Welcoming Katey Larwood, Our New Winemaker

Winemakers, Katey and Phil

Hello DWC fans,

It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I will be leaving Damiani Wine cellars and the Finger Lakes.  My family and I are relocating to the DC area to be nearer to our extended family as we decided that family had to take precedent over career; as their families all start to have kids, my own kids will need to be there to keep them in line and show them the ropes on this whole “being human” thing.

Though I grew up outside of Philly, I’ve lived in the Finger Lakes for almost 20 years now and more specifically, DWC has been my home for almost 13 years.  I learned the craft of winemaking first from Lou Damiani and then continued my education learning from my colleagues in the industry and on my own, and I know my education is far from over.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some great grapes and some great vintages, but much more than that, I’ve been blessed to work with some truly great people.  DWC is a truly special place; yes, we’ve all made some great wines together over the years, but what I will mostly carry away with me (besides a few cases/pallets of champagne ;-) ) are the memories from years and years of harvests.  Sorting grapes and pressing until 2am while singing (very badly) at the top of my lungs on the crush pad (sorry Paula) and loving every minute of it.  Painstakingly tasting blending trials over and over, trying to get that perfect blend to come together from the alchemy both of the grapes and the collaboration of different minds and palates working together. The long lunches and shared community; the jokes and laughter that make the hard work seem to fly by; the sledding trips and the harvest parties; the damn chandelier in the barn; all of which made DWC so special to me.  To my DWC family, you have meant so much to me and I will miss you all so much!  Thank you all so much for being a part of my life and me being a part of yours.  I know I will be back frequently, so this is not goodbye; just a pause in the conversation.

But as I start this new chapter in my life, so too does Katey Larwood start her journey as DWC head winemaker.  Ah, the circle of life (cue the lion king music).  I met Katey years ago when she was winemaker for Keuka Lake Vineyards and I distinctly remember thinking, “We gotta get this woman over to Hector!  She’s one of us!”  And a scant 6 years later, looks like it was meant to be.  Katey has been making phenomenal Pinot Noir and Champagne in California and has wide ranging experience in the world of wine. I could not be happier to hand the reins over to her; I know she will make some killer FLX wines and take DWC to even loftier heights.

To our members and customers, thanks to you as well for supporting us in our grape-growing and winemaking endeavor.  It’s because of you that we get to play in the mud and get splattered with grape juice instead of being stuck in an office.

Cheers and good health to you all,

-Phil Arras