We've loved sharing Nickel & Nickel Winemaker Joe Harden's video spotlights on our single-vineyard wines. Now, we're sharing a glimpse of the man himself. From his childhood NBA dreams to adaptability on the court and in our Napa Valley vineyards, find out what we learned from our recent Q&A with Joe (It was virtual, of course).
Growing up, did you dream of a thousand different careers or did you have an idea of what you wanted to be and do from an early age?
I played every sport imaginable as a kid. When I was really young, I dreamt of playing in the NBA. As I grew older, my goals dialed in a bit, I really wanted to play college basketball, then pro. In the back of my mind, if hoops didn't work out, I wanted to be a veterinarian. The pursuit of wine came later, in college, although I was around the wine industry throughout my childhood. My father worked for a wine distributor, and we loved talking about growing, making and exploring great wine.
Some people may not be aware of your career as a professional basketball player with the Warriors NBA-D League. What skills developed for and during your stint in the professional sports world have been surprising (or not so surprising) skills to have in winemaking?
Great question. There are actually a number of fundamentals I learned on the court that I use as a winemaker:
What's a surprising thing about your job most people don't know?
I wish more people got to know our team at Nickel & Nickel. It takes a village to make all of our single vineyard wines. Our cellar master, Jesus Duran, has been with the winery since day one. Prior to my arrival, he assembled a super talented group, and it's an honor to get to work with them daily.
What is your current favorite wine in the portfolio?
Stelling and Hayne are two of my favorites. The Stelling Vineyard is an amazing site, and it produces Cabernets with density, complexity and a backbone of structure and tannin, all the very best qualities of western Oakville. The vineyard is so phenomenal that wine almost makes itself. I love our Hayne Vineyard Cabernet because it is old school St. Helena. Hayne has this appealing earthy note along with a natural acidity that I really love in Cabernet. It's quite literally mouthwatering. With its red fruit and lively mouthfeel, Hayne often reminds me of the classic cabernets of the 1980s.
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