Quality Wines and Experiential Tasting With Jason Bushong of Bushong Vintage Company


by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Aug 9, 2022

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by rise25

Jason Bushong

Jason Bushong is the Owner of Bushong Vintage Company, a winery and tasting room. He entered the wine industry as an Intern at Fieldbrook Winery and has worked in several different American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in California. With over 20 years of winemaking experience, Jason opened his company in 2017.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Jason Bushong shares his first exposure to the wine industry and how he became a winemaker
  • Jason’s approach to winemaking
  • What is Bushong Vintage Company’s house style?
  • Jason explains Bushong Vintage Company’s experiential tasting sessions
  • What factors influence wine tasting?
  • Jason’s artistic vision for his wine labels
  • Bushong Vintage Company’s brand goals
  • The challenges of brand awareness
  • Jason reveals his latest wine labels
  • What motivates Jason as a winemaker?

In this episode with Jason Bushong

Wine brands often struggle in convincing customers to appreciate the full value of a wine. Consumers regard tasting rooms as restaurants and overlook the wine’s label and quality. So, how can you create a vibrant tasting experience to promote your wine and generate brand awareness? 

Successful tasting sessions should incorporate all five senses to maximize consumers’ interactions with the wine. Jason Bushong accomplishes this by emphasizing the wine’s flavor and color and the feel of the wine glass. He also pairs music genres with each of his labels to enhance the tasting event. With a focus on quality and involvement, your consumers are more likely to appreciate your wine brand.

In today’s Legends Behind the Craft episode, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon sit down with Jason Bushong, Owner of Bushong Vintage Company, to discuss creating quality wines and a memorable tasting experience. Jason shares his approach to winemaking, how Bushong Vintage Company creates experiential tasting sessions, and his artistic visions for his wine labels.

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Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show

Drew Thomas Hendricks  0:20  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. past guests of Legends Behind the Craft include Daniel Daou, Daou Family Estates, Shari and Garen Staglin Staglin vineyard. Hilary Cocalis of Sipwell wine Co. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead and Barrels Ahead, we work with you on a one of a kind marketing strategy. When that highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue, could have barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Today, I also have Bianca Harmon on the show again, Bianca is one of our direct to consumer marketing strategist. If you ever want to level up your direct and Super Game, gotta give her a call. How’s it going, Bianca?

Bianca Harmon  1:09  

Going good, Drew. Thanks for having me. excited to talk to Jason today and learn all about his fantastic winery.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  1:17  

Yes, yeah. Today’s a special guest. We’re actually working with Jason right now building out his new website, and Jason Bushong. He’s the owner and winemaker at Bushong Vintage Wine Company. Jason has been involved in all aspects of winemaking over the past 20 years. And in 2017, he opened up his own tasting room in downtown Paso Robles. Super excited to uncover his story today on Legends Behind the Craft. Welcome to the show, Jason. Oh, thanks.

Jason Bushong  1:42  

Thanks for having me.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  1:44  

Oh, thanks for being on. So you got to just jump right into this. How did you get your start 20 years ago in the wine industry?

Jason Bushong  1:52  

Well, I kind of got my start as a wine consumer first when I was 18 years old. Yeah. I had a roommate. And he actually brought home a bottle of Chardonnay from a Santa Barbara County winery. And we were in Riverside, California, which is where I was raised. And we shared that bottle of wine. And from that point forward, I was pretty much a wine enthusiast.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:16  

That’s amazing. Like at 18. I think I was still on the Southern Comfort tequila train.

Jason Bushong  2:21  

Yeah, I, I didn’t really have a preference at that point. But I did after that night. And then that was wine. I never got to be like the beer guy or what have you. I just was really fascinated with wine. But at that point, it was more just on a consumer and educational and exploratory type of a situation. And then a few years later, when I was in college, I still had my wine passion, I guess. And so I found my professor who had a winery where I was going to school and asked him if I could start working for him.

Drew Thomas Hendrickss  2:57  

Amazing. Where did you go to school?

Jason Bushong  2:59  

I went to Humboldt State University.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  3:01  

Hold the end, did you gravitate towards those wind classes or towards Oh,

Jason Bushong  3:04  

they didn’t really have any wine programs. I ended up there, sadly enough, because just a bunch of my friends were going up there to go to school. And so I just tagged along and we all got a big house and rented it together. And then I actually went through a small junior college called College of the Redwoods and then transferred to Humboldt State, which is now they just made it Cal Poly humble. They actually did

Bianca Harmon  3:30  

they. Yeah. Yeah. My fiancee grad, graduated from Humboldt State.

Jason Bushong  3:35  

Yeah. So now we are I say I wasn’t Humboldt State. I’m a Cal Poly Humboldt person. There’s only three Cal volleys now or there were only two, Pomona and San Luis and now they added humble, which makes sense. It’s a pretty science oriented school with forestry and oceanography and a lot of Biological Sciences.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  3:58  

Oh, yeah, for sure. So what did you study at humble? Psychology? Psychology?

Jason Bushong  4:04  

Yeah. What’s that? Oh, I

Drew Thomas Hendricks  4:06  

think psychology because that kind of ties into wine and the psychology behind people’s.

Jason Bushong  4:13  

I think honestly, it was the easiest degree to get. Well, I was just running around playing with wine. And really, I yeah, I mean, that was, I didn’t really have a strong interest interest in psychology. But it was just one of those social sciences that wasn’t as demanding as say, if I was studying chemistry or biology, and it led me You know, I worked in restaurants and tried to work in the best restaurants that had the best wine list so that I could get more exposure to wine. And then like I said, I sought out a professor at a winery and started working with him.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  4:47  

Yeah, talk to me about that. That’s, that’s pretty interesting to see.

Jason Bushong  4:51  

Yeah. He he was a lot. He was actually an oceanography professor at Humboldt State. His name is Bob Hodgson. He had a small winery called Field Valley and we got most of our grapes from Mendocino County, although there were some grapes being grown in eastern Humboldt County, and Trinity County, which is adjacent to that. And actually Humboldt County the Willow Creek district in Humboldt County was established as an ABA and American viticultural abolition. And in the 70s, strangely enough, and there was just a few vineyards out there. And that’s funny now because now the Willow Creek district in Paso Robles is by far the most relevant district here, but they never no one ever mentioned that there’s actually a willow creek district in Humboldt County, too.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  5:40  

That’s fast. Yeah, that’s that’s the I didn’t know there’s two. As you began your journey into winemaking, what was the biggest surprise

Jason Bushong  5:50  

I remember that the biggest surprise to me the first time that I got to actually, you know, work with grapes with with Bob was how small the berries were. Everyone’s used to table grapes. And so that was my impression and we got some Chardonnay grapes and, and I was like, Oh my God, these are just the smallest berries compared to a table grape. And I you know, you don’t think about it, but you don’t see wine grapes very often. And, you know, I know that there are bigger varieties, you know, like Simpson Dell or what have you, but Chardonnays were incredibly small. And I just remember I was shocked at how small they were. And

Bianca Harmon  6:28  

I was just gonna say at least you were you were just shocked by how small the grapes were. One of my favorite stories to this day is when I worked in the tasting room. And we used to bring in when we’re harvesting, we would bring in grape samples and let customers taste each day, you know, variants, but a wine grape was it was just one day there was this couple and this lady picked up one of the table grapes. She was like, wow, these are great. Her husband’s like, yeah, he’s like, but I can’t taste the alcohol. And then I was like, is he joking? Or Is he serious? Yeah. It’s like, No, I can’t taste it. And I’m like, okay, he’s, he’s serious. And I was like, well, we don’t actually go around with a needle and inject alcohol into each one of the grapes goes through a fermentation process, just like any other alcohol to produce it.

Jason Bushong  7:20  

Yep. Yeah,

Bianca Harmon  7:22  

it’s my favorite stories behind table grapes.

Jason Bushong  7:25  

I get I get that. I get those questions in the tasting room all the time. Mainly, it’s associated with characteristics, you know, they’re like, Oh, well, did you put grapefruit in this to make it smell like, you know, that’s, you get? I mean, literally, it’s amazing. But you know, you can’t expect everybody have a baseline knowledge of that and what have you so but we get that all the time.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  7:53  

beings being so were you basically self taught or into your wife?

Jason Bushong  7:57  

Yeah, so I worked. I worked with with field bird Valley winery with Bob for a couple of harvests. And I didn’t get paid. I got paid a bottle an hour. Yeah, so I ended up taking home a bunch of wine like at the holidays after harvest. Family when I went back to see everybody from school. And then I I met another gentleman who was just part of that. Strangely enough, there was a pretty active wine community in around Arcata, which was the city where I’m on stages. And there was a restaurant called fully deuce. That was a big, big wine place, and they would have a tasting once a month. And actually, the owner of that restaurant went on to start a winery in Napa Valley, which is quite successful for the day. And then, but I met another guy who was going to build a small winery and plant vineyard in eastern Humboldt County. And then I started working with him. And I worked with him for the last two years of my college career. And we put together a small makeshift winery, he bought a building in downtown Arcata, and we converted it to a winery and then we planted two vineyards on the east side, one in Willow Creek, which is the area I was talking about earlier, and the other one was on the Hupa Indian Reservation. Yeah, he bought a piece of property on the reservation and we planted a vineyard there. So then I kept working with him. But yeah, at that point, it was just hands on and my own studies in winemaking outside of going to school. You know, I started getting books on winemaking and so yeah, it was kind of I was just developing it on my own.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:44  

It’s amazing. It’s gotta you definitely have to have the passion for it. And how so this this leads into that next question that passion for wine and stem 25 years 20 And just as not abating why wine. What is it about wine And I think

Jason Bushong  10:00  

for me, I was always a fairly artistic person. And wine was this wine is the ultimate, you know, culmination of art, science and agriculture. And so it was just, I was I liked the idea of having a job where I could be outside a lot, or, at that time, I didn’t even think of it as a job. And about halfway through my degree, in psychology, I decided I wanted to make wine for living, but I didn’t know how it was going to go about that. But to me, I think those elements, you know, you have the science, which is guiding the production of wine, but it’s heavily influenced by artistic you know, in in the methods that you choose to make it, you know, what kind of cooperage you’re going to use, what fermentation vessels and all those things where your palate that you can choose from, but then you did have, you do have the science that is guiding behind it, you know, you need to know what the acidity of the wine is, to the wine and how much sugar is in the grape still, and all those not complex science, at least not for me. And then the agricultural side of it, I never really got into viticulture, but I definitely liked the idea of working outside, you know, being in vineyards, and not basically being in front of a screen like we are now. And so I think those three things just were like, okay, and I think it was also variety, you know, there’s just an endless amount of different kinds of wines, and I just was always into, you know, is like variety, food at, you know, want to try all the different things and wine is just endless. You know, I’m constantly learning about new varieties from all over the world all the time. And if I could, I think that’s the geeky side. For me. It’s like if I could try every, you know, variety out there, you know, I’d be over in Georgia, you know, where they started making wine 6000 years ago, and trying all these ancient varieties and what have you. And I get that’s a question I get all the times like, what’s your favorite variety to work with? And I’m like, as many as possible, but unfortunately, economics comes into play, and I just can’t go spend all my money. And then I have to figure out how to sell it. Nobody’s heard of it, because it’s from Croatia or something.

Bianca Harmon  12:14  

So are you still with now owning your own winery Are you still is your hands and all of the fields in the parts of it to with making the wine out in the vineyard in the tasting room are you still able to do as much fewer or

Jason Bushong  12:30  

even more so in the last year and a half, because up until then I was doing a lot of outside consulting. And I stopped I slowly tapered off all my consulting. And so the last year and a half, basically 21 was the first full vintage where I was only doing my own production. And so that allowed that gave me a lot more time to be hands on in my vineyards and work with my growers. And obviously, I do all the winemaking myself with you know, with the with, with help, I need some youth, you know, I’m getting older, I can’t do all the physical stuff. So I have helped. But before that I was running around consulting for other people. And I didn’t really I couldn’t focus as much as I wanted to just on my own stuff. And, and to be honest with you like the last couple years, I feel like had been the best. The best winemaking years of my career at this point, it’s sort of strange that you waited till 25 years into the deal. And I feel like I’m making the best wine. But before that I was always working for other people as well. So this

Drew Thomas Hendricks  13:36  

time gives you the chance to kind of explore your own kind of house style, passion and just vision for where he went and grow wine.

Jason Bushong  13:45  

Yeah, it just gives me more time to like I said, work with growers, discover new growers, you know, whereas before I was before my brand was kind of my side job. And really, what I, where I made my living was doing consulting for a long time. And then before that I was actually a winemaker for somebody. You know, I worked as a full time winemaker,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  14:11  

do you help you hone your skills where there’s always the dividing line between art and science and creativity. Where do you find the that line and how,

Jason Bushong  14:24  

you know, I think that line is always moving for me. And I used to be very much more on the Pentagon was on the science side and that was particularly when I was working for other people because I stuck with very functional winemaking and very safe winemaking because it wasn’t my money. It wasn’t my products. I wasn’t making the investment. And so I felt like I’m going to make these wines as by the book as possible. And the people I worked for various places. That was the goal you know when we ran at large production facility, you had millions of gallons of inventory, which you could not really mess around with too much, because the loss would be extreme if something went wrong. So and then as I got to slowly convert over just to my own production, I have much more gone depend on this swing much more into the artistic side and production styles that I used to see as like, I just thought they were kind of dangerous or risky. And now we do a lot more of that, for sure. And that would be what’s an example of that, um, just extended lacerations to me, you know, that’s a big sample nowadays, I leave all of my my, my wines on skins for, you know, upwards of 3540 days, or even after they’ve stopped fermenting, thermal minification methods, we I play with those a lot more, which used to just scare me, you know, you wouldn’t want to heat the wind up at any point because or heat the grapes running at that point because it risks contaminate bacteria starts to thrive and warmer environments. uninoculated fermentation spontaneous fermentations. And same with not lactic fermentation. So it just goes on and on. I mean, it just feels like the last few years, I really had eye opening experiences and also working in other facilities because I don’t own my own facility gives you exposure to the way different ways that people did it. Whereas when I worked, and I was the winemaker, you get a little cellar blind and you’re like, given this the way we do it, and that’s that, you know, and so I think the past couple years have been really exciting because it’s like, wow, I’m like getting a lot of exposure. It’s, it’s funny, you never really stop learning and whatever you do in life,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  16:49  

absolutely. And it’s, it’s building on that science, like in order for an artist to really truly go beyond in their craft, they need to know the scientific basis of it. Yeah, where you’re at and

Jason Bushong  17:01  

toss it out the window.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  17:02  

Is the artists flourishing and you’re getting them your wines out. What would you how would you describe Bushong, Vintage Wine Company’s how style

Jason Bushong  17:14  

um, we like to make basically vivid, aromatic, crisp white wines and full bodied red wines. That’s pretty much I don’t make Chardonnay, although I am making urusan this year, which is a little bit more age where the heavy bodied white wine. So but normally I only make like Albania and Rosae and sparkling diversity meter and just very light, acid driven, very vividly aromatic styles of white wine. I’m making the roots on because I want a fall white wine. Oh yeah. I always run out of my white and rose A’s by summertime and then I don’t have any white wine until the following spring. And so I decided to add a later aged wine, white wine, which in this case would be recent. And then on the red wines, we make primarily Rhone varietals. I shouldn’t say primarily on reds we actually do I think the majority of the grapes I work with are Rhone varieties by background with the exception of temper Neo and that goes into a blend anyway. But we try to make full bodied yet balanced red wines, passos a interesting and unique area to make wine in because it’s, it’s a very RIPE region, you have to get grapes very ripe here to reach physiological maturity. And because of that, you tend to have higher alcohols and riper flavors. And I like to try to balance those out a little bit. Not having super extracted. Sure, yeah,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  18:44  

you’re mentioning how you’re working with extended lacerations and skin contact. The way you’re talking about the whites being bright and fresh. If you worked with if you’ve done any work with, like extended skin, contact Chardonnays and reasons.

Jason Bushong  18:56  

I don’t make any Chardonnay, but I do do some skin contact on whites but not fermentation on skin. Like I’ll will foot tread Alboreto and let it you know for 12 to 24 hours before we press it or a portion of it anyway, just to get a little bit of skin breakdown and skin and skin contact there to add some complexity to it. But I don’t I’ve not yet fermented a white wine on the skins, which is becoming you know, sort of trendy right now. Particularly in the nappy. Orange wines are very trendy right now. The orange wines i Yeah, natural wine is an interesting phenomenon to me. I mean all wines natural so I don’t really understand that but you know what I mean? I get it I get it. guys still have to bring their wine over in a truck and put it through a bunch of machines and but it’s it’s more natural for some reason. I’m not sure.

Bianca Harmon  19:52  

I don’t either. Yeah. The worst is one that people are asking you to like, Do you have any natural wines? It’s like, well, I mean overall, pretty natural. What are you talking about?

Jason Bushong  20:04  

Yeah, I get that too.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  20:08  

One of the one of the kind of the, I don’t think it’s like slogan, but the way that’s described on your websites, high fidelity ones.

Jason Bushong  20:14  

Yes, that is kinda Yeah, I mean, high fidelity is that’s in reference to my love of music and my love of HiFi audio equipment that I had a passion for as well, since I was even before high school. And so, high fidelity wines was just sort of made sense, because we have a lot of those elements in our tasting experience. And a lot of the, a lot of the makeup of, of my, my different wines that we make are either music related, and so high fidelity wines, there used to be a guy who had, who used a similar term down in Santa Barbara, and he was a he was like a Hi Fi guy, too. But that was a long time ago. And he’s since retired. But

Drew Thomas Hendricks  21:07  

do you ever? Do you have a playlist for your wines?

Jason Bushong  21:11  

We do we always have a playlist. When we come out with, like our spring releases in our fall releases, we include playlists with that, which I need to expand on a little bit because I only do we do an album per wine, and then talk about the songs within the album. What happened? How do you pick that? We pick that buy. We I buy a lot of music. I just I can see behind you. You’ve

Drew Thomas Hendricks  21:38  

got a couple records,

Jason Bushong  21:39  

I got a couple. Yeah, and I literally it’s becoming an incredibly bad habit. And like I just came home with four more because I was in San Luis doing some shopping and thought, oh, I’ll just stop by the record store. Not a good idea. And so usually, it’s the albums that we use our albums that we actually recently got newer music that we returned on to in that year. And occasionally we’ll do a throwback. But typically we’re trying to do new stuff and just introduced people to a bunch of new music. I used to think that all the new music anymore was just dead, and it was now worthless. There’s a lot of music you just don’t hear about. And then so we try to explore that as much as possible. And we’re always looking for people to go, Hey, check this out. Let’s take a listen to have you heard this. And we have lots of members in our club that are obviously music fans as well. And they’re always turning us on to new stuff as well. And then we’ll listen to that and hopefully include some of that into the playlists.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  22:36  

Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Clark Smith, he’s up in. He does the wine, the wine and music and helps tasting rooms to optimize their background tracks to soul wine. Yeah. And he’s got a couple of Spotify playlists. Well, he’s actually got an extensive Spotify playlist with all of the different varietals and where he thinks he should be listening to for each one. You ascribe to the fact that the music can change the taste of the wine?

Jason Bushong  23:01  

Absolutely. I think, I think not just music, but so many psychological elements affect the taste of wine. I mean, the mood you’re in when you’re tasting it, the environment, the people, the music, the sound that’s around it, all of those things, I think, you know, I mean, that’s where that old saying that, you know, wine tastes best on the soil it was produced. And it comes into play. I think that’s part of it’s a psychological element that plays into it. I don’t know if I could go as far as Clark does. But, you know, I agree, I think I’ve been trying to put together a experiential tasting. And that’s going to be more associated with another tutor that I’m going to be releasing in the fall, which is called Anna LOGIQ, which is just basically French for analog. And that we’re going to have a experiential tasting where we’re going to test that idea. Yeah, so music, the party tasting will be listening to music. And they may be tasting the same line twice with different music and I just want to see how they rate that line. What while they’re listening to different music, tasting wine blindly. I’m trying to figure out how to do it and actually sell the wine to have it just be kind of a science experience.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:21  

It’s gonna that’s gonna be great. I can’t wait to be part of it cuz

Jason Bushong  24:25  

we’ve been trying to develop that or I’ve been it’s been in the back of my mind for about two years. I finally have the wines to do it. They’re getting bottled this early this summer before we go in harvest. And so then I’ll try to put together that tasting experience going into the winter.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:41  

Yeah, am I 100% agree with the fact that the music will shape the wine. It’s because the music, especially music, from analog, it’s got such an organic quality to it. And it shapes your mind that shapes your vision. It’s going to shape your perceptions of what you’re tasting, because you’re taking one the five senses,

Jason Bushong  25:02  

you’re you’re kind of working with all the senses, right? Except I think sound is the only sense it’s not directly attributed to the wine. You know, with the wine, you have sight, the color, clarity, you have olfactory, you have taste. I guess you have feel it’s in a glass in your hand, you’re spinning it, you’re doing that kind of stuff. So audio is really the only one that isn’t directly related to that product that you’re tasting. Except it usually is in the environment, you’re in there, the cork pop there that you write the cork up, if you have a cork,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  25:38  

yes, if you have a cork. That’s the one part that’s so vital. Like for this part of the experience,

Jason Bushong  25:45  

I I went, I used to do screwcap and I have now gone back to all cork finished products as of last year, for a number of reasons, but and I’ll tell you that the sound of the pop was not was the last one it had really very little do that. But you’re right. I remember people saying I don’t like screw caps because I like that sound it’s it’s a tradition or something they accustomed they’ve they’ve appreciated forever, you know, you know, it’s coming when you go up. And

Drew Thomas Hendricks  26:15  

although on a hot day, the click of a screw cap on a white, it’s pretty enticing to

Jason Bushong  26:20  

Yeah, and not having to go find a tool to open your pool, it might be easier just to go and worry about it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  26:29  

So working through the census here, you got some pretty amazing labels. And labels. You got to talk to me about that.

Jason Bushong  26:36  

Yeah, so when I when I started making wine, and like I said I was I was very artistic minded. In my youth, I think some of that faded away is the realities of life. And family and jobs and kids. But anyway, so I always thought whenever I if I could ever gotten on brand, I would want to just have all the labels be art, you know, and I mean, one off, they don’t have to be associated with each other. different artists, you know, I know that a lot of wineries have done artists series. I guess like all of mine are artists series. I just I just got a new artist to do a label for v&a that I’m going to bottle in the summer here, and really excited about that. But yeah, we’re always searching for new artists. And usually we try to like like the v&a label that wine is called Holocene, which is the era of time that we’re living on the planet, but it’s also a song by a guy named Boney bear or artist named Boney bear, who most recently did a lot of work with Taylor Swift. And actually, her last two albums were pretty much heavily influenced by him. So the artwork that he used for that album that that holo scene is on, I went and found that artists and said, Hey, can you commission me a similar style artwork, and I’m gonna call it Hall of Fame from Boney bear and then tie in the artwork to it. And that’s kind of what we’re trying to do with all the labels to certain extent. They all have some artwork that is also tied into the the, the proprietary name of the wine, and so on and so forth.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:22  

Like, talk to me about on same deep water as you

Jason Bushong  28:25  

Sandy bars you that. So that’s a song by the cure. The wine is a quasi Spanish blend of Caribbean Tempranillo and Grenada wash. The artists is a Russian artist named Alex Watsa. And it’s a very watery image with an octopus tentacles. And actually, we had that artwork for two years, I think before we actually came up with a wine that and a name that we wanted to use it with. We purchased the artwork with some other artwork that we were buying from him and said, oh, we’ll just put this on the backburner. Came up with a wine said I want to use this image. I’ve always wanted to have a wine named after a cure song and it just you know it was the only sort of aquatic image that we had that goes with same deep waters.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  29:15  

Yeah. And a wine label with tentacles on the front.

Jason Bushong  29:19  

Yeah, that’s actually our most popular label. I think right now people always they really dig it especially we we change the color last year. It used to be like a pinkish purple genre and we made it more green and blue which is more appropriate and it really popped off. It’s really great. So fun label

Drew Thomas Hendricks  29:38  

is great when it now power corrupts and and lies are criminalized

Jason Bushong  29:42  

is actually the name of an album from the 80s When I was a kid, by ban a new order, the artwork on the label is actually a piece of the artwork from the cover art of the album. Luckily, that artwork that they use is public domain. So I’m hoping that it’s okay this Yeah. My original out my original wines were named after albums, and I use the cover art on the label. And then we only have two of those left, we stopped doing that and started going in a different direction just because I didn’t want the liability. Somebody being upset that so that one’s the, that’s the first one I ever made that are the first thing I put in the bottle. I said, I’m going to call Wind Power, Corruption Lies. And I love the album. I love the dichotomy between the flowery image and the name. We just, but like I said, I think that one is okay, because the actual artwork is from a Danish artist, and it’s public domain that they used, and we just sort of borrowed

Drew Thomas Hendricks 30:51  

the one. The last one, I’m going to call you out on the homage to Joy Division and unknown pleasures. I love that graphic.

Jason Bushong  30:57  

That’s the only other one you’re picking all the ones I really don’t want to talk about. Oh, sorry. No, I don’t mind talking about him. I just hope nobody from the Joy Division. Oh, no, I hope nobody out. Joy Division is New Order and enjoy division as the predecessors to new order. I love both those bands. I love the artwork for unknown pleasures. So we took it, we modified it to make it look like a wine bottle, the radiograph that they used on the original artwork. Those are the two last ones that we have that are actually representative of the album cover that they’re named after.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:38  

You have t shirts that were I should

Jason Bushong  31:41  

have not yet but

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:44  

that may fund your expansion.

Jason Bushong  31:46  

Do you know Disneyland did a Mickey Mouse ears like that with with the with unknown pleasures? And they I know that they were not happy with that? Well, I think those shirts are now super rare. And like they stopped they put a cease and desist on it immediately. But that’s just me way. I’m kind of do. They did do it. That’s pretty. But yes, everybody asked for that shirt. I probably should make that shirt. You’re right.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  32:15  

Little underground. Yeah,

Jason Bushong  32:17  

why not?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  32:18  

People visiting you to try to buy? Well, they can’t buy the shirt. But as they visit your tasting room, describe the experience when people come and show up in Tulsa.

Jason Bushong  32:27  

Um, we get we have a more lounge like atmosphere that we’re trying to clearly define going forward. We do want it to be known. I tried to make serious wines, I think that’s the emphasis. But then we want to have a fun environment to experience those in. And so it’s constantly like a blurry line. You know what I mean? For me anyway, as the owner and trying to developing marketing side now, because we want it to be laid back comfortable and unpretentious. But we want it to be the focus of the attention is on high quality wines. And I think in most wine areas, those two things really don’t go hand in hand. It seems to be that either you have very upscale bougie pretentious environments that make you feel like the wine has to be good if it’s being presented to you in this kind of environment versus my environment, which is the complete opposite. But I’m trying to get you to focus back onto the wine a little bit. And so if that makes sense and maybe you know I’m hoping with the with analgesic the new cheer that we can focus more on the wine and less on the fun records and, and all that stuff. Because I think I feel like we’re kind of losing touch with that. And I although people love the environment here, we get lots of people who come in and they, they love the wine, they love the music. They love chilling out and hanging out. But it’s it’s you know what I mean? It’s a blurry line for me, at the end

Bianca Harmon  34:07  

of the day, you’re a winery and you make great products, and you want it to be about the wine

Jason Bushong  34:13  

is about the wine. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. This other stuff is just an extension of my personality that you get to experience while you’re experiencing the wine. And

Drew Thomas Hendricks  34:23  

if you want to get into the mind of a winemaker, look at the records that listen to look at the Allen’s who listens to look at his environment.

Jason Bushong  34:29  

Yeah, I mean, lots of wineries now have have records. I don’t think they have as many as I have. But um, they you know, I know that Justin Smith, the Saxon was a huge record collector and in the caves of his winery. He has his record collection in there, which is really cool. He also isn’t open to the public. But I guess and I think compounded with I’m sort of going off on a different tangent here. But compounding with our downtown setting. It’s sort of like I just don’t want it to it sort of veers into being a wine bar. And it’s not. So I tried to constantly trying to bring it back and go, Hey, we totally appreciate that you feel comfortable here and you’re having a great time and all that. But in the end, like, for the wine bar? Well, it’s the focus is on the brand, you know what I mean? We are, if I wasn’t wine bar be great. I wouldn’t care at all. I’d be like, yeah, we’re just selling other people’s wine. But we really want to try to showcase our products, the art in the hard work that we put into the decades of career that I’ve, you know, sacrifice to do this as for a living, it’s not the most lucrative thing in the world to do. I want that to be the focus. And so it’s funny that you’re, you asked that question, and it’s like, I had a weekend where I was like, just constantly, in my mind going over those elements, because, yeah, as Paso grows and becomes more popular, we get lots of people who want to come in, because of the environment. And wine is almost a secondary, and that’s Paso in general, I think anymore. I think that’s probably every wine country, right? I mean, not everybody’s coming here, because they’re super heavy duty wine person. They’re coming here, because, you know, USA Today wrote that this is one of the top 10 places to visit in California. And they’re here.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  36:15  

And the flip side is you might open the eyes to someone who may not know that they love those ones.

Jason Bushong  36:21  

I think that happens all the time. You know, and, and we get, we get a lot of people, the majority of people that come here are coming because they heard about the wine. And then we do get a certain amount of people who are sent here by other people go, Oh, you gotta go check this place out. It’s really cool. Not, Hey, you gotta go check this place out because he makes amazing wines. But a smaller percentage is, hey, this place is really cool. You’ll dig it, go check it out.

Bianca Harmon  36:45  

But it could in turn, bring in those people that ended up loving it because of the wine and the hope at the end of the day, obviously. But

Jason Bushong  36:54  

that’s our job right is now that we got them here and they say, Oh, this is a really cool environment. It’s super fun to hang out in. Now we’re going to educate you about why these wines make it even better to be here.

Bianca Harmon  37:05  

So as somebody that worked behind a bar, I worked at a place that was one of the few wineries that actually sold food. And then they could come in, buy their food, buy a bottle of wine and have a picnic. But at the end of the day, we were a winery and it was so frustrating because it was like we made really, really good wine. But these people were like now we’re just here to have a picnic and grab a bottle. And it’s like, really, like you don’t want to taste the wine. Like you don’t want a wine tasting because we are a winery. We’re not a restaurant.

Jason Bushong  37:32  

Yeah, that’s exactly. That’s a perfect analogy. Food, but I’m doing fun. Right, kind of loungy vibe, but I don’t want you just to come in. I mean, I shouldn’t say that. I, if you want to come in and have a glass of wine, that’s totally cool, too. As long as we have room to accommodate it, but But yeah, that it, you know what I’m saying? I mean,

Bianca Harmon  37:53  

I understand it, because I was on the other side, like oh my gosh, really like to taste it? And then you would get those people like, Oh, wow. And then they are coming in and doing full tasting and all of this. But, you know, they they were there for a different reason. And you in turn hope that they then came because of the wine but

Jason Bushong  38:15  

right? I think that we’re we’re trying like I said that it’s our job to shift those minds that either they came in from the wine and they’re experiencing the place and and that’s that’s our job as hospitality hosts, right? You know, what I mean is, then go, hey, guess what, we make some really cool wines to and check this out. What have you have you

Bianca Harmon  38:39  

considered? Do you do events? So that could be with your members, or that could be the like, come in and hang out?

Jason Bushong  38:47  

We do. Obviously, that tapered off and we haven’t got back into full event mode. I don’t think anybody has I think probably the events have taken place. The last six months have been the first events that we’ve had in wine country here for a while, since the first of the year for sure. You know what the problem that I having and this is personal to my, my actual space. It’s not very big, so we can’t have it. And we used to utilize a parking lot and have like an urban party. And now the parking situation has gotten so bad. I had to get permission from all of the neighboring businesses enabled to take their parking for the day and have a party and I just don’t know how that’s going to fly anymore because now we have a parking system downtown that has made a huge impact on on the problem of parking and downtown here. So I’m trying to figure out how to do that. And not you know, have to basically go and beg all of my neighbors and go hey, this Saturday at noon, I’m gonna close this parking lot down and they’re gonna go in, what four years ago, it wasn’t nearly the issue it is now and it was we had that was our end You will fall party we did have basically our anniversary party, then COVID Hit me didn’t have it. And then this year, I’m deciding how to navigate that. Yeah, that’s always always something.

Bianca Harmon  40:10  

There’s always some challenge, right?

Jason Bushong  40:12  

Constantly. It is. But it’s a good challenge, because like you said, there’s a lot more people here. And so parking is definitely at a prime.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  40:25  

That’s a better growing pain, then. No one, no one wants to get a pass.

Jason Bushong  40:28  

So we don’t have that problem. We have Wine Fest this weekend. And you know, do you Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s going to be and it’s they moved it from the square to the actual event center at the where they have the fair, the fair. So this will be the first time in 25 years that they haven’t had it right here in the park. Not in that big quartering. Oh, wow. Yeah, they’re not going to do it. Right. Basically a block and a half for my case room. They decided to move it to the Event Center, which is smart. To grow. Yeah, yeah. They had way outgrown this. And it’s more complicated with ABC laws to do what they were doing. You know? Yeah. Downtown, it took a lot.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  41:11  

So I don’t know if you can talk better, but still under top secret, but talk to us about this. analgesic, analgesic,

Jason Bushong  41:19  

yeah, analgesic is sort of it’s, I’ve I’ve wanted to have, I’ve been working really hard the last few years on developing higher, much higher in vineyard acquisitions, you know, like, so getting into vineyards that are incredibly well known for very, very high quality, and it just takes a long time to work your way into those things and be able to buy that fruit and the last few years, I have been able to do that. And so I thought I want to develop a tear to sort of highlight that those those wines. And so and LOGIQ was it goes sort of hand in hand with what we’re already doing, you know, with high fidelity wines. We all obviously, records are an analog reproduction system for playing music. We even used to buy equipment only here in the tasting room. So everything is analog. Wine is analog, right? I mean, there’s no digitization of that product. So analytique was is just going to be our higher tiered wine, that we’re starting out with very, very small quantities. 50 case, lots of about three wines, and one white wine, which will only be 25 cases, actually. So we’re excited about it. And unlike the previous, unlike my wine, Senator Buchon vintage company, it will have a standardized label that you know, is the same for each wine with that, yeah, so it’ll, it’ll be on the marketing side of it a little bit easier for us to work with, rather than having almost each wine be an individual and trying to develop how to make that cohesive so that everyone understands know it’s a brand. It’s not just single wine. This one will be cohesive from the get go as far as the presentation and the art. Well,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  43:11  

that’s exciting. Yeah. Soyour, your expression of the Select vineyard locations 

Jason Bushong  43:16  

we are we’re going to have a G two which is a local vineyard here. Pasa that’s quite popular that was made famous by Justin Smith of Saxum. We’ll have a GT blend, we’ll have Coast view, which is way up on Babylon mountain and Monterey County, which is becoming a very popular vineyard, small vineyard, very remote, incredibly amazing round site. We’ll have a coast view so raw, and then we’ll have a paper streets Caribbean blend. Paper Street is a vineyard here in Paso Robles. It’s the highest elevation in the Willow Creek district at 2300 feet. It’s farmed and owned by the deucey family, which are historic family and people who’ve been farming here for 100 years. And then the single why we’ll have will be a bn necesito Bo da, that’s basically 100% barrel aged barrel permitted barrel aged and will be bottled, basically unfiltered, very small volume. So those are the vineyards we’ll be working with for endologix At least this fall. And then we have and those

Drew Thomas Hendricks  44:18  

will be released this fall will be on a waiting list.

Jason Bushong  44:21  

We’re gonna bottle them they will be a separate tasting, you know, there’ll be their own tasting list and a separate club, you know, we’ll do a separate club, they’re going to be at a slightly higher price point and slightly elevated price point than what we sell those for other wines. I think the biggest challenge for me as an owner and winemaker and consumer of wine and lover of wine, is the elevated costs of these products that we’ve been experienced, especially in this area in the last couple of years. Everything is just there has to be something that’s more approachable to Greater demographic than the wine 1%. They can only not everyone can drop $125 on a bottle of wine and just be like, yeah, that’s no big deal. It’s a big deal to me. Yeah. So I think analgesic is going to represent that percentage, it’s not going to be quite that high price point. But to cater to that crowd, and also the crowd we already have, or the members that we have the customers that maybe say, Hey, I do want one special bottle this weekend. And then they can go and take a look at an allergic and see what those wines are, like.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  45:34  

That’s a great offering just have stuff at all the all the price points.

Jason Bushong  45:38  

Yeah, we’re trying to maintain it to the best that we can, with, you know, everything that’s going on economically right now, which we’re all experiencing, I’m sure. Absolutely.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  45:48  

What you do one interesting thing and all the wineries that work with it, you’ve got a winter vinyl package. Talk to me about that?

Jason Bushong  45:57  

Well, it started during COVID, when we were completely shut down. We weren’t doing anything, well, the whole world wasn’t. Or at least the whole country, I should say, I’m not sure what the rest of the world was. But so I remember I was like, I have all these records in, in storage, you know, and I’m gonna bring them into the tasting room where I have more space, and I’m just gonna go through them and see what’s what I can’t even remember what I have. Because we have nothing else to do. We’re just sitting around here, trying to sell wine that we can ship, I think at that point that was like during the major shutdown. And nobody was even thinking about selling when everyone’s thinking like, Oh, my God, what is going on? This is the wackiest, weirdest thing that’s ever happened. And I kind of looked at it as like, oh, well, I get a little break from hospitality. So we brought them all in here. And the woman who was managing my tasting room, at that point was like, You know what we should do? A mystery vinyl pack, you know, you have all these records you can’t possibly need or want all of them. So why don’t we sell three bottles of wine and a mystery record. And so we threw that out there as a promotion. And it was hugely successful. I mean, people were just like, totally dig in. And then I said, Well, I can’t keep doing a mystery one, because I’m gonna run out of my storage unit records. So we said, let’s put together a vital pack where we curate three wines with one album that we really thought was the best album that came out that year. And then we’ll do it as an addition to our club package. And it goes out in December, almost like a holiday gift kind of a thing. So it’s usually three, three red wines. Typically, one of them is usually a library selection. And then whatever album we thought, Wow, this this was the album that we really dug the most from this last year. What was what was the 2021 album 2021 was Pharaoh Saunders floating points. Pero Saunders is like an a jazz musician from back in the Coltrane era and all that it hadn’t been an album out for over two decades. And he put out one album, and it was all can remember, it only had two tracks on it. It was Oh, really? Yeah. And it was a really cool to kind of have a copy of it somewhere. But that was the album we thought it was. It was just, you know, just iconic jazz artists that hadn’t done anything for I think over two decades. And he puts out this amazing album called floating points. And that was that was our 21 selection.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 48:27  

I had to check that one out. Yeah. Have you ever curate the albums with what they should be listening to in a drink in the way

Jason Bushong  48:32  

we don’t go that far. You know, we started talking about the wines, maybe the library wine, you know, but we really it’s just sort of like here’s here’s a selection of some nice wines and a really nice album and yeah, pretty much everything you can just enjoy together. I think the only way you can curate it I’ve never like said this one is for the songs you know and this one is for these these tracks and this one is for this tracks. I haven’t done that yet, but maybe I will. It’s a good idea. I’ll look into that this upcoming December and see how good

Drew Thomas Hendricks  49:04  

I love that idea. I was up at Caduceus cellars and I’m up in Jerome Arizona it’s jam ks winery from tool every wine that they come out with comes with the recommended playlist on the back on the Yeah,

Jason Bushong  49:18  

each wine and we do we do that for our normal club. Everyone has a clip well has an album like this album this wine. These are the tracks we really dig check those out. And but yeah, it’s sort of fun but I’ve never really paired every wine during in the vinyl pack to tracks on the album that we’re giving out. But I probably should just get I do

Drew Thomas Hendricks  49:41  

think it would be fun. Yeah, kind of going back and back to this one question. What motivates you to keep making more?

Jason Bushong  49:49  

What motivates me to keep you well, I think I think everyone makers the quest for quality or the quest. I don’t even know if it’s quality so much because that’s so subjective. But the quest to make what they feel is the best representation of that variety that they can make. And that I think is a big one. For me, at this point in my career, and like I was telling you earlier, I feel like I’m making the best wines I’ve ever made in my life. And working with some of the better vineyards I’ve ever got the exposure to. And I want to showcase those wines in what I feel is the most expressive way possible. And that’s definitely what motivates me and the excitement to share that expression with everybody. That’s it. I mean, it’s certainly not the economics of it. And I certainly don’t, like I don’t dislike but going into harvest anymore, as I get older is just very physically taxing. I’ll say that. So that part of is like, oh my gosh, here we go. You know, here’s three months gone, you know, where I don’t get to do anything else for a long time. So that’s but but then I get those wines. I’m like, oh, man, I’m so glad to get to work with Bruce on from this amazing vineyard. I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait 10 months from now to be able to release this and it’s going to kick ass and people are going to love it. And that’s gonna motivate me and keep me going.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  51:15  

Yeah, I can see the motivation. You’re an artist or creator and you’re putting your music in the bottle.

Jason Bushong  51:22  

Pretty much. I’m trying. Yeah, I just just don’t mess it up too bad. That’s my job anymore. I super high quality fruit. Don’t wait two minutes, just sort of.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  51:33  

Don’t mess it up to that.

Jason Bushong  51:35  

Yep, that’s my bad. Oh, yeah, that’s my motto. That was my my original boss’s motto. Today, don’t fall in love with the shit and don’t mess anything up too bad. pretty laid back. But that was the thing.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  51:50  

And Jason as we’re wrapping down, is there anything else to talk to you about that? You want to

Jason Bushong  51:56  

know? I mean, if this you know, come and see us and pass rovos You know, we’re located at 565 12 Street, downtown Paso Robles. We’re open Thursday through Monday. We tend to have later hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. So you can call us at 805-602-2003 or find us at www.Bushongvintagecompany.com To make a reservation. And we’d love to share everything that we just discussed on this podcast with you. If you want to just come in and have a wine, pick out an album, not a problem. If you want to chase through a flight, enjoy the wines join the Club. We’d love that as well.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  52:37  

Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us. Yeah.

Outro  52:48  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.