Interview with the Vineyard Manager-Lino Bozzano

This week we grabbed ahold of Vice President, Vineyard Operations, Mr. Lino Bozzano, for a little Q&A session over a cup of Yerba Mate. This is what the manager of Laetitia Vineyard and Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard had to say:

 

What did you do before working in the wine industry?

I grew up farming, but after college I was a biologist for agricultural research company.

Did you do viticulture work before working at Laetitia?

Yes, for Bien Nacido Vineyards, and David Bruce Winery.

Have you managed vineyards anywhere else besides Laetitia?

For David Bruce Vineyards, I managed multiple properties in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mountain farming is very different because the blocks are planted on steep slopes and we had to tailor the farming practices to each specific block. We couldn’t use a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. I brought that perspective with me from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Laetitia. I find that by doing this we are getting much more site expression from our Pinot Noir.

Did you have any formal training?

BA from Cal Poly SLO in Crop Science, with an emphasis in Crop Ecology. I graduated in 1996, this was before Cal Poly established a formal Wine and Viticulture program, however I used to enroll in what were called “Enterprise projects.” The classes were strictly ‘learn by doing’ classes(Cal Poly’s learning philosophy), you got graded on how much work you did. Over the course of a few years, I was part of the crew that planted the first commercial-sized vineyard at Cal Poly called “Bakers Acres”.

What do you like to do in your free time?

SLO is a great place to live, we have so much available to us. So, I like to enjoy all the wonderful thinks around me. Friends, Family, wine, food, surfing. A perfect day for me would be surfing with friends and then a evening potluck, drinking great wine and eating awesome food.

What is your favorite wine type?

A wine somebody turns me onto that is great and I never heard of. I recently had a Nebbiolo made from grapes grown at Bien Nacido Vineyards that had been barrel-aged for 6 yrs. Had I not known, I would have sworn it was a Barollo. However, my cellar at home has a lot of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and trippy red blends.

What possible challenges/benefits do you see growing fruit on the Central Coast?

The Central Coast of California is very unique, it is one of the most diverse growing regions in the world. A lot of people come here to make wine because they don’t want to be slaves to tradition. For example, at Laetitia we grow great Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, on the same property. Where else can this happen? Also it has a very bohemian vibe. I think the Central Coast will be the center of anything goes winemaking, from very traditional to off the wall multi-variety, non-vintage blends. There are a lot of people around here that know what they are doing and pushing the edge with viticulture and winemaking.

What is unique about your approach to grape growing?

I let the vines tell me what they need.

What do you like about working in the wine industry versus other industries you have worked in?

I’ve never had a job outside of Agriculture. However, the wine industry vs. other farming, wine growing is the most noble form of farming. It is something you can spend your whole life doing and most likely you will end up doing it in retirement. In winegrowing every vintage is different and each year comes with a new set of challenges. This keeps me on my toes and constantly challenges creative thinking.

However, It is the people who make this fun. I can be in a place like Indiana, and I will run into somebody that says, “I love Laetitia.” That doesn’t happen too often in the broccoli business.

I know you get asked this all the time, but for home wine growers-what simple advice do you have for growing on the Central Coast?

It is hard work, if you think you are going to sit around all day, drink wine, eat cheese, and make good wine, well forget it. Vines are demanding of your time and attention.

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