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John Grochau Interview

John Grochau Interview

Friday, 06 May 2016 00:00

John Grochau is such a likable, easily accessible guy, that he has been interviewed a LOT of times and told his extraordinary story as many.  He has already been asked all the fun stuff: what would you be doing if you did not make wine; what would you drink at dinner aside from one of your wines; what's your favorite wine region apart from Oregon? And he has movie reviews on the Grochau Cellars website. So there!

That said, this is sort of our story about Grochau Cellars.
Before our shop on Charlotte Street, we had a small, very small shipping business located in Arlington Virginia. We were so small that it was difficult to find distributors who would "distribute" to us. We were able to convince Ed and Barbara at Wine traditions in Falls Church and James at Roanoke Valley Wine Company to take us on.
James introduced us to two wines from which we have never departed: Paitin Barbera Serra and Grochau Cellars GC Commuter. The truth is that we pretty much built the business on the back, the very strong back of GC Commuter. The bottle was such high quality for such a reasonable price that, even with shipping, GC Commuter was a great buy.
We were thrilled to find we could still offer GC Commuter here on Charlotte Street through Haw River Wine Man. The bottle has always, and there is no reason to believe that will ever change, been one of our best sellers.
So, it was a BIG DEAL for us to meet John Grochau and say thank you. He was just like you might have imagined him from his interviews, straight forward, genuine, well settled and real likable. 
John was born in and returned to Beaverton, Oregon, just outside of Portland. As I worked in Portland Oregon years ago, we talked a little about my connection to the city reminiscing about the one of a kind grocery chain, Fred Meyer, my old neighborhood of South Burlingame, Barbar Boulevard, the old restaurants, the new restaurants, the lightrail and the bridges. 
And we talked John's connection to Asheville. The conversation centered around a couple, now living in Asheville, who joined us for the tasting. Turns out they met John almost 30 years ago in Portland where he was working in a bike shop. The couple helped him land a job at a restaurant in Portland.  They think, and John agrees, that this was one of those turns in the road that put him on the wine making path.
Once John decided to make wine, unlike many who start in this business, he had no real financial backing. He bought grapes from area vineyards and made small batches building his reputation as a skilled winemaker the old fashioned way through determination, know how and flat out hard work. The Portland turned Asheville couple says John used the same great meticulous care to fix bikes and transferred it to making wine.
And how did Grochau Cellars get to Asheville? Mike Tiano, a partner in haw River Wine Man read a story about Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir in a wine publication. The article also said that John Grochau was introduced to wine and the winemaking landscape in his early 20s while racing bicycles for a French team in the Loire Valley. Also a cyclist, this revelation definitely appealed to Mike. So Mike called John and we called Mike.
The only thing left to ask is about the "winery dog!"

Direct from John Grochau on the winery dogs. That's the kind of guy he is!

2 winery dogs

Stella, 14.5 year old Border Collie/ Chow mix. Aka: Fuzzball, fuzzykins, fuzzy pants. Sweet and stubborn, good dog days are over, does what she wants which isn't much. Looks like she is part panda

Olive, 4 years old border collie/poodle. Loves chasing tennis balls and chasing (2 kills that I know of) squirrels. Goofy and playful torturer of stuffed animals.

John Grochau
Grochau Cellars