Featuring Layne Montgomery, Owner & Winemaker
Saturday, October 20th, 2018
I am originally from Springfield, Missouri. I lived there until I was 14 years old. My dad took a job in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I lived there until age 30.
My family has a farm in southwest Missouri that was homesteaded in 1842. I spent a lot of time as a kid there, being scared of the cows and hogs, weeding the garden, gathering eggs, and watching my grandmother cook. (My grandmother’s recipe for breakfast sausage will put Jimmy Dean out of business. Unfortunately she never wrote it down and I’ve never been able to figure out why it was so good.)
I can trace my father’s family back to Tennessee to 1820 and then Virginia to 1774. (And somewhat reliably to northern Europe as far as the 1500s.) My mother is from south-central Missouri, a little town called Willow Springs. I can trace her family to Georgia and Tennessee to the year 1800 or so.
With family roots in the south like that you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that my ancestors were pretty strict tee-totaling Methodists and Baptists with strong Puritan ethics. So, you shouldn’t be shocked to learn that Momma don’t dance, Daddy don’t rock and roll and my sister still harbors some concerns that I might be going to hell for making the devil’s Kool-Aid.
I am mostly self-taught as a winemaker, but I have taken some courses at UC Davis in various topics. Most important is that I have an incredible circle of professional winemaking friends here in Lodi, and in Napa and Paso Robles, upon whom I can call for help and education if needed.
My winemaking focus is on Zinfandel, red wine blends and Rhone varietals. We have sourced grapes from the same vineyards since I first started winemaking – Zinfandel, Petite Sirah & Tempranillo come from Lodi, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier from El Dorado County, plus Syrah and Petite Sirah from Amador’s Shenandoah Valley.
Our most popular wines are our Zinfandels, especially the one from Soucie Vineyard here in Lodi. That vineyard was planted in 1916 by Kevin Soucie’s grandfather. I’ve been making wine from the same vines and the same patch of ground since 2002 and I think this is one of the best Zinfandel vineyards in the world.
Another of the best things about being a winemaker and running a winery is the incredible variety of people I get to meet who come from all over the world, like Terry, Krista and Stephen from Wine ConneXtion. And it’s still hard to believe that people will spend their hard-earned money on wine I made, tell me how much they enjoy it, and also say ‘thank you’ for making it for them! That is a humbling yet thrilling thing.