Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by nicole
Bryanna Grebe’s journey from an aspiring pediatric dentist to a Technical Winemaker at Laffort is a tale of unexpected passion. Growing up in Atwater, California, she initially pursued molecular biology at UC Merced, aiming to improve healthcare in her community. However, a twist of fate led her to an internship at E. & J. Gallo, where she discovered the art and science of winemaking. Today, she stands as a dedicated Technical Winemaker, working with different wineries and blending her scientific expertise with a newfound love for crafting exceptional wines.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Bryanna Grebe shares her personal journey, revealing the intricate path to becoming a technical winemaker
- Explore the nuances of technical winemaking and how it sets apart from other roles in the industry
- Bryanna offers advice to those who discover their passion for wine after pursuing other careers, reflecting on her own experience and the wisdom she’d share with her past self
- Delve into the challenges faced by winemakers, specifically in the Pét-Nat category
- Explore the fine line between letting the wine ‘make itself’ and intervention
- Bryanna shares her expertise on dealing with volatile acidity, offering insights into analyzing microbes, running necessary tests, and potential solutions
- Discuss the significance of humility in winemaking, exploring scenarios where asking for help is crucial, along with the unpredictable nature of the industry
- Uncover the unique role of technical winemakers in larger wineries, highlighting their significance in the winemaking process
- Bryanna shares her enthusiasm for winemaking, discussing whether she leans towards proactive measures or solving issues and the thrill of shaping the future of the industry
- Explore the vision for the future of the wine industry, focusing on accessibility, low-alcohol wines, and making wine a daily beverage for everyone
In this episode with Bryanna Grebe
Bryanna Grebe of Laffort uncovers the fascinating journey she took from considering a career in dentistry to becoming an expert in the intricate world of winemaking. Bryanna shares her insights into the diverse roles within winemaking and explains the nuances of being a technical winemaker, as compared to a generalist.
In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Bryanna Grebe, Technical Winemaker at Laffort. We delve into the challenges of the Pét-Nat category, the balance between intervention and natural winemaking, and even explore strategies for managing Volatile Acidity in winemaking. Bryanna tells us why humility in the wine industry is important, and the value of asking for help when things go awry. She shares her excitement for the future of the industry, envisioning a more accessible and inclusive wine culture.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Drew Thomas Hendricks on LinkedIn
- Barrels Ahead
- Bryanna Grebe on LinkedIn
- Purple Teeth Club
- University of California, Merced
- E. & J. Gallo
- Robert Hall Winery
- Barton Family Wines
- Talley Vineyards
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.
At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.
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[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On this show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Before we get started, quick sponsor message. This show is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft beverage industry connect with their customers to build a stronger brand through audio content.
Today, I’ve got a really special guest on the show, Bryanna Grebe. She’s a technical winemaker and works at Laffort Winery. Welcome to the show, Bryanna, and Laffort’s not a winery.
[00:00:33] Bryanna Grebe: It’s all good. Hi, Drew. I’m so excited to be here with you today.
[00:00:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I’m excited for you to be on. So, Bryanna, we were talking in the pre-show about your journey.
It’s just amazing about how, about how it’s just if you had it to do over with, you wouldn’t have, you wouldn’t have like some advice. So give it, give me an idea. Talk to us about your journey to becoming a technical winemaker.
[00:00:56] Bryanna Grebe: Yes, so it started about 10 years ago and I was actually in my last semester at UC Merced, which is where I was studying molecular biology and I wanted to be a dentist at the time. So I decided actually when I was eight that I was going to be a pediatric dentist.
[00:01:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What peak your interest for dental?
[00:01:25] Bryanna Grebe: I’m a, I have a weird thing about teeth. I like to look at people’s teeth. And I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in science, also helping people. So kids specifically, because I feel like everyone hates the dentist and I always had a good experience, so I wanted to change that and also improve the self-care, the health care in the Central Valley.
[00:01:58] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, yeah.
[00:02:00] Bryanna Grebe: Which is where I grew up.
[00:02:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What town? Where in Central Valley?
[00:02:05] Bryanna Grebe: Atwater, California. You’ve probably never heard of it.
[00:02:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’ve heard of most places, but not that. Where’s that? Where’s the closest reference point?
[00:02:16] Bryanna Grebe: Probably Fresno for you. Oh, okay. So it’s about an hour north of Fresno Highway 99.
[00:02:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, wow.
Okay. Kind of in the Eldorado Hills or is that
[00:02:30] Bryanna Grebe: No, that is a little more, shoot, that would be like Northeast. Oh, okay.
[00:02:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Okay.
[00:02:37] Bryanna Grebe: Going towards like Tahoe. Okay.
[00:02:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So yeah, Atwater, California, loving the dentist. Going to school for molecular biology.
[00:02:48] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. Yeah. And so, I was getting pretty serious about pursuing dentistry. I started to apply to dental school and I shadowed for 100 hours with local dentists of different specialties and at the time, E. & J. Gallo, I think you’ve probably heard of them.
[00:03:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I think, yeah.
[00:03:17] Bryanna Grebe: So they, they donate a lot of money to UC Merced and there’s even a college on campus. I think it’s College of Business and Management named after Ernest Julio. And so they were advertising internships for just various areas within the company and 1 thing that piqued my interest was in the process technology department and that is basically a fancy way of saying research and development.
And so, I sat in an info session and they were talking about, vanillin, which is the chemical compound that is responsible for aromatically and sensorily. And so I just thought, Oh, that’s really cool. And, you know, they, they went on to talk about how barrels can act wine and the science behind it.
And I started thinking that might be a great opportunity for me. And one day I was shadowing my own dentist who I actually talked about taking over his, his practice at one point, he said, “Hey, Dr. Propes, shout out to Andy Propes and Merced.” He said, “You know what, winemaking sounds way more fun and you don’t want to sit here and clean people’s teeth all day.”
So that’s when I just became more interested in winemaking and actually at the time my college boyfriend, his family is big into walnuts and raising cattle in the Central Valley. And they were talking about planting vines. And so that’s what really piqued my interest. The two things at the same time, because I, I wasn’t raised drinking wine.
My family didn’t drink very much. And actually my first bottle. A Robert Mondavi Cab from Napa Valley.
[00:05:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s not a bad first bottle. I come to the same thing. My family, my parents were Mai Tai drinkers. We didn’t really have wine and drink beer in high school and college. And it wasn’t until I graduated that I really caught the wine bug.
[00:05:56] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah, same and I mean what college kid can really afford decent bottles of wine.
[00:06:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Not many. There was a guy on the show a few months ago. He was like, I don’t know. He was an anomaly
[00:06:13] Bryanna Grebe: Maybe daddy’s money. Yeah
But yeah, so that’s how I started out. And, you know, then I got an internship with E. & J. Gallo. I worked at Modesto for a little bit and mostly on the research and development side. So I had the proprietary tannin project that I can’t really talk about because of confidentiality versus, you know, all those fun things.
[00:06:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sounds fascinating.
[00:06:48] Bryanna Grebe: But yeah, yes.
[00:06:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Like on a high level of proprietary tannin is to create like the trademark Gallo tannin?
[00:06:56] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. Well, not, not trademark, but like different tannins, like different flavor components that they would add to wine from the Central Valley to basically improve the quality at a lower price point, you know, so like barefoot, that kind of thing.
Yeah, no. And so from there, I went into lab and quality and that’s when I moved here to the Central Coast.
[00:07:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, cool. That’s cool. That’s, that’s quite the journey. So as far as, so you’re, so talk to like, to the listeners that haven’t, don’t quite know all these different routes and roles in the winemaking.
You’re now a technical winemaker. Talk to us how that’s different than just like being a generalist winemaker or winemaker or the different types of winemaker roles.
[00:07:50] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. So I realized also that I totally omitted all of my previous position between, my lab role and to where I am now. So I did a lot of hopping around at different wineries, mostly larger wineries.
I did a harvest in New Zealand, which was really fun, but I gained a lot of experience working with different companies. I feel like it’s really important. You learn different systems and how companies are structured, especially with winemaking. And, so for me, I feel like technical winemaking is really understanding the basic fundamentals of winemaking because there’s so many philosophies out there.
You know, some people say. I will not add anything. Some people want to do low so2. Some people would rather, you know, just use a stainless steel versus barrels. There’s so many different variables in winemaking. And so basically how I got into it is just really dipping my feet into a lot of other companies and gaining a lot of experience. And knowing the basic information of fermentation really well.
And so, in my current role, I can help others optimize their wine. And I won’t mention any of our clients, of course, but I mean, big guys to small guys. Yeah. So
[00:09:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Everyone, everyone needs help. Everyone needs help. In your, in your journey like, so let’s give, give some advice to someone that may be in college today, maybe going to pursuing dental school.
And then they got the wine bug. What advice would, like, if you did it over again, what, what advice would you have for yourself back in that day?
[00:10:18] Bryanna Grebe: I think being honest with yourself. And for me, I always wanted a big paying job because, you know, money is comforting. It provides stability, it doesn’t necessarily provide happiness.
And so, I always thought, oh, you know, dentists, they’re paid really well. But then I found out how expensive dental school was. And I got a little scared. I mean, it can be anywhere from like 50,00-100,000 a year.
[00:11:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah.
[00:11:02] Bryanna Grebe: And, you know, that’s, that’s not even including your practice and all of that.
And so I wanted to find something else because I realized money wasn’t necessarily going to make me happy. But I wanted it to be in the science industry. So I think just talking to people in their field and really asking them, do you love your job? Be honest with me. Can you do the same thing for several decades and not necessarily get sick?
[00:11:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s excellent advice. What do you love most about your job right now?
[00:11:45] Bryanna Grebe: I love working with all the winemaker on the Central Coast of Paso. This region makes me so excited. I came here in 2015. It’s grown a lot. And it just makes me excited. There are so many amazing articles out there about Paso. There are so many different kinds of grapes that can grow here and there’s a lot of winemakers that are really passionate about innovation and trying fun products. I don’t know if you’re a Pét-Nat fan.
[00:12:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I am. I have a love-hate relationship with it because a lot of the good Pét-Nats are great, but a lot of the bad wine, they just put Pét-Nat on it and think you should drink it.
[00:12:41] Bryanna Grebe: Totally. Well, I’ll just say bubbles are probably my favorite category. And there’s so many different kinds of bubbles that you can drink. And I’ve worked with a lot of different winemakers on various projects. And it just excites me. It lights me up. I’m passionate about it.
[00:13:05] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What’s one of the biggest challenges winemakers face when they’re going to go into this Pét-Nat category?
[00:13:12] Bryanna Grebe: You know, I feel like it depends on your audience. I actually worked in a tasting room for a little bit at Robert Hall after I finished working at harvest with the team there. And I think a lot of winemakers don’t necessarily get to know their audience well. And you know, you might want to make a certain style of wine, which is great, but can you sell it?
I think that’s really important. And so for me, I worked on the production side first at Robert Hall, and then I worked in the tasting room and I loved getting to know the audience and realizing that they are the main drivers of the business. So, that was just so fun.
[00:14:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I think it’s important for winemakers to be on the front lines, especially the ones that go into like the big gun, like Gallo, and they never really see the front lines.
I think they become a little detached with what people are actually drinking.
[00:14:28] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. I think cross-training is so important in any industry and any company.
[00:14:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, for sure. For sure. Talking about Pét-Nats and in technical winemaking and kind of the,
[00:14:42] Bryanna Grebe: Yes.
[00:14:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And that whole fine line between, do you just let the wine make itself or do you intervene a little bit?
Where do you, I see more people today kind of erring too much on one side versus the other. Or having too much of an opinion. Yeah. I’m just going to let this wine make itself. I’m gonna bottle it, no matter what it tastes like, cause someone’s going to like it.
[00:15:03] Bryanna Grebe: Totally. And this is where the different philosophies come in, right?
Because some people say, “Oh, I will never touch my wine.” But yeah, what if you have a microbial issue and you know, that VA?So high production of VA is not great. So a little bit, it can have kind of a perceived sweetness, like bruised fruit a little bit, but you know, there’s a certain threshold where it can go through the roof and that’s not good.
And it could basically make vinegar. So at what point do you decide, “Okay, I’ve let my wine do its thing and now I need to intervene.” It really depends on the winemaker. And so that’s part of my job, actually, at Laffort. I get the phone calls from winemakers that are freaking out, saying, “Oh my gosh, I have this problem. Please help me.” Kind of like an SOS message.
[00:16:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s important.
[00:16:15] Bryanna Grebe: Which is really fun.
[00:16:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: How do you, when VA is going awry, how do you, I mean, how do you back out of that?
[00:16:24] Bryanna Grebe: So it really depends. I feel like step one is you need to look at the microbes that are present. So Acetobacter is usually responsible for VA production.
And so, you know, running analysis. It’s like an ETS, like a scorpion panel, which looks at a bunch of different microorganisms. And, that is, that would be step one, I’d say. And then, you know, if the VA is high enough, then, I mean, you don’t want to use a DVA filtration system. Because it can be expensive.
It can strip the wine. Get rid of aromatics, but sometimes you get desperate.
[00:17:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sometimes you have to. And if you’re, you’re whole, I mean, you’re depending on that revenue and you don’t have the luxury of just not releasing the wine. You might not have a choice.
[00:17:28] Bryanna Grebe: Exactly. And like, for example, harvest 2022, harvest 2022 last year, we had so many VA issues.
I actually had a winemaker crying to me last year. And basically saying, “All my wine has gone to crap because of this VA issue. Please help me.”
[00:17:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, wow.
[00:17:54] Bryanna Grebe: Which is not funny now. I mean, it’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny then. I felt so bad.
[00:18:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, you have to. Kind of stepping back though. I’m just the evolution of wine over the last 20 years I feel like the our palates have become more acquainted to it. And it might be through all the craft beverages and sour beers and stuff that people have been drinking and then kombucha. We get a lot of the, the palate gets a little more attuned to that vinegar flavor and it’s a little more receptive.
I know when I, I we go down to this place called bottle craft down here. It’s a there’s a shoots taco place there. And I am amazed.
[00:18:31] Bryanna Grebe: I’ve heard of it actually.
[00:18:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. Davin Waite. He has a fish tacos here in Carlsbad. Awesome. A lot of the natural wines. I see the people just gulping down. I’m, I’m kind of shocked.
[00:18:45] Bryanna Grebe: Well, I will say there’s not a lot of regulations around the term natural. And
[00:18:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And that, that being said though, I’ve had some gems. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m bashing natural wines. I love them. I absolutely love a low-alcohol, fruit-forward. Just a hint of Petion is fantastic.
[00:19:08] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. Especially with fish, fish tacos.
[00:19:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. So let’s talk about asking for help. I mean, it’s too often you see pride. I mean, I think pride and hubris are one of the biggest things in the wine industry where you get these celebrity consultants, celebrity winemakers, for example, you know, a cult wine company hires this celebrity winemaker to come in.
They’re paying them a huge amount of money and something goes wrong. What does that person do? I mean, they’re kind of stuck. They got to ask for help, but too often they don’t.
[00:19:40] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I definitely see a lot of egos. And you just kind of have to learn how to tread lightly, right? And get to know your audience.
I feel like just talking to your peers and being humble saying, “Hey, either I made a mistake or I have an issue and how would you do it? Do you have any advice?” Doesn’t mean you necessarily have to take it, but kind of gathering data in a sense and research. And then, you know, once you feel confident and like you have a good plan, then you can proceed however you need to.
[00:20:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s really great because it is, you are, they are asking for advice. It’s up to them whether or not they take it. They don’t have to take it. And that’s so great.
[00:20:37] Bryanna Grebe: And that’s one, one of my favorite parts of my job is presenting the information and saying it’s ultimately up to you. So it kind of takes the responsibility off of me a little bit.
[00:20:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So I can give you advice. So how did, I mean, that’s a good skill to have. How do you come in and tell the person it’s too easy to go, no, you’re messing this whole thing up. You got to do it this way. How do you, how did you learn that, that kind of inner person skill people skills?
[00:21:08] Bryanna Grebe: Tasting room. And I always try to put myself in that person’s shoes.
I’ve had experiences with toxic work culture before, unfortunately. And I’ve learned how not to talk to people. Not necessarily. Like me talking to others, but you know, people talking down to me, you know, like videos, like we talked about and it doesn’t make you feel good. So treating people how you want to be treated.
And I think just, you know, saying, “Hey, you know, A mistake happened, you can learn from it, it’s not the end of the world, so let’s work together and move forward, but also learn from the mistake and try to not make it again.”
[00:22:11] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And the thing about wine, unlike, I mean, I guess it translates to every industry, but you have a, you know, an attorney in a law firm, and an attorney would ask for a consult on a law case, but that’s pretty straightforward based on case history.
Wine, there’s so many external factors and variations that you could be a winemaker for a hundred years and you’re probably still going to see something that you’ve never seen before.
[00:22:34] Bryanna Grebe: Yes. Actually, I laugh about this every year because I just completed my 10th harvest, and every year it’s something different, which is kind of intimidating, right?
But also kind of exciting because it’s not necessarily fun, at least for me, to show up and do the same job every day. So I think it’s a great learning opportunity when you kind of get thrown curve balls and you might not eat it the first time, but with practice you figure it out.
[00:23:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, absolutely. And it’s kind of becoming comfortable with knowing that you’re, you’re not going to know everything and you don’t need to know everything.
You just need to know how to figure out the answers to the environment you’re currently in.
[00:23:30] Bryanna Grebe: Yes, that’s so well put. And also just having confidence. And knowing that you can’t be perfect, that you’ll make mistakes.
[00:23:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And, and I guess also confidence, knowing that your, your ego isn’t gonna get damaged.
You’re, nobody’s gonna think less of you as a winemaker. And some of that has to do with confidentiality too. And the importance in this industry. We collaborate all the time, but. I do see this like really solid level of confidentiality in a lot of the businesses I talk to where people know they can share their deeper secrets and it’s not going to get broadcast throughout the, throughout the internet.
And we, we try to preserve that on this show as well.
[00:24:15] Bryanna Grebe: Totally. There are times where I feel like a therapist a little bit because, you know, sometimes a wine that was forgotten about in the back of their cellar. And, you know, they’re distraught and calling me and saying, like, you know, I really effed up. And there’s a lot of emotions sometimes because there’s money involved, time, you know.
And so, just telling them, “Hey, it’s okay, we’ll figure it out. And time will go on, it will be okay.”
[00:24:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Absolutely. Let’s talk about, I want to talk about the technical winemaker title a little bit more on how it’s different from a generalist and in a larger, in a larger winery where you, where that role fits in.
[00:25:09] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah. So as far as Laffort, our company is based in France, in Bordeaux, France, and we have nine different subsidiaries. One of them is the US and so here in the US, our team is about 12 people. And we all work together as technical winemakers. And so that is definitely a different title versus a winemaker at a winery.
Because we’re so, you know, we do so much technical work and, you know, there’s a lot that goes into the science behind winemaking. Laffort’s actually been around since 1895 and we are very passionate about research and development. And so that’s where the technical side comes in because some of the products that we have.
I mean, there’s years and years of research that goes into these products. And so for us as technical winemakers, it’s really important to know research and development side, but also work with winemaker, and the community and kind of like pull apart all the details. So one of my favorite parts of my job is sitting down and tasting through wines with a winemaker and asking them all the questions, you know. Like, say, this is a blend that is going to be bottled in a few weeks.
And it needs like some polishing, you know, something like that, asking like, “Hey, what’s the chemistry numbers? What are the varietals in this blend? Did you have any microbial issues during fermentation?” All of these things factor into the wine quality. And of course, we want to help winemakers make the best quality wines possible.
[00:27:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Now, among the different steps, so you’ve got the, you got, you know, you got the harvest. Now the grapes are in, you’ve crushed, you’re fermenting. That’s, that’s your first step where you can come in and add technical advice. Then you’ve got the full fermentation. Talk to me about the steps and which part of that excites you the most.
Like where, where does it, where is it like the really true, like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I get to consult on this one.
[00:27:56] Bryanna Grebe: I really like tasting juice, especially when it has a little effervescence, goes into, goes back to my love for Pét-Nat and bubbles. But kind of seeing the potential because you can push juice into so many different styles, and there’s a lot of factors that help with that.
So, I think for me, asking a winemaker what their vision is for that wine, and helping them walk through those steps, and figuring out how to get there.
[00:28:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s very exciting. Yeah, setting them up for success versus being called in with the ambulance.
[00:28:43] Bryanna Grebe: Totally. It’s great if you can be proactive versus having to fix a problem later on.
[00:28:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And too often. Do you find yourself more on the fixing or more on the proacting right now?
[00:28:58] Bryanna Grebe: It depends. So right now it’s bottling season.
[00:29:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I guess it would depend on the time of year.
[00:29:06] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah, so typically most wineries bottle from like January to May or June. And between those times. So it’s kind of the thing season, like, “Hey, I need to bottle this wine into. What can I do? It needs a little adjusting. So how can you help me?”
And then I’d say harvest is more of the proactive time where, you know, the grapes come in, and if it’s, you know, a 2022 Cab. That is going to be aged in barrel for a year and a half to two years. You won’t see that wine in bottle for quite an amount of, or quite a good amount of time.
So, it’s kind of helping them set up their program for success, but you also have some time to adjust as you go.
[00:30:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, that’s very good. So I guess the, from what I’m hearing, the advice is to get a relationship with somebody like yourself at the start, so you can proactively set the vision and then add advice along the way as the vision goes to the right, down the right road or the wrong road.
[00:30:29] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah. And it goes to, it goes back to asking for help, you know, and just not being afraid to do that, I think is the key. And getting other people’s opinions that have experience and that you can relate to.
[00:30:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. So, let’s talk about the future, future of Paso, and future of wine, knowing what you love for Pét-Nat.
Where do you want to see yourself going in five years or the, where do you want to see the industry as it evolves and you start growing with it and shaping it?
[00:31:06] Bryanna Grebe: That’s exciting. Yeah. Well, I will shout out actually on that note. What I’m drinking.
[00:31:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yes.
[00:31:17] Bryanna Grebe: From Barton Family Wines. I don’t know if you’ve ever had anything from Barton.
[00:31:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, I haven’t, but I want to.
[00:31:25] Bryanna Grebe: So fun. It’s a great spot in Paso. These grapes are actually from Talley Vineyard and Arroyo Grande.
But as far as the future of Paso, working with winemakers that love innovation and trying new things, Pét-Nat is a great, newer, I mean, it’s, it’s new, but not. I feel like orange wine is kind of that way too. And a lot of canned wines are coming out, like a Vino Verde style. And just some cool new varietals that a lot of people have never heard of.
Like, Ugni Blanc. Which isn’t super… Oh, I guess it’s very traditional because it’s used in France to make cognac, but it’s not really heard of in Paso.
[00:32:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. New medium for here for sure.
[00:32:35] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah.
[00:32:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I would love to see more Pét-Nats and low-alcohol wines and just really just wines as a beverage. If I could see the current trajectory, I would love to see it just continue going to that road with wine becoming a nice daily beverage again and taking some of the, taking some of the elitism out of it would be a great thing for me.
[00:32:58] Bryanna Grebe: I totally agree because I mean, wine initially attracted me because of, you know, the sophistication. And all that, but I feel like there’s a lot of wine that also comes off as pretentious and it’s not fun to be intimidated.
So one thing that I love is teaching my friends and family about wine and basically trying to make it not seem so intimidating. Because it can be super fun.
[00:33:41] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, yeah, for sure. I had a company right when I graduated from grad school called Simply Wine. And our tagline was taking the intimidation out of buying a bottle of wine.
[00:33:51] Bryanna Grebe: Yes, I love that.
[00:33:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, it was that, that is so important. We all need to do a better job of like just making wine accessible.
[00:34:01] Bryanna Grebe: I agree. And, you know, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer. When say you’re pairing a wine with food. I know there’s kind of these hard rules, but just enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be a right or wrong, you know, as long as you have fun people to drink it with.
You know, if you’re kicking back on your patio and just embrace the experience.
[00:34:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, absolutely.
[00:34:38] Bryanna Grebe: I think that’s what’s really important.
[00:34:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Once it’s in the bottle, once it’s in, once it’s out there for sale, there’s no right or wrong way to drink it. Oh, I mean, there may be choices that when you’re actually making the wine, like you should have done that, but once it’s out there, I, my mind has become so much more open in the last two, three years, especially, yeah, especially just seeing the way wine’s consumed here in Carlsbad a lot.
And I’m like, wow, people are having so much fun enjoying it. I’m like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re drinking that, but I can’t doubt him. They’re, they’re loving it. I’m wrong.
[00:35:11] Bryanna Grebe: In what way are you seeing it like cans or
[00:35:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, no. I’m talking about some, some of these natural wines that, make it to the
[00:35:19] Bryanna Grebe: Oh, I see.
[00:35:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Make it to the shelves that are very vinegary. But yeah, there’s a palette for that and it, there was a one. There is, yeah. I did have a funny, I do have one story. Back in the day when I was selling wine, this is in the nineties, we had a case of, it was a northern row, it was a sanches. And literally every bottle in that case was corked.
And we put it in the discount bin and we were selling it for like 4 or 5. This one guy kept buying it and buying it. And he was a really heavy cigar smoker. And I’m like, why is that guy buying it all? But he, he finally went through the entire case from the discount bin and came back going, “Can you get any more of that? I’ve never had anything that tasted like that.” And for some reason that cork wine just melded with his palate. Like nothing. He loved it.
[00:36:09] Bryanna Grebe: Well, and if you, if you think about it too, if you. smokes a lot, then maybe his palate isn’t as refined as it used to be.
[00:36:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Or that quirkiness just cut right through where it needed to be.
So there, you’re right, there’s no wrong, once it’s bottled, there’s, there’s no wrong wine. It’s just the person who appreciates it.
[00:36:32] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah, I mean, honestly, any bottle that you open, it’s hard to know exactly how it’s going to present itself. Unless, you know, you as a winemaker is trying or tasting every single bottle and can put on that stamp of approval.
[00:36:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, for sure. Well, Bryanna, this has been fantastic. Is there anything we haven’t talked about as we kind of wrap down this episode?
[00:36:59] Bryanna Grebe: The one thing that comes to mind is probably the funnest adventure that I’ve ever had.
[00:37:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh wow.
[00:37:09] Bryanna Grebe: I actually did a harvest in New Zealand. And I was probably about four years into my career. Just needed to shake things up. And… So I actually, to Marlborough, New Zealand for two months, but I got there in early of March, 2020.
And I’m sure you remember what happened in March of 2020.
[00:37:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah.
[00:37:42] Bryanna Grebe: So I actually got there and got settled about a week before the world shut down.
[00:37:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh my gosh.
[00:37:49] Bryanna Grebe: And I had plans to travel, visit Cellar Doors, which are actually tasting rooms in New Zealand and Australia. And I didn’t get to do any of that, which was really sad.
But basically what I’m trying to say is I’m so glad that I pulled the trigger and did something crazy, like working a harvest abroad because it’s my first time traveling by myself, which is kind of intimidating as a woman by herself, you know, but it was so exciting. And so kind of going back to my advice for people early in their career is.
Do the crazy things because you never know where you’ll end up. And I think that that specifically on my resume now is why I’ve gotten so many jobs that I have because people know that I take it very seriously.
[00:38:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That is excellent advice. That is excellent advice. Well Bryanna, where can people find out more about you and Laffort?
[00:39:03] Bryanna Grebe: Great question. So our website is look for USA dot com. We actually have an e-shop that we launched last year. And I am gearing up to start my wine consulting business. And so I also have a blog that’s called Purple Teeth Club.
[00:39:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Love it.
[00:39:29] Bryanna Grebe: To where I basically just write articles to guide folks on how to make wine less intimidating.
And so that is purpleteethclub. blog.
[00:39:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’m going to check it out. We have got to have you back on for like an episode two, where we talk about the non-intimidating part about wine. And then, you’re launching this technical… Consulting thing. I can’t wait to talk to you about that.
[00:39:56] Bryanna Grebe: Yeah, it’s definitely in the works.
My husband will retire in 10 years and I don’t necessarily want to work full time when he retires. So trying to think of my future and plan ahead.
[00:40:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely.
[00:40:14] Bryanna Grebe: Get some traveling in there.
[00:40:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Well, Bryanna, thank you so much for joining us today. I gotta jump off now, but this has been a real pleasure.
[00:40:24] Bryanna Grebe: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Drew. I really appreciate talking to you.
[00:40:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And we will be talking soon for sure.
[00:40:31] Bryanna Grebe: Awesome. Take care.