Q&A with Linda Ault of Cedar Mountain Winery

12 Nov

Cedar Mountain Winery combines the creative interests of Linda and Earl Ault wine food and art. Earl is an accomplished sculptor watercolorist and large format photographer. Linda is a recognized amateur gourmet chef. Together they manage the farming activities and operate the winery. Earl is the winemaker. The Aults believe that quality wines begin with the grapes in the vineyard. They specialize primarily in Livermore grown and produced wines.

JK: Can you provide readers with a little background on who you are, why you care about sustainability and what you’re doing?

LA: Earl has been on the Board of Directors for the Wine Institute for many, many years (we are the smallest winery on the board). We have been practicing their Sustainable Winegrowing Practices for both the winery and the vineyard since they published the guide in 2002. The self-assessment workbook/guide is aliving document that is frequently updated. To us sustainability means a minimum impact on the environment. Why spray insecticide when lady bugs and soap will do (and the soap bio-degrades to fertilizer). Weeds in the vineyard are OK – they harbor pests that would be on the grapes. Disking the weed into the vineyard wipes out one generation of pests and adds compost to the vineyard at the same time. As for the winery, Cedar Mountain Winery is the only certified green winery in Alameda County. To be certified we had to pass audits in the following areas: solid waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, water conservation and pollution prevention. And we must show improvements every year in order to maintain our certification. This past year we took out all of the water hungry landscaping in front of the winery, donated the plants to the local college for their plant sale and put in drought resistant, native California plants. After this year we won’t have to water them. We also put in a tankless water heater in the winery in order to use less water. Our gammajet washer, for washing barrels and tanks, takes only a fraction of the water we used to use. As we said before Sustainability means Minimum Impact on the Environment. I could go on forever on this subject.

JK: What was your first job?

LA: We each had odd jobs throughout college. We are both physicists. My first real job was at Hughes Aircraft in Culver City as a lens designer and Earl’s first job was at Northrup Corporation as a laser physicist. If we weren’t physicists Earl would be an artist and I would be a chef. Since we are retired from our professional jobs we can do all of that AND grow grapes and make wine.

JK: How has the wine industry changed in the last 10 years?

We see a lot of small upstart wineries and several medium-size wineries being bought by the mega-winery groups like Canandaigua (ed. note: now known as Constellation) and The Wine Group. There are a lot more winery suppliers – corks, barrels, foils, labels, bottles, etc. There are more on-line university classes available. But, the people are still the same. It is one of the few industries left where deals can still be made and honored with a handshake. There is a lot more competition for California wines from Australian wines, New Zealand wines and Chilean wines than there was 10 years ago.

JK: Any general comments, observations, predictions about the industry?

LA: Californians have been making commercial wines for about 175 years and I think they will continue to be a world leader. Winemaking is a highly regulated business. We just need to keep the federal, state and local politicians out of our business.

JK: When you’re not drinking one of your own wines, what are you drinking?

LA: I drink ice tea and Earl drinks sparkling wine or non-alcoholic beer.

JK: What’s your favorite place to grab a bite out?

LA: Lunch is at Poppyridge Golf Course Restaurant – the chef is really good. They have one of my recipes on their menu – pierogies. Try it. They Americanized my grandmother’s recipe but it still tastes good.

Thanks, Linda!

Don’t miss…

Holiday at the Cedar Mountain Vineyards on December 4th and 5th. Join the Aults in the tasting room for a weekend of holiday cheer.  Along with their fine selection of wines, they will feature fudge made by Live For More Fudge with their 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port.  Guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to benefit the Toys for Tots Foundation.


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3 Responses to “Q&A with Linda Ault of Cedar Mountain Winery”

  1. John Engstrom November 12, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Jennifer,

    I know Linda and Earl Ault, and have been a fan of their wines since I found them in 1992. Their Cabernets and Port-style wines are my favorites.

    • Jennifer Kaplan November 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

      The Aults have many fans. Thanks for sharing, John.

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