An interview with local winery-entrepreneur, Sam Lando of Lando Wines...and...my 1st Podcast!
This month I recorded my first podcast!
(You can download it/play it by clicking the image above...or here, if you're on a mobile device.)
I hope to be able to interview a local wine-maker or winery-entrepreneur every month or so and share their story with you.
Be gentle...it's my first. But I think it turned out ok!
It might have helped that for my first interview, I sat down with one of my dearest friends, Sam Lando of Lando Wines.
Sam is a self-made entrepreneur and a very eager and dedicated business owner. He's incredibly dynamic and entertaining...and our 40-minutes together flew by.
Sam Lando of Lando Wines
Sam is incredibly passionate about his career, his accomplishments, his family and his wine. And he’s extremely gracious to the people that have helped him along the way.
Although he thought he was going to have a career in advertising, Sam tells a story of serendipity that has weaved throughout his life…That even though incredible opportunities have landed in his lap (stopping for a pack of gum on his way to accept a job in advertising and running into a buddy in the wine-industry that ultimately launched his career in wine) hard work and perseverance brought these opportunities to life and continued to bring him to the next level and next golden egg.
He has transformed his passion in life (wine) into a career, knowing early on he’d have his own label.
His experience managing luxury Pinot brands like Williams Selyem and Kosta Browne coupled with a foundation in building his business acumen with large, bulk brands, teed him up for the ultimate job today...running his own Pinot label.
Sam shared his four cornerstones of an enlightened experience...and how WINE is the catalyst for them all...
Lando Wines is a relationship-based business…They want to sell to people that like what they’re doing. His hospitality was groomed at an early age, putting himself through college at the local, family-owned steakhouse, Cattleman’s.
He believes (and I wholeheartedly agree) that “everybody should work at a restaurant at some point in their life because it teaches you how to treat people and how to be treated”.
Sam has a palette for luxury pinot and both the drive and experience to take his own brand to the next level.
Recent accolades include winning the 2016 Pigs & Pinot Ultimate Pinot Smackdown, celebrity chef Charlie Palmer’s annual pinot and food event and competition (16 pinots, 4 master somms, 1 winner) with his 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot.
He had also just received a 93-rating from Wine Spectator/James Laube (his highest rating yet from them) just the day before our interview for his 2015 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot, “the equivalent of an Academy Award in wine-making”, so he was on Cloud 9.
His business' momentum is growing and it's fun to listen to him talk about how far he's come and where he's going.
Some highlights from our chat are below…but please take a listen to the podcast. You can’t appreciate the love, passion and excitement Sam has for what he does without hearing his voice.
You guys make all pinots. Talk about that...
When you hear, "Lando", Sam wants you to think Pinot. Together with his winemaker, Amanda, they collaborate to craft two wines. The Russian River Valley appellation is offered in the spring and the Sonoma Coast sits in the barrel six-months longer and is available in the fall.
Where does Lando Wines source their grapes?
Six Vineyards (three in the Russian River Valley & three in the Sonoma Coast appellation)
All six are "non-pedigree vineyards" from the “little guys” that he and wine-maker, Amanda McPhee, could help sculpt into premium fruit
What do the wines cost?
Both are offered at only $45/ea. An incredible deal for their quality.
How many cases did you start w/in 2012? And what volume are you at today?
2012: ~230 cases
2013: ~750 cases
2014: ~1250 cases
2015: back down to ~860 cases due to the fifth year of the drought…although the drought gave them a spectacularly-rated pinot. Fruit looked lighter but had dense skins and very little juice. This made for an incredible vintage unlike anything they’d ever seen before.
What's going to happen with the 2017 vintage…the “wettest winter on record”?
Sam talks about collaboration with growers and how this is essential in balancing the vine…and what his philosophy is on managing the crazy growth expected this year.
Who Do You Sell To?
All their wines are sold to the consumer via mailing list only… www.LandoWines.com via allocations of two wines, Russian River Valley @ $45/bottle in the spring and Sonoma Coast in the fall. The more you buy, the more you’re allocated next offering…
Can anyone get on your list right now? Or is there a wait?
There are just over 2,000 people on the list right now and it’s getting tight.
Where can people taste Lando pinot right now?
No tasting room…but if he’s in town, he’ll open his office for a private tasting.
There’s a custom crush facility where he can do barrel-tasting…
-Valette offers it by the glass! Only place in the US.
Around the county or the Bay Area:
-John Ash & Co (Santa Rosa)
-Underwood Bar & Bistro (Graton)
-K&L Bistro (Sebastopol)
-Water Bar (San Francisco)
-Sociale (San Francisco)
-Forbes Mill Steakhouse (Los Gatos)
-Palacio (Los Gatos)
Right now it’s just you and your wine-maker. Are you going to hire anyone else?
Hopefully the surplus of fruit this year will afford an assistant to help with the daily duties. But this person has HUGE shoes to fill.
Will you expand beyond the RRV & Sonoma Coast pinots into single-vineyard or other varietals?
Definitely looking at a single-vineyard and a proprietary blend. A chardonnay is in the works. A zin in the next few years…and…if I’m lucky…a rosé under a unique brand outside of Lando.
You guys participate in a lot of charitable auctions...Talk about that...
Sam believes in "treating people how you want to be treated" and "always helping those less fortunate". He not only talks the talk, he walks the walk...Last year's charitable auction lots and donations have helped raise over $330,000 for various philanthropies around the nation. He talks about why his auction lots go for top dollar in places like Atlanta...
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Sam and his incredible pinot...Now try to get your hands on some!
Sam and his wife, Jenny, and their two kids, Emma & Henry.
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