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Still Winemaking

With TJ Evans

Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir winemaker TJ Evans's focus on "the heartbreak grape" came to him in a way fitting to the varietal - a complex, humbling path to a revelation.

Upon completion of his master's degree in 1997, TJ worked harvest at New Zealand's Villa Maria Estate, apprenticed at France's 500 year-old Domaine Jean-Louis Chave and served internships with Robert Mondavi Winery and Far Niente.

Landing his first winemaking position with La Crema in California's Russian River Valley, a winery highly acclaimed for its Pinot Noir, TJ's obsession with Pinot Noir took root. Though his next move to Alderbrook Winery in Dry Creek Valley gave him the opportunity to craft vineyard-designated Zinfandels as well as Pinot Noirs, the experience only fueled his passion for the latter. In 2005, he traveled to Chile to develop a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir estate for Vinedos y Bodegas Corpora before at last joining the Domaine Carneros team as Pinot Noir winemaker in 2008.

"My philosophy is, let the wine express itself," says TJ. "Just as a winemaker's path is shaped by happenstance, opportunity and luck, you have to let a wine find its own way.

Of course, that's much easier when you have a close working relationship with a talented vineyard manager like Alberto Zamora. Working hand-in-hand with the viticulturist teaches me what the vineyards have to offer, what to expect, and how to react should things change."