James the Wine Guy Interview Series – Craig Camp

I have known Craig for over half a decade and have followed him and his wines from Cornerstone Cellars in Yountville to Troon Vineyard.  Craig has been involved with producers that are top of their game for wines of distinction, wines of balance.  Craig has a grand passion for the best that wine and great food can offer.  His European experience has show his devotion to the art of creating great wines.  I think many producers believe they craft the best wines but the attention to detail is essential.  Producing crowd pleasing wines is not a check mark for Craig.  I have talked with him and it is clear that he has a clear sense of a 360 view of wine–his involvement in wine is admirable of working on the back and front end of many wine businesses.

Craig has such a broad interest in many things and is one of the nicest people I know in any industry and I am glad to know him.

Now that Craig is based in Southern Oregon will certainly mean I get to see him less but I certainly hope to go to visit at Troon at some point and taste new vintages and new wines that I have not tasted before.

Gorgeous an unexpected varieties await you at Troon from Malbec, Tannat, Sauvignon Blanc/Vermentino and Sangiovese.  Yes, Oregon does produce not only Burgundian varieties.

Troon Vineyard

1475 Kubli Rd
Grants Pass, OR 97527

 

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Craig pouring Troon wines at the WBC16 Conference in Lodi, California

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Q. Tell me about your new job at Troon Vineyard?

A. It’s very exciting to be working in an emerging AVA and to be able to make wines based on the varieties that do best in this terroir. The energy and freedom here is energizing.

Q. How was the change of going from Napa to Southern Oregon

A. The natural beauty is just so compelling and inspiring here. You feel much closer to nature. There are no traffic jams here like there is in Napa and the people that work the vineyards can actually afford to live here instead of commuting in.

Q. You have had a very long and prolific career in wine – why wine?

A. In 1973 I spent a semester and summer in Europe “studying”. My first real wines were at winestube in Austria then in Alsace. Then I ended up in Paris where I would buy a cheap bottle of grocery store wine, which I would take to the park. The park was fill of other hippies and if you had something to share you could just join in a communal meal.  That’s how I survived in Paris. When I returned home I considered myself quite sophisticated, but soon learned I did not know how to buy a bottle of wine here as the labels were a mystery to me. So I bought a copy of Alexis Bespaloff’s Signet Book of Wine and that was it for me.

Q. You have the rare skill set of being in front and behind the wine label – few people have done that – why did you pursue this set of experiences?

A. After twenty years as an importer and distributor I decided I wanted to make wine, not just sell it. Best choice I ever made. In a few years I’ll have been in the fine wine business for 40 years. Half of that as importer/distributor half as a wine producer.

Q. What was your first bottle of life changing wine?

A. It wasn’t a bottle, but a pitcher of Edelzwicker in a winestube in Alsace back in 1973. The wine and the meal just blew me away. That’s were I really started towards a life in wine.  The other thing that really influenced me was when a group of friends formed a wine tasting group in the mid 1970s. In those days by chipping in about $50 each once a year we could taste all Grand Cru Bordeaux then for another $50 do Grand Cru Burgundy including DRC. Tasting those great wines defined my palate and does to this day. Obviously this is a thing of the past and it’s sad people can’t taste these wines anymore. On the other hand, there are a lot more great wines in the world than there were then.

Q. What is the most difficult wine you ever made and why was it difficult?

A. I don’t know if any wine was more difficult than another. My biggest struggle in Napa was to try to keep alcohol levels at a moderate level. The most difficult thing for me is convincing people that wine from a difficult vintage can still be wonderful to drink. That’s frustrating.

Q. I know you have a passion for food, what is your favourite cuisine style and what wines do you pair with that cuisine?

A. After three years in Italy it will aways be Italian. The majority of the food I cook at home is Italian in style. I truly love all Italian cuisine, but the food is Piemonte has to be my favorite. obviously you have to pair it with Piemonte wines to be authentic. No problem for me as the wines of Piemonte are my favorites.

Q. I feel in the past generation to a generation and a half the American wine industry has changed dramatically—what is the future state of wine?

A. For small wineries the future depends on the evolution of the three tier system. If the laws are not relaxed for wineries under a certain size, small wineries will find it harder and hard to succeed. The other challenge is to find ways to make direct shipping costs cheaper. The biggest challenge we all face is climate change.

Q. What is your favourite vacation destination/city?

A. Alba – Barolo and Barbaresco with a side trip to Milano and Lago Maggiore.

Q. What was your latest great and perhaps surprise wine find?

A. Thanks to Kermit Lynch I have really been enjoying the wines of Sardegna. Really exciting wines.

11. What is the most under appreciated wine variety?

A. Gamay. There are few wines more enjoyable in almost any situation than Beaujolais. I always have some in the house.

***

Reviews of Troon wines:

Salute!

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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About James Melendez

I love wine and have had the privilege of working in the wine trade as a senior national wine marketing manager for a wine, food and home goods retailer in 30+ US States. I executed into making wine experiential and made 'wines of the world' programme work in a highly regulated framework for a successful business proposition. My "wine" site also incorporates those categories intimately involved with wine such as food, travel and lifestyle. This site incorporates my many dimensions of interest. I love to review and also talk about many aspects of wine. I have been privileged to visit many wine countries and find them enthralling no matter how many times I visit. I love all aspects of wine: viticulture, history, winemaking, brand development, wine regions and many more aspects. This is a living tradition that needs documentation, education, reporting and reviewing. Do I have favourite varieties and styles? I love so many varieties and often it is situational and yet there are time honoured wines that I anticipate and I am passionate about. I like all colours of wine and all styles. I have had a mad passionate affair with sparkling wines and they are always top of mind. Wine nourishes our soul and is the key to connecting with other people at our dinner table. Salute, James © 2014, 2017 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social medias.
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