Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
A Family Affair
While Laetitia Vineyard & Winery certainly has the elegance and sophistication to stand next to any world-class producer, it is, at its heart, a family-owned and operated estate winery. With a welcoming tasting room, plenty of room to roam, and a staff of talented people in the field and in the cellar, Laetitia is an ideal spot for anyone who enjoys the warmth of a place that feels like home.
Laetitia’s legacy of family winemaking began in 1985 when Dave Hickey was hired for construction at Laetitia’s predecessor, Maison Deutz. As he worked around the winery, Dave became intrigued with the traditional, labor-intensive process of making sparkling wine called Mèthode Champenoise. Pretty soon he was overseeing winery systems operations, and his enthusiasm for the winemaking craft was rubbing off on his eldest son, Eric. Not long thereafter, Eric also joined the Maison Deutz crew full time.
By the time the property had been bought and named Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, both Dave and Eric had become institutions in the cellar: Eric crafting still wine like Laetitia’s famous Pinot Noir, and Dave making the award-winning sparkling wines. Meanwhile, the rest of Dave’s family was also developing an appreciation for fine wines. His wife, Carmen, manages the tasting room, as well as wine club and hospitality; his youngest son, Dustin, is a supervisor in the cellar; and middle son, Jeremiah, spent several years working in the Laetitia Cellar hand-riddling sparkling wine bottles.
In 2000, after 12 years working up the ranks, Eric was named Head Winemaker and General Manager, and has since become President of the brand, while Dave is Sparkling Winemaker and Vice President of Production. Their winemaking styles are similar in that both winemakers know their fruit intimately, value tradition as well as innovation, and lushness as well as restraint.
“I always dreamed that whatever I did with my life, my kids and grandkids would be close by,” says Dave. “People ask me a lot what it’s like to have my son as a boss. I can truthfully say it is wonderful. He’s a great boss and I love it.”
Such geniality is not exclusive to the Hickey family. Visitors to Laetitia Vineyard & Winery often find its openhearted ambiance addictive, from the approachable and knowledgeable tasting room staff to a little friendly competition on the bocce ball court. A perfect family outing to Laetitia might include a stroll through the vines on the vineyard walking trail, a tasting of the winery’s varied offerings, and a picnic on the lawn overlooking the valley, paired with one of Eric or Dave’s recent releases:
• Dave and his team crafted the 2008 Laetitia Brut Rosé from Martini 13, 4 and 76 clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. From vintage to vintage, the Brut Rosé consistently exhibits subtle floral aromas and hints of berries, along with a luscious texture. For a delicious al fresco appetizer, the Brut Rosé might be paired with a platter of smoked salmon, almonds, Brie and Fontina cheeses.
• Eric’s recent release of the 2010 Laetitia Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir is rich in dark fruit, complexity and spice as a result of being made from the most concentrated fruit on the estate. Focused tannin and velvet-like texture combine with dark raspberry tones and deep toast for an abundance of mid-palate richness, while damp earth and spice complement and round out olallieberry jam flavors. Laetitia Pinot Noir pairs delectably with a simple (and easily packable) Muffuletta sandwich:
• 20 ounces tapenade (such as Trader Joe’s Green Olive Tapenade)
• 1 round peasant bread (about 7 inches in diameter, 5 inches high), halved crosswise, insides pulled out
• 4 ounces each thinly sliced Genoa salami and mortadella (found in the deli section)
• 4 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
Hollow out the bread to make room for sandwich filling. Spread half of tapenade on the bottom half of the bread. Layer with salami, provolone and mortadella, then top with the remaining tapenade. Cover with the top of the bread, press down and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour before serving.
For more information about Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, call 1-888-809-VINE, or visit www.LaetitiaWine.com.