||The Search Compels Us
We met in 2001, when Kevin was wine director at Spago-Beverly Hills, and Matt was the national sales director for North Berkeley Imports. The alley behind the restaurant served as a makeshift tasting area and the rain gutter as a spit bucket. Our friendship was immediate and easy, and it didn’t take long for conversations about Burgundy, Piedmont, and Rhone to evolve into ideas about winemaking here at home.
We were critical of the “bigger is better” mantra that had taken hold, and wondered if it were possible to make wines of place that favored nuance over power. In 2005, relying on nothing more than our palates and our rolodexes, we embarked on a journey to become a New World negociant. Europe was the inspiration, as were the more restrained California wines of the 1980’s. We christened our winery “LIOCO” using a combination of our last names.
We are now preparing for our tenth vintage. The idea we dreamed up in the alley behind Spago has become our daily adventure. Sometimes on foot, sometimes in our all-wheel-drives, we search for distinctive California vineyards. All of the fruit we buy comes from real people working their land in real places. The resulting wines harken back to simpler time, or as we say: vintage California.
We currently produce wine from three counties-Sonoma, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz. The focus is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Carignan with an emphasis on older vines, sites with tougher soil, and select clones. Sometimes the hunt for Pinot Noir uncovers other treasures like a coastal Syrah vineyard or a rare, mid-century planting of Valdiguie. We make room for such discoveries.