Opinionated Interview: Paul Scotto

As I mentioned in my earlier post looking forward to 2012, This year I will be posting the occasional interview with wine makers and wine writers.  Today is the first of this planned, intermittent series of interviews.  These interviews are for my next book, Wine 101, which will be an introduction to wine and wine tasting for beginners.  The nature of the interview reflects that bias.

Today I am printing the interview I did late last year with Paul Scotto, the wine maker at and owner of Sera Fina Cellars, a young Amador County winery.  It is no secret that I like Paul’s wine.  His winery has a featured entry in Pour Me Another, and I’ve posted several times about his wines here and here, among others.

Sera Fina Cellars

Sera Fina Cellars’ Amador tasting room. Photo by David Locicero

What was your first introduction to wine?

I was very young, my grandfather would pour me half wine and half water with Sunday dinner.

That sounds very similar to how I was introduced to wine.  How has your enjoyment of wine changed over the years?

I have learned to respect and enjoy all levels of wine from a 2 buck chuck to Opus One.

What is the most important thing a person new to wine (in general) should know about it?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you “should and shouldn’t” like.  Every person has their own pallet and will taste different characteristics in each wine.

What is the most important thing a person new to wine should pay attention to when drinking a wine?

Pay extreme attention to what you taste and try and make the connection to a memory of eating something or smelling something in your past.  That will help you identify the different flavors coming out in the wine.

Is wine making mostly art or mostly science?  Why?

I have grown up understanding both.  I think it is equal but the art can make the wine a wonderful wine.  I like to explain it like cooking, 2 people could have the same recipe. But once the dish is complete one may taste completely different.

How is the essence of Amador County expressed in the fruit from that region?  How can someone tell a Napa wine from an Amador wine?

The Zinfandel is the big one that stands out.  The pepper that comes out in the Zinfandel from Amador is a clear characteristic of the Amador Zin.

What is your wine making style?

I grew up drinking wine with dinner, even at a very young age.  My wines are made to be enjoyed at the family dinner on a daily basis.  I want people to be able to enjoy my wines now and not have to lay them down for ten years to be drinkable.

What do you drink at home at the end of the day?

Beer or whatever bottle of wine that I bring home.  I enjoy trying other wines from Amador county.  I see it as studying up on the competition.

Thanks, Paul, for taking the time!

Paul is a talented wine maker who is continuing a long family tradition of wine making.  The building is spacious and airy, he and his staff are fun and friendly, and most importantly, his wine is very drinkable.  His Dancing Grape, a non-vintage red blend, has become a household staple.  I also very much enjoy his Malvasia Bianca, a nice ever so slightly sweet white that pairs really well with Thai food.  And his Zinfandel wines just keep improving.

I encourage folks to visit Sera Fina Cellars located at 17000 Latrobe Road outside of Plymouth, California.  They are open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5:30pm.

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About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.