Multiple award-winning winemaker Adam LaZarre is well known as the master scientist/artist behind the Cycles Gladiator wine brand, whose compelling wines are wow-ing consumers after a few years' hiatus. For 20+ years he has made countless successful and affordably-priced wines from his time at Rex Goliath and Villa San Juliette. His own label, LaZarre Wines, continues to wow critics. LaZarre's years in the industry are punctuated by numerous award-winning, competition sweepstakes wines produced across California's north and central coasts, but a reputation of hard work, unrivaled drive, and success is the reason LaZarre is held in high esteem around the country. In 2012 he was named one of the top 100 most influential people in the U.S. wine industry by Into Wine.
Learn more about the compelling and irrepressible LaZarre below over the course of 10 medium intensity questions.
CCA: 1. As a child, you collected…
Adam LaZarre: I collected rocks, butterflies, coins, stamps, beer cans. I had a fascination with all things in the world that came in different colors and shapes. I have this insane thirst for knowledge, particularly regarding nature. My father took me bird watching and stargazing and was always supportive in my desire to learn. I still have, to some degree, an amazing recollection of bird and snake species. I’m shocked that I can differentiate between a Scarlett Kingsnake and a Milk Snake at first glance even though I haven’t picked up a book on snakes in 35 years. But go ahead and ask my how old my wife is or what my daughter’s name is… forget it.
2. Name a book that has had the most impact on your life?
Easy. “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course” by Kevin Zraly. It was the hook that brought me into this business.
3. Recall the biggest and best mistake you ever made and what you learned from it.
I’ll probably have to check with my attorney first…. My biggest mistake was not spending more time with my dad while he was still alive. I missed out on what he could’ve taught me. Also, not having a child earlier in my life. I love being a dad. The best mistake? I can’t say what it was, but it was very humiliating. It forced me to completely change how I conduct my life now. Made me very sensitive to how my actions affect others around me. I think I’ve learned humility from it.
4. Cabin in the woods or penthouse in the city and why?
Penthouse in the city, although I’d take the corner space a floor below. I need personal interaction and like to be out amongst people and the world. I thrive on input. Being around an endless supply of people and things feeds my ADD. As long as I can go upstairs to the penthouse at the end of the day, close the door, curl up with the family, and check out, I’m good.
5. What do you think about a future with driverless cars?
Pretty soon, we’ll be surrounded by a whole generation of young folk that will know nothing other than driverless cars. And for them, the thought of having to actually CONTROL a car by steering and accelerating and braking will be as foreign to them as dial telephones, record players, and TVs with only three network channels are for younger folk today. I’m still not comfortable with the concept. But then I see an elderly woman at the checkout stand pulling out her checkbook because the thought of using an ATM card is too scary for her. It’s all relative I guess.
6. In 10 years how do you predict technology will change winemaking?
Well, you’ll always need grapes, yeast, and something to put it in. Outside of that, probably equipment to streamline the process or make things more efficient. I suppose there will be some innovations that can remove or prevent the flaws that still plague wines today although you can pretty much fix anything that’s problematic with the technology we currently have available if you know about it. One thing that technology may never be able to fix, though, is a winemaker with a crappy palate.
7. Bacon or sausage?
Bacon. It’s the opiate of the food world.
8. Most memorable bottle of wine you made?
2007 LaZarre Central Coast Pinot Noir. A blend of Bien Nacido and Sierra Madre Vineyards out of the Santa Maria Valley. 2007 was and still is the best year ever for Pinot Noir on the Central Coast. That wine won a boatload of top awards. I still have a few bottles left although my wife won’t let me touch it.
9. If you weren't a winemaker, what career path might you have followed?
I would’ve loved to have been a veterinarian. I may have missed my true calling. Perhaps a physician in one of the pediatric fields. Animals and children - I feel very strongly about protecting the innocents of the world. Funny saying that after I’ve talked about bacon...
10. Name one thing every person should try at least once.
I would say travel. See the world. Meet people from different cultures. Develop a worldview. I tend to find that people who’ve been all over are more balanced, pragmatic, and sensitive to others. Our culture is so ridiculously driven to be #1 at everything we do. We have to be the best. If you’re not, you’re a loser. Being content with what you have isn’t even an option anymore. It’s a humbling experience to be around people and cultures that are genuinely happy just to be surrounded by family and friends, to have something to eat, to be alive.
All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.