What’s On My Desk: Austin Peterson of Ovid Napa Valley

Photo Credit: Laura Flippen
Austin Peterson Photo Credit: Laura Flippen

Nestled into the rugged and rocky eastern hillside overlooking Oakville Crossroad and the surrounding vineyards is Ovid Vineyards. Ovid Napa Valley produces a blend of the four Bordeaux varietals, varying in proportion from year to year, but always eloquently conveying a sense of place, and artfully crafted to stand the test of time.

Austin Peterson began his career at Ovid in 2006 as assistant winemaker, having already compiled an impressive resume that included winery positions in prestigious wine regions around the world. The Monterey native grew up in immersed in the culture and business of wine, as his father was a winemaker by trade who began his business growing grapes throughout California for Beringer Vineyards. While studying enology at UC Davis, Peterson financed his education by making and selling his own wine.  After graduation he traveled to France where he worked with influential Bordeaux-based oenologist, Michel Rollandat his vineyard, Château Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol.  During the off seasons at Ovid, Peterson continued his passion for traveling and visited wine regions in South Africa, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand to help with the harvests and further his winemaking education. Today, Peterson along with Ovid’s winemaking team is committed to the ongoing exploration and research of all facets of grape growing and winemaking.

Let take a look at what he keeps nearby to get the job done.

Austin Peterson's desk
Austin Peterson’s desk
Item 1: My sun hat. Great wine is made in the vineyard. I am always out walking our 15 acre vineyard, working with the crew and thinking about how to further fine tune each practice. Every effort in the vineyard only helps to make the wines more spectacular in the cellar. I never head out to the vineyard without my hat in hand (or on my head).
Item 2: Desktop photo of Einstein. Every month or two I like to change my desktop photo. This month I chose a photo of Einstein to remind me of his quote, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” With all the variables from grape to glass, it is always good to remember that great winemaking is done as simply as possible, allowing the vineyard to shine. Last month’s desktop was an installation by Yaron Steinberg entitled The Brain/City Project.
Item 3: Pruning shears. Pruning is my favorite activity in the vineyard. There is a very zen-like quality to it. You look at the past year’s growth and consider the year ahead. How well you prune each vine in part determines the quality of the fruit that it will yield and how well it will perform in the future. I feel very fortunate to work with an incredibly knowledgable crew and I learn something new every year.
Item 4: Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas. I love reading about the history of Napa Valley. It is fascinating to read about its formation and development; how different areas have changed; what was planted where and when. As the saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
Item 5: 2010 Ovid. I like having a bottle of our current release on my desk. It is a reminder of what we have accomplished and inspiration for the future.