What’s your favorite quote?
From Richard Thompson’s song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightening’:
Says Red Molly, to James, “Well that’s a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like.”
Says James, to Red Molly, “My hat’s off to you.
It’s a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I’ve seen you on the corners and cafes, it seems.
Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme.”
And he pulled her on behind,
And down to Boxhill,
What achievement do you consider your crowning glory?
Raising two amazingly kind, openminded, and successful kids into adulthood.
What’s your favorite color?
French Blue and Orange side by side.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a surgeon or a marine biologist as a kid because of two influential relatives.
If you were a superhero, what power(s) would you have?
I would fly as a superhero, no question.
What are you doing to make the world a better place?
Putting joy and beauty and good will into every bottle of Pinot Noir we make!
Though acclaimed Emeritus Winemaker David Lattin has made a wide variety of wines at renowned wineries like Merus, Storybook Mountain, and Kuleto Estate, he began his career at Acacia Winery in 1984. That was where he first fell under the spell of Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is the varietal I cut my teeth on, and it is still the one I love the most. Making a great Pinot Noir—one with nuance, elegance and a deep and meaningful sense of place—is incredibly difficult, and to me is the ultimate challenge.
Since joining Emeritus in 2017, Dave embraced this challenge and dove intp working with Founder Brice Cutrer Jones, Vineyard Manager Kirk Lokka, and President Mari Jones to make profoundly vineyard-driven Pinot Noirs of uncommon purity and aging potential.
Dave grew up in Corvalis, Oregon, and spent two formative years living in Europe, where his father taught university. From his first memorable sip of Mosel at the age of six, he has cultivated a keen palate and a passion for wine. After earning his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Oregon State University, Dave moved to California to pursue a master’s degree in enology from UC Davis. While at Davis, Dave met the winemaker for Acacia, who convinced him to join the winery’s team as an intern.
The work inspired him beyond his expectations and he quickly fell in love with winemaking. After turning in his thesis, Dave followed his girlfriend (now his wife) to Paris, where he developed a deep appreciation of French wines. On a shoestring budget, and at times living out of a tent, he regularly traveled to the great wineries of Bordeaux in search of work, ultimately landing a cellar job at Troplong-Mondot.
After returning to the U.S., he worked as the enologist at Robert Pecota, and later as the cellar master at Storybook Mountain, before rejoining Acacia, where he was promoted to winemaker, and to general manager/winemaker five years later. After eleven years at Acacia, Dave became the winemaker for Kuleto Estate and earned a reputation for making some of Napa Valley’s most alluring and sophisticated mountain-grown wines. In recognition of his skill, whenvintner Bill Foley aquired Kuleto Estate, Dave also became the winemaker for Napa Valley’s acclaimed Merus Wines. In early 2017, Dave left Kuleto Estate and Merus to join the team at Emeritus.
I spoke with Brice and he said the magic words: ‘all estate, all dry farmed, all Pinot Noir.’ Before I accepted the job, I drove back up to Hallberg Ranch on my own, and just stared at the vineyard. It is such a remarkable piece of land—like a gorgeous green flying carpet. It was so clear to me that the vines had found something deep down that they loved. I knew that I wanted to make its wines.
At Emeritus, Dave works to preserve the clonal diversity of different estate blocks by doing as many as 50 individual fermentations each vintage. He also focuses on assessing the maturity of different clones at different Brix levels. Because we dry farm, the grapes develop full color and flavor at lower sugar content, while also gaining sophistication and finesse.
Working with Brice, Dave is also refining Emeritus’s barrel program. The team visits Burgundy every year to look at the wood for our barrel staves, and to guide how it is seasoned before it’s put to use. Emeritus sources barrels from three different coopers, each family owned for multiple generations. Dave is very thoughtful and restrained in his use of new oak, but acknowledges that each barrel brings something different to the wines. His goal is to make wines that are pure, elegant and aroma-driven, with succulent acidity, excellent texture, and length.
The finest Pinots inspire the senses and stir the soul. They are also wines that transport you to the place they were grown. These things are the essence of Emeritus.