Rock Star Winemaker: Jeremy Weintraub of Adelaida Cellars

Pushing Adelaida wines higher and higher

Adelaida Cellars is one of the storied wineries in Paso Robles Wine Country and is in the midst of some exciting changes.
A new hospitality center is now open to the public and includes a new tasting room, subterranean barrel room, a sensory room and swanky club members only lounge.
Adelaida also unveiled new wine labels that pay homage to the history of the prized property on Paso’s westside that sits appropriately enough in the newly approved Adelaida District of the Paso Robles AVA.
All of these changes and more are coming online in 2016 as Adelaida Cellars spends the year celebrating its 35th birthday.
Front and center through all of this remains the highly-sought-after wines that are being produced by standout winemaker Jeremy Weintraub and his veteran team. Weintraub signed on as winemaker at Adelaida in 2012 after being brought in to consult on the winery’s Bordeaux program.
The hiring of Weintraub by the Van Steenwyck family should not be taken lightly. Weintraub, who hails originally from Long Island, NY, was one of Napa Valley’s young stars. At the time, he was winemaker for Seavey Vineyard of Napa Valley, where his Cabernet Sauvignon consistently garned high scores from wine critics — the 2010 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon scored 97 points from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate; and Antonio Galloni of The Wine Advocate scored 2009 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon 96 points, and the 2008 scored 95 points.
“Jeremy brings an enormous amount of experience and perspective to our winery,” said Adelaida General manager Jessica Kollhoff at the time of the hiring. “We are very excited about what he sees in our vineyards and how he works with vineyard and cellar crews to craft the best wines for our customers.”
Weintraub was winemaker at Shadow Canyon in Paso Robles before taking the winemaker job at Seavey Vineyard. According to Adelaida Cellars, Weintraub has a bachelor’s from Clark University and studied at Fresno State and UC Davis, where he received a master’s in Viticulture and Enology. He earned scholarships from The Wine Spectator and the American Society of Viticulture and Enology while he was at UC Davis. He held internships at Tenuta Tignagnello in Italy, in Central Otago and Martinborough, New Zealand, and at wineries and vineyards on Long Island, NY.
For Weintraub the opportunity to work with the varied plantings on Adelaida’s mountain terrain was something he could not pass up, specifically its 52-year-old Pinot Noir in the HMR Vineyard. Adelaida is 14 miles from the ocean and has 157 acres under vine on seven sites and include Rhones, dry-farmed Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, just to name a few of the grapes at Weintraub’s disposal each harvest.
“It’s a beautiful setting,” Weintraub said. “It feels like a family. There is great respect for each other and what we are doing and that is important. Adelaida is really exciting vineyard-wise. I’m excited about the great potential that is still here, and getting as much out of it as we can.”
Weintraub, who worked with vineyards planted on mountain slopes at both Seavey and Shadow Canyon, has a great deal of respect for the history of Adelaida and its grapes.
“From a winemaker’s perspective to be able to work with 50-year-old fruit is a pretty awesome thing,” Weintraub said. “You can’t plant a 50-year-old vineyard, you inherit it and show it as much respect as possible. I love that Pinot Noir, it is unlike any that I have worked with before.”
The estate vineyards are between 1,400 and 2,000 feet in elevation, feature limestone soils and benefit from cool ocean breezes.
“It’s a really special site here,” Weintraub said. “It’s a combination of the soil, the climate and all of that that make wines interesting. I think the Adelaida wines are exciting and I think an increased focus on the farming is going to pay off.”
That farming focus has already paid dividends as Adelaida earned a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing Winery and Vineyard designation in 2015.
What all of this equates to in the bottle is “balance.” Weintraub said there is a vibrant acidity that is in all of the wines throughout and this is the counterbalance to the expected ripeness seen in Paso Robles.
“Everything is really nice and balanced, which is important to me,” Weintraub said. “I like harmony in wines. I don’t like things sticking out. I’m not doing things to force that it is just something that is always in the back of my mind. As far as my approach goes it is always there.”
And that is as close to a winemaking style as Weintraub admits to having.
“I’m asked about that but I have what I suppose would be more of an approach,” Weintraub said. “I don’t want to tell the grapes what to do, I want them to tell me what to do, largely. So I try to keep my senses as open as possible to allow myself to learn, understand and listen to what is going on here in the vineyards.”
For Weintraub the task is to simply shepherd the winery into higher and higher quality wines by “finding theses spots where the vine is going to make grapes that have beautiful aromatics and have loveliness of mouth. In a lot of ways it is just there and you are farming to enhance that or not. For me that is what I am trying to maintain and enhance.”
Having worked in wine regions that are set in their ways in terms of the wines that are produced and what is grown, Weintraub likes the experimentation that is happening in the Paso Robles AVA, and he adds there still has a lot of room for growth.
“I am seeing more investment and more focus on understanding,” Weintraub said. “There is still a lot of dirt to be kicked here as opposed to Napa Valley where every morsel of ground has been turned over. There is a lot still be to discovered here.”
Adelaida Cellars hospitality center is located at 5805 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 800-676-1232 or visit online at www.adelaida.com.