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GRILLED NEW YORK STEAK MERLOT MAKES IT BIG DANIELLE CYROT MERLOT WINE PICKS
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WINEMAKER: DANIELLE CYROT

Average Farm Girl? Not!
PRACTICAL AND PLAYFUL, DANIELLE CYROT AT TWOTONE FARMS

INTHEBARREL By THOM ELKJER

When winemakers interview for jobs, they typically bring along a bottle of the best wine they’ve made at some other point in their career. But when Danielle Cyrot interviewed at Napa Valley’s venerable Stags’ Leap Winery in 1999, she was just a few years out of college. So she brought winemaker Robert Brittan the next best thing: a bottle of her home-brewed beer.
“I guess he liked it, because I got the job,” Cyrot laughs.
Along with a bubbly sense of humor and willingness to take a risk, Cyrot brings to her work a bracing work ethic. Straight from graduation at UC Davis she fit two harvests into six months, one in Alsace and one in Australia, before returning for an internship at Cordoniu (now called Artesa) and her first job at Schramsberg.

Winemaker Danielle CyrotHer eclectic early experiences turned out to be ideal preparation for her current position as winemaker for TwoTone Farms. The founders wanted to launch a Napa Valley-based brand with a fresh personality, including screw-cap packaging. They had the vineyards and the grapes. What they needed was a serious winemaker who could still relate to young, adventurous wine-drinkers.
“I like different wines than my parents,” Cyrot says, without prompting. (One TwoTone Farms neck label carries the line “Not your father’s wine.”) She also likes the screw-cap, which research shows can effectively eliminate off-putting flavors that result from defective corks. Industry estimates suggest that so-called “cork taint” affects one bottle in twenty—but most consumers think it’s the wine, not the cork.

“You will taste exactly the wine I made, without any cork taint,” Cyrot declares about her screw-capped wine. “People need to become aware that wine can taste better with screw-caps and we’re trying to make that education fun.” For example, TwoTone Farms’ marketing campaign includes a series of music CDs (“I got my two cents in there,” Cyrot says of the eclectic musical selections).
True to her nature, she mixes in plenty of practical with the playful and philosophical. Before she made the first TwoTone Farms Merlot, she bought more than a dozen other Napa Valley Merlots in the same price range so she could evaluate the competition. Her reaction? “I can beat these.”
The down-to-earth personality extends to her winemaking. “My main stylistic goal with the wine is, I have to like it,” she laughs. Fortunately, she likes all the good things about Merlot, which she quickly enumerates: “Red cherry, plum and black cherry flavors. Good body and richness. Soft and gentle, not a hard red beast. But with some complexity.”

The first TwoTone Farms releases (made with Tres Goetting, now departed) were a 2001 Napa Valley Merlot and 2002 Napa Valley Chardonnay. A Napa Cabernet Sauvignon joins the line-up this year. Cyrot’s also still working at Stags’ Leap Winery, while remodeling her house and learning to play golf. Still, she finds time to pour her TwoTone Farms wine for the public at fairs and farmers’ markets. “I enjoy it,” she says, and laughs once more. “I like people, and I don’t mind talkin’ about wine!”

 


MAR/APR 2005
TABLE OF CONTENTS

FEATURE ARTICLES
FOOD & WINE
Grilled New York Steak
Sonoma Citrus Chicken Salad
Merlot Makes it Big
Chardonnay, Pick Your Passion
Winemaker: Danielle Cyrot
Winemaker: Ed Killian
Wine Picks - MERLOT
Wine Picks - CHARDONNAY
ON THE RADAR
SOCIAL TOAST
BITS & BITES


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