• Cape Cod Package’s Wine of the Week – One Man’s Dream to Own His Own Winery

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    One-Man's-Dream
    Cape Cod Package Store
    As one of the first liquor licenses to be issued in the Town of Barnstable after the repeal of prohibition, Cape Cod Package Store has quite a history in the village of Centerville. Owned and operated by the Pendergast family since 1939, Cape Cod Package Store has been in the wine & beverage retail business for 72 years. Jack and Sylvia Pendergast opened the original store at 404 Main Street in Centerville. In the early 1940’s, the business was moved to 1489 Falmouth Road on Route 28 (pictured above right) and later expanded to encompass the existing location, at 1495 Falmouth Road.

    One man’s dream to own his own winery

    By Diane Slater

    Cape Cod Package Store Fine Wine & Spirits

    George Levkoff had his wine epiphany when a friend brought a 1991 and 1992 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir to share at dinner.

    Four years later, he left his job as a bond trader and headed to Sonoma County. He interned at Williams Selyem from 1999 to 2002, learning the winemaking process. He also worked at the smaller Brogan Cellars which was more closely modeled after the type of winery he hoped to have for himself.

    With grapes from David Hirsch of Sonoma Coast’s Hirsch Vineyard, he released 150 cases of his inaugural Pinot Noirs.

    The wines immediately caught the attention of top sommeliers at restaurants in Las Vegas and New York and his Pinot Noir has become quite a cult wine.

    I have been a fan from the beginning, entranced by the elegance and sensuality that his wines exhibit. George in a one-man show performing every step of winemaking from sorting to bottling, marketing and delivering.

    The wines are highly allocated to an eager mailing list with very limited retail distribution.

    George has one employee, who happens to be named George. He is the person who works in the vineyards, sorts the fruit, ferments the grapes, bottles the wine, cleans the floor and equipment, writes the letters, signs the checks, and sells the wine, among other things.

    The journey that took George to wine country began on a small island in the southern part of New York State commonly referred to as The Big Apple. After growing up in New York, George went to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and the University of Houston Law Center. Following nine years of academia, and significant financial debt, George moved to Los Angeles, and became a U.S. government bond trader.

    During his 14-year career as a bond trader, George arrived at work five days a week at 5 am. About 10 years into the trading career, George went to dinner at Joe’s restaurant in Venice, California.

     

    A friend from Uplifter Spirits, brought along two wines (1991 and 1992 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir from Rochioli Vineyard) he thought would complement the food, specifically the signature grilled ahi tuna dish.

    George had an epiphany that night, as wine became an equal partner with food in the dining experience, and pronounced that one day he would move to Sonoma County and attempt to produce a great Pinot Noir.

    Four years later, George sold his house in Manhattan Beach, quit his job  and moved to Healdsburg, California to make Pinot Noir.

    A friend convinced George to take some viticulture classes at the University of California (Berkeley and Davis), and soon George was studying vineyard management instead of business management.

    George was able to convince Williams Selyem Winery to let him work the crush of 1999. He was permitted to be involved in virtually every aspect of the process at Williams Selyem in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

    On days off and after work, George worked for Brogan Cellars where he learned how to make quality wine on a smaller scale with fewer resources.

    George’s big break came at the Williams Selyem harvest party of 1999. He was seated next to the owner of Hirsch Vineyards, and began a five-year relationship with this grower of premium Sonoma County grapes.

    George worked the vineyard made wine in his garage with grapes from Hirsch Vineyards. When Hirsch decided to make an estate wine, it built a facility and invited George to share it.

    George Wine Company was born.

    You can enjoy the fruits of George’s venture at Cape Cod Package Store’s Fine Wines & Spirits. Please email me at sommelier@luxxcapecod.com to set up a private wine tasting.

    Ask our sommelier any questions and receive your expert answer within the hour! What should you pair with dinner? How is an Italian Pinot different from an Argentinian grape? Your own personal wine expert is at your fingertips!

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    September 18, 2014