Wines With Innovation and Craftsmanship With Joseph Wagner of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions


by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Nov 10, 2021

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast
Joseph Wagner

Joseph Wagner is a fifth-generation winemaker and Founder of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, located in the Napa Valley Region. Joe’s roots in winemaking and his natural talent for creating innovative and unique wine emerged after he crafted the award-winning, single-vineyard Pinot Noir label, Belle Glos. He uses his experience and passion to focus on offering products with a touch of luxury for everyday indulgence.

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

  • Joseph Wagner describes how he tipped the glass in his favor with the release of Belle Glos Meiomi
  • How a non-asset sale helped Joseph expand his winery operations
  • What is a leading philosophy of grape growing and winemaking for life-long results?
  • An in-depth look at the creation of wine varietals in the Napa Valley Region
  • Joseph discusses crafting new varietals and elevating new experiences through wine
  • Winemaking as a generational family business 
  • Joseph shares wine recommendations for every palate

In this episode with Joseph Wagner

What steps can you take to craft a bottle of wine for everyday indulgence? Is it possible to entrench your brand into the fine wine industry by bringing new ideas to the table?

Joseph Wagner has built a successful brand focused on wine with a splash of luxury and high quality through innovation and genuine craftsmanship. As a fifth-generation winemaker, he has an unparalleled passion for experimentation to satisfy consumer palates by fermenting unique bottles.

In this episode of Legends Behind the Craft, Drew Hendricks and Joseph Wagner, Founder of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, sit down to discuss the craftsmanship behind a wine portfolio. Joseph talks about how his winemaking philosophy is successful, an in-depth look at the cycle and craftsmanship of creating wine varietals, and elevating the wine experience. Do you want to take a sip of this episode?

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

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.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit barrelsahead.com or email us at hello@barrelsahead.com to schedule a strategy call.

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 Hendricks  0:21  

Drew Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, where I talk with leaders in the wine craft beverage industry, from tech companies that enable wineries to run an optimum efficiency. Today’s guest, Joe Wagner, who’s driving the winemaking innovation up and down the West Coast. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. One 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. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. I am super excited today to talk with today’s guest Joseph Wagner, founder of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Joe’s a fifth generation Napa Valley winemaker he’s been immersed in every aspect of the wine industry his entire life. Joe forged his path to the top of the industry by creating Meiomi, a PNR with a bold flavor profile that was uncommon and Pinot Noir as at the time, the brand gained so much recognition that it became the focal point of the largest non asset wine sale in history. This deal allowed him to fund his dreams to expand his farming footprint throughout the west coast through Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Welcome to the show, Joe.

Joseph Wagner  1:36  

Thank you for having me, Drew. It’s a pleasure.

Drew Hendricks  1:38  

Oh, thank you for being on. So Joe, your name, your name? doesn’t need much introduction. But tell us tell us what was it like growing up in Napa Valley?

Joseph Wagner  1:47  

Oh, God would when I was growing up. You know, it wasn’t all that long ago, I’m almost 40. But it was a much more farming focused community much more rural. You didn’t have all the glitz and glamour, like you do today, you had a few wineries and a few that were that were becoming more glamorous. But that all didn’t start really until the late 90s. And when I was growing up, I I was fortunate I look back on it and think that I’m fortunate to have had to work with my dad and you know, not not under him. But I’d be in the field crews. I’d be leafing, dropping crop, whatever it was we needed to do. And then as I got older into my teens, he allowed me to work into the winery, where is a little more dangerous, so you don’t want to kid working in there. But, but got to you know, get my feet wet with it didn’t initially think that I was going to get into you know, grapes or wine until I got out of grapes and wine and realized very quickly that this is an amazing industry, you know, you’re taking a product from Mother Nature and you’re you’re able to capture it in a in a vessel and share it for years to come. And, and beyond that just from a working standpoint, it’s agriculture, it’s chemistry, it’s artistry. It’s industrial elements as well. So you have a really broad array of elements in this industry. And and I didn’t realize it until I got out of it. I mean, it’s all I knew growing up, what were you doing when you’re out of it, quickly came back, actually got into photography for a while really, really enjoyed that. And then communications and realized, you know, it was it was those were fun businesses, but they also weren’t going to be where I think, you know, my life path, wanted to head and and got back into agriculture. And that was the part that I missed the most.

Drew Hendricks  3:30  

And that gives me a lot of perspective. So when you went back into it, and is that when you founded Meiomi?

Joseph Wagner  3:35  

Well, first it was the first vintage of Belle Glos was what started it also before Pino was cool before sideways. I remember that. What a change in the wine world that brought so I started Belle Glos no one. And it was an uphill battle. Honestly, Pinot Noir from California was not, you know, a highlight of the wines we produced here in California as far as what the consumers wanted and realized quickly that I needed something that could be offered in a you know, by the glass on premise setting in restaurants and came up with the philosophy for the 2002 vintage of Meiomi, which at the time was just Sonoma Coast to three vineyards. And then we expanded upon that but it was really a way for us to get not just our name of Belle Glos, which was called Belle Glos Meiomi at the time, it was a way for us to get people acquainted with California Coastal Pinot Noir. And, and that worked very well for us. And fortunately, people like the wines and they thought there was value in the price and and it brought a lot of exposure to Belle Glos in general. And then sideways hit and our world was turned upside down and you couldn’t keep the internal wine stock. And that gave us another opportunity that opportunity was to to expand our farming footprint and also our production to be able to satisfy the you know the thirst of Pinot Noir lovers across the land.

Drew Hendricks  4:56  

That’s amazing. On the on the Meomi category like what what was your Your vision was to expand the brand, but it had a very, I mean, it was a pretty bold wine. I remember when it came out

Joseph Wagner  5:06  

it you know it. So I guess I go back to the beginnings of really kind of California wine and when it really started to see its upswing, and one thing I learned from my dad was, and I think he was one of the first to do this. Rather than emulating Bordeaux here in Napa Valley. With Cabernet, he realized that there was a terroir all its own here, and he started to create much more robust Cabernets than what the old world created. And that goes back to the 70s. And that garnered a lot of attention. Just people liked the flavor profile and the texture better than better than the old world in many cases. So he instilled that philosophy in me. And so when I started making Pinot Noir, which is something my family had not done for decades, I took that same approach and thought, you know, let’s not try to emulate burgundy. Let’s create wines that express the land. And here in California, yes, we can have cool temperatures across the coast. But we also have a lot of sunlight. And we also have other dynamics in the weather like wind that that play a role in the thickness of the skins and therefore the richness and texture of the wines. And so we really focused on that beginning with Belle gloss, and took that philosophy to a kind of broader flavor profile with Meiomi, because we’re working with so many different vineyards, where they’ll gloss was focused on single vineyards, Meiomi was focused on just a broader array of coastal vineyards. And so yeah, that was that. That’s what we did. And you know, I thought the wines tasted good. And fortunately, people did too. You know, in the beginning, though, I was not getting good scores, the critics were looking for something more burgundy. And I was a little disheartened by that. But I felt like you know, with a philosophy of going to restaurants and restaurants being able to pour by the glass, that people would be exposed to it and, and really go with their palate, which is one of our philosophies, you empower the people that are actually drinking wine and enjoying their meal, to decide what they like, rather than having one person tell them what they should like.

Drew Hendricks  7:03  

That’s great insight. So this led up to what I just described as a non asset sale. Explain that to us.

Joseph Wagner  7:10  

Yeah, so non asset sale, you know, we were they knocked on the door. About two years before we actually got the deal done. That was constellation. And initially just told them, No, we’re not interested. It wasn’t something I had planned on ever doing. And, and so, you know, two years later, they finally just asked, you know, hey, let us just see some of the financials and, and we’ll make an offer. And I said, Okay, well go ahead and do that, we’ll go that far. And they put just a crazy multiple, based on EBITDA. out there. And it came out to a very big number. And so we thought, okay, let’s look at this seriously. Now. Now, when, when we’re, you know, first, the first negotiation, so to speak, we’re about, you know, what is it that they wanted to buy. And so they wanted to buy everything, and I just said, Absolutely not, never sell on Belle Glos that’s, you know, named after my grandmother. That was my founding brand. And, and that’s one that’s near and dear to my heart. And so it just came down to only Meiomi. And when when I say no asset sale, there was no physical winery, no physical tasting room, no physical vineyards. This was just the brand name. And, and the well, any other information we had on the brand as far as where, where we were selling it, and then the inventory that we had currently at the time. And so that that’s, you know, no assets means we didn’t lose any of our land, which was another important thing to me. But that sale really, you know, gave us the opportunity to expand our farming operations. I’m a big believer that we can make better wines, and we’re controlling things, soup to nuts. So we’re able to buy a piece of property, like we just bought a Santa Rita Hills property about six years ago, planted it and we’ve got our first vintages coming off of that. And that’s a beautiful piece and we’re able to make some great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is off of it. And so we’ve done that we’re going about two to 300 acres per year to satisfy the you know, growth of our brands and continue growing better grapes and making better ones.

Drew Hendricks  9:09  

That’s amazing. So so beyond me use that as a springboard for the Copper Copper Cane.

Joseph Wagner  9:14  

Exactly. I you know, the interesting thing about Meiomi was I got into the fine wine business, you know, where you’re talking 10 or 20,000 cases, it’s a it’s a pretty good sized production, right? Well, we were making over 500,000 cases of one product that being Meiomi at the time of the sale and and I kind of looked at it but I’m this thing is this is kind of wagging the dog this is this is running me now I’m not running it. And I kind of felt like you know, this will bring balance back to not just my life, but our business and our philosophy and get us more, you know, entrenched back into the fine wine world. And so that was one of the things I think it was actually most tempting about that opportunity.

Drew Hendricks  9:55  

That’s that’s some pretty good advice. So you’re almost a victim of your growth there. I suddenly became like, I don’t want to be running 500,000 cases.

Joseph Wagner  10:04  

Exactly. You know, you you take on the challenge, and then you realize, Wait, this isn’t what I got in the business for.

Drew Hendricks  10:11  

That makes sense. So that’s and so then you kind of retooled everything with Copper Cane where now you have a series of brands that allows you to keep that kind of microfocus.

Joseph Wagner  10:22  

Exactly. And each brand really does have microfocus. You know, elwen, it’s only about Oregon, started experimenting up there in 2012. We make a Pinot Noir Chardonnay and a Rosae up there. And well, we actually make the wines down here in California and Rutherford, but all the grapes are grown up there in the coast, the coastal hills, worgen. And then, Bowen was a recreation of what Meiomi was, I’d like to say on its best a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and that was something that I wanted to recreate, but kind of keep you know, contained. Right. Not let it get crazy, like Meiomi did. Then Belle Glos, of course, still vineyard designated Pinot Noir as well, was a Napa Valley focus, or still isn’t that valley focus with Cabernet, red blend and Chardonnay. And then we have a few other smaller brands, like the aura and Baron that are kind of, you know, incubator brands, just having fun with those and their passion projects.

Drew Hendricks  11:19  

That’s me, what, um, what were the, like, when you first started Copper Cane? What was the what were some of the challenges that you faced? coming right out of this, Meiomi? Um,

Joseph Wagner  11:29  

you know, I’d say, I’d say that we didn’t, I didn’t feel like we had too many challenges. Coming out of the Meiomi transaction, the challenge we had was that we were no longer as relevant to the distributors as we were with Meiomi. So in saying that, it’s, uh, you know, if you have a brand, that is just purely pull sales, pulling through the marketplace, so you know, it’s like, we could almost produce as much of it as we as we could, and it would just sell on its own distributors love that, right. They’re, they’re, you know, taking an inventory, and then they’re distributing it out there. And they’re, they’re making a good cut on it. If they don’t have to have their salespeople focusing on it and spending their resources, then then it’s a brand they truly love. Wouldn’t Copper Cane started, of course, Belle Glos was already established, but we had a lot of smaller brands that were just beginning. So getting the attention from the distributor, to those brands, specifically, was a bit of a challenge. You know, I think that what what we were able to do, though, was we, you know, have our, you know, our own way of going about sales, we don’t just rely upon the distributor. So we have our team members out there, I’m out there, myself, and wine making or other people on the team get on the marketplace as well. So it’s about telling the story, tasting the wines, getting people to understand what it was we’re doing, what our next kind of phase of Copper Cane is, or next phase of our part in the businesses. And we were able to grow the brands, really from the ground up. And and they’ve all become, you know, relatively relevant brands in their own categories.

Drew Hendricks  13:03  

Yeah, absolutely. It’s fine. How are the brands structured? Or do you have independent management of the of the, your different brands?

Joseph Wagner  13:11  

You know, this? That’s a great question. So we have, we have only really one philosophy in one team. So that was something that I saw in a lot of the other companies out there where they kind of would collect brands or create brands, and then you create an estate and you have a winemaking team and a marketing team and whatever else in this silo and it all rolls up. Like, you know, not to single anybody out, but like Jackson family is a good example of that, right. So they each one of the brands is standalone has an estate enrolls up to kind of the, you know, bigger umbrella portfolio. I like the philosophy of you know, I started off growing grapes, and I got into making wine and then started building a team. And I think that our philosophies in grape growing and winemaking are very important. And we can’t employ those properly if we’re not all in one site. So we make all of our wines and wines in one location. Growing grapes in different locations, that’s not a problem we can we can do that we can manage that from, you know, logistics and everything that works out well. But being able to really put what I’d call put the screws to the grapes to make the wines that we want to make with the philosophy at hand that we have a Copper Cane, we need to do that in one location. And so that’s that’s what we do. So it’s really one you know, you know, the brands themselves have unique focuses, but it is a shared philosophy amongst the entire portfolio.

Drew Hendricks  14:35  

That’s, that’s, that’s pretty brilliant because you allow the all the brands get it to share that same economies of scale, and you don’t have all that all that independent stuff. That is another one of the biggest challenges the smaller wineries faces. They just don’t have the infrastructure to actually scale it up. Absolutely, yeah. So what’s it like putting on your hat for so today I’m talking about no gloss did I’m talking about this, what how do you shift shift the mindsets between the brands?

Joseph Wagner  15:05  

You know, it’s everything kind of naturally schedules itself out, I guess you know. So you know with, like our earliest, let’s call it, we’re in harvest right now. So we’ve got Rose in the barn right are fermenting that through, we’re just starting to pick Pinot Noir. We’re going to start Chardonnay shortly after that, and then we’ll get into Cabernet. So as you think about the life schedule or the aging life of a wine, we’re going to start off with Rosae beginning of the year getting our blends together called neat stabilization bottling. Shortly after that we’ll start looking at our Chardonnays are early season Chardonnays, we also have longer term Chardonnays at age longer. And then Pino after that, which generally you know is about a nine to 10 month aging, cycle and barrel and then Cabernet generally goes up from 15 to 24 months. So you kind of are able to work through each one, you know, individually, just how the schedule pans out naturally. We’re not looking to have you know, 100 different products or skews, we just want a nice, tight, consolidated portfolio that each one has a place and a reason for being. And so I don’t think we’re ever going to get kind of you know, so scatterbrained and having to go out and try to juggle things, you know, and eventually having things slip through the cracks.

Drew Hendricks  16:20  

That makes sense. What? Oh, man, thing what? Oh, sorry. So as far as so the quilt so I do want to talk to you because your family’s pretty much invented Cabernet and in Napa Valley, how do you what is your what’s your new, what’s your thumbprint on Cabernet? And how are you shifting that category?

Joseph Wagner  16:39  

So, you know, Cabernet is still king, right? It’s King of the reds. It is a it is a very loved Rydel across the world, especially across the nation here. And so I started you know, I started with bel gloss and Pinot Noir and one. I started making Cabernet with my dad for Caymus in 2004. And did that up through 2014 When I started Copper Cane. So I got to learn a lot about Cabernet. I actually started in in farming Cabernet, before I got into winemaking, so got to really kind of understand, you know, things in what you do in the vineyard and how it affects the grapes to affect change in the wine. And then how you can take those experiments or those learnings and apply them to other vineyards and just continue to kind of up the ante make things better and more consistent every year. And that was something that I took took on very seriously. So when I started Copper Cane and eventually the philosophy with quilt wasn’t you know, like a vineyard designated quality character. I don’t believe that Napa Valley Cabernet Does, does well when you’re specific to one site. The reason I say that is you take a cool area like coombsville down in the southern portion of Napa. And in a hot year. Those wines are absolutely gorgeous and phenomenal. But in a cool year they can be green and vegetative. Calistoga being our most northern in one of the warmest areas of Napa Valley. It’s the opposite hot years, they get very drab and almost cloying. And they don’t have the structure and acidity that you need. And then in cool years, they’re they’re perfect. So going with that philosophy of saying, you know, we’ve got from coombsville in the south to Cal stoke on the north, and these mountain regions like Atlas peak and how mountain we can create this stylistically driven Napa Valley Cabernet that delivers consistent quality every year. And that gives us a much broader array of tools so to speak. So we have more of a palette to be able to create something that is true to Napa Valley’s form, but consistent high quality every year.

Drew Hendricks  18:48  

I mean, since as far as Napa Valley, so it’s I mean as far as the great prices and Cabernet Sauvignon it is King both are prices. Yes there do you see a risk of Napa Valley just becoming Cabernet because that’s where the money is.

Joseph Wagner  19:02  

Yeah, that’s our that’s already happening. Absolutely. You know, by and large. The majority of land here is is good for Cabernet. It is the right variety to plant. You get closer to the river with heavier soils. That should be more like Sauvignon Blanc, maybe petite sirah or, you know, more low Zinfandel, Zinfandel. There’s great here it’s just those are the sad ones when you see these historic is in vineyards come out and new Cabernet vineyards go and you’re like that was 80 years in production, you know. But, but yeah, when you get down to areas like even in parts of Carneros where there are people planting Cabernet, I think that’s a mistake. But at the end of the day, I think if you’re a grower and you’re faced with am I going to get $2,000 per ton or $8,000 per tonne, and people don’t care or they’re going to run it through flash to Taunton and blow off all the green piperazine characters and it comes out as you know, Napa Valley Cabernet doesn’t matter So yeah, there is some risk in that. But I think that still, by and large, the majority of the, the, you know, Rydell, Cabernet, and the the vastness of where it does well, throughout Napa Valley, it will continue to deliver, you know, high quality, you know, much more often than not

Drew Hendricks  20:18  

good. That’s a good point. I mean, yeah, you can plant the Cabernet on the fringes just in put the name on it. But it may or may not be the best, yes, bridal for that location,

Joseph Wagner  20:27  

not the best decision, not this decision. So

Drew Hendricks  20:32  

I want to step back for a second, the name Copper Cane, tell us about where that name came from.

Joseph Wagner  20:37  

So when I was started Copper Cane, I was looking for a name, you know, it’s not something that that, you know, people out there buying wine are really going to see, they’ll see it on the back labels as kind of our portfolio name. But for me, it was really just about our philosophy, what what kind of ties everything together with our philosophy, and this was the foundation point. And that is really about, you know, when we decide to pick how we assess maturity, the standard in the business is to look at, you know, I’ll call it the chemistry, but typically, it’s a sugar. So I mean, I remember growing up on the crush pad, and you know, I answer the phone on the crush pad and be a grower. And, you know, I say, Hey, Dad, it’s dug wide or something and go, Well, I’ll tell him if it’s 24 bricks to pick. And that’s, you know, a measurement of soluble solids, that’s really the sugar content and the grapes. And that the thing that you know, and this is no longer how Caymus operates, either. But the way that people look at that is, every year you’re picking just based on sugars, or what we’d say potential alcohol after fermentation. But every year is different, you might have a lot of heat spikes with a light crop, you might have a cool year with a heavy crop. So you’re not going to have the same sugar accumulation as you do with the physiological maturity of the grapes on the vine. So one thing that I always saw as a common factor was what we call Copper Cane. And that is when you start to see the canes which start off as you know, succulent green tissue. And once you get into ripening, they begin to liquefy and get, you know, hard and brown and copper color. And that slowly migrates up this whole cane. So we want to see all of that cane turn to a copper color, meaning kind of a purging of the green and the vine and therefore purging of the grain and the grapes and the wine. And so that kind of became the foundational philosophy about how we assess maturity, how we pick for consistency, so that we have something that is going to deliver what is expected year in and year out.

Drew Hendricks  22:27  

That’s great. I mean, that’s a that’s a great way of describing it.

Joseph Wagner  22:30  

I don’t have a knife on me. But if you give me one second one of these

Drew Hendricks  22:40  

we’re looking at the clear blue skies of Sonoma right there. Just good. Want to see blue screen?

Joseph Wagner  22:47  

I just pulled a shoot off. Oh, yeah. So so you can see here at the base of the shoot? You can see that copper color. Mm hmm. Absolutely. And then as you come up towards the tip, this is a Cabernet vine. You can see that it migrates from that copper color over to that green. Oh, absolutely. So we want to see this entire shoot, be copper in color. So we’re a few weeks off still with this. But you know, typically, if you’re picking based off of sugars, you’re not going to be looking at those attributes. And so that was something that was that was that was important to me and really a foundational component. I’m glad to have the vineyard behind me. Pardon. I’m glad to have the vineyard. Yeah.

Drew Hendricks  23:31  

I was just noticing you’ve got nice clear blue skies there. Hope they stay that way.

Joseph Wagner  23:34  

Yeah, we’ve had a couple of years of wildfires that were difficult. But you know, so far this year, it’s been great. I think we’re gonna actually have a finally a good and calm year

Drew Hendricks  23:47  

to do for you guys to do for Columbia. Yeah, yep. Talking about so what’s your vision? So in five years, where do you where do you see Copper Cane growing and evolving?

Joseph Wagner  23:58  

You know, well, you know, the brands we currently have, we’re not really you know, going to be creating too many more. I do have a little pet project we’re doing right now because I love some of the red blend categories. So we are going to be doing something small on that. Which will be a run bass blend and Italian bass blend and Spanish bass blend. So so we’ve been planting you know, a couple experimental varietals. We’ll see how that goes. But that’ll be something fun but overall, it’s really just, you know, I think continuing to drive the love of fine wine and encouraging people to try new things. Not just new wines but new food and wine pairings. Get out of the box you know if you’re having you know a spicy Pad Thai throw you know a an organ Pino and icebox for 15 minutes and chill it down a little bit and see how that reacts. I think that one thing I’d love for people to to get, you know, more acquainted with is thinking that wine, maybe I say every every food out there has a wine that will pair with with it. I think we oftentimes think you know, tacos need a Pacific or corona right. But get some carne asada street tacos and you know, try it with the Xin you’re going to be very surprised how good it is. So getting people just acquainted with kind of opening their mind to why not just being something that elevates your your experience with with food, but every it really elevates everyday life. And so we’re going to be pushing on that long, long term. You know, there are a couple things from a call it kind of political standpoint. Jenna, we don’t like to get into those things. But California is not a very easy place to do business as I’m sure you’ve you’ve

Drew Hendricks  25:42  

based in California, too. Yeah, exactly challenging.

Joseph Wagner  25:46  

It has its challenges. And so we’re actually looking at how we can move some of our kind of end of production, warehousing and that sort of stuff out of state. So that we can be more efficient. In all honesty, you know, 80% of our product is goes to the east of the Sierras. So it makes more sense from a logistic standpoint and efficiency standpoint, to look at those options, and what portion of our business we can move out there and not affect the quality. I think that’s the core piece of it. So we’re always gonna make our wines here in California. Always gonna finish them here in California, but from a warehousing standpoint, is California the right place? You know, just little little things like that. And, you know, five years down the road. I’ve got I’ve got kids, my eldest are twins at 15. And I, you know, really, I mean, one of the reasons for creating Copper Cane was was to create a, you know, potential for my kids to get involved and, and you know, carry on the torch, and they caught the bug. They Oh, yeah, they they work every summer. And they enjoy it. They’ve done you know, everything from production warehousing. Winemaking, so they’re doing racking they have not gotten into harvest or anything yet, which I think next year, they’ll be able to, as far as operating machinery. That’s that’s where, you know, I don’t want an accident to happen. Got every driver’s license, yeah, no forklifts, no forklift yet. And, and yeah, they’ve, they’ve done everything in the vineyard from planting to every every aspect. So, you know, I’ve got, you know, think my highest earner this last summer, he worked his ass off, pardon my French and loved it. And he made about $2,300, which, you know, when he’s not being paid a very high wage, he’s being paid an honest wage. So he’s entry level, but, but, you know, I was really proud of him for that. And, and, you know, I think maybe like me, they may go out, and I’ll encourage them to go out and pursue a dream. And if they realize that, this industry is for them, that they have an open door, to come back in and learn, all you got to do is work your butt off, and, and care about the future of the company. So, so that’s kind of where I start to see five years down the road when maybe in college or, or, you know, whatever it may be, and realizing that they might want to get in, and that’s where that’s, that’s something I’m excited about is bringing, bringing the next generation in

Drew Hendricks  28:14  

sixth generation. It’s amazing, that’s amazing. So tell me about this provisions aspect of Copper Cane. provisions.

Joseph Wagner  28:27  

Yeah, so we we do, you’ll find these items, you know, in our tasting room, but, you know, I like everything to be kind of high quality and purposeful, right. So, and oftentimes, these things kind of carry on to things that I personally love, I love playing cards. And so, so we, you know, decided that we’d make our own custom deck of cards, everything down to you know, doing all of our own illustrations for the face cards and all that. So, just very, very nice sets of things like like cards, sunglasses, whatever it may be, that that, that kind of crosses our mind that that we think people may enjoy, and and make kind of like, you know, just trigger a memory back if they had a great time here in Napa Valley and, and they tasted the Copper Cane wines and they you know, go play, you know, a game of solitaire or something, you know, hopefully it’s something like that. So that’s kind of the provision side, a much smaller part of our business. We also do cigars, which I started doing that cut six or seven years ago to be paired specifically with with wines and so we do two different types of cigars that that are you know, they’re they’re not available throughout the US but there are some markets that we do have them available.

Drew Hendricks  29:43  

Now what now tell me about the cigar and wine period? Because

Joseph Wagner  29:47  

so I you know, this this goes back to like my harvest nights I don’t smoke as much as I used to, but the turning during harvest, every night I would be doing paperwork and We have this thing we call the board, it’s just a big white board and we use permanent marker. And then we erase it, when we’re done with it. With high proof alcohol, we do that so that it doesn’t, you know, drip off if you accidentally spray it with a hose. And so that is our work order for the day or the next day. And, and so every night I, you know, be there might be 1011 o’clock, and I’m just getting everything kind of written out. So that, you know, everybody knows what tomorrow morning looks like when we start up at like 4am. And, and so I would always have a cigar when I did that. And, and I just enjoyed cigars, and eventually started talking to people about producing our own and came up with some custom blends. And the goal was to you know, like some people really love Maduro is right, they’re very big, very powerful. But oftentimes, they can be very, very stripping of the characters of a wine. And overpowering, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. So we started looking at wines that would pair you know, or sorry, cigars that would pair well with our style of wine and came up with two different blends. One we call the Habano. And one is a Connecticut shade grown. wrapper. So they they both are kind of like one is medium one is light bodied, which I think go very well with with a broad array of wines. And they don’t really have any dry components to them. So they’re that’s kind of the that was kind of the goal is to how do you create a cigar that that really pairs well with a wine and makes that experience much more enjoyable?

Drew Hendricks  31:31  

No, I do like a good cigar. Usually usually I’m doing it with a single malt but

Joseph Wagner  31:35  

that’s it see, now that’ll stand up to it right you can take a maduro and enjoy a great single malt with it. And they’re gonna, they’re gonna highlight each other. So you know, it’s with with the wine thing, it just, you can you can rip your palate open and your wine tastes like garbage.

Drew Hendricks  31:50  

I may have made that mistake once or twice. Talking about your passion so you started left the wine for photography, are you still shooting photos?

Joseph Wagner  32:01  

I do. So that was one thing that I that carried on with that. So it’s still a hobby, I still love doing it. used to do all the photography for our websites, and whatnot. And and since you know now I don’t have time for that as much as I used to. But, but still love doing it. So I still shoot. We got a couple cameras, I moved over to digital I started on film, I miss film, honestly too. But but at the same time I I don’t think I’d have the time to be doing all my own development and all that like I used to. And printing. So this has made it very convenient. And you know, of course all the posts work with Photoshop and stuff. It’s ridiculous how easy it is. But But yeah, I still still love shooting.

Drew Hendricks  32:46  

What’s your favorite subject other than your veneers i It’s

Joseph Wagner  32:49  

still I’d still say landscape is still kind of like what I what I love doing and you know, the beauty of being in areas like the coast of California. And if you’re out there early enough, you know, just for that kind of reverse Twilight hour, like just before the sun is about to come up. Sometimes you get some beautiful stuff that that you know, most people don’t typically get to see. So your cloud formations where the lights hitting them the direction of the light because it’s not typically you know, people are typically thinking no Twilight hour coming, you know, in the evening. So, so that’s kind of that’s always a lot of fun.

Drew Hendricks  33:23  

You can see you can definitely see that kind of tone translating on your website. I mean, whether or not you took the pictures now you can see that your vision is coming out there.

Joseph Wagner  33:31  

Well thank you.

Drew Hendricks  33:33  

I used to take a lot of a lot of photos I regret kind of got a whole wall of cameras back there but I certainly don’t take them out as much as I used to.

Joseph Wagner  33:42  

Yeah, I think that happens once we once we you know get into a profession

Drew Hendricks  33:47  

it is and also having the phone on you all the time. It makes it a little bit easier. It’s way

Joseph Wagner  33:53  

too convenient way too and they’re honestly they’re pretty darn good photos.

Drew Hendricks  33:57  

They are getting better every year sometimes I used to have the big camera roll camera and then I’d have the phone now count man count image on phones better. Yeah big backpack.

Joseph Wagner  34:08  

It does it does something with the lighting that you know it’s it’s it there’s like a cheat code in your iPhone. I don’t know what it is but it does a good job. Oh, yeah.

Drew Hendricks  34:15  

No. So you know as we wrap down I want to kind of ask you when you’re not drinking Copper Cane wines, what are you drinking these days?

Joseph Wagner  34:23  

I really am into some of the the Spanish reds right now. Both from Spain and also locally here. So really experimenting with that I I love Riesling in particular Alsatian Riesling. That’s, that’s something that we’ve we’ve kind of started as a pet project here to try and it actually was at that Santa Rita Hills Manor, we planted a little bit of Riesling down there and it’s on the very western edge of Santa Rita hills, extremely high calcium soils. So it’s kind of like if there’s a place that it should work. It’s there. So we’ll see how that turns out. But, but I’ve always loved that just very mineral you know petrol driven style of Riesling and I would love to see something like that come out of California I think we all just think California Riesling is going to be sweet you know, that’s, you know, I don’t know if that’s because of the blue nun effect from years ago or what but, you know, it’s, it’s you know, I think that there’s a there’s if there’s a will there’s a way you can make a style, you know, that has those characters but is still California in nature. So that’s, that’s it and sparkling wine, absolutely love. I mean, there’s some great domestic sparkling wines here from Seberg with their J schrom. Even Domaine Carneros with a little Rev. But a lot of the champagne houses as well. And I love Bruton the church is zero dressage is that’s my that’s my jam.

Drew Hendricks  35:47  

No, I agree. I agree. And I would love to see a steely mineral dry recently.

Joseph Wagner  35:54  

As soon as we get a couple Yeah, I’ll send you one. I had some scribe was actually really good. I don’t have that. Yeah, they’re doing a great job with some reasoning over here in Sonoma.

Drew Hendricks  36:05  

Oh, man, I gotta check that out. So, Joe, thank you so much for joining us when we’re people can pretty much find me, but where can people find you? I get asked that.

Joseph Wagner  36:14  

So, you know, I think nowadays, I would say you know, Facebook, of course, that we have a pretty good presence on there, with the brands, individually, as well as Copper Cane. But really, the brand focus ones I think are the best places to go. So Belle Glos Ella, one quilt, etc. But Instagram, if everybody’s on Instagram, we do try to post a lot of our highlights what’s going on. And we do have, you know, our Copper Cane account, which is a little more business focused. We also have, there’s a guy that is on the team named Chris Paul Rutherford, that’s his handle, Chris Paul Rutherford. And he kind of gives a behind the line scene of what we do at Copper, Cane, everything from events we do to production, winemaking harvesting, etc. So that’s, I think, a very fun one to watch. And, and I’ve kind of given him open access to, you know, trail anybody in the company or or myself to get information and, and, you know, see what’s going on. So we want people to see what it is that that we do, because it’s, it’s not that easy to do in the wine business. You know, if you go to a local brewery, they’re going to show you the grain. They’re the, you know, the mash and, and what comes out the other end and the actual beer. And you see all that in real time in, in the wine world, it’s kind of like we have this massive inundation of busyness during harvest, and we’re relegated to one location. So it’s really hard to expose those elements to a broad audience. So you know, thank God for social media to give us that opportunity so people can get a closer tie to actually what goes into growing grapes and making wine.

Drew Hendricks  37:51  

That’s, yeah, that excellent. Instagram has really made that possible. And great point about visiting wineries. It really depends on the time you go. To see

Joseph Wagner  38:00  

it very much. So

Drew Hendricks  38:03  

Joe, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. This has been a pleasure.

Joseph Wagner  38:07  

Oh, it was a great pleasure. And I look forward to doing this again. And if you find yourself up in Napa, or any of your listeners, look us up. We’ve got a tasting room called Coulton company in downtown Napa, a restaurant called avow. And you can also reach out directly to us online, just at our info, INFO at belgo boss or info at Quilt or any of the brands if you guys are looking for something more special. So we’d love to host you guys up here. I love to host you drew. So feel free. Let us know when you come on up.

Drew Hendricks  38:38  

Sounds great. Thank you so much. And if you’re ever down in San Diego, we’ll do hit me up. Thank you very much. Take care.

Outro  38:48  

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.