsequently found other ways to do that- -night 
harvesting, and the amount of extraction you get at night is 
less because the grapes are cooler. But you have a choice 


between night hand-harvest and night machine -harvest. You'll 
get more extraction with night machine-harvest than with night 
hand-harvest because the grapes are broken by the machine. 
There are other systems of chilling the grapes; some wineries 
have a cold tunnel that the grapes pass through. So people 
have found ways to take that information and adapt it to their 
own facility, their own style and way of thinking about the 
wine. But it was an important new piece of information. 

Hicke: I know you do a lot of writing and speaking. Do you pass 
these kinds of things along that you have discovered? 

Long: Yes. Over the years I've done an enormous amount of technical 
discussions through the University, through our technical 
groups, through Extension, and through some writing to 
communicate that information. I don't do that so much any 
more because I'm not in a technical position any more; I'm in 
a management position. I wrote several articles on those 
issues. [See appendix for list of articles by Long.] 


Hicke: We have two other areas to cover: winemaking and the grapes. 
I think you told me what was being made here. 

Long: One of the things I would want to say is that we're talking 

about these things separately- -the people, the equipment, the 
process, and the grapes --but they're never separate, of 
course. For example, the decisions on the equipment that we 
were using involved the people who were working at the winery 
who had input on what we needed to use and how it should be 
designed. All of the pieces of winery equipment that we use 
that touch the wine --the barrels, the press, the crushers -- 
have an impact on the composition of the wine. For example, 
if you were to buy a press for a winery, you have a dozen 
designs to choose from, and if you put the same grapes through 
those presses at the same temperature , and you have the same 
person running the presses, you'd get different result; you'd 
get different juices. That's why we give a lot of attention 
to the equipment. 

That attention isn't just from the winemaker; it 
involves the input of the people who work with these pieces of 
equipment. For example, with presses at Simi: our very top 



Hicke : 


Hicke : 


cellar people run our presses every year. They have a level 
of intuitive and observational experiential knowledge that is 
crucial if you're making decisions to change those pieces of 
equipment. At that time our cellarmaster was Bill Biggers, 
who had been at Simi for a long time and had a really critical 
role in the early evolution of the winery. Barbara Lindblom, 
as I mentioned, had come in and done all the design for the 
laboratory facility. Then, talking about the must chiller, 
Dave Ramey and his experiment- -he didn't make the decision to 
do the must chiller, but it was his experimental work with it 
that really showed us how important it was. 

So you just can't separate; these never come in 
individual pieces. 

That's good to point out, although I guess we have to talk 
about them separately. 

How specifically do you want to talk about the winemaking? 

I would like to ask you what it was here that was eventually 
changed, what were the important steps. 

If we're going to address the changes here at Simi- -let's say 
for Chardonnay and Cabernet, because those were two varieties 
that were made then and are an important part of what we are 
doing now- -the first thing was that we took a complete review 
of the wines themselves. The review of the wines, as I 
mentioned yesterday, wasn't just a one-time review in 1979, 
when the building was being designed, but an ongoing review 
and evolution. Even the wines that we made and wanted to make 
in 1980 aren't the same as the wines we want to make and are 
making in 1990. 

When you are talking about a review, you're talking about the 
wines that were here? 

I'm talking about a mental review. To come back again, 
winemaking starts with your vision of what you want to 
accomplish. You are saying, "What is it I want to do, and how 
am I going to go about doing it?" From those question flow 
the decisions about the process, the grapes, the equipment. 

If you want to look at the physical changes, when I 
came, in the process with Chardonnay there was fermentation of 
Chardonnay in barrels, but it was limited. We dramatically 


increased the amount of barrel fermentation for Chardonnay, we 
increased the amount of new oak that was used in Chardonnay. 

Hicke: Was there any French oak there? 

Long: There was some French oak, a relatively small amount compared 
to the crush. We moved to barrel aging all of the Chardonnay, 
a higher percent in barrels, a higher percent of new oak. We 
moved to the stirring of the yeast lees, we reduced the use of 
S0 2 in the juice and finally eliminated it, we started to do 
malolactic with the Chardonnay, we started to do some managed 
skin contact with the Chardonnay. We also developed new 
sources for Chardonnay grapes, and we developed a Reserve 
Chardonnay. So we basically completely remade the winemaking 
in terms of the grapes, the equipment we were able to use with 
the Chardonnay, and the process itself. 


Long: In the early eighties, my concerns were getting more complex 

wines, and we did that by looking at grape issues, malolactic, 
use of oak, barrel fermentation. In the late eighties, our 
concerns have been texture and balance in the wine and flavor 
concentration. Texture and balance in the wine are to some 
extent vineyard and to some extent winemaking issues; flavor 
concentration is primarily a vineyard issue that we are 
looking at. 

Another thing we've really looked at a lot in the 
eighties with Chardonnay is the impact of different clones of 
Chardonnay. We've had the good fortune to have some of our 
growers, primarily a couple, Glen and Mary Beth Dow, who 
decided, on our recommendation, to plant some different clones 
of Chardonnay in their vineyard. Since we've worked with 
their vineyard for ten years, we've had an opportunity to 
really understand how differently Chardonnay can express 
itself. It comes back to the idea of the different 
personality, different aroma and flavor characteristics. 
We've really studied the role of clones in flavor differences 
in Chardonnay. 


I sat down and wrote for the Vintners Club book a pretty 
complete discussion about Chardonnay winemaking from a 
technical point of view. 

Hicke: That UC book of wine has an article on it, too. 

Long: The UC book of wine talked about changes in technology in 
winemkaing and the vineyard, and that was a more general 
discussion. 3 

Hicke : What is the the name of your book? 

Long: It's Vintners Club: Fourteen Years of Wine Tastings. 

The other thing that deserves a lot of mention with 
Chardonnay that we talked about yesterday is this issue of 
barrels. In the seventies at Mondavi we really looked at 
different oaks- -Limousin, Nevers, and so on. In Simi in the 
eighties, we tended to focus more on different coopers, as I 
mentioned yesterday: what are the characteristics of the 
coopers, and how do they relate or add to the wine? 

The other issue with Chardonnay that we looked at was 
ripeness- -timing of harvest. This is partly a vineyard issue, 
but it's really important for winemaking, so let me touch on 
it. I mentioned earlier that in the seventies it was felt 
that the Brix of the grape at harvest was really the most 
crucial quality factor, and the grape payments were set up 
around Brix. As soon as I came to Simi and got out into the 
vineyards and started tasting grapes, I recognized immediately 
that there were other factors than the Brix or the sugar that 
were going to impact quality. Some vineyards seemed riper, 
ripeness being defined as a golden grape, a soft grape, flavor 
development. Some of the grapes seemed ripe at twenty-one 
Brix, and some grapes didn't seem to achieve that ripeness 
until twenty-three or twenty-four. It was clear that there 
were other things happening and that we had to expand our 
definition of ripeness far beyond Brix. 

Zelma Long, "Enological and Technological Developments," and 
Zelma Long, "The Science of Growing Grapes," The University of 
Calif ornia/Sotheby Book of California Wine, eds . Doris Muscatine, 
Maynard A. Amerine, Bob Thompson (Berkeley: University of California 
Press/Sotheby Publications, 1984)]. The Vintners book was a very 
focused discussion on Chardonnay. ZL 


In 1981, Diane Kenworthy, who is our viticulturalist , 
came to Simi on a part-time basis. She began to work with me 
in the vineyards; she did the field samples. She brought with 
her a technical viticulture background, and we spent about 
five years developing a system to help us to say when to 
harvest the grapes. It was a system of sampling, collecting 
data- -sugar, acid, pH; the sugar per berry- -the actual 
physiological accumulation of sugar, as opposed to sugar that 
you see from rehydration or dehydration. We also developed a 
system for crushing the grapes and tasting the juice, and 
watching the change in the aromas, particularly of the juice. 

What we saw was that there weren't any perfect numbers, 
but what was important in collecting data was the evolution of 
the grape. It wasn't, "Is the grape at twenty-one?" It's, 
"How fast is it changing? Has it come to a plateau?" It 
wasn't that the acid was at .9; it was, "How does the acid 
relate to the sugar at this particular phase of its ripening, 
and how does that relate to the pH?" It was more a study of 
trends and interactions as a basis for harvest decisions than 
specific numbers. 

Hicke: Do you keep all these records on a computer? 

Long: The records are still hand kept, but for many of our vineyards 
we have ten years of data that show all of the sampling for 
those vineyards- -that show the average Brix and the acid and 
pH at harvest- -so as we sample a vineyard now we can think 
about how those grapes taste, look at their relative numbers, 
and see what that means in terms of the past- -how has that 
vineyard behaved in the past? 

Hicke: So you look at the grapes for this year, for example, and say, 
"Oh, yes, they're about at the place where they were in 1984, 
and that was a good year." Is that how you do it? 

Long: Not exactly. The past never provides the perfect template for 
a harvest decision this year. What you would be doing, for 
example, would be saying, "As we look at this vineyard, it 
tends to be ripe at a lower sugar and a higher pH as opposed 
to that vineyard." What you're really looking to do is, "Is 
this year similar or different?" If you took a decision in 
isolation- -you had never worked with this vineyard at all, and 
you see it's twenty-one Brix and 3 pH--what does that mean? 
It's more meaningful in a context of past performance. 

If you want to think of it that way, the harvest 
decision is- -now I'm just talking about the sampling and the 
numbers, which is maybe 40 percent of the harvest decision. 
The other part of the harvest decision is what the grapes look 
like in the field, how evenly ripe is the cluster, what is the 
color, what is the texture, what is the condition of the vine, 
do we think the vine is going to be able to continue to ripen 
these grapes, what's the weather prediction, what does the 
grower think? 

What we did was take a harvest model that was based 
completely on Brix and expand it to an essentially 
multivariant model, which includes Brix, TA [titratable 
acidity] , and pH in terms of trends and relationships in 
history rather than in terms of specific numbers, and then 
visual observation in the field of color, texture, evenness of 
ripening, vine condition, etc. 


Long: And then input from the grower, and flavor development. So a 
very complex model. It's not a quantitative model; it's a 
qualitative model. 

The whole system of assessing ripeness and the basis for 
ripeness decisions was the big change, not only for Chardonnay 
but for other varieties. That was something that Diane and I 
spent a tremendous amount of time developing in the early 

Hicke: That sounds very complicated but very interesting. 

Long: We were talking yesterday about the teacher model; you have a 
class, you have a game plan, you change your game plan. What 
I'm talking about with a vineyard would be very much like 
working with a person. If you met someone for the first time, 
and you didn't know them at all and were in some situation 
that required some action, you wouldn't have any basis on 
which to understand what they were going to do. If you worked 
with them for ten years and were in that situation, based on 
your observations from the past you'd have a better idea of 
their behavior. But it wouldn't be a perfect predictor, 
because their behavior is always going to be relevant to a new 

When we collect information about the vineyard, we 
develop a context in which we can understand the vineyard 


behavior, but it's never a perfect predictor of how that 
vineyard's going to behave this year. This year is always a 
new year and always has to be looked at as a new year. It's 
true for 1991. Nineteen ninety-one is a season completely 
different in its weather patterns and the vine behavior than 
any season I've seen since I started wineraaking in 1970. So 
the decisions of grape harvest and winemaking have to be taken 
differently, but at least, because we've got collected 
information, for one thing we know it's different. We'll have 
a chance to see how different because we have this other 
reference information. 

When I was talking yesterday about the winemaking of the 
nineties, that's what it's all about. It's knowing the 
vineyards, knowing the vintage --the particular weather and 
soil, the characteristics of the year- -and then saying, "What 
do I do?", knowing that it's never going to be the same from 
year to year. People say that's really complicated, but it's 
not that complicated. Everybody does that every day; they 
just don't realize it. And they do it primarily when they 
deal with people, because people are really complicated. 

Hicke: That's a good analogy. I think you'd make a wonderful teacher 
because you have this way of explaining things. 

Long: We were addressing the Chardonnay winemaking, and we talked 

about the changes. I want to come back, before we talk about 
the vineyard, and talk about the Cabernet winemaking and the 
changes. When I came to Simi, as I mentioned earlier, the 
Cabernet was fermented in these large, open redwood tanks with 
less effective fermentation control, pressed in Vaslin 
presses, and aged in primarily American oak barrels and 
redwood tanks . 

So for the Cabernet there were many changes. Again, 
source of vineyard material for Cabernet changed very 
dramatically in that ten-year period. We started out with one 
vineyard, and then we expanded to an exploration of a variety 
of vineyards in Sonoma County. We developed our own vineyard 
in the early eighties, and that came into production, so by 
the second half of the eighties most of the Cabernet and 
Bordeaux varieties we were working with were from our own 
vineyards . 

Hicke: Was that '82 or so when you started? 


Long: We actually planted in '83. The vines came into serious 

production in '86. So the source of the grapes evolved, and 
the composition of the grapes we worked with changed, because 
when we planted our vineyard we planted Cabernet Sauvignon, 
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Those grapes, with 
the exception of Merlot, were not widely available, nor did we 
widely use them in the early eighties. So we increased the 
number of Bordeaux varieties in our Cabernet blend. 

Hicke: Why did you do that? 

Long: When you plant a vineyard, like when you design a winery, it's 
an opportunity to try new directions that you won't have after 
the vineyard has been planted. It forces you to stop and 
think about what's in the future with this variety, and 1 
really felt that the future was with an expanded palette of 
varietals. That wasn't a new concept, in the sense that it 
was very much a European model, but was relatively new to 
California. Basically, those different grapes would give some 
kind of balance and complexity you couldn't necessarily get 
with solely Cabernet. 

In that ten-year period the equipment that we handled 
Cabernet with- -our crushers and presses- -changed, so we were 
able to really handle the Cabernet grapes more gently, both in 
crushing and pressing, which is important, because a rougher 
handling of Cabernet tends to give more astringency and 
bitterness. Beginning in 1982 we looked at new techniques for 
mixing the tanks during fermentation. 

Hicke: Mixing the tanks? 

Long: When you're fermenting Cabernet you have skins, seeds, and 

juice together. The skins float up to the top, and you have 
to mix the tanks through the day in order to wet the skins and 
extract the materials in the skins. We looked at new systems 
for doing that in a way that would assure extraction but 
reduce astringency. We began those experiments in '82, and by 
1985 we had converted to a more gentle extraction system. 

So in the early eighties we were developing different 
pressing techniques and different extraction techniques during 
the time the Cabernet was on its skins. When I came in 1980, 
I didn't expect that we would be doing long macerations, but 
in the early half of the eighties we began to explore a longer 


time on the skins after fermentation, for Cabernet, as a way 
to enhance richness, flavor complexity, and flavor life. 

We dramatically changed our cooperage. As I say, 
Cabernet had been aged in redwood and American oak primarily, 
a small amount in French oak. We eliminated the redwood in 
the winery and moved to completely French oak aging, which was 
a dramatic improvement on the wines. 

When Dave Ramey left as assistant winemaker in 1985 and 
a new assistant winemaker came, Paul Hobbs , he implemented 
some further changes, really beginning to look at press 
separation for Cabernet and to be more sensitive to acid 
additions- -that is, reducing the amount of acid we were 
adding. In the mid-eighties he and I took a trip to Bordeaux, 
and we really re -looked at the whole winemaking process for 
Cabernet with a few key people in Bordeaux. The most 
important observation there was that the Bordelaise winemakers 
looked at Cabernet, from a sensory point of view, primarily 
for mouth feel and balance rather than aromatics. The whole 
sensory model for California had been aromatic oriented, I 
believe. At UC Davis there was a lot of discussion about wine 
aromas and different kinds of aromas- -varietal aroma, off 
aromas- -but there was very little discussion about texture, 
flavor concentration, flavor length, balance. 

I think that without us really realizing it, the 
winemaking model of the seventies was an aromatic model. If 
you go back and look at the wines , you had a very intensely 
perfumed Char donnay-- buttery, woody- -and you had an intensely 
aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet. Those wines were 
dominated more by nose, and the weakness was in the mouth. 

What we really began to do was change our whole model 
for winemaking from an aromatic to a mouth feel model, 
thinking about the important issues being flavor 
concentration- -the amount and intensity of flavor; length of 
flavor- -how long it stays in the mouth; the texture of the 
wine from the beginning of the time when you put it in your 
mouth, through the middle, and to the end; and the balance and 
interaction of components- -the harmony, the mouth impression 
and how it relates to the aromatic impression. 

I remember when we were on that trip in '86, we visited 
Professor Gayon, who was the chairman of the enology 
department at the University of Bordeaux. He said, "We 
believe that the nose follows the mouth; that if you have the 


wine you want in the mouth, the nose will come along." That 
was the Bordeaux model of winemaking, and we adapted that. A 
tremendous amount of attention with Cabernet particularly, but 
also with Chardonnay, went to improving the mouth feel. 
Certainly in the second half of the eighties, when Paul came 
in as assistant winemaker and hired as his associate Tasha 
McCorkle, the two of them made an important contribution to 
our Cabernet and our Chardonnay in terms of texture, mouth 
feel, and balance. It was something they worked on a lot. 
They worked hard on that, thought a lot about it, and 
implemented techniques that addressed those issues. 

By the end of the eighties, with different grapes in a 
completely rethought winemaking model and with revised 
techniques for Cabernet, we were basically making very 
different Cabernets from the early years. To me, in a way 
that's the essence of winemaking- -that ability to continue to 
evolve in a positive direction. You've heard me talk already 
a couple of times about what I think that direction needs to 
be for the nineties. 

Viticulture: The Vineyards 

Long: We can go ahead and talk about the vineyards now. When I came 
to Simi in 1980, we had all of our Chardonnay and all of our 
Cabernet under long-term contract. One of my jobs was to 
review those grapes and see if we really wanted to have them. 
In the case of Chardonnay we did, and we continued our 
contract with our Mendocino Chardonnay, but as our Chardonnay 
program grew, we began to develop grape sources outside of 
Mendocino. With Cabernet we changed. We received grapes from 
one source in 1980 and '81 and then began to seek other 
sources for Cabernet. 

So in those years from '81 to '85 I had an opportunity 
to explore Cabernets from many different parts of Sonoma 
County. It takes time to establish new vineyards and sources, 
but certainly by '85 we had defined the vineyards that we 
really wanted to work with. Cabernet was and probably always 
will be more difficult to find top grapes. I think one of the 
underlying reasons for the popularity of Chardonnay is that it 
tends to be relatively forgiving where it grows, so it can 
grow in a larger variety of soil and climate conditions and 


produce attractive wine than Cabernet. Cabernet is relatively 
particular about where it's going to grow wine well. 

I believe that in the eighties we were just beginning to 
understand what a good site was and what was good vineyard 
management technique . 

Hicke: So you were looking for better quality primarily? 

Long: Yes. And, as I said, not finding it really easy; there wasn't 
a vineyard every time you turned around that would meet the 
quality expectations. I think at the same time it's fair to 
say that we were not only looking for better grapes; we were 
developing our own understanding of what a better grape really 
was, what the conditions were that produced a better grape. 
It turns out that a lot of those conditions were viticultural . 
The vineyards we needed in the early eighties to produce 
superior Cabernet had to be vineyards that naturally did that. 
By the end of the eighties there were many people who had 
begun to apply specific techniques in a variety of sites that 
would help improve the Cabernet. 

Simi hadn't had vineyards; when I came there were no 
vineyards. Simi had had vineyards pre-Prohibition, and then 
the vineyards were lost; they were sold to pay to keep the 
winery going. Michael Dixon, certainly with my encouragement, 
took a direction to begin to acquire vineyards for Simi. I 
asked that we look for Cabernet vineyards, because, again, I 
was finding it more difficult to buy good Cabernet. I felt 
that if we wished to grow something, that would be the variety 
to grow. I had found several grape sources in the Chalk Hill 
area of Alexander Valley- -the southeast area- -which I liked 
very much. When we heard of a piece of property becoming 
available and had an opportunity to buy it, that became the 
chosen site- -after, of course, a lot of investigation and so 
on. Michael moved ahead and leased a vineyard that was 
contiguous, so between the owned and the leased acreage we 
ultimately had about 175 planted acres, of which 125 were the 
Bordeaux varieties. 

The early eighties was a time of tremendous ferment 
viticulturally . When Diane came to work at Simi in 1981, we 
spent time together in the vineyard. For me it was these 
enormous questions of the vineyard: how do I figure out when 
the grapes are ripe? How do I know where they're going to 
grow best and under what conditions? I had quite a few 
viticulture friends in the Napa Valley, and I found that they 


had the same kinds of questions. So in 1981 we had a post- 
harvest meeting at Simi, and we invited several of our 
viticulture friends and Dr. Mark Kliewer, viticulturalist from 
UC Davis. We put a lot of these questions out on the table. 
We said, "We really need you to do some research that would 
address these questions we have, which are essentially, 'What 
is it that we can do in the vineyard to improve wine 

Ultimately the answer was, "You can fund research." 
[laughs] So we, these wineries, formed an association- -Simi, 
Domaine Chandon, Mondavi, Beringer, [Joseph] Phelps, Christian 
Brothers. We each put up money every year, and that money 
went into a joint pot. We asked the UC Davis viticulture 
professors to make proposals to us about research that they 
were interested in doing that would address the issue of, 
"What can I do in the vineyard to improve wine quality?" That 
association is still continuing, with some slightly different 

Hicke: Does it have a name? 

Long: It's the North Coast Viticultural Research Group. It has been 
a very powerful influence for a couple of reasons. One, 
wineries in the group were very powerful , they were respected 
as leaders , they also purchased a lot of grapes , and they had 
their own vineyards. We had so many questions in that time 
period- -of course, Simi particularly, because we were starting 
to plant vineyards. Our questions were, "What do we want to 
do with this vineyard?" To go back to the similes, I've 
likened putting in a vineyard to building a house. I mean, 
when you build a house, it's a big investment, you have an 
opportunity at that time to stop and think, "How do I want to 
live my life? How is this house design going to suit that?" 
Then you build it. You can remodel it, but you don't want to 
rebuild it. 

So starting a new vineyard provides a lot of opportunity 
of the same kind: what is it that you really want to look at 
in the next ten years? For us the answers were that we wanted 
to look at these different varietals, different root stocks, 
different spacings, different trellising, and different 
clones. So we established a vineyard in two phases that 
addressed all of those issues. Those were similar issues to 
the other members of this group. 


What I think was happening, as I mentioned earlier, is 
that we came to the end of the development stage in 
winemaking, and it seemed like the most essential questions of 
the time were the vineyard questions. It was a very exciting 
period, because we would get all of these questions out on the 
table. We put in a close-spaced vineyard in 1984 which was 
one of the first close-space vineyards in California. 
Subsequently other wineries did that, and by, say, the mid- 
eighties, most of the group had at least some experiments in 
spacing, trellising, rootstock, clones, water relations. We 
would not only meet to fund and hear results of the UC Davis 
research work; we would exchange information about our 

What we were doing was deriving fairly quickly our 
knowledge of those aspects of viticulture and the impact on 
the wine by, as a group, developing projects and sharing the 
information. This wasn't managed; it just happened. People 
were so excited about these questions and these prospects that 
these things just happened. 

Hicke: Was each winery doing something a little different? 

Long: Each winery made its own decision about what it wanted to do. 
There was no group saying, "Okay, now we're all going to do 
this and that." But there was this tremendous flow of 
intellectual energy that resulted in a lot of different group 

Typically the research work that we funded was done in 
one of our vineyards. For example, right now Dr. Deborah 
Elliott-Fisk and Dr. Ann Noble from UC Davis are doing a study 
in Simi's vineyards on the effect of soils and vine canopy on 
Cabernet composition. That research is being funded by this 
group. Through the years we've funded research in the various 
members ' vineyards . 

Hicke: That packet you sent me is wonderful, so maybe we'll include 
some of that as illustrative material. [See appendix.] 

Long: That would be terrific. 

I'm talking quite a bit about this group, but I think 
it's a very important group. The other thing that I saw 
happen was that because we were asking the viticulture 
professors at UC Davis these questions, they were beginning to 
look at them more themselves. What we were doing was asking 


them to evaluate their work in terms of the wine quality, so 
the end product wasn't going to be the grape; it was going to 
be the wine. We were looking at wine composition, the tasting 
of wine, the levels of phenols and the quality of the phenols 
as the end result of the viticultural work. 

Hicke: You were stimulating the University's research. 

Long: We were stimulating them, and what we noticed was that by, 
say, '83, '84, '85, they were doing other research projects 
that we were not funding that were addressing these issues. 
Furthermore , several of us were involved on a board level in 
the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and we were 
involved in the planning of the technical sessions for that 
group. We created a part of the sessions, called the Forum, 
and we started to bring in people from around the world to 
discuss these viticultural issues. I think it was as early as 
1985 that we had a symposium at Reno, where we brought in 
viticulturalists from around the world to discuss these canopy 
issues. So we were bringing in experts from outside the 
United States, which furthered this intellectual ferment. 

At the same time, the wineries that were purchasing 
grapes- -Simi , Mondavi- -were starting to talk to their growers 
about things: "We're doing this, we're doing that; we like 
this, we like that," so the experiments that we were trying 
were spreading out through the industry. It's my belief that 
this very small group of people was the forerunner and the 
central cell that generated most of the early viticultural 
energy. The fact that we were looking at these things in our 
vineyards, that these were winery leaders, and that we were 
funding research and stimulating these questions on other 
researchers was a very powerful combination. 

The viticultural issues elucidated in the 1980s were, I 
believe, most important for Cabernet. These were the issues 
of canopy management- -in 1981, Richard Smart, who is a 
viticulturalist in New Zealand, came through and discussed the 
work that he had done, showing that if you changed the way 
that the grapevine displays its leaves you can impact the 
grape composition in terms of color, amount and quality of 
tannins, and flavor. This was an exciting new tool; we could 
train the vines, and we could have an impact on the wines. 
That was really explored in great detail through the eighties. 
Water relations --what are the relationships between the amount 
and timing that the vine gets water to concentration of flavor 
and to quality of the tannins? 


With Cabernet in particular, the vineyard issues were 
ripe fruit flavors, i.e., moving away from the herbaceous, 
vegetative flavors that we saw more frequently in the early 
seventies and the eighties, to the blackberry, black cherry, 
cassis, very ripe fruit flavors of Cabernet- -and ripe tannins. 
When Paul and I were in Bordeaux in 1986, we heard again and 
again this discussion of good tannin or ripe tannin. The 
Cabernet grapevine does have the ability under poor 
circumstances to produce very astringent tannins, so the goal 
was to display the fruit and balance the vine in such a way 
that by the time the grapes were ready to harvest, the tannins 
were ripe. It has nothing to do with Brix, not a lot to do 
with flavor, but really with tannin quality. That was partly 
in the viticulture and partly in the timing of harvest 

In the second half of the eighties at Simi we developed 
a link with a professor of geography and geology at UC Davis 
named Deborah Elliott-Fisk. She became fascinated with 
viticulture and the geography of viticulture. She came to our 
vineyards, and she began to help us understand the geologic 
origin of the vineyards and how that impacted the different 
soils in the vineyards. She helped us go through each part of 
our vineyards and explore the soils. 

Michael Black, who is now vice president of vineyard 
operations, was the individual who really started the vineyard 
development in 1982. For example, in the mid- eighties, 
working with Deborah, he and Diane went through each one of 
our thirty- six blocks with a back hoe, dug pits, and came to 
really understand the characteristics of the soil down three 
to five feet. They began to be able to better envision the 
circumstances that the vine roots were experiencing and to 
respond to those circumstances with irrigation practices. 

We started out in the early years looking at clones, 
spacing, trellising, and canopy management, and by the second 
half of the eighties we were really thinking about soils, 
water management, and nutrition management of the soils and 
how they affected the canopy, the balance, and the flavor 
concentration. We discovered that the site that we had chosen 
for our vineyards was, in Deborah's words, "one of the most 
complex, if not the most complex, vineyard site in Napa or 
Sonoma . " 



Hicke: The map of your vineyard shows that each little area has a 
different composition. 

Long: It's true, and we really didn't appreciate that when we bought 
the vineyard. We were buying it more because of the area and 
the climate than the soil. What that has meant to us is that 
it has given us a tremendous complexity and variety within 
that site, and it has made that vineyard very challenging to 
manage. [laughter] In that regard we've been very fortunate 
to have Michael Black, because he has really relished the 
challenge of seeing the vineyard as many different parcels and 
addressing each of those parcels as an individual. 

Hicke: It almost looks like it's all experimental. 

Long: It's almost all experimental; that's right. To some people in 
that time frame that would have been overwhelming. It would 
have been overwhelming to think of it in that way, but it 
really hasn't been to Michael. 

There's something else in this. We are talking about 
vineyards, but underlying the vineyards in the eighties there 
are some important developments that transcend the vineyards. 
One is the rise of the viticulturalist. In the winery the 
winemaking is the successful interaction of the cellarmaster- - 
he really directs the people and the operations of the 
equipment- -and the winemaker, the person who is thinking about 
technical aspects of the winemaking process. I liken them to 
the architect and the contractor; the architect designs, and 
the contractor builds. In the winery you have the same kind 
of thing; the winemaker designs, and the cellarmaster 
implements, although it's never that clear-cut. I mean, 
they're always working in each other's areas, and to the 
extent that the relationship is successful, you make better 

We've been fortunate at Simi to make winemaking a joint 
effort, a team effort, as a priority. In the vineyards we've 
traditionally had the industry equivalent of a cellarmaster- - 
the vineyard manager, who in the 1970s saw his end product as 
grapes , so he was concerned about a good crop and vine health 
and getting the grapes harvested. But in the eighties arose 
the role of the viticulturalist, which is more like the 
winemaker- -a person who has technical and specialized 
knowledge for winegrowing, who can tie the winemaking and 
winegrowing together. 


At Simi and at a few of the leading wineries in the 
eighties, the position of viticulturalist was developed. It 
was really a technical advisor to Mike and myself, who was 
both developing and implementing technical ideas. Diane was 
the person who was seeing the wine as the end product, then 
making suggestions about how to improve that wine, and working 
with Mike to tie the vineyard and the winery together. We 
were very fortunate again with Michael Black as someone who 
wanted to be tied to the winery and who saw the wine as the 
end product. It's really important to emphasize that these 
were mind sets that were unusual for that time frame- -to have 
someone like Diane, who had a wine background, a love of wine, 
the technical training of the viticulturalist, and the love of 
the vineyard; and someone like Michael Black, who was the 
vineyard manager, who was interested in seeing his end product 
as wine, and who had a good relationship with the winery. 
They were role models, really, in that time period. 


Hicke: We're talking about leadership here, too --your leadership. 
This is about where you got into the management end of it. 

Long: I would say probably at Robert Mondavi my greatest 

contributions were enological, but at Simi in a sense my 
greatest contributions have been viticultural- -not that I was 
a viticulturalist or a vineyard manager, but I could see that 
enormous gains we were going to make in the eighties could be 
made in the vineyard. The way to do that was to begin to do 
the kind of research that was going to allow us to understand 
what was going on in the vineyards and to tie the vineyard and 
the winery together so that the wine became the end product- - 

Certainly as I watched the industry change in the 
eighties, I saw winemakers become more interested in 
vineyards, but I still think there's a long distance to go. I 
think in the industry I was the winemaker most focused on 
viticulture in that decade. It was because I was personally 
fascinated by the vineyards and what we could do out there to 
impact the wine quality. The thread was the whole development 
of this new technical viticulture. 





Simi's estate vineyards are located in the southeast corner of the Alexander Valley appellation 
in Sonoma County. Planted between I983and 1985. all 174 acres are now producing 99 acres 
are Cabernet Sauvignon. 1 7 acres Cabernet Franc. 8 acres Merlot. 3 acres Petit Verdot. 26 acres 
Chardonnay and 18 acres are Sauvignon Blanc. 



X X X X X X 


X X X X X X 
X X X X X X 









Puroose: To comoare viticultural and winemakina differences between the California standard i n a. 








1 5 



^ . 















































The other thing that was interesting in that time 
period, and I think it tied in somewhat to the tenor of the 
times and this research group , was that at UC Davis for the 
first time the research work done by the viticulturalists and 
the enologists began to be tied together. At UC Davis there 
is a Department of Enology and Viticulture, and their 
professors, for the most part, had done separate work, with 
the viticulturalists seeing the end product as grapes and the 
enologists seeing the end product as wine. Partly because of 
our research group and our emphasis on the wine being the end 
product, in the 1980s there began to be joint work, which, if 
you think about it, was incredible that it hadn't happened 

I have to say that the viticultural changes in the 1980s 
were revolutionary for our industry and have provided a 
completely new base for development in the nineties. People 
may think we've come a long way, but I can see that we just 
built a base in the eighties that will allow us to do many 
more things in the nineties. 

Hicke: That's one of the reasons we're here doing this, to document 
all of that. I do think it was important that when you moved 
into the management of the entire business you had this idea 
of working together. 

Long: It was important. The steps we took at that time were new 
steps, but we've gone a step beyond that and created 
essentially a wine -growing team, which is a structure that 
further brings together in an even higher- level , interactive 
mode, our winemaker; our laboratory director; our 
viticulturalist ; our cellarmaster ; Michael Black, our vice 
president of vineyards; and his assistant, Keith Horn- -talking 
about what we're trying to accomplish, what the end goals are. 

For example, we have a consultant from Bordeaux named 
Michel Holland. He has grown up in Bordeaux and has a large 
consulting practice located primarily in Pomerol and 
St. Emilon. He was here last week, looking at the vineyards. 
The focus of his visit was the condition and particular nature 
of the Cabernet this vintage, for 1991, and what impact that 
might have on harvest decisions and winemaking decisions. 
When he was out in the vineyard, looking at the grapes, 
Michael Black was there, Diane Kenworthy was there, our 
vineyard manager and viticulturalist; Keith Horn, assistant 
vineyard manager; Nick Goldschmidt, our winemaker; Monika 


Chris tman, our lab director. All of these people who will be 
part of that ultimate growing of the wine were together, 
discussing what's going on in this vineyard and what that is 
going to mean to the winemaking. 

When we work with Michel, we start with the wines. He's 
worked with our wines for about five years, so he knows this 
is the wine we make from this piece of land; so let's go look 
at this piece of land and think about the timing of the 
harvest and the management of that land. When we bring in 
consultants we're always doing the same thing: these are the 
wines that we are making from this piece of land; let's talk 
about the management of that piece of land toward the end goal 
of this kind of wine. I think about it as a circle. The 
circle begins with the tasting of the previous vintage by the 
vineyard and winery people and an assessment of the wines from 
each plot of ground- -what are their strengths, what are their 
weaknesses. When the vineyard cycle starts- -pruning, the 
leafing out, the bloom- -what is it in each step of the cycle 
that is going to address the questions or the issues we have 
with any particular piece of ground? How are we going to 
change our viticulture techniques for that piece of ground? 

Then harvest approaches, and we're tasting the fruit. 
We're thinking, "What are the characteristics of this 
particular site in this vintage, and therefore how are we 
going to respond in our winemaking?" After harvest we taste 
the wines again, and we say, "How did we do? Last year at 
this time this site had these strengths and these weaknesses 
and these questions to address; how effective were we in the 
vineyard and the winery and in the two coming together in 
addressing those issues, answering the questions, 
strengthening the wine?" 

Hicke: How many pieces of ground are we talking about? 

Long: Thirty-six. [laughter] Then the question starts over again: 
what about for next year? So it's this circle of interaction 
that just keeps moving for the goal of quality improvements 
for the wines from that vineyard. 

Hicke: And this is just Cabernet that we're talking about? 

Long: This is just Cabernet. But this is a good model for what I 
would call sophisticated winegrowing in the 1990s, and it's 
what it will take to make outstanding wines in the 1990s. 


Hicke: This is probably impossible to say, but how many different 
wines do you think you make in experimenting with all these 

Long: We could count, but I would guess four hundred every year. 

Hicke: Again, it looks very complicated. I think the important thing 
is that this is where you're going with it. 

Long: I think perhaps you can recognize from what I've said that 

intrinsic in that is continuity. As far as continuity with a 
vineyard site, we work with it two or three or five years. 
The more we work with it, the more we understand it, the 
better job we'll do, whether we're buying the grapes or 
growing the grapes. Continuity with the people is important, 
because they build up their understanding of the process and 
of the vineyards. Ours is a business that does not benefit 
from constant turnover. It's a business that in a sense is 
contrary to our current culture, which is quick change and 
quick decisions. That's really not what fine winemaking is 
all about. It's about long-term thinking and long-term 

Hicke: That's another management challenge, dealing with people to 
assure continuity, and with the growers. 

Long: It is, there's no question about it. 

Hicke: Do you find that more challenging or as interesting as just 
dealing with wines as an enologist? 

Long: When you look at the managing of the business, it's not that 
different conceptually. You have different parts of the 
business- -you have sales, your vineyards, your winemaking, 
your finance administration- -and they're all parts that have 
to be pulled together to grow a fine business, as we pull 
together different parts of the winemaking process, the 
equipment, and the grapes to make a fine wine. In the 
winemaking process, the central character is the wine, in 
essence. You're trying to build a system, a model, a way of 
looking at things and responding that will create the kind of 
wine you want. With a business, the central character is the 
people. You're trying to build a group of people who will 
bring the talents and the commitment to allow the business to 
be what you want it to be . 


Conceptually it's not that different. As with 
winemaking, which is complicated (as you've mentioned), it's 
providing that kind of an atmosphere where they have a chance 
to be creative, to make a difference, to be respected, to be 
heard, to be committed. That's what everyone is always trying 
to do, and it's much easier said than done. It's part of the 
new challenge for me, absolutely. 

Hicke: And probably equally frustrating at times. 
Long: Yes. [laughs] 

Hicke: There are several things I want to mention here. Maybe you've 
alluded to this; I know you have an image not only of what 
your wine should be but of what the business should be- -what 
Simi should be. All of the new buildings and everything fit 
that image. Could you elaborate on that a little bit? 

Long: I'll describe the image, and I can say with accuracy that this 
is the image that I inherited from Michael Dixon; this is the 
model he worked on. It's an image that was supported and 
encouraged by Moet-Hennessy [owner of Simi], and I think it's 
an image or a vision that's shared by the people here. Simi 
is essentially a wine business- -not a big business but a small 
business --producing an extraordinary level of quality, with 
the ability to do that consistently and to continue to improve 
and evolve both the quality and the style. There are not that 
many wineries that have actually been able to do that 
successfully over time. 

Some of our most wonderful memories are of winemakers 
who come into our tasting room unannounced and taste through 
the wines and then say, "Every one of your wines is 
excellent." That's not that easy to accomplish. Recently I 
did a tasting with Brian Croser, an Australian winemaker, and 
we tasted 1980 through 1990 Chardonnay Reserve with the 
winemaking staff. Those wines were outstanding. They were 
all still wonderful. They were different; some were stronger, 
some had evolved in a more exciting way. But they were all 
still wonderful wines. It was just very special to stop and 
look back on those wines . 

So that's the core and motivating force for the people 
here- -to do something, to be involved in something that is 
really high quality, whether it's the business itself or the 
wine itself. From a business point of view, because we're a 
small business, that quality and the reputation for quality is 


really crucial for us to be profitable, because we're not 
turning out millions of cases of wine. 

Developing an International Business 

Hicke: That brings me to my next question, which is how this more 
international marketing goal developed. 

Long: First of all, Michael Dixon, our former chairman, is British, 
so he has international roots. Of course, our ownership is 
French, so the winery was very internationally rooted. You 
have to say that the wine business is international; wines are 
produced all over the world. I don't know exactly what date, 
but I would guess around the mid-eighties, Michael started to 
develop our export business. 

When I was getting ready to transition into the 
presidency in 1988, I was sent to Stanford for a program 
called the Stanford Executive Program. It was a two-month 
program for 180 executives, half of whom were from outside the 
United States. That was key for me in not only hearing about 
but feeling the international energy and economic activity in 
the sense of the linkage of the world in an economic sense. I 
came back convinced that our export program was crucial to 
Simi for the long term. 

I think at that time Moet, our mother company, had some 
questions about that. They really said, "Your primary focus 
should be in the United States," but their vision has changed, 
too, so they see Simi as a winery that needs to be developing 
its international market in business. 

Hicke: Your persuasion? 

Long: I think Michael and I felt the same and equally strongly, and 
we basically just kept going in that direction. I can't say 
what changed at Moet, but it's natural of Moet, who themselves 
have been extraordinarily successful because of international 
sales, to see it that way. Perhaps it was just giving them a 
little bit of time to work it through in their own minds. 

Hicke: We haven't talked at all about the relationship of Moet and 
when they took over Schieffelin [& Co] or when Schieffelin 
bought out-- 


Long: Schieffelin bought Simi in 1976, before I came. Michael Dixon 
had purchased Simi for Scottish & Newcastle [Vintners], I 
think in '74, and then he sold Simi to Schieffelin- -not 
Schieffelin & Somerset- -in 1976 and stayed on as the business 
manager and president. 


[Interview 2: January 2, 1992 ]//// 

Linkage Between Viticulture and Winemaking 

Hicke: Let's start with some of the notes you made as you were 

reviewing the first part of the transcript. I think the first 

thing you wanted to talk about was the linkage between the 
vineyard and the winemaking. 

Long: when I came into the industry in 1970, the roles of the 

vineyard and the winery were very different from the way they 
are today. I want to go back and review the evolution, 
because I think it's significant for our California history. 
In 1970, the vineyard was farmed primarily by an owner or a 
manager of that vineyard; wineries had a much lower percentage 
of ownership in the grapes that they crushed than they do now. 
The end product of the vineyard was seen to be the grapes. 
The grapes were delivered to the winery, and the winemaker 
would would begin to develop an understanding of those grapes 
only when they showed up on the doorstep at harvest. Then it 
was the winemaker 's responsibility to make them into wine. 

The most interesting thing about that structure was that 
it reflected the University. The University of California at 
Davis 's Department of Enology and Viticulture, in its very 
name, would imply the integration of those two disciplines, 
but in fact at that time they were quite separate. They were 
physically in the same department, and of course they 
interacted with each other, but the research was quite 
separate. There were not research projects that were done 
jointly between enologists and viticulturalists . Most of the 


time the evaluation of the viticultural work was in terms of 
either tonnage (yield) or vine health, or the Brix, acid, and 
pH of the grapes. There was very little translation of the 
viticultural experimental work into the sensory aspects of 
wine. Then there were the winemaking experiments, and they 
were evaluated by a very rigorous sensory evaluation system. 

These separate roles, in industry and university, 
continued through the seventies. As I've mentioned earlier, 
in the seventies the winery would pay for grapes on the basis 
of Brix. Brix was the implied desired end product of grape 
growing . 

In the eighties, the attitude on the part of the winery 
toward the vineyard began to change. Over that ten-year 
period, winemakers were more active in the vineyard; they were 
seeking to understand the viticulture and the implications of 
viticulture on wine composition and quality. In the early 
eighties, Dr. Richard Smart came from Australia, for example, 
and said that the way that you manipulate the canopy or leaves 
over the Cabernet fruit while it's ripening has a major impact 
on tannin quality, perception of texture, color, and on flavor 
development. In essence, he was saying that if you change 
canopy in the vineyard, you're going to change your wine 
composition and quality. That was a very powerful linkage, 
and I think it was the trigger for the development in the 
eighties of our North Coast Viticultural Research Group, which 
was a group that began to see the end product of viticultural 
efforts as the wine , not the grapes . 

In the eighties these changes were also reflected at the 
University; the enologists and viticulturalists began to 
collaborate more on projects. The viticulturalists began to 
make and evaluate wine as an outcome of the different 
experiments, and they began to struggle with the concept, "How 
do I quantify the results of the viticultural effort in terms 
of wine?" That's not a simple thing to do. Let me just give 
you an example. You're a winemaker; you're reading a piece of 
technical literature about some work a viticulturalist did in 
canopy management. He's trying to communicate to you that it 
made a great difference in the wine, but how can you quantify 

The challenge is that it is still difficult to 
scientifically quantify the taste of wine. Dr. Ann Noble, 
whose area of research at UC Davis is sensory evaluation, has 
worked out a system that can begin to describe the 


personality- -i.e. , flavors, and aromas--of wines differently 
in a quantifiable way. She has begun to really address this 

In California, we have come an enormous distance in the 
linkage of the vineyard and the winery. What remains to be 
done, not only in California but around the world, is to find 
a way to quantifiably communicate the results of scientific 
and viticultural efforts in the wine. The way our Research 
Group quantifies results is by tasting the wines. We 
financially support the viticulturalists' research and say, 
"We're interested in the wine as the end product of your 
work." How do we evaluate the work? We taste it. But of 
course if you are a scientist, you can't rely on people around 
the world tasting the wines you've made; you have to find a 
way to quantify them and to effectively, scientifically, 
communicate results. 

Hicke : Are you talking about the wheel that she developed? 

Long: Dr. Noble developed an aroma wheel, but she has also developed 
what I call a "spider diagram," which is a way of identifying 
not only the particular aroma components a wine has, but the 
amount of each of those components- -and then displaying it 
visually. So you can begin to try to envision the different 
personalities of the wine. 

Hicke: Do you have to do this on a computer? 

Long: Yes. The computer is used extensively in her work. 

What I'm describing is a scientific technique. It's not 
something I see being used in a winery, because we quantify 
the efforts of our own vineyard-viticultural work by tasting 
the wine. But in the larger picture, it is important that the 
world of science find a way to communicate more effectively 
about wine aromas, flavor, balance, and personality. 

In the decade of the nineties, I see a continuation in 
this movement of the linkage of the vineyard and the winery. 
One example of better linkage is the developing role of the 
viticulturalist, who is the technical person in the vineyard 
who sees wine as the end product. Here at Simi we're putting 
a tremendous amount of emphasis and energy on the ability of 
the whole winemaking team to understand what's happening in 
the vineyard and to be able to give effective feedback to the 
vineyard managers about the nature of the wines, their 


strengths and weaknesses, so that the vineyard people have an 
essential grasp of the wines. For example, if I say to our 
winemaking and wine growing team, "We need to improve the 
quality of the Cabernet Franc from our vineyard," it's 
essential that everyone have a common understanding of what 
that wine is like --what its strengths and weaknesses are --so 
each individual can envision how to support growth and 
development of that wine in their area of expertise. 
Improvement might come from a change in pruning, the watering 
process, the timing of harvest; from analyzing some of the 
components of the wine in order to get a better understanding; 
or from the vinification. But that wine won't reach its 
ultimate quality level until all of the thinking of the 
vineyard and the winery is integrated toward the particular 
goal of quality, composition, flavor, and structure. 
Everybody must have a common understanding. 

Hicke: How do you actually do this? Do you have daily or weekly 
meetings when the winemakers go out to the vineyards? 

Long: We're developing two teams- -a winemaking and a winegrowing 
team. The winemaking team members are our cellarmaster , 
laboratory director, winemaker, assistant winemaker, and 
viticulturalist . Two of those, the winemaker and the 
viticulturalist , are also on the winegrowing team, with our 
vineyard manager and his assistant. These teams develop 
specific goals, based on our winery quality orientation, and 
work together to achieve them. 

It is important to bring the vineyard people into the 
winery and have them taste the wines and observe the 
winemaking process, so they begin to have (for example) their 
own intimate sense that: "These are our grapes from this 
hillside 'Block 10,' and the wine tastes of deep berry 
flavors, good tannin, delicious." They're not waving goodbye 
to the grapes as they go into the gondola and go out to the 
winery; they're maintaining their continuity of relationship 
and seeing those grapes transformed into wine. They're 
beginning to think of that plot of land in terms of the wine 
and not the grapes . 

The most important change is changing people's thinking. 
That's the first thing you have to do. When the people in the 
vineyard look at a piece of land, they have to see in their 
mind's eye and taste the wine from that land. The people in 
the winery, when they look at a wine, have to see the soil and 
the vines that it came from. Until those people can have 


those visions, you won't get a complete linkage, and you won't 
make the best wine from that piece of land. 

Hicke: It's also absolutely necessary that the winery own the 
vineyard, then, isn't it? 

Long: Your ability to achieve complete linkage is increased a 

hundredfold if you own the land. We found, though, that we 
can enhance our ability to work with a grower by working with 
their piece of land for a long time. Most of our Chardonnay 
growers, for example, have been working with us for ten years. 
We have been in those vineyards many times and know the owner- 
managers, and in most cases we have established a close 
relationship with them. We know their vineyards; we can close 
our eyes and see the land, the grapes, over many years. That 
enhances our ability to do a better job. We want also to 
develop the linkage the other way, so for each vineyard that 
we buy grapes from, we taste that wine with the owner-manager 
and talk about it- -taste it in a context of the other wines of 
that variety that we make. It's not as powerful a linkage our 
own vineyard, but it's still a good linkage, with potential 
for more development. 

The Concept of Terroir 

Hicke: Does this bring us to the concept of terroir? 

Long: Terroir is a French word, and it has often been misunderstood 
to mean "soil." The French talk a lot about how crucial 
terroir is to their wines; how terroir creates the wine's 
personality. Terroir really means "vine environment." It is 
everything- -soil , climate- -that the wine sees and experiences. 
I'm sure you're familiar with this feeling in very traditional 
winegrowing areas that there are distinctive personality 
differences in wines from one plot of land to another. Why 
would that be? The more I've thought about terroir, the more 
impressed I've been with the degree of difference that is 
possible from one site to another. 

First, consider the soil. For example, in Sonoma County 
there are sixty different kinds of bedrock which generate 
soil. That's enormous diversity. But if you go onto a site 
and dig down with a backhoe , the soil is never one layer. It 


can be two, three, or five layers, and they can each be a 
different depth. From the perspective of the vine's root, the 
number of layers it hits, their depth, composition, and water- 
holding capacity are going to make a major difference to the 
vine. There are not only the big differences in soils, there 
are the differences just in terms of the layers, the depth, 
the water-holding capacity, the ability to drain, and the 
nutritional value in each of those layers. 

I have seen soils in other parts of the world that are 
very uniform from top to bottom, and they don't provide a 
great deal of variety for the vines. Sometimes you see soil 
with two layers; or you have what we call a clay pan, a hard 
layer that the vine roots can't penetrate. Underneath the 
soil, in ways you can't see, is an enormous diversity of 
conditions that impact what the vine roots are going to be 

Above the ground you have the conditions of sun: how 
many days of sunlight will the vine experience in a growing 
season- -in the ripening season. How long are the days? 
what's the angle of the sun? What is the heat, both during 
the day and during the night? Heat during the night is really 
important, because the vine has a significantly different 
metabolic response to cool nights than warm nights. So 
sunlight, temperature, and moisture- -if you read a graph you 
could see so many inches of water a year. But does that come 
in three major rainstorms? Does it come in the form of mist, 
ten days out of thirty? For example, Willamette Valley in 
Oregon and Sonoma County have a very similar total rainfall, 
but the weather patterns for that rainfall are totally 
different. We get all of our rain in the winter and spring, 
and they get it throughout the year, more frequently, with 
less hard rains, more gentle rain and mist. We get it a few 
times in hard rainfall. Those variations make major 
differences to the growing conditions of the plant. Their 
plants in the summer have water naturally, and ours don't, so 
we have to irrigate. They have more cloudy days. The amount 
and timing of water is important. 

Wind is another factor. Wind can remove the water from 
the vine and from the soil, and it can cause the vine to close 
down its respiration. If you're in a windy site, the vine is 
going to have less ripening time than it would in the same 
site with all the same conditions except no wind. Also, 
there's what we call exposure- -the direction that the vines 
are facing. On a hillside, if they are facing north, south, 


east, or west, it will dramatically impact the heat units they 
experience and the timing of those heat units. 

So suddenly you start thinking, "Nothing about sites is 
the same; everything is different." And it's true. It's 
amazing. One of the things I love about wine in today's era, 
when everyone is sensitive to the environment- -wine is 
something that is very responsive to environment. All of our 
food supply is responsive to environment, but we don't 
appreciate that as much, because agricultural produce is very 
transitory. But wine isn't, so these environmental 
differences that affect the grapes are translated into wine, 
and you can read them. Wine is very special in that regard. 
It freezes in time, the environment of the moment and the 
human effort of the moment. 

Hicke: You can't keep a tomato from one year to the next. 

Long: No, and you can't taste the difference twenty years later. 
And you can't line up twenty-five tomatoes from around the 
world or from different parts of California and taste them, 
but you can do that with wine. 

So this is the concept of terroir, which is integrated 
into the idea of the linkage of the vineyard and the winery. 
The more we really understand the growing conditions for our 
vines, the better job we can do in viticulture, responding to 
those growing conditions, and in the winery, responding to the 
particular characteristics of that site. That's been a big 
transition. When I was in Davis in 1970, it was felt that 
climate- -weather- -was the most important influence on the 
vine, and soil was very much played down. In Europe, there is 
a reverent feeling toward the soil and the impact it has. But 
it is everything together; you have to understand that it's 
the whole environment of the vine, the whole ecosystem, that 
is affecting the wine. 

Hicke: Then everything like irrigation, canopy management, 

trellising, and so forth, is part of the management of the 

Long: That's right. There are appropriate responses to a particular 
terroir- -a particular vine environment. It wasn't that long 
ago- -ten or twelve years ago- -when we were treating all 
vineyards as if they were the same --the pattern of planting 
and selection of rootstock. There was no thought to clones; 
there was little thought to row direction, except to the 


contour of the land. Spacing was the same and trellising very 
similar. So it was only a short time ago that we were 
relatively unresponsive to that idea of the environment and 

Hicke: That's a huge step forward, I would think. 

Long: One of the actions we've taken in our Simi vineyard, in a 

pragmatic way, to deal with the understanding of the soils, is 
to go through each of our different sub-plots of land, which 
are usually two or three acres, with a backhoe , dig down four 
or five feet, and look at the nature of the soil. When the 
vineyard manager is irrigating, for example, he has in mind 
what kind of soil is down there for the roots. Is the water 
going to be retained or not? He knows now that some areas 
have to have more water because they're so well drained, and 
in some cases we found clay pan, so he has had to go in and 
break it up. It helps him understand why some areas were very 
weak in growth and some very strong. So that was a very 
practical response to the idea of understanding terroir and 
using that information in vineyard management. 

The American Appellation System 

Hicke: Which of your topics shall we discuss next? 

Long: Why don't we talk about the American appellation system and 
how that ties into terroir. Then perhaps we can talk about 
phylloxera; we'd still be in the vineyard area. 

I believe it was in 1978 when the BATF [Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms] implemented a system for 
defining geographical areas of grape growing. We are required 
legally to put the origin of the grapes on the bottle. Up to 
that time the origin had been in terms of a state or a county. 
Although people used Napa Valley, there wasn't really any 
regulation as to what Napa Valley was. Of course, the county 
lines were fairly clear. The BATF decided to develop a 
nonpolitical appellation; a political appellation is one whose 
lines are defined by county or state boundaries. 

The viticultural appellation was defined by geography 
and historical use. To apply for a viticultural appellation, 


a group of people had to get together and say, "We believe we 
have a viticultural appellation, and we'd like to formalize 
it." They had to show that the name they were proposing had 
historical use, as the Napa Valley did, as Alexander Valley 
did. And they had to show that there were geographical, 
geological, climate boundaries to that appellation. This is 
very congruent with the European appellation system that 
defines specific viticultural areas in terms of their 
geography . 

I don't know the exact number, but there are over a 
hundred viticultural appellations in the United States, and 
the number is continuing to grow. At the same time, I believe 
that currently appellations are primarily locators for people. 
In other words, in the traditional European system, an 
appellation of, for example, Pauillac in the Medoc in 
Bordeaux, is meant to mean, "This is a particular piece of 
ground that will produce wines that are uniquely distinctive 
within this area." 

But our geographical boundaries for viticultural areas 
encompass a tremendous diversity within the area. So within 
Alexander Valley, Napa Valley, Willamette Valley in Oregon, 
Columbia Valley in Washington, there is enormous terroir 
diversity. Our appellation system is still primarily a 
communication device for the location and the geography of the 
area rather than an appellation with a consistent terroir, 
producing a wine of consistent personality. 

To go back to the European reference, within their 
appellations they are only allowed to grow only certain 
specific varieties. We haven't allowed such a restriction, 
and I don't believe it makes sense to do so. I mentioned 
earlier Dr. Deborah Elliott-Fisk, who is a geography professor 
at UC Davis. One of the very interesting things she has told 
me is that in Sonoma County there are sixty different kinds of 
bedrock, and that in the whole of Bordeaux there may be four 
to six kinds of bedrock. One of the reasons we have so much 
geological diversity is because of our location at the 
intersection of the Continental Plate and the Pacific Plate. 
Over eons of time there has been volcanic activity, upheaval, 
uplift, and fragmenting of soils. In the whole coastal area 
of California- -Central Coast, Napa, and Sonoma- -we have such a 
diversity of terroirs that I'm not sure we'll ever be able to 
form viticultural appellations that have a unique terroir 
unless they're very, very tiny. 


It does, however, explain our ability to grow a large 
number of wine varieties successfully. Again going back to 
the traditional model in Europe , there are Chardonnay and 
Pinot noir in Burgundy, Cabernet and Sauvignan blanc in 
Bordeaux. Europeans come to Sonoma County and wonder how we 
can grow all of these different grape varieties. But when you 
think about the enormous geological and climate diversity- -at 
the coast it's often foggy, and so cold you can hardly ripen a 
grape, and if you go sixty or eighty miles inland, it's very 
warm, and you think of all the interplay between the coolness 
and the warmness in that sixty miles and how that's affected 
by the site, the soil, and the exposure, you can conceptualize 
a thousand different possibilities for growing grapes. 

Hicke : So what is the value in the appellation? 

Long: I think that's a good question. Our industry has tended to 
some extent to look to Europe as a model, and even our wine 
consumers do. They see the appellations in Europe as the 
model for saying, "This is the best site for Chardonnay and 
Cabernet." To the extent that anyone has that same 
expectation of our appellations, it is an inappropriate 
expectation. The function, therefore, is more as a locator: 
this is where Alexander Valley is, these are the boundaries, 
and now you know where the vineyards are. All it really says 
about the vineyards is that that is where they are. 

Hicke: It doesn't really say anything about the wine? 

Long: Except in a more general way. A general comment you could 
make, for example, about Russian River Valley versus Napa 
Valley, is that if you know the location, you know that 
Russian River Valley is closer to the coast and therefore 
likely to have more ocean influence. You can make general 
comments, but you're not going to be able to say, "Oh, yes, 
the Chardonnay growing in this appellation is always this 
way. " 

Hicke: Very interesting. 


Evolution of the Use of Wine Varieties 

Long: Why don't I talk about varieties? I thought it would be worth 
tracing the history of the use of wine varieties in the period 
of time that I've been in the industry. When I came into the 
industry in 1970, at Robert Mondavi there was tremendous focus 
on crushing the new fine varieties- -Pinot noir, Cabernet, 
Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc--and there was relatively little 
of them planted. 


Long: I remember that oftentimes we would have a grower who would 
bring in Chardonnay, and then we would get their Mondeuse, 
Mataro, and Sylvaner in addition. To get the varieties we 
wanted, we had to take a varieties which at that time we 
considered not very interesting. As a result, ultimately old 
vineyards were pulled down, and many of these old, 
"uninteresting" varieties were removed. I just recently had a 
discussion with Lou Preston of Preston Vineyard in Dry Creek, 
and he said that when he bought his property in the Dry Creek 
Valley, he pulled out his old vineyards. Now he wishes he 
hadn ' t . 

That's the interesting thing about the way the varieties 
have evolved. We started in the early seventies with old 
varieties and old vineyards and very few Chardonnays , 
Cabernets, and Sauvignon blancs. In the seventies there was 
an enormous wave of planting, and many of those old vines were 
removed. People made many different kinds of wine. Yes, 
there were Chardonnay and Cabernet, but there were also 
Sylvaner, Riesling, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer-- 
quite a variety of wines produced in that decade. 

By the eighties we saw a significant consolidation of 
varieties. In California it was estimated that many, probably 
the majority, of wineries were producing Chardonnay, and there 
were many of them producing two or three different 
Chardonnays. So with 770 wineries, people estimated as many 
as 1,000 to 1,200 Chardonnays being made. That same 
phenomenon occurred to a lesser extent with Cabernet. We had 
a strong varietal focus, not only in terms of making the 
varietals but in terms of growing them; the number of 
varietals was reduced. If you wanted to buy a California 
Gewurztraminer , you would have had a much more difficult time 
finding it. 


By the end of the eighties, there was a reversal of that 
trend, and there was a renaissance of some of the older 
varieties. The wine that I knew in California as Mataro, in 
France is more correctly known as Mourvedre , which is a fine 
red grape component of the Rhone wines. People began planting 
these new varieties, and the focus was on the red and white 
varieties of the Rhone. An interest is beginning to develop 
in planting some Italian varieties- -Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, 
Refosco--and I think probably a potential for developing some 
Spanish varieties. You can see that the eighties were the 
turning point; we saw consolidation and then a reinvigoration 
of interest in old varieties. I think that's a very healthy 
direction, because we have a solid, classic base now in 
Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and to a lesser 
extent Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. There is also opportunity to 
develop new interest in wines --in blended wines out of these 
varieties . 

Hicke: Like Heritage? 

Long: Heritage is a classic blend of Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Petit 
Verdot, Herlot, or Halbec . Those varieties have been with us 
through much of the eighties, but I would view the varietals 
of the Rhone, Italy, and to a lesser extent Spain as the new 

Hicke: Is this just because winemakers or customers, or both, got 
bored with what they were growing? 

Long: I think there has been a certain sense of being overwhelmed 

with a flood of Cabernet and Chardonnay, and not everyone can 
excel with these wines. Hany times a small winery will seek a 
particular niche where they can excel. Take Navarro, in 
Anderson Valley, as an example; they make great 
Gewurztraminer. Navarro is not a big winery, and there's not 
a huge demand for Gewurztraminer ; but there is a demand for a 
small amount of fine Gewurztraminer, and they've found that 
niche and have developed it. 

Hicke: Is it dry? 

Long: I believe they make both sweet and dry Gewurztraminer. That's 
been a very successful strategy for them, and it has offered 
the consumer a wonderful alternative wine to choose from. I 
think it's a very healthy development for the business. 


Hicke: I guess Randall Grahm was probably way out in front- - 

Long: Randall was certainly the leader with regard to the Rhone wine 


Long: Let's talk about what has happened to date with phylloxera. 
In the early eighties, a small portion of a vineyard in Napa 
Valley was found to be dying. Upon investigation, it was 
discovered that the vines were dying of phylloxera. On 
further investigation, it was discovered that its rootstock 
was not A x R y/1 rootstock. During the planting in the early 
seventies there were some inadvertent mixups of rootstock. 
After you plant a vineyard and graft onto it- -you can't easily 
look at a vineyard and know what rootstock it is. If a 
nurseryman gives you two thousand A x R rootstocks, you 
really don't know for sure that they are A x R until they leaf 
out. In our old system of developing vineyards, we would 
plant a rootstock, allow it to grow, and then graft onto it in 
the vineyard. So the grafter could at least check the nature 
of the rootstock. 

In the new systems of development, you take a stick of 
rootstock and a stick of the grape variety, and you graft them 
together when they are dormant. When you plant the graft, you 
see only the wine varietal, so it is a little more difficult 
to monitor the rootstock. But it was known in the planting 
boom in the seventies that there was some mixing of rootstock 
in the vineyards. So when they found this vineyard going down 
to phylloxera and looked at the rootstock and found it wasn't 
a known resistant rootstock, that was a satisfactory 

It was in 1985- -I understand this from reading- -that it 
was first identified that a vine on A x R #1 rootstock was 
dying of phylloxera. That was hard to accept, because A x R 
rootstock had been used over the years with great success. It 
had been selected from a whole panoply of rootstocks in the 
early part of the century because it produced good wine, was 
easy to graft, grew well in the vineyard, and so on. In the 
second half of the eighties there was additional investigation 
to determine: "Is this true, that A x R y/1 is susceptible to 
phylloxera?" The University believed that to come out and 
say, "Gee, A x R #1 rootstock is going down to phylloxera" 


would create a big problem if not first thoroughly 
investigated. The University viticulturalists had been the 
original people recommending A x R, and they were the people 
investigating this phylloxera problem. 

In the second half of the eighties, a different biotype 
of phylloxera was identified. If two phylloxera bugs were put 
on the same A x R #1 root, it would resist one of them and not 
the other one. The new biotype was responsible for the death 
of the A x R-based vines. 

Hicke: You mean it was different from what had hit a hundred years 
ago or from what had hit in the seventies? 

Long: Phylloxera is always present in the vineyard to some extent. 
It's just that some rootstock have the ability to co-exist 
with the phylloxera. 

Hicke: And now there was this new type appearing? 

Long: Now we have a new biotype. The result is that the biotype is 
devastating the rootstock; it is killing the A x R #1 
rootstock. The primary area that was infected was Napa 
Valley. It's not clear how that happened, because in the 
second half of the eighties the vineyard owners in the Napa 
Valley experienced outbreaks- -it was almost like measles. 
Within two or three years, all of a sudden there were infected 
spots through many of the vineyards in the valley. Many 
explanations have been suggested: the flood of '86; maybe it 
was spread that way, but that didn't make sense because 
hillsides had problems. Maybe there was so much vineyard 
development that an original infection was carried by 
equipment. Maybe it was in a nursery unbeknownst, and when 
plant material was taken from the nursery and planted in 
vineyards it spread. I don't think anyone will ever know 
exactly what happened. It just seemed to spring up. 

Infected vineyards have experienced about a threefold 
increase every year. If you have one vine that dies from 
phylloxera one year, next year you will have three, then nine, 
then twenty-seven. As we look forward, we think that by 1994 
or 1995 there is going to be dramatic removal of vineyards as 
a result of this geometric progression. 

Hicke: Is it coming into your vineyards? 


Long: We have it at Sirai in a small area. As soon as we heard from 
our viticultural friends what was going on in Napa, we 
instituted a program to search for phylloxera and discovered 
it in a few vines two years ago, and we monitor its progress. 
It seems, from other people's experience, that the rate of 
increase in any one site depends on the soil conditions. It 
seems to spread faster in a heavier clay or moist soil than in 
the very dry, rocky, or sandy soil. It's hard to project, 
really, the rate of the vineyards going down on any one site 
until you have a several years of data. 

Sonoma County is about five years I'm guessingbehind 
Napa in terms of infection rate. Most people who have thought 
about this subject believe that in ten years, 85 percent of 
the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma will be replanted. 

Hicke : I've heard people express the thought that a lot of these 
vines are old and the vineyards would have to be replanted 
anyway . 

Long: I think there are some positive aspects. In the last twelve 
years, because of all the work I've told you about, we've 
learned an enormous amount about our vineyards . This gives us 
an opportunity to replant the vineyards in the sense of what I 
was saying: here's a site, what are the proper roots tocks, 
varietals, clones, row spacing, trellising, row orientation? 
As we pull out all the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma and 
replant them in a more sophisticated, thoughtful, terroir- 
responsive way, we can enormously improve our quality. And we 
will, but of course it's a great expense, and it's over a long 
term. But that is the direction that things will move. 

Hicke: Is there another rootstock that's resistent? 

Long: We can't go through this discussion without saying that 

there's an enormous amount of controversy over this. Some of 
the nature of the controversy is that the University wasn't 
pro-active enough in talking about this problem earlier; that 
they took too long to withdraw their recommendation of A x R. 
Some of the controversy is over whether there really is a 
biotype. The Europeans are particularly critical of American 
viticulture, because their experience was that many years ago 
when they planted A x R rootstock, it declined to phylloxera 
very quickly. 

Hicke: Oh, really? I didn't know that. 


Long: They never had the experience that we did of thirty to forty 
years of effective operations of A x R. Their stance is, "We 
figured this out a long time ago. Why didn't you?" 
[laughter] They really have the lifted eyebrow toward the 
biotype explanation. But frankly, when you stop and think 
about phylloxera, I suspect that if there were adequate 
research done- -and there hasn't been any- -that you would find 
there are dozens of biotypes. There's no reason to think that 
phylloxera is exactly the same around the world; there's no 
other biological system that is that way. 

The Leading Role of California in the Worldwide Wine Industry 

Long: Another subject I wanted to talk about, which I believe in 

very strongly, is the leading role that California has taken 
in the change of winemaking around the world. At the time 
that I was first in the business in the seventies, I was 
fortunate to do some traveling. At that time, particularly in 
Europe, there was a sense of great tradition, a sense that 
things were done as they always had been done , and that the 
best way to make wine and grow grapes was known and therefore 
not under investigation. [laughs] But California became so 
enormously successful, particularly in varietal development- -I 
look at Chardonnay in a sense as a new variety. It's true 
that the Chardonnay grape is grown and made into wine as White 
Burgundy in Burgundy, but our particular style, 
characteristics, and universal appeal of our California 
Chardonnay, and the fact that it has been marketed as a 
varietal, have been enormously powerful. That's a California 

In the seventies California was considered, by the rest 
of the world, a charming curiosity in terms of the wines that 
were produced, and our activities and wines were considered to 
be rustic. But California drive, energy, enthusiasm, and 
investigation traveled around the world, with Calif ornians 
constantly setting new sights; revolving our palate; setting 
higher standards of quality, greater sophistication in 
winemaking and grape growing. We have created wines in the 
eighties that were considered to be significantly more 
sophisticated than those in the seventies and are significant 
competitors on the world scene. 


In the eighties, we saw, around the world, vineyards 
being planted to Chardonnay. In fact, it happened earlier 
than that. I was in Eugene, Oregon, in 1976 at the first 
Cool-Climate Symposium, which pulled together people making 
wines in cool climates around the world. I was very 
interested to hear the Canadians say they were planting 
Chardonnay, and also the Swiss, the Italians, the Australians, 
and the New Zealanders . By the end of the seventies the rest 
of the world was paying attention to what we were doing, and 
they were beginning to emulate our varietal development. 

When Californians first went to Burgundy to buy 
barrels, the Burgundian wineries didn't really know where the 
wood for the barrels came from; they weren't really aware of 
the techniques for making the barrels. Because of our 
questions and our interest, and also our discovery that these 
things made a difference- -type of wood, type of coopering, 
etc. --French winemakers are not only highly aware of these 
differences now, but they've studied them in their 
universities and are applying them to their winemaking. This 
illustrates Californians leading the way in important 
winemaking details previously unnoticed. 

As a result, we have a world scene that is much more 
competitive. There are many, many more good wines being made 
from every country, and I think the average quality level of 
the wines around the world has gone up significantly. 
Concurrent with that- -I don't know if it's a cause or an 
effect- -is that the consumer around the world is demanding 
better wines. So level of consumption of the old "jug" wines 
is continuing to decline, and the demand for these finer wines 
is continuing to increase. 

If you stand back and look at that whole picture of 
about twenty-two years, there is an enormous change in the 
world scene in wine --what's grown, what's made, the quality, 
how it's done, the whole attitude toward it. When I first 
traveled, you would go into a chateau in Bordeaux, and they 
wouldn't think about doing anything different from their 
traditional practices. Now, first of all, the next generation 
is running the chateau; and, secondly, this young generation 
did its internship in winemaking either in California or in 
Australia. They probably have a little side project- -a little 
winery in California or Australia in addition to their 
chateau. So it's fascinating. There's much more travel of 
the winemakers. Our winemaker, Nick Goldschmidt, is a good 
example. He is from New Zealand, learned viticulture there, 


studied enology in Australia, came to the United States and 
worked in California, went to England and worked in the wine 
trade in England, went to South America and made wine in South 
America. That's not an atypical winemaker. 

Hicke : Do you see any particular people or wineries in California 
that took the leadership in this evolution? 

Long: Certainly, going back to Robert Mondavi- -he was the first man 
there beating the drums about the quality of California wine 
relative to world wine , and he was never afraid to compare his 
wine to other people's. I remember some of the tastings. 
He'd bring out [Domaine de la] Romance -Conti and put his Pinot 
Noir up against it, and everybody would giggle. Nonetheless, 
what a fabulously successful individual, focusing the 
attention on California and what was happening in California. 
Supporting him were all the wineries that enthusiastically and 
energetically sought new and better ways of making wine and 
shared their information. That sharing of information from a 
technical point of view gave us enormous power to move the 
whole industry forward, quickly. 

Hicke: That was the California development? 

Long: Yes. And that North Coast Viticultural Research Group that I 
mentioned earlier- -Simi, Beringer, Mondavi, Domaine Chandon, 
Phelps, and Jordon--is just one example of that. Actually, 
you see that somewhat now in Bordeaux; some of the first 
growths are banding together and sharing information. But 
that was a concept totally foreign in many other countries , 
and we were fortunate to be so willing to work together that 

Hicke: Do you think California is going to maintain its leadership, 
or is it now, as you've indicated, such a worldwide industry 
that they're sharing all over? 

Long: I think California, as good as our wines are now, has 

tremendous potential to grow: quality and style. What we have 
done well is to have at the forefront of each variety certain 
wines that say: "This is the wine of the future. This is the 
Chardonnay of the future, the Cabernet of the future; these 
are the new varietals of the future." At Simi, our way of 
thinking about what we're doing is to be on that cutting edge 
in terms of style and quality with Cabernet, Chardonnay, and 
Sauvignon Blanc. In many cases those are blended varietals, 


Sauvignon Blanc blended with Semillon and Cabernet blended 
with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. We have an 
ability to continue to develop. As good as our wines are, 
they can be better; they can be more sophisticated; they can 
have more evolution; and, partly because of our climate- -our 
terroir- -we can successfully develop many other varieties. 

In fact, I think we've been somewhat subject to and have 
tended to accept other people's opinions about our climate 
that were based on their own experiences. 

Hicke : When you say, "we," do you mean at Simi? 

Long: We in California have been used to Europeans visiting and 
saying our climate is too hot, too dry. "You shouldn't 
irrigate your vineyards, because we don't. Your climate is 
too hot because it is different from ours." There are a 
hundred examples: "You're not right because you're not like 
us." The more I've traveled around the world and looked at 
climates, the more I've come to believe that we do have a very 
special place. We have a climate that's warm enough to ripen 
the grapes but cool at nights for flavor and color 
development; we have a long growing season, so we don't have 
the problems with frost that they experience in Washington 
State, for example, where last year they lost a significant 
portion of their crop, or in Europe, which last year lost a 
significant portion of their crop. We don't have rain as 
frequently during the summer, so we don't have to apply the 
level of chemicals- -fungicides- -to protect the grapes. We 
don't have that rain pressure for mold development as 
frequently as other countries. We don't have hail; you know, 
we never think about hail. Argentina and Burgundy lose 
significant amounts of crop from time to time to hail. 

So from a strictly agricultural point of view, to have a 
crop and not lose it to some nasty weather event every year, 
to have the kind of weather that really enhances quality, this 
is one of the best places in the world to grow wines. I think 
we've tended to accept other people's criticism without 
standing back and saying, "Hey, wait a minute." Ultimately, 
the wines tell the tale. In our climate that is "too warm," 
where we "irrigated when we shouldn't," et cetera, we've been 
able to produce wines that, tasted blind, are as good or 
better than most any around the world. 

Hicke: That is the final test. 


Long: That is, in fact, the final test. [laughter] 
Hicke: Are there some other things that we haven't covered? 

Long: The only other thing we haven't covered is the role of the 
winemaker and how that has evolved. Certainly in the 
seventies the winemaker was seen and conceived as the person 
who had the full grasp of the winemaking process. In the 
eighties, the winemaker was the person who had a grasp of the 
winemaking process but needed to be out in the vineyard. In 
the nineties, the winemaker is the leader of a small group, a 
team, that has a full grasp of winemaking and winegrowing. 

The level of sophistication that we need to have in our 
winegrowing and winemaking to achieve these cutting- edge 
wines, to make the greatest wine from each vineyard site, 
requires a group of people who have a common goal and 
understanding of the wine and the vines. In that group is 
someone who is extraordinarily knowledgeable about 
viticulture, extraordinarily able to manage the vineyards, 
extraordinarily knowledgeable about the winemaking process , 
the cellar work, the quality control, and the wine 
composition. If you take that group of people, and they share 
a common goal , then you have much more power to achieve this 
goal than you would in just one person. 

What I'm saying is that the degree of sophistication and 

understanding to grow and make a number of wines at a very 

high quality level is such that it's often beyond the scope of 
one person to do . 


S I M I 

S^^v ^ 




ALC. 13.3% 

S I M I 


S O N O M A COUNT Y 58% 




ALC 134% 



Hicke: I have a few questions left. I'd like to hear a little about 
your professional and community activities. You've told me a 
few things. For instance, you received the Masi International 
Award for 1991. 

Long: Masi is an Italian winery that has selected, every other year, 
someone from around the world who-- 


Long: --has made significant contributions in the wine industry. I 
was honored to receive that award in 1991. In 1989 I received 
what is called the WAFI award [Wine and Food Achievement 
Award] . The northern California chapter of the American 
Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) conceived a program to 
recognize and honor people who contributed in the area of wine 
and food. Some of the people, for example, have developed new 
sausages or new cheeses . Every year they have one award for a 
winemaker, and I received their first winemaker award. 

Hicke: These are for your work in the industry? Can you tell me what 
they recognized you for specifically? 

Long: When they gave the award, they didn't say, "This is for this 
particular activity." It was for the duration of my career: 
"You have created leadership in winemaking and viticulture 
which has resulted in outstanding wines, and we're honoring 
you for that achievement." 

Hicke: I wanted to ask you about Women for Wine Sense, too, and women 
in the wine industry. What are the important things to 
document about that? I think you were a founding member. 


Long: I've been on the board of directors of Women for Wine Sense. 
The organization was founded by Michaela Rodeno of St. Supery 
and Julie Williams of Frog's Leap. I've been peripherally 
active in that group. I've written a group of what we call 
beliefs and concerns that communicate how we feel about wine 
being incorporated into our lives as women. I led a group of 
women to put that together so that when we speak publicly, we 
have a consistent way to communicate how we feel about issues. 
I have spoken on behalf of the group in several venues, but 
the concept and leadership of that group is credited to those 
two women. And there has been a large number of women very 
active and invested in that organization. 

The idea of the organization came from the fact that 
wine in the public media was receiving such consistent 
criticism that you began to feel guilty if you ever drank any 
alcoholic beverages. But we see wine, first, as the result of 
artistic, creative efforts --an aesthetic experience for people 
who consume it, something to really enhance life, something 
that has great historical and religious traditions, and 
something that has a healthy role in life. Its health impact 
is well documented by scientific studies; wine consumption 
scientifically is a positive health factor for men and a 
neutral health factor for women. It will enhance a man's 
longevity if it is consumed in moderation. 

None of that sense- -the feeling of quality, of history, 
of its healthy role, of the addition to life's quality- -was 
being effectively communicated. Often women were taking the 
brunt of being "problems" because they were consuming wine 
during pregnancy and so on. The group was formed to take a 
more positive personal view of wine and its place in our 

Hicke: It sounds like it has less to do with women than it has to do 
with some of the other aspects of the industry. In other 
words, you're not focusing on equal opportunity for women. 

Long: That's right. That group has nothing to do with that. The 
group was formed to some extent out of frustration that the 
rest of the industry didn't seem to be able to effectively 
speak up positively on behalf of wine. Most of the people in 
the group are owners or active in wineries, and they feel very 
strongly about wine. They're very proud of what they've done, 
and I feel the same way. 


It's hard for a culture that's never had wine to really 
communicate what wine is. It's too easy to see it only as an 
alcoholic beverage. It's really difficult to understand how 
complex a beverage it is, which is the essence of what we've 
been talking about- -its reflection and responsiveness to 
environment, the complexities of winemaking well done, the 
levels of quality that are possible, the personalities that 
can be expressed through wine, the enormous variety that can 
be produced around the world, and the cultural history that 
it's had. 

Hicke : You were founder and president of American Vineyard 

Long: The American Vineyard Foundation was formed to help finance 

research in enology and viticulture. Like any other business, 
we need to constantly reinvest back into the development of 
our business- -or , to put it another way, the improved 
understanding of growing and making wine. The people who 
primarily do that kind of research in California would be the 
professors of enology and viticulture at UC Davis and at the 
California State University at Fresno. The industry has 
always supported them to a greater or lesser extent, and that 
foundation was founded to ensure a continuing supply of 
research funds and a mechanism to raise, receive, and disburse 
those funds . 

Hicke: So it's a fundraising organization? 

Long: Yes, and it was started at that time because of the need at 

that time. Then a marketing order was passed in the state of 
California that provided the research funds. As that 
marketing order ceased, the American Vineyard Foundation again 
came to the forefront to receive and disburse research funds. 

Hicke: You were president of Napa Valley Wine Technical Group in '76. 

Long: Both Napa and Sonoma counties have technical associations that 
meet once a month and generally have a speaker talk about a 
technical subject and also provide a social forum for the 
members. I was a member of that group starting in the early 
seventies and subsequently became president. When I first 
came to Simi I was a member of the Steering Committee for the 
Sonoma County Wine Technical Group. 


Hicke: You were on the board of the American Society for Enology and 

Long: Right. It was the American Society for Enology and 

Viticulture that originally saw a need to form the American 
Vineyard Foundation. It was as a board member that I took 
responsibility to start up the American Vineyard Foundation. 

I was also on the Industry Advisory Committee for FPMS 
[Foundation Plant Material Service] , which is the foundation 
nursery for the American wine industry. As a board, we had a 
number of major projects. One was assuring that the vine 
material that was in the older vineyards at Davis was saved. 
One was creating a new position in the Department of Enology 
and Viticulture for grapevine development. Another, which the 
committee is still working on, is to develop a more effective 
system to import and evaluate grapevine material from around 
the world and then get it out to the industry in the forms of 
varieties or clones that we can use and experiment with. 

Then I was on the National Grape Crop Advisory Council, 
which is a Department of Agriculture committee that looks at 
the grape crop with a national perspective, to see what needs 
to be done to protect and develop that crop. 

Hicke: And you were on the School of Agriculture Policy Advisory 
Committee at Davis. 

Long: That was a brief stint for the more general agricultural 
issues. Now I'm on the Industry Advisory Council for the 
Department of Enology and Viticulture, which focuses on the 
development of that department and its interaction with the 
industry, and it also helps the department with any larger 
issues that it may have. It provides advice and direction, 
communication and support, and probably at some juncture, 
fundraising for a new building. 

Hicke: United Winegrowers of Sonoma County? 

Long: United Winegrowers would be in shorthand the county political 
action committee for the wine and grape industry. Its members 
are both grape growers and wineries, and the focus is to 
protect agriculture in Sonoma County. I am a director of that 

Hicke: Do you have a representative in Sacramento? 


Hicke: Do you have a representative in Sacramento? 

Long: No. Our focus has been primarily within Sonoma County. We 
have a part-time executive director who has worked for the 
House Committee of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and was 
raised in an agricultural community. He has both a good 
agriculture and political background. More than anything, he 
has developed and maintained good relationships between our 
wine grape community and the county. If the county is 
thinking about doing something that might impact our 
community, they will seek us out for guidance and input. 
We've been an effective organization, and we have good working 
relationships with our county officials. The county has real 
concerns about protecting agriculture, so it's very positive. 

Hicke: I think you've talked about the strengths and the challenges 
that we are facing today. What about taxes and the anti- 
alcohol movement? 

Long: I think the challenges for California are to continue in the 

direction that we have set. We've taken a leadership position 
in terms of wine around the world, and our challenge is to 
maintain that in a world where there is communication and 
competition. I think we can do that; there's no question in 
my mind. In the short term, in the first half of the 
nineties, we have challenges that are economic, primarily as a 
result of the recession. I think certainly health and alcohol 
concerns are there in the background, and they have impacted 
people's drinking habits to some extent. Some of those 
concerns are appropriate in our society, such as the concerns 
of drunk driving. General health concerns are appropriate, 
but a real, honest view of health would incorporate moderate 
wine consumption. I think maybe the biggest problem is that 
alcohol has been painted as completely negative, which of 
course it's not, any more than any food substance is neither 
wholly positive nor negative. 

I feel that those issues will resolve themselves, that a 
balanced picture will be communicated and is beginning to be 
seen. I don't think the picture has been balanced in the last 
five years; it's mostly been anti-alcohol, and that's not a 
balanced picture. But a recent 60 Minutes TV program 
discussed "the French paradox"- -that French people have a 
high -fat diet, drink wine, and have a very low incidence of 
cardiovascular disease. French doctors feel the linkage 
between wine consumption and low cardiovascular disease is an 
important causal relationship. 


And there are demographic studies that show a real 
linkage between alcoholism and societal restrictiveness 
towards alcohol consumption. Demographically , the more 
restrictive a society is toward alcohol, the more alcoholism 
they have and a higher rate of death from alcohol -related 
problems. That kind of information is beginning to come out, 
so I'm confident that we will restore our balance of 

Phylloxera is an economic problem for the industry, and 
the state of our financial institutions in the United States 
is a problem for the industry, because they're in such a weak 
position. The banks are pulling out their financial support 
from small businesses, like wineries, and putting it into 
government paper and secure investments, and that really 
doesn't help our businesses grow and develop. But, again, I 
feel confident in time that will change. 

I think the big challenges are the next few years, and I 
think the biggest challenge, in a sense, is not to be so 
distracted by the economic problems that we don't continue our 
march in quality wine development, which is what has 
established us in a leadership position in the world. 

Hicke: This has been a wonderful interview. You are so thoughtful 

and reflective about everything that you are doing and that is 
going on. It's really a great contribution to the documenting 
of wine history. Thank you very much. 

Transcriber: Judy Smith 

Zelma Long, President, Simi Winery, 1991. 

Photograph by David Buchholz 


TAPE GUIDE -- Zelma Long 

Interview 1: September 23, 1991 

tape 4 
tape 4 

side a 
side b 
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side b 
side a 
side b 
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side b not recorded 

Interview 2: January 2, 1992 
tape 5, side a 
tape 5, side b 
tape 6, side a 
tape 6, side b not recorded 





APPEND I CES--Zelma Long 

A. Resume and list of publication 94 

B. "History of Simi Winery," 1984 99 


Appendix A 

President/Chief Executive Officer 

simi Winery 

16275 Healdsburg Avenue/ P. O. Box 698 

Healdsburg, California 95448 


Educational Background; 

1988 Stanford Executive Program, Graduate School of Business 

Stanford University, Stanford, California 

1982-1983 Part-time graduate student at Golden Gate University, San 

Francisco, California, working toward an M.B.A. degree 

1968-1970 Graduate program in Enology and Viticulture at the University 

of California, Davis 

1965 Graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of 

Science Degree, majoring in science and minor ing in nutrition 

Employment Background; 

1990-Present President and Chief Executive Officer, Simi Winery 

1989 President, Simi Winery 

1979-1988 Senior Vice President/Winemaker, Member Board of Directors, 

Simi Winery 

1970-1979 Chief Enologist, Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley, 


1967-1968 Professional dietitian and teaching dietitian, Highland 
Alameda Hospital, Oakland, California 

1965 Dietetic Internship, University of California Medical Center, 

San Francisco, California 

Business and Professional Affiliations; 

1977-Present Co-owner and co-winemaker of Long Vineyards, Napa Valley, 

1981-Present Member, North Coast Viticultural Research Group 

1989-Present Member, Department of Viticulture and Enology Industry 
Advisory Committee, University of California, Davis 

1990-Present Member, Womens 1 Forum, Bay Area, California 
1990-Present Director, Women for Wine Sense 


Page 2 

1990-Present Director, United Winegrowers, Sonoma County 

Member - Board of Trustees, 
Foundation, U.C. Davis 

California Agricultural 





Member, School of Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee, 
University of California, Davis 

Member, Foundation Plant Material Science Industry Advisory 
Committee, University of California, Davis 

Member, Vitis Cocp Advisory Committee, Advisory Group to the 
National Plant Germplasm System U.S.D.A. 

Member, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, North 
Coast Region 

Board Member, American Vineyard Foundation 

Director, American Society of Enology and Viticulture 

Founder and President of the American Vineyard Foundation 

Past Director, Sonoma County Wine Technical Group 

Past President, Napa Valley Wine Technical Group 

Past Member, Technical Advisory Committee, California Winegrowers 


Co-authored and presented a paper at the 1986 Sixth Australian Wine 
Industry Technical Conference, "Juice Oxidation in California 
Chardonnay," Z. Long, B. Lindblom 

Authored and presented a paper at the 1986 Sixth Australian Wine 
Industry Technical Conference, "Manipulation of Grape Flavor in the 
Vineyard, California North Coast Region," Z. Long 

Co-authored an article for Wines and Vines. November 1986: 
Oxidation Experiments at Simi Winery," Z. Long, B. Lindblom 


Authored two chapters on "The Science of Growing Grapes," anc 
"Enological and Technical Development," University of California^ 
Sotheby Book of California Wine. 1984 

~' ' ' 

Authored an article for Practical Winery. July/August, 1984: 
"Monitoring Sugar per Berry" 


Page 3 

Authored and presented a paper for the Bulletin of the Society of 
Medical Friends of Wine, February, 1983, Vol. 25, "The New Geography of 

Co-authored and presented a paper at the 1981 American Society for 
Enology and Viticulture Convention, "A Study of Compositional 
Differences in Cabernet Sauvignon as a Function of Press Types and 
Cycles," Z. Long, B. Lindblom, R. Boulton 

Authored a chapter entitled, "White Table Wine Production in 
California's North Coast Region," Wine Production Technology In The 
United States, by Maynard A. Amerine, American Chemical Society, 1981 

Authored a chapter entitled, "Chardonnay, " Vintners Club; Fourteen 
Years of Wine Tastings. 1973-1987. edited by Mary-Ellen McNeil-Draper, 
Vintners ' Press 

Authored and presented a paper: "Future of Controlled Appellations: Are 
They in the Interest of the Consumer?", Masters of Wine Symposium, 
Cambridge, England, July 1990 

Lectures/Panel Discussions; 

Lecture, "Botrytis in Northern California Coastal Vineyards," Focus on 
Chardonnay Symposium, Burgundy, France, July 1990 

Lecture, "Chardonnay: Two Perspectives from the Opposite Sides of the 
Pacific," Tokyo, Japan, June 1990 

Lecture, "Use of Barrels in Winemaking," Cape Estate Winegrowers, 
Capetown, South Africa, January 1990 

Panel member, discussion on "Malolactic Fermentation," Cool Climate 
Symposium for Viticulture and Enology, Auckland, New Zealand, 
January 1988 

Panel member, discussion on "Relative Merits of Wine Production in 
Traditional Areas like Europe compared to 'New World' Countries, such as 
Australia, America, New Zealand...," Cool Climate Symposium for 
Viticulture and Enology, Auckland, New Zealand, January 1988 

"Quality Control: Why It Is Important and How To Set Standards," 
University of California Extension, Davis, April 1987 

"Use of Sulfur Dioxide," Focus on Chardonnay Symposium, Sonoma-Cutrer 
Vineyards, July 1986 

"Oxidative Handling of White Must and Other Current SO 2 Practices," 
University of California, Davis, April 1986 


Page 4 

"Vineyard Assessment," University of California Extension, Davis, 
April 1986 

Co-lecturer, Chardonnay Style Seminar, "Grape Maturity," "Vineyard 
Selection," "Phenolics Control," New York, November 1985 

Maintaining Creativity in Winemaking, " Napa School of Cellaring, 
July 1985 

"Use of Aroma Assessment and Berry Sugar to Test Harvest Parameters at 
Simi Winery," Eastern Grape Growers Conference, Rochester, New York, ; 
November 1984 

"Testing Benevolent Vineyard Stress and Other Practices to Improve Wine 
Quality in North Coast Vineyards," Eastern Grape Growers Conference, 
Rochester, New York, November 1984 

"Production Planning for the Crush," University of California, Davis,! 

November 1984 

"What is Ph? and How to Teach It," Society of Wine Educators Conference, 
San Luis Obispo, August 1984 

Moderator for Sonoma County Wine Showcase, August 1984 
"Phenolics," Napa Valley School of Cellaring, July 1984 

"North Coast California," The International Symposium on Cool Climate 
Viticultural and Enology, Eugene, Oregon, June 1984 

"Oxygen in Winemaking - Enemy or Friend?", Simi Winery Seminar, 
May 1984 

"Grape Maturity," University of California, Davis, April 1984 

Panel member, discussion on "California Regions, Climates, and Graj 
Varieties," California Wine Experience, San Francisco, October 1983 

"Simi Winery's Approach to Assessing Grape Maturity," Napa Valley Wine 
Technical Group, June 1983 

"Women in Agr iculture/ Winemaking, " Fifth Annual Women in Agricultui 
Seminar, University of California, Davis, February 1983 

Panel member, discussion on "Fashion and Future of Food," moderated b} 
Julia Child, Southern California Culinary Guild, Santa Barbara, 
California, January 1983 

"Why the American Vineyard Foundation?", California Wine Festiva] 
Monterey, December 1982 


Page 5 

"Advances in Wine From the Vineyard," Simi Winery Wine Writers Seminar, 
August 1982 

"Ph and Vineyard Advances," Simi Winery Wine Writers Seminar, August 

"Wine Quality Has Three Aspects," Society of Wine Educators Conference, 
Santa Rosa Junior College, August 1981 

"Red and White Winemaking and Barrel Aging," Simi Winery Seminar, 
August 1981 

"How I Went About Designing a Fermentation Cellar," California Society 
of Professional Engineers, May 1981 

"White Table Wine Production in California's North Coast Region, Wine 
Industry Technical Seminar, 1981 

Panel member, "Women: Involved from Vine to Glass," Sixth Annual Wine 
Symposium, Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce, April 1981 

"Estimating Winery Cooperage Needs," Filtration Conference, Monterey, 
February 1980 

Lecture, "Oxidative Handling of Chardannay, and Advances in 
Viticulture," Adelaide, Australia 

Awards : 

1991 MASI Award, International Award for Enology, Viticulture and Wine 
Marketing, presented by Masi, Verona, Italy 

1989 Wine and Food Achievement Award, First Winemaker recipient; 
Northern California Chapter, American Society of Wine and Food 

Professional Wine Judging; 

1991, 1980 North West Enological Society 

1989-1990 Oregon State Fair 

(updated August 23, 1991) 

99 . 

Appendix B / Q g U_ 


SINCE 1876 


On December 6. 1 88 1 . two Italian immigrant brothers. Giuseppe and Pietro Simi. purchased a winery 
on Front Street near the train depot in Healdsburg. California, for S2.250 in gold coin and named it "Simi 
Winery. Although Pietro had been making wines at their San Francisco produce business since 1876. this 
purchase marked the brothers commitment to winemaking as a separate enterprise. 

Pietro continued running the San Francisco business whiJe Guiseppe took responsibility for the winery. 
Within a year he had increased its capacity to 1 00.000 gallons, making it the third largest of the Healdsburg- 
Windsor area s seven wineries. 

As the settlement of California increased, the brothers business flourished and they continued to ex 
pand. In 188 3 they purchased 126 acres of land north of Healdsburg. A new cellar made of hand-hewn stone 
was completed there in 1 890 with a capacity of 200.000 gallons Guiseppe named it "Montepulciano Winery " 
in honor of the wine district in Italy where he was bom. This winery is now Simi s aging cellar. 

The brothers holdings grew to include the original Simi Winery in south Healdsburg. the Montepul 
ciano Winery in north Healdsburg surrounded by 1 26 acres of grapes, a 360 acre tract called "King Ranch 
to the north of Montepulciano. and 200 more acres to the south. 

Then, in the midst of doubling Montepuloano's capacity to 400.000 gallons both brothers died Pietro 
in |uly and Guiseppe in August 1904. Although it must have been a staggering blow to the families, the 
businesses continued. Pietros family assumed control of the San Francisco store and warehouse, and 
Guiseppe s teenage daughter Isabelle took charge of the wine and vineyard operations. 

Isabelle had been very dose to her father, weighing in grapes and going on business trips with him 
from the age of 1 2. Although she had the support of her older half-brother Louis and experienced employees 
it was nevertheless an amazing undertaking for someone her age But she met the challenge and managed 
the business alone until her marriage to Fred Haigh. a Healdsburg bank teller, in 1908. Over the years he 
came to share in the direction of the Simi business and finally resigned from the bank in 1915. 

Then came Prohibition. The United States Congress declared it illegal to manufacture wine after May 
1. 1919. or to sell or distribute any alcoholic beverages after |une 30. 1919. No one in the thriving wine in 
dustry seemed to realize the havoc this amendment would cause. Fred Haigh. like many winery operators, 
believed such a law would be short-lived. He refused to sell Simi s half million gallons of wine on hand before 
the deadline, keeping the winery full as Prohibition went into effect Simi continued to work the vineyards 
and made small amounts of sacramental wines under strict government control, but the financial consequences 
of restricted business for the 1 4 years of Prohibition were the eventual loss of most lands and vineyards through 
forced sale or foreclosure. 

Repeal arrived on December 1933. Much of the first wine produced to satisfy the new demand was 
very young and of poor quality but not at Simi. Because Guiseppes rigid quality standards maintained 
by Isabelle. included harvesting grapes at a minimum of 22 Brix and aging the red wines at least five to seven 
years, and because Fred Haigh had decided not to sell Simi s wine 14 years earlier. Simi had good wines 



immediately available. Some were exceptional. Those that had not survived the many years of aging were 
sold for brandy-making or vinegar 

The original Simi winery in south Healdsburg had ceased production after the 1906 earthquake and 
ail wines were made at Montepulciano. During the reorganization following Repeal. Isabelle decided to label 
ail wines with "Simi" rather than the difficult to pronounce "Montepulciano." 

In 1936 she had one of the winery's enormous redwood champagne tanks rolled outside along the 
road and created a retail tasting room which can still be seen today. 

By 1938 Parrot & Company had been named the exclusive distributor of Simi Wines. When the Hotel 
Del Monte, a famous old Monterey resort, began to experience difficulty getting fine wines from Europe during 
World War II. they enlisted |ohn Parrot s help in locating a high quality California wine. Their red wines soon 
carried the Simi name 

While it had never been the family's practice to seek publicity or promote their wines. Parrot manag 
ed to convince Isabelle to enter the 1 93 5 wines in the 1 94 1 California State Fair. Simi took Gold Medals, the 
top award, for its 'California Cabernet." "California Zinfandel. and "California Burgundy." and a Silver Medal 
(2nd placet for its 'Pink Champagne." The winery s reputation for quality was established overnight and its 
wines rapidly appeared on the menus of San Franciscos most fashionable restaurants 

Publicity began to fade when Simi's relationship with Parrot ended in 1 948. Fred Haigh became seriously 
ill. An only child. Vivien, had joined the family business following Prohibition under parental pressure. Now 
more responsibility fell on her shoulders Upon Fred s death in 1 954. mother and daughter carried on: when 
Vivien died in 1968. Isabelle. still tenacious in spirit although around 80 years old. continued alone. Finally. 
in 1970 Russell Green, a former President of Signal Oil Company who had moved to the Alexander Vfelley 
and planted vineyards, took note of the winery s neglected and disorganized condition and convinced Isabelle 
to sell Simi to him. 

Isabelle still did not abandon what had been so much a part of her life. Through three subsequent 
ownership changes she could be found seated on her stool in the tasting room recounting Simi s history to 
visitors. She died at her home in Healdsburg October 16. 1981. 

Russell Green brought Simi into the modern winemaking world. He added the first stainless steel tanks 
and built a new. larger tasting room and office building. During the reorganization, he discovered old wines. 
including cases of the famous 1935 Cabernet Sauvignon. forgotten in dark comers of the vast stone winery. 
He hired consulting enologistAndre'Tchelistcheff and in 1972 they took the forward-looking step of appoint 
ing Mary Ann Graf as Winemaker. Acknowledged as America s first woman college-trained winemaker. her 
appointment was a milestone for women in a then male-dominated industry. 

Eventually Russell Green grew tired of the heavy demands the winery placed upon him. In August of 
1974 he sold Simi to Scottish & Newcastle Vintners, a California-based subsidiary of a Scottish brewing com 
pany. Its Chairman. Michael Dixon. had spent two years looking for the right California winery to buy. He 
had become so involved with Simi that when Scottish & Newcastle decided to divest itself of all foreign in 
vestments and sold the winery to Schieffelin & Co.. a New York based wine and spirits importer, in May 1976. 
he agreed to remain as President of Simi. 

Under Schieffelin s ownership, a 3-year. $5.5 million expansion and renovation was begun. In August 
of 1 980 a 1 4 .000 square foot fermentation cellar was completed, increasing Simi s capacity to 1 50.000 cases. 
Fifty-six temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks ranging in size from 500 to 1 2 .000 gallons filled the new 
cellar. Four custom-designed 4 . 500 gallon stainless steel tanks elevated 20 feet above the floor directly over 
a state-of-the-art bladder press allowed the skins of white grapes to remain in contact with the juice to ab 
sorb the grape flavors and aromas concentrated in the skins. 

The historic stone cellar was renovated. Its three-foot thick stone walls, ideal for maintaining a cool 
temperature year-round, were stabilized. Concrete floors and drains were replaced on the lower levels Wooden 
floors and support beams were replaced throughout to assure that all four levels within the ancient struc 
ture were capable of holding the more than 7.000 60-gallon new French oak barrels purchased over the next 
few years. A new slant-beam concrete tile root covered the complex. It was a tremendous effort and no small 
expense, an indication of Simi s total dedication to excellence. 

On lanuary 6. 1981. Moet-Hennessy. Frances second largest wine and spirits company, purchased 
Schieffelin. its U.S. distributor, and thereby acquired Simi. Moet-Hennessy s reputation for high-quality lux 
ury products with strong traditions of fine workmanship, enhanced Simi s stature and made its future even 
more promising. 


INDEX- -Zelma R. Long 

A x R rootstock, 78-80 

Alary, Larry, 39 

American Society for Enology and 

Viticulture, 56 

American Vineyard Foundation, 88 
Amerine, Maynard, 3 
appellation, American system of, 


Beringer winery, 54, 83 
Biever, Margrit, 20 

Biggers, , 36, 44 

Black, Michael, 57-60 
Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco , and 
Firearms, 73 

centrifuging, 19-20 
Christman, Monika, 60-61 
Cooke , George M. , 4 
cooperage, 9, 11-13, 18, 20-23, 

25, 32, 33, 36, 43-46, 49, 51, 

Croser, Brian, 63 

Dixon, Michael, 30, 37, 53, 63-65 
Domaine Chandon winery, 54, 83 
Dow, Glen and Mary Beth, 45 

Elliott-Fisk, Deborah, 55, 57, 74 
equipment, 8, 10, 11, 19, 25, 26, 

28, 30, 32, 35. 36, 38-45, 50, 

58, 62, 79 

must chiller, 38-41 

flavor, 5, 15, 22, 41, 45, 46, 
48, 51, 56, 57, 67-69, 84 

fermentation, 38-42, 44-45, 50-51 

Foundation Plant Material Service, 

"French paradox," 90 

Goldschmidt, Nick, 60, 82-83 
Graf, Mary Ann, 29 
Grahm, Randall, 77 
Grgich, Miljenko (Mike), 6-9, 
16-18, 20, 59 

Hobbs, Paul, 51, 52, 57 
Horn, Keith, 60 

Industry Advisory Council for the 
Department of Enology and 
Viticulture, UC Davis, 89 

Kenworthy, Diane, 37, 47, 48, 53, 

57, 59, 60 
Kliewer, Mark, 54 

Lider, Lloyd, 3, 4 

Lider, Jim, 4 

Lindblom, Barbara, 34, 44 

Long, Zelma R. 

as Mondavi head enologist, 16-28 
family and childhood, 1 
education, 2, 3 
joins Simi, 29 
professional activities and 
awards, 86-91 

Markel, Chris, 36 

Masi International Award, 86 

McCorkle, Tasha, 52 

Moet-Hennessy, 63, 64 

Mondavi, Michael, 8 

Mondavi, Robert, 6, 8-10, 15-17, 
23, 27, 83 

Mondavi, Robert, Winery, 6-28, 
29, 32, 34, 46, 54, 56, 59, 76 
change and innovation, 8 
vineyards and grapes, 23 

Napa Valley Wine Technical Group, 

National Grape Crop Advisory 

Council, 89 

Navarro River Vineyards, 77 
Noble, Ann, 55, 67, 68 
North Coast Viticultural Research 

Group, 54, 67, 83 

Olmo, Harold Paul, 5 


Phelps (Joseph) Vineyards, 54, 83 
phylloxera, 78-81, 91 
Policy Advisory Committee, 

School of Agriculture, UC Davis, 

Preston, Lou, 76 

Ramey, Dave, 39, 44, 51 
research, 10, 11, 25, 40, 54-56, 

59, 60, 66-68, 81, 83, 88 
Holland, Michel, 60-61 

Scottish & Newcastle Vintners, 65 
Schieffelin & Co. , 64, 65 
Simi Winery, 31-65 

growth of, 32-36 

image of, 63 

in 1979, 31 

international business 

development, 64 
Smart, Richard, 56, 67 
Sonoma County Wine Technical 

Group, 88 

Stanford Executive Program, 64 
Stewart, Leland, 4, 7 
Stony Hill winery, 4 

Tchelistcheff, Andre,, 7, 27, 29, 

terroir, 70-75 

United Winegrowers of Sonoma 

County, 89 
University of California at Davis, 

2-6, 29, 39, 51, 54, 55, 57, 60, 

66, 67, 72, 74, 88, 89 

vineyards , 

close-spaced, 55 
importance of in winemaking, 
68, passim. 

Vintners Club: Fourteen Years of 

Wine Tastings, 46 
viticulture, 2, 3, 9, 12, 23-24, 

37-39, 45, 47, 52-57, 59-61, 72, 

80, 82, 85, 86, 88, 89 

integration with winemaking, 66- 

Werner, Karl, 16, 17, 27 
winemaker, changes in role, 85 
winemaking, 3, 6-13, 15-18, 20, 
22, 25, 26, 28-31, 33-36, 38, 39, 
41-46, 49, 51, 52, 55, 58, 60-63, 
66-69, 81, 82, 85, 86, 88 
temperature in, 39-42 
evolution of, 11-13 
site specific, 12 
Women for Wine Sense , 86 

Grapes Mentioned in Interview: 

Cabernet Franc, 50, 77, 84 
Cabernet Sauvignon, 49-50, 52, 

53, 55-57, 61, 75-77 
Carignane, 25 
Chardonnay, 4, 5, 40, 45, 46, 52, 

53, 75-77, 81 
French Colombard, 25 
Malbec, 77 
Mataro, 76, 77 
Merlot, 50, 77 
Mondeuse , 26,76 
Mourvedre , 76 
Nebbiolo, 77 
Petit Verdot, 50, 77 
Pinot noir, 35, 75-77, 83 
Refosco, 77 

Riesling, 4, 5, 15, 25, 26, 76 
Sangiovese, 77 
Sauvignon blanc , 35, 51, 76, 77, 


Semillon, 84 
Sylvaner, 76 

Wines Mentioned in Interview: 

Cabernet Franc, 50, 69, 77, 83 
Cabernet Sauvignon, 11, 14, 15, 

23-26, 29, 35, 44, 60, 61, 67, 

69, 75-77, 83-84 
Chardonnay, 4, 5, 11-15, 20, 21, 

23, 25, 26, 28, 35, 40, 44-46, 

48, 49, 51, 52, 63, 70, 75-77, 



Chenin Blanc, 35 

Camay Beaujolais, 35 

Gewurztraminer, 35, 76, 77 

Malbec, 77 

Mataro, 77 

Heritage, 77 

Merlot, 50, 77, 83, 84 

Pinot Noir, 35, 77, 83 

Petit Verdot, 50, 77, 83 

Petite Sirah, 76 

Riesling, 4, 5, 15, 25, 26, 76 

Rose of Cabernet, 35 

Sauvignon Blanc, 14, 51, 76, 77 

Sylvaner, 25, 76 

Zinfandel, 14, 18, 25, 35, 76, 77 

Carole E. Hicke 

B.A. , University of Iowa; economics 

M.A. , San Francisco State University; U.S. history with emphasis on the 
American West; thesis: "James Rolph, Mayor of San Francisco." 

Interviewer/editor/writer, 1978 -present, for business and law firm 
histories, specializing in oral history techniques. Independently 

Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, 
Berkeley, 1985 to present, specializing in California legal, political, and 
business histories. 

Author: Heller. Ehrman. White & McAuliffe: A Century of Service to Clients 
and Community. 1991. 

Editor (1980-1985) newsletters of two professional historical associations: 
Western Association of Women Historians and Coordinating Committee for 
Women in the Historical Profession. 

Visiting lecturer, San Francisco State University in U.S. history, history 
of California, history of Hawaii, legal oral history.