Blackberry Farm

Our Friend of the Farm

Justin Hunnicutt Stephens

Justin Hunnicutt Stephens

 We recently asked Justin Hunnicutt Stephens a few questions!  Check out the Wine on the Fly event here at Blackberry Farm!

To decant or not to decant?
I am a big believer in decanting/aerating. I don’t have the opportunity to drink wines over 15 years old or so, but I try to decant those gently (on one side of the spectrum) and vigorously aerate very young wines on the other end of the spectrum. In the event a decanter isn’t available a great trick to introduce some air to a wine – and I would only do this with young wines – is to pour down the bottle to get below the neck or to a point where the neck broadens to expose more surface area (Bordeaux and burgundy bottles respectively), put the cork back in and give the bottle a little shake. While this will elicit confused and incredulous looks, and often times those of ridicule, it is a great way to help open a young wine.
Besides your own wine, what do you like to drink?
We actually don’t drink a lot of our own wines because of the opportunity cost and we want to try other producers.
We like wines from the Rhone, especially southern, and Pinots from Oregon to speak broadly. More specifically we drink wines made by people we respect – often friends and/or people we respect. Some of our favorites are those wines made by our winemakers Kirk Venge and Mike Hirby, of course, as well as Anomaly, Drinkward Peschon, Realm and Terre Verte for Cab Sauv. For Pinot aside from a few Oregon producers, we love what Ehren Jordan does at Failla (our next door neighbor) and Storybook makes some fabulous Zins.
Additionally, we just did something I never thought I would do and that is join a couple wine clubs - St. Innocent in Oregon and Biale in Napa. When I realized I enjoyed all of the wines I’d had from these producers across the board, we dove in!
Variety is the key. Wine isn’t like toothpaste. With toothpaste you develop a buying pattern focused on a single brand because it’s what your accustomed to. It would be very boring to drink one wine for the rest of your life.
Screw cap or cork?
All of our wines have cork finishes. However, we’ll be bottling a portion of our red blend ‘Fearless Red’ with a screw cap finish this fall.
What glassware do you like?
Schott Zweisel – Tritan Series
Most memorable meal?
We are very lucky to live in an area where there is great quality produce and fabulous restaurants. Recently, we dined at a fabulous restaurant in San Francisco called Sons and Daughters. It was a multiple small-plate experience where each dish came with an entirely new range of flavors and ingredients. It was an incredible meal.
Another that really sticks out was at a sushi restaurant my wife and I stumbled on while on our honeymoon in Hawaii. The place is called Sushi Rock and is located in Hawi on the Big Island. It’s not so much that the fish was incredibly fresh – which it was – but the various local ingredients they use and the unique and incredibly well-matched flavors and textures they presented was/is remarkable.

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