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Monday, January 10, 2011

1/11 - ORGANICALLY UNCORKED: John Williams, Founder & Proprietor of Frog's Leap Winery

John Williams
Founder & Proprietor
Frog's Leap Winery
Join us on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, as Slow Living Radio uncorks the secrets of organic winemaking with the illustrious John Williams, founder and proprietor of Napa Valley's Frog's Leap Winery in Rutherford.... at the intersection of environmental responsibility and internationally renowned winemaking!

Frog's Leap's Historic 'Red Barn'
Frog's Leap stands tall in the heart of Rutherford, at home in its historically noted "ghost winery" Red Barn. This grand and welcoming building was built in 1884 as the Adamson Winery and renovated in 1994 as Frog's Leap's permanent home. A handsome bi-level barrel chai completes the state of the art winemaking facility. 

The Winery sits surrounded by 40 acres of organically farmed estate vineyard. Frog's Leap also owns 88 acres and farms 100 additional acres in the Rutherford appellation.  Frog's Leap was founded by the Williams family, on a spot along Mill Creek known as the Frog Farm. At the helm of Frog's Leap is John Williams, winemaker and former dairy farmer from upstate New York. John Williams grew up in Western New York and originally attended Cornell University to extend his studies as a dairyman. A fortuitous work-study program at Taylor Wine Company and a few bottles of wine later, John entered the Enology and Viticulture Masters Program at UC Davis. Following Davis, he returned to the Finger Lakes as the start-up winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars. Taking inspiration from his first Napa Valley winemaking post in the cellars of Stag's Leap, John began making wine commercially in 1981 and named the new operation "Frog's Leap."

Frog's Leap's 1020 photovoltaic
panels on 1/2 acre of vineyard space
Through its commitment to provide on-site solar power, Frog’s Leap Winery has reinforced its belief that thoughtful ecological decisions are also good business decisions. In February of 2005, the winery essentially “flipped the switch” becoming 100% solar powered and thereby joining a growing list of concerned businesses committed to reducing the environmental impact of conventional power sources. Photovoltaic panels collect sunlight that is then converted to a clean and renewable energy source. By capturing more electric power than what is needed by the business, the photovoltaic panels have the benefit of “net metering” which allows the business to sell excess electricity back to the power company for credit and thereby becoming an energy provider. 

In keeping with its commitment to being sustainable through energy conservation and the utilization of renewal energy sources, Frog’s Leap added geothermal heating and cooling to its overall “green” energy program. With the development of the new Hospitality Center & Administrative Office, Frog’s Leap was given the opportunity to complement its existing solar energy field with geothermal energy to provide the balance of energy required to fully satisfy the needs of the entire winery and its operations.

Clean, renewable, and sustainable, geothermal energy is derived from the earth’s thermal mass. Utilizing an underground loop system, geothermal heating and cooling maintains a constant temperature of 56 to 58 degrees to elicit a very efficient exchange of energy between the building and the earth’s core.

In the winter, water circulating within the sealed underground loop system absorbs heat from the earth and carries it to the geothermal unit where it is compressed to a higher temperature to provide heat to the building. In the summer, the system reverses and expels heat from the building to the cooler environment of the earth via the loop system ultimately creating a comfortable climate in the interior of the building.

Frog's Leap presents a relaxed approach to enjoying wine. An easy hospitality and warm sense of humor is juxtaposed with a more serious sensibility when making wine. Using the best of Napa Valley's organically grown grapes and the most traditional winemaking techniques, the winemaking team strives to produce wines that deeply reflect the soils and climate from which they emanate.  Winemakers John Williams and Paula Moschetti hand-craft an annual production of almost 60,000 cases composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford and Zinfandel.

Frog's Leap produces some of Napa Valley's finest wines and, undoubtedly, has one of the wine world's best mottos: "Time's Fun When You're Having Flies."

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