Interview with the Sparkling Winemaker-Dave Hickey

This week we managed to steal a bit of Sparkling Winemaker, Dave Hickey’s, time to ask a couple questions.  Here’s what we found out:

 

What did you before working in the wine industry?

For many years I was involved in commercial and industrial construction as an Inside Journeyman Wireman (electrician). For about 3 years before getting into the wine industry I ran a carpet cleaning and janitorial business.

 

Did you make wine before working at Laetitia?

I played with a little homemade wine in my home state of Ohio when I was newly married. It wasn’t very good.

 

Have you made wine anywhere else besides Laetitia?

No.

 

Did you have any formal training?

No.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with family and friends, work on classic cars, go hiking and camping, take “road trips” around the western United States, snow ski.

 

Why can’t sparkling wine from California be called Champagne?

Although many people call any wine with bubbles “champagne” the term champagne actually refers to wine that is made in the Champagne region of France. “Sparkling “ wines are made around the world. Champagne is made in Champagne.

 

What is your favorite wines?

I love sparkling wines that are made in the traditional methods of Champagne. The bubbles are lively and the wine can contain such an amazing array of flavors and aromas.

 

What is your favorite food/wine pairing?

Bubbly and pizza – they can be terrific together!

 

What is unique about your approach to wine making?

I really don’t consider my approach to winemaking unique. I have been trained in the traditional ways of Champagne and I work hard to adhere closely to that training. The unique characters of our wines come from our vineyard. My job is to make the best wines that I can from each harvest and then blend those wines in such a way that the beauty of each style of sparkling that I make can shine through.

 

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

Many, many things: The people in this industry are fantastic. Coming to work each day at a place that smells like wine and oak barrels. Looking out over a vineyard from my office. The excitement of making new wines each year – it’s never the same. The list goes on and on…

 

For those who don’t know much about sparkling wine production-can you give us a brief overview of what it entails?

It starts off by making still wines – but still wines that are generally much lighter and elegant than most people are accustomed to. Then you have to blend those wines in such a way that they will age into what you envision. Before the wines are bottled, just the right amount of sugar and a yeast culture are added to the wines.  As the bottle rests in the cellar the yeast grow and produce the bubbles we love. After they die they continue to add richness to the wine – richness than can only come from time in the bottle.  Much later, perhaps several years later, the yeast is removed by the riddling and disgorging process,  and then the wines are finally ready to enjoy!

 

What are the different methods of making sparkling wine and which method does Laetitia employ?

The two best known methods are the Charmat Methode and the Methode Champenoise – the Champagne Method which is how we make our wines.

 

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