June 2013
While the hallmark Wild Turkey
profile—“lots of body, lots of flavor,” as
Jimmy describes it—has remained un-
changed, Eddie has pioneered the distill-
ery’s newer expressions: the Rare Breed,
Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old, Russell’s
Reserve 6 Years Old Rye, Wild Turkey
Honey and, most recently, Russell’s Re-
serve Single Barrel, one of the richest
bourbons they’ve ever made.
Jimmy has come around on a lot of
this innovation; he even admits that his
drink of choice is Russell’s Reserve, served
neat. “The younger generation is always
wanting to try new things, but Eddie
doesn’t go way out on a limb; he likes the
old-fashioned way we do things here and
he embraces tradition.”
Not much has changed at Wild Tur-
key in the last half century, yet the outside
world’s appreciation for bourbon has sky-
rocketed. Therefore, Eddie spends a lot
more time abroad than Jimmy ever did.
“The export market is such a bigger part
of our business than when I started,” says
Eddie, whose recent travels include Japan,
Australia, Brazil and the UK to promote
bourbon. “I think we have great opportu-
nities to showcase and teach the foreign
markets that we have a natural and great
tasting product. The interest in bourbon
all over the world is at its highest I have
seen in my 32 years.”
And the bourbon consumer is chang-
ing, he adds: “This is the biggest challenge
to growing our business. We were always
an older male business until the last five
to 10 years. Today, it’s younger consum-
ers—men and women—who are driving
growth in bourbon.”
Perhaps the only thing that brings
Jimmy more joy than working alongside
his son every day is getting to see the
fourth generation in training. Eddie’s
son has been working as a tour guide
at the distillery on his summers home
from college. “He seems to really enjoy
it here,” says Eddie. “I want to treat him
just like my dad treated me by not push-
ing him to do anything; I want his ca-
reer to be his decision.”
Pahlmeyer Wines, Napa Valley
Pahlmeyer doesn’t exactly seem like a
brand that needs new life breathed into it.
Fetching high scores and critical acclaim
every year, selling out upon release and
with a wait list for the mailing list mem-
bership, the Napa Valley standard-bearer
has been the envy of many of its neigh-
bors since it was founded in 1986.
“But I was coasting,” founder Jayson
Pahlmeyer confesses. “I wasn’t in the
market much, nor was our former wine-
maker.” What changed? Jayson’s daughter
Cleo joined the company five years ago.
“When Cleo came on board it revital-
ized me and our company,” he says. “Cleo
has been like a jolt and gave me so much
more excitement about this business.”
It was with tremendous enthusiasm
that Jayson got into the wine business
in the first place, back in the mid-’80s,
as a passionate connoisseur who wanted
to create the “biggest, boldest, richest
Bordeaux-style blend possible in Napa,”
he recalls. “Some prefer sophistication,
but I’ve always loved power. You’ll find
tremendous consistency in our wines.”
Launching just as the cult wine phenom-
enon was getting started, Pahlmeyer made
wines alongside Shafer and Colgin at the
Napa Wine Company.
Over the years, production of Pahl-
meyer’s flagship red ($125 a bottle) has
hovered pretty closely around 4,000
cases annually, which means that there
is enough to have decent national avail-
ability but not so much that it is hard to
sell. “My philosophy all along has been to
keep it accessible—we are in every state
in the union,” he says. During the reces-
sion, wide distribution helped Pahlmeyer:
“If I had to push 1,000 cases through New
York that would have been tough, but we
had wines all over the country, unlike
most cult wines.”
When Cleo, who was working in
San Francisco for Williams-Sonoma,
heard there was a job opening at her fam-
ily’s winery, she asked if she could apply.
“When I heard that, it was my dream
come true,” says Jayson. “I never would
have asked her to do it, because I didn’t
want her to feel pressure.” Cleo moved
back to Napa and started as national sales
associate and now serves as communica-
tions director.
Cleo’s arrival has helped usher in a
new era for the winery, fueled as well by
two new winemakers, Kale Anderson,
director of winemaking at the Napa op-
eration, and Bibiana González Rave for
Pahlmeyer’s Sonoma Coast vineyards.
Nothing happens quickly when vineyards
are involved, and Pahlmeyer’s Sonoma
vineyard, planted in 2001 in what is re-
ferred to as the “Extreme Sonoma Coast”
with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is just
now seeing its true potential.
“This year we will make vineyard des-
ignate Pinot Noirs from this property,”
Father’s Day
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