Wine, Women and Blog: Colleen Fleming

Most of the wine-related peeps I read about are dudes. However, many of the wine-related peeps I’ve met, worked with, and knocked back a few glasses/bottles with are women. So please welcome this new STBNY feature, Wine, Women and Blog, wherein I introduce you to some of them.
First up is Colleen Fleming, Assistant Manager of Kelly Fleming Wines. Located in Calistoga, this winery produces less than 1,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc each year. Their wines are a great reminder not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: yes, yes, yes, there are way too many overextracted Napa wines out there in circulation, but these are not among them. The Cabernet Sauvignon is lush, no doubt, but there’s elegance at play, too. At $90 a pop, it’s not a bargain, but relatively speaking, it offers good value.

As Assistant Manager, Colleen is an admitted jack-of-all-trades. (She’s also Kelly’s daughter.) See below for some thoughts from Colleen on the relationship between their wine and contemporary Japanese fiction, her weirdest wine/food combo, and the joys of doing the dishes with her mom and brother. (Well, if you get to do it here, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad.)
If you could compare your Cabernet Sauvignon to someone famous, living or dead, who would it be? 

I would compare our Cabernet to a Haruki Murakami novel.  On the surface it’s a realistic wine, but has an underlying surrealist, magical quality!  It expands and contracts.  Alternately, sometimes I try it with a perfect food pairing, roast quail or grilled lamb, and it’s like a Buddy Guy song.  It can be a radical moment.

What wine (aside from your own!) could you not live without?

German Rieslings, especially ones with a little age and a heavy dose of petrol.

What wine region are you dying to visit next?

Germany or Champagne.

What’s the oddest food/wine combination you’ve ever tried?

Chocolate with blue cheese and port.  It was weird and awesome.

What wine trend are you most excited about?

More and more farmers taking the leap to organic farming, and also dry farming.

What wine trend would you like to see go the way of the dodo bird?

Oaky malolactic Chardonnay.  Sorry!

What’s the best part of being in the wine business?

Drinking all the profits.  I’m only half-kidding.  I honestly love working with my mom and brother, it’s so fulfilling!  I also love being a small boutique winery with a small staff.  It forces us all to wear many hats and be involved in everything from cleaning fermentation tanks, walking the vineyards, doing the dishes.

What’s the harshest reality about working in the wine business?

It’s a lot messier and harder than most people think.  Harvest is all manual labor!  It’s a great work-out though.

What person in the wine business do you most admire?

My mom.  She was the sole employee for the first 10 years before the winery was built.  She’s a rock star.  And a great mom too.

It’s not every mother and daughter who could work together, especially in such a demanding, all-consuming field. What’s your secret to making it work?

Patience, honesty, communication and the reassurance that we can always have a nice big glass of wine at the end of the day.  Wine cures all.

 

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