Kathy Joseph established Fiddlehead Cellars in 1989 to capture the pure essence of two distinguished grape varietals – Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Her quest was simple. Besides a lesser important desire to satisfy her own palate, her intent was to incorporate European beauty into these domestically grown varietals by working with grapes grown in the right place and wines managed with respect in the cellar. Both varietals are celebrated for their successful old world pedigree; both have the potential to convey sensory elegance; both have proven to gratify a broad range of discriminating palates.
Today, Kathy is recognized as a pioneer among women winemakers as she passionately and enthusiastically creates stylistic Sauvignon Blanc and silky, textural Pinot Noir. At Fiddlehead, she annually produces about 5,000 cases of wine, with personal interest in each grape cluster, each barrel of wine and every bottle that finds its way to your table.
The wines are made at FiddleHeadquarters, her Winery in the Lompoc “Wine Ghetto”, and Kathy lives in a little farm house on the Estate Vineyard, Fiddlestix. Kathy stays connected to other important grape growing regions by maintaining a business office in Davis, CA – her administrative and marketing base, and home during non-farming activities. She takes great pride in connecting a broad range of contributing forces to create eloquence in her wines.
Eyeing a career in medicine, Kathy was uniquely guided to appreciate this discipline from a more artistic perspective. Consequently, reality struck and she never truly fit into the rigidity of her pre-med program. So, in the early ‘80’s, this Chicago native took a leap of faith by moving to California with the hopes of redirecting her degrees in Microbiology and Biochemistry towards research in the wine industry.
Looking back, Kathy attributes her winemaking sensibilities to a mix of many years of industry mentoring. She is quick to recognize the importance of professional relationships with Zelma Long (Simi Winery), Walter Schug and Craig Williams (Joseph Phelps), Bob Long and Sandy Belcher (Long Vineyards), Bob Pecota Robert Pecota Winery) as well as her graduate studies in Enology and Viticulture at the University of California, Davis.
With an extensive North Coast education under her belt, she boldly designed Fiddlehead Cellars to focus exclusively on place driven wines, and curiously was attracted to the lesser-appreciated varietals (at that time) of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Her lack of funds and sense of adventure led her to explore winemaking in the “then” lesser-known districts of the “now” famous “Willamette Valley”, “Santa Rita Hills” and "Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara”. Kathy’s vision was to grow her focused brand and simultaneously grow recognition of these barely recognized viticultural areas which, in her judgment, demonstrated the potential for excellence for Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Even Kathy is amazed that her early ambition helped foster the future of these now important wine districts.
All of Kathy’s wines are driven by the importance of texture, elegance and expression of place at a moment in time. As “Head Fiddle”, she directs all of the site-specific and sustainable farming at each of her vineyards and provides the hands-on, hand-crafted care and attention to each barrel of wine (in a sort of “hands-off” way) that fine wine requires. Her commitment and enthusiasm are unmatched, and her age-worthy wines are memorable to the last drop. She continues to believe the love of winemaking must be reflected in every sip!
We believe the best company names need to reflect the sprit of the brand. For Kathy, it was essential that the name be memorable. It had to be personal, like her style of winemaking, without being too exotic (because the wines were not designed to be exotic) and it had to be approachable (like her wines!). So there was a definite process of elimination.
With Santa Barbara County and the Willamette Valley in play, she steered away from geography; with an urge for focus on the wines (and not the people), she steered away from family names; she wanted accessible, so she steered away from foreign names. Further, when Kathy was asked by her graphic artist to describe the brand, she identified respect for tradition with a contemporary twist…the marriage of old world and new world, respect for the art and the science. She wanted uncomplicated, and graceful.
So as the story goes, 2 years into her unnamed project, Kathy was gardening in her fern bed and recalled the simple, melodic and memorable botanical term that describes the coiled frond of an emerging fern leaf….a fiddlehead! And the parallels abound.
Fiddlehead Cellars strives to emulate its namesake by sharing its grace and elegance, its once a year release and its admired match with great cuisine. Great chefs around the world consider the fiddlehead a prized delicacy which is often offered as a seasonal, specialty, culinary delight. Both the wine and the vegetable are prized for their delicate flavors and captivating textures.
How perfect! It’s accessible, memorable, simply striking and embraces the association of food and wine…not to mention that it draws on Kathy’s split personally simultaneously embracing the science and art of winemaking.
FIDDLEHEAD CELLARS, 1597 E. CHESTNUT AVENUE LOMPOC, CA 93436 Call or email to request private tasting appointments and to coordinate wine pick-ups. 1 805.735.7728 (weekdays only) firstname.lastname@example.org