Podcast – Leah Jorgensen

Leah Jorgensen

Today I am pleased to announce my conversation with Leah Jorgensen. She runs everything behind the Leah Jorgensen Cellars wine label. She is known for focusing on something a bit different in Oregon Wine, Cab Franc. I first connected with her wines in March 2020 while grabbing one of her bottles off the shelf at Whole Foods.

Her resume is impressive, starting in D.C., coming to Pinot Camp in 2004, working under Drew Voit at Shea, and starting her label. Recently, Paul Gregutt highlighted her 2017 Clos Rogue Valley Reserve Cabernet Franc as one for the cellar. In his note, I adore how he called out, “And yes, it was still tasting great on day three!”

Since 2020, I have wanted to sit down and chat with Leah to learn more about her. With a background in holistic nutrition, there is a constant internal struggle of wine not exactly being the most nutritious substance to consume. I adore Leah’s vivacious multi-dimensional spirit. It was completely worth the two-year wait to know more about the person behind the label!

Be sure to check out other interviews!

Leah Jorgensen Transcription

A.J.: Cheers to another episode of a wine note podcast on your guide, PJ wine Jule on this journey of story, showcasing the people behind the wonderful world of wine, where we dive into conversations ranging from PIR, viticulture to favor music, superpowers, and more. Please enjoy this episode of the winos podcast.

A.J.: Leah. Thank you so much for taking the time today. It’s such a pleasure to, to sit down with you and, uh, you know, I can’t thank you.

Leah Jorgensen: Well, I’m delighted to be here and I appreciate you reaching out. So thank you for having

A.J.: me. Yeah, no, most definitely. Um, you know, you, I would almost consider you, uh, definitely a veteran in the industry now.

A.J.: I mean, you started off at a think tank in DC, an old wine shop in Virginia Pino camp in 2004, you’ve worked with drew VO, you know, herb Quy and you know, it sounds like you have some, uh, interesting police officers stories with Chris Berg as well. um, Uh, well, I’m sure we’ll keep those, you know, under wraps and just, uh, and whatnot, but, uh, we didn’t steal anything.

A.J.: Okay. Well, good darn. Well, you know, that, that might be interesting. Uh, but you’re also named, uh, in, uh, from the San Francisco Chronicle, uh, in 2015, the, uh, number one winemaker to, to watch. So congratulations. I mean, it’s quite a journey that you’ve been. .

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah, that was very unexpected. That was Esther Mosby who came on board, um, at the Chronicle back, I think that was like her first year.

Leah Jorgensen: And, um, and she, she selected four of the, the top winemakers in the way winemakers in the us to watch. But I was the only one from Oregon and I was the only woman on the four. On the list of four. So I was surprised to

A.J.: say the least wait. Yeah, no, that’s absolutely amazing. I mean, it’s like, like I said, you have quite the, quite the career.

A.J.: Hmm. Thank

Leah Jorgensen: you. Yeah, probably a lot of luck peppered in there too. well, you

A.J.: gotta have a bunch of luck, but I mean, there there’s talent in there as well. Thank you. Which is all good. You’re welcome. Thank you. If you could pick, you know, um, a winemaker to, to collaborate with or whatever, you know, do you have anybody that you would be like, yeah, I’d really like to work with this person.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah, that’s interesting. Um, I mean, I have D I definitely have different friends in the industry who we’ve, you know, talked about collaborative ideas. Um, and yeah, it’s funny. I mean, I was just, I was just kind of thinking about this not too long ago. Like if there was a, for me, it would be kind of a cool practice to get some women in wine that I really respect, um, who are doing some really innovative, different things.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, you know, I have mentors who have coached me and. and I, I don’t know if I would go backwards and go towards the mentors because I feel like that space has already been explored if that makes any sense. Yeah. So, so finding, um, I guess common ground with someone who’s, who’s kind of doing something unusual.

Leah Jorgensen: Like I love, um, Anna at Amar east wines. Are you familiar with Maurice? I have not

A.J.: heard of that one. No,

Leah Jorgensen: they’re up in Walla Walla and, um, food and wine magazine named. The top 15 women winemakers in the world back in 20, I think it was 2018 or 2019. and there were only three Americans. I was on the list and she was on the list as well.

Leah Jorgensen: So she’s re was representing Washington. I have course in Oregon. Um, and we do a lot of, um, joint dinners. We’ve done a couple, um, with Ethan stole restaurant group up in Seattle, and we’ve met through that channel and I just, I adore her and I think she’s a solid winemaker and she’s got great stories and, and just she’s sharp and smart and is a, a studied and learned winemaker.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and yeah, just someone I really respect and who knows? I dunno.

A.J.: yeah, no, no, no, that’s great. I mean, that’s part of the reason why I kind of do the, the podcast is, you know, to learn new names and wineries and just, uh, you know, kinda, you know, dive in more PIs, you know, the world of wine, you can never learn too much.

Leah Jorgensen: It’s always changing too. It’s it’s phenomenal that way.

A.J.: Yes. Yes it is. You know, and talking about another phenomenal winemaker, um, I don’t know, a couple months ago I sat down with, uh, when Peterson NRE and I love when she’s amazing. The very first question I asked her was like, so. What is it like living with royalty?

Leah Jorgensen: you know, did you see our little video?

A.J.: Obviously? Of course I did. Of course I did. Uh, you know, so tell me about your, your two vines, YouTube channel. I mean, uh, that is quite the, quite the little adventure, then you’re having a bunch of fun with it and I can’t wait to see who else you get on there.

Leah Jorgensen: I had to take a little break, um, just with family stuff and.

Leah Jorgensen: um, we did like six, we did six months basically. Um, we, we videotaped everything in the summer in June and July of last year, and it was really to augment and supplement this, um, me and my winemaker friends, um, collaborative effort of, of sending wine to, to people who wanted like a wine for me and one of my friends and we had to get really smart about how do we ship this?

Leah Jorgensen: Cuz I can’t legally ship other people’s wines. So we had to like figure out to use ship. Do I? And then I ship and. anyways, but it, it was more complicated than it needed to be to continue that part of the project. Um, but we may look into like a third entity of like, my husband has an LLC called Contrera, so it’s a wine company and we might have his wine company, um, sort of set it up so he can be a wine club so that he can ship out wine.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, mm-hmm and then we can continue that way. But in the meantime, we just kind of put that on a halt, cuz it was getting too complicated, but I had a real, the best part for me ended up being these interviews with my friends, because I know these people, I get to see them every now and again and some not as often as I would like.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and it just, you know, having I’m a, I love. Humor. I love, I mean, who doesn’t, but I, I, I fancy myself as somewhat funny. Um, and so I’m always throwing jokes and cracking jokes in the winery and I’m, I love whimsical humor. I love wordplay. Obviously, if you look at some of my labels, I love puns. Um, and so just the, between two ferns was always just something that I.

Leah Jorgensen: Thought was just hysterical and ridiculous. And I like that kind of ridiculous humor. And so it’s unexpected with wine because often when we sit down with winemakers, everything’s so technical and we gotta talk about this and the passion and you have to be taken so seriously. And I’m obviously very serious about my wine making, but I think there’s more to life than just being in the cell or getting technical all the time.

Leah Jorgensen: And. It gets old and boring. And, and certainly in the, in that little segment, we started off with the, this, you know, the silly kind of, you know, right. The dead pan humor. But then we, we quickly went into like, well, tell me your story. Like, let’s share like the ins and outs it. Some of it’s technical, but a lot of it was more just.

A.J.: Personal. Yeah. Right, right. I mean, I’ve uh, let me see. I remember when I remember, uh, you had show wines on there mm-hmm and you know, a couple other that I’m trying to remember. Yeah. Uh, you had Remy on there. She was great. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. She definitely was. Yeah, no, I’m I’m I am a subscriber and I’m like, oh, it’s been too long.

A.J.: I think you

Leah Jorgensen: long. Thank you. Well, drew VOT, I think was the only one who really threw it back at me. Which I wanted him to. And he, he knows me well enough. We, when I worked for him, we had very much a brother, sister kind of relationship. Right. So he almost like threw me into a pond once. Like, you know, just, just ridiculous, like just silly brother, sister.

Leah Jorgensen: We just had that energy of like brother, sister, um, energy. And so like even in the cellar, I now make my wine at Harper voy. So as soon as he opened up his winery, I jumped at the, when he asked, I jumped at the opportunity to, to make my wine under the same roof. Cuz I just adore him as a human. I think he’s one of the smartest winemakers in the world.

Leah Jorgensen: I think, I just think the world of him he’s of course a mentor. And oddly enough, I barely see him, you know, we’re under the same roof, but like just me having a schedule with a three year old and he running so many different, um, facets of his business, I rarely see drew, but he was definitely one of the most fun to do this.

Leah Jorgensen: He was the first one I had in mind when I was gonna do me and my winemakers friends. Cause I knew he would throw it back at me. Right. An embarrassing way. yeah,

A.J.: no, no, he he’s absolutely great. I sat down with, uh, Jessica West and Payton actually last week to interview them. Yeah. And, uh, you know, just, you know, it’s, you know, with the new winery that’s open and they’re getting a bunch of new tanks.

A.J.: It sounds like, you know, things are really progressing forward amazingly over

Leah Jorgensen: there. It’s exciting. I mean, it’s a beautiful spot. What drew me to being in that facility, of course, working with people. I like, but then also, um, just the energy of like, no, one’s no one. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Leah Jorgensen: Like, people are serious. They, and they’re. Really exceptional at what they do, but, but they’re so easy going about it. You know what I mean? Like, oh, you walk into that space. There’s no tension ever, right. I mean, it’s a really airy, um, joyful place to walk into. Like you, you can just feel that energy. And, um, you know, I love quantum physics and I believe in like negative ions, positive ions and like.

Leah Jorgensen: Our attitude and our environment has an impact on the wine. I believe that, um, I just, it’s a science that I could geek out on that on a level. I mean, I would hug my barrels. For years, because I was like, I’m, I’m, I’m putting forth negative ions into my, into my environment. And that’s what you want. Right?

Leah Jorgensen: Like it’s, it’s why people go to the mountains. It’s why people go to the ocean. Um, they are in the environment and they pro they promote health and wellbeing. So I wanted to be in a spot where I felt health and wellbeing was, it was at the essence, you know, you step in there. You feel

A.J.: good? Yeah, no, I, yeah, yeah, no, I, I totally.

Leah Jorgensen: And then aside from that, so just a good energy, great people and fun. They have so much, they have fun making wine. Like I, when I made wine under the same roof as drew, you know, 10 years ago, whatever, prior back to when I first started, the energy was always fun and lighthearted. We were very serious about what we were doing, but we all could crack a joke.

Leah Jorgensen: And, um, it was just. , it was just the way I energetically wanted to be. If I have to share winery space, like that was really just, it came down to like, people have got to be light and, and positive and because if not, then I easily just my personality. If I’m around negativity, then I default to negativity.

Leah Jorgensen: So I just love that about this space. I’m going I’m I’m going on and

A.J.: on. No, no, you’re, you’re totally fine.

Leah Jorgensen: The other piece of it from an not just the energetic part of it is just they have the best equipment, so it makes it easier. And I’m at a stage in life. Again, I own my own business. I’m doing this mostly by myself.

Leah Jorgensen: I have some seller help here and there. Um, and I’m, I’m a mom of a three year old now, which all happened in the wake of the pandemic. So like, my ethos has to be, I have to work smarter, not harder. It has to work out that I can. Juggle not having daycare when I thought I would or doing this or that the other, my priorities have shifted.

Leah Jorgensen: So for me to be able to step into a winery and not have to like clean through belts of like old equipment, like that was a real challenge for me. Like it just, it deflated me and took away joy when I would be in a space where, um, the equipment was running the show. Do you know what I mean? Right, right.

Leah Jorgensen: And that’s not, that’s working against me, not for me. And with the equipment that drew had. like, it is the easiest sorting line to work with. And it’s like, I mean, I could blindfold myself and clean it. It’s so easy. So that’s huge when you’re thinking about your time, your energy, your, um, state of mind. So anyways, I shifted gears going from talking about

Leah Jorgensen: Oh, no, no, no, no, no interview series with my friends to like this wonderful winery where I just landed last

A.J.: harvest. Yeah, no, I mean, you know, drew Voit has quite the, uh, the resume and, you know, he, he, if anybody in Oregon wine country, you know, um, has the, the processes down to a T I I’m pretty sure it would be drew void.

A.J.: I mean,

Leah Jorgensen: yeah. And he’s a man who can make things happen. , you know, he can make things happen. And so that’s, it’s attractive to be. Working around people. Like I don’t have to like sit here and worry about a thing. Like I just show up, I do my work. I’m not in their way. I am very cognizant of their time and their space, and I’m very respectful of their time and their space.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and I would hope that if you sat down and. We were talking to drew or Jess, and it happened to come up, like, how are your tenants? Like, I would hope that they would be like, yeah, no, they’re a dream. They’re easy. They’re they don’t create caught chaos. They know what they’re doing. They’re smart. They, you know, have gone to school, they’ve done this or they’ve done that or whatever, like they know what they’re doing and they’re not gonna cause any problems here.

Leah Jorgensen: So like I take pride in knowing that I’m stepping into their space, being respectful. Um, not. Interpersonally, but as a winemaker, um, I have my own equipment. I have my own stuff. Um, and we have enough of a rapport that we can share things and know that things are gonna get returned. the way we found them or that, that there’s not, um, they’re not gonna be blowouts over, like you didn’t clean this tank perfectly.

Leah Jorgensen: It just it’s, it, none of that stuff happens, you know? Right,

A.J.: right. No. And, and I get it. And like you mentioned, you know, drew void, you know, can, is, can get stuff done. Uh, you know, and one of the things that Oregon, you know, is really starting to the, like the whole sparkling program here in Oregon is really start.

A.J.: To take off. Yeah. And when you talk with the majority of people in Oregon making sparkling, they’re using Andrew Davis. Well, Jim VO likes to use, uh, Andrew Alban, I believe is his name, you know? Yeah. So there there’s, you know, just the, the contacts that he has and everything is just absolutely amazing.

Leah Jorgensen: and, and because of the kind person that he is, he’s very generous with sharing that information too.

Leah Jorgensen: He’s not, he doesn’t hold onto things like Gollum in the ring. You know what I mean? Like he finds something that he thinks is great. He’ll be, he’ll share that. And so, um, again, it’s a, he just, there’s a generosity to him that makes it really appealing to work under the same space for.

A.J.: Yeah. Most definitely.

A.J.: Oh, you know, you mentioned, you know, your, uh, your four year old or yeah. Your three year old son three. Yep. Yeah. Uh, you know, happy all during the pandemic and, you know, the pandemic was just the pandemic. I mean, it’s just craziness, you know, but you’ve written about, uh, You know another, um, I wouldn’t say, well, you also have like a holistic nutrition background, right?

A.J.: I do. And you’ve talked about, you know, the struggles of being a winemaker and being a holistic nutritionist. Oh, you mean know it’s, how do you feel about that today? I mean, it’s, do you still struggle with it? Like what, what have you, what have you concluded?

Leah Jorgensen: Well, you know, it’s, it’s an, it’s an ever changing, ever evolving.

Leah Jorgensen: entity. This thing that I did, this thing that I decided to start, um, so, you know, ask me any given day, how I feel about it. It’s funny. I’ll I might give you a different answer, but but, um, certainly, you know, I was thinking about this cuz I’m I’m um, in the process of writing the skeleton for a cookbook right now, and it’s very much, um, a love letter to.

Leah Jorgensen: you know, the tra that just the typical American, um, immigrant story of like longing and memory and clinging to these traditions of wherever your, you know, grandparents left and to kind of keep, to keep that, um, and to, so you have something unique to pass on to your children and so on. Um, so it’s sort of that, that.

Leah Jorgensen: Longing to be connected and grounded to where you come from. And I think this is what makes you know America, um, today, especially when, when we talk about the relevance and, and the politics of immigration and borders and everything. Right, right. Um, those of us who’ve who’s. parents or I’m sorry, grandparents or generations that came in like turn of the century.

Leah Jorgensen: It wasn’t that long ago, but it’s long enough that people forget and they don’t necessarily know the stories. Like I have Italian. And Nordic heritage. And there was a lot of shame in your language and you had to Americanize in the 1950s quickly because nobody wanted to hear your accent or, you know, wanted to embrace your culture.

Leah Jorgensen: So we Americanized really quickly, um, and there was a loss to that. And so anyways, I’ve been thinking about this holistically. It comes back to holism, um, not just using my nutrition background. Um, but that’s certainly comes up a lot when you’re doing a project like this, but my interest in becoming a winemaker from the beginning kind of stemmed from this connection to heritage.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and knowing that my mother’s family, they. Her ancestors. My great-grandfather when he immigrated here to, from the campan, he was a descendant of, um, a landowner that had been producing, making, growing wine since the 17 hundreds. So really I had this like epiphany of like, I’m not a first generation winemaker.

Leah Jorgensen: No, I go wild barn making lineage goes back to the 17 hundreds and it’s crazy. I never thought about that. Right. You know, we talk about winemakers here in California. They’re like I’m fourth generation winemaker. I’m like, that’s great. That’s amazing. Your family started something, but I really. Paused when doing this process of putting this information together on this cookbook that I’m working on, cuz it’s a lot about the stories that we hold and, and the it’s about longing about, again, this connection to, um, our grandparents and our great grandparents and their stories and why they had to leave wherever they left.

Leah Jorgensen: And you know, my book is just my experience, but it relates to everybody who has an immigrant story and that’s basically all of us. Right, right. And. Most of us who have those stories, that stem a little bit closer than let’s say, you know, The pilgrims that those of us who, who, whose families have been here, uh, more recent, if you will, can, can connect in a way and humanize the experience of what immigrants today are going through because it wasn’t that long ago.

Leah Jorgensen: And so I think it’s just, it’s about creating bridges and I’m interested in my food and wine about creating bridges. Um, so I’m getting back around to your question. is that there are, have been moments when I’ve asked myself, why am I doing this? Why am I still doing this? Because it is really challenging and it’s a financial burden that I just did not expect.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and while I was able to front the financing from the, you know, the beginning, We’re talking, starting a barrel at a time. So it’s not like I came in and was like, I’m gonna make 5,000 cases. And I fronted that. No, no, no, no, no. I started with a barrel. Okay. Right, right. It slowly worked my way up. And because of things like the pandemic and having a child, I’ve had to like yoyo up and down my production numbers just based on what I could handle, what I could manage.

Leah Jorgensen: Cuz I do most of this myself. Um, and I do. The past couple years I have, since I had, I, um, I have had some help in the seller, which has been, I mean, without it, I wouldn’t have been able to continue. So the larger question is, you know, why do I do this? Why do I continue? Because it doesn’t pencil out at all.

Leah Jorgensen: And I’m not interested really in scaling. I don’t wanna make 50,000 cases of wine. I was just that’s. Has zero interest to me cuz there’s other things I wanna do, um, with my life and I enjoy making wine and I love sharing it and breaking bread. And again, this just comes back to some of the themes that I’m putting in this book, cookbook that I’m working on.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, but it really has to, there, there has to be this sense of when you say, why am I doing this? There has to be this sense of peace of well, because if I wasn’t doing it, I’d be sad. So for me, like, it’s just, well, if I wasn’t making wine, I’d be sad. But on the other hand, it’s like, it also is, is this enormous responsibility and financial responsibility that is aching in itself.

Leah Jorgensen: And so, you know, you have to make it, it all has to work out. It also pencil out. So we’re able to just make it work right now at small production. And you know, the most I’ve made is 1800 cases. annually. Um, and I’ve dialed back a bit after having I, um, just with my recovery. And then again, like I, he was born in 2019 and once he was a year old, we had the pandemic.

Leah Jorgensen: So it was just a lot to have to go through. Oh yeah. And so, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s something I ask myself literally every. So good question was just answer it. Well, no,

A.J.: it was, it is totally fine. I mean, it’s, you know, to me, I, you know, I kind of struggle with it, you know, just being on the consumer side.

A.J.: Right. I enjoy exploring wine. I enjoy the nuances and learning all about it. Um, But also, you know, it’s, it’s all, it all has to be in moderation. It all has to. Right, right. I still wanna be healthy. I want to be active. I don’t wanna, it it’s, it’s a, it’s a struggle that I work with as well. And it’s just like, you know, there, there’s a lot of sugar in there and I try to stay away from sugar, but I, I, I like, I like wine.

A.J.: What can I say?

Leah Jorgensen: it’s true. Well, again, having a holistic nutrition background, um, , I’m very, very mindful about wine and its its place in my life. Um, and certainly I look at wine as not, um, it’s, it’s not a recreational thing for me. It’s it’s a food group. So, um, having that Italian heritage, we would have wine on the table to go with food.

Leah Jorgensen: And the wine would accompany the food and it was regional. Um, and you know, this, you know how it works. If you go to France, right? If you go to Italy, if you go to Spain, um, And so, you know, I started drinking probably, well, definitely when I was in high school, I was allowed to have wine with a meal.

Leah Jorgensen: Especially Sunday, Sunday dinners were always a big deal. Um, but when I was like five, I even have memories of like being at weddings or funerals or whatever. I have a big, big Italian family. My family’s giant on my mom’s side. Um, but I remember my grandmother giving us like, just a little bit of wine with like Italian.

Leah Jorgensen: So. So technically I’ve been drinking wine since I was five. Um, technically, but technically, but not really, but right. Um, so it’s, I’ve always been, um, well, the mystery of alcohol was taken away from me because being around a family that allowed you, when you’re in your teens to have a glass of wine with dinner, You know, the mystery’s gone.

Leah Jorgensen: You don’t need to like go out and like binge drink with your friends. I, I thought that was kind of ridiculous. Like I could just have a glass of wine with my, my dad would let me try beer. Um, he, you have a sip of beer. They’re very European. They lived in Europe for a while. My parents did in, in the seven, late sixties, early seventies.

Leah Jorgensen: So there are, so their approach was very different in, in how they raised us. And so they took away that mystery. My point is that, so with me growing. Wine was always something that was easy to have in moderation. And I’m not saying that I haven’t had my moments of. letting go and having a good time with my friends.

Leah Jorgensen: Right. But especially now, especially when I was pregnant, it was very easy for me to like stop drinking wine, um, tasting it professionally. And even now, I mean, with I ever, I, I don’t, I don’t have the desire to drink the way I might have in the past. Um, I’ll taste my lots to, to do my technical tastings and that’s pretty much it.

Leah Jorgensen: And then if my husband will open a bottle, I might have like a third of a glass and that makes me happy. I’ll have it just a little bit with my food. And I’m good to go, but you’re right. When you are in your role or, you know, my husband worked for a distributor, um, and I’ve worked for a distributor in the past and I’ve worked in wine shop and wine bars in the past and you’re constantly tasting and then you get excited.

Leah Jorgensen: So you’re constantly around wine and you wanna share and have that glass. It, it does, it gets tricky.

A.J.: It gets tricky that, that it does, you know, we talked about, you know, um, You’d being a veteran in, you know, in the world and everything. And just recently, uh, Paul G you know, he did a, a review on your 2020 cab Fran, you know, and it says, um, cab Fran may be the most underplanted and overlooked red grape in the Northwest often used in blends, but rarely as a full on varietal, it thrives in Southern Oregon.

A.J.: And this winery is an evangelist for evangelist, for the great. This is a fine example with balance flavors of blueberry fruit hints, some menthol black tea, coffee, silky tannins, and a long graceful finish. And he chose it as the, uh, reserve for that, you know, that week seller selection. Oh, Ugh. Yeah. Yeah, no, he is so great and wonderful.

A.J.: And just refreshing. Yeah. Yeah. Refreshing very

Leah Jorgensen: refreshing. It comes to mind because it’s not like he’s new to this. He’s been doing this a long time and he. to me. He hasn’t lost his curiosity. No, no. And

A.J.: he’s been, and

Leah Jorgensen: what I mean by that yeah. Is like, I mean it in the Leonardo DaVinci sense. So I’m putting it on a high level.

Leah Jorgensen: What I mean by that is that, uh, Leonardo DaVinci lived by seven tenets. One of which was KU Cita curiosity. And he always said, the moment you lose curiosity, you’re pretty much dead. Like. It’s kind of it like you’re, it is your essence of life is over. Um, we should always be curious and we should always, no matter what your age is, no matter what station, no matter where you are in your career, if you are lacking that curiosity and that, and this is, and I’m, I mean, even as a winemaker, You know, this is why I think school is essential.

Leah Jorgensen: I mean, I feel like when you just are like, I’m gonna work a few harvest and I learned everything I need to know, then you’re lacking curiosity TA because if you have curiosity, TA you wanna learn everything you possibly can about something. Exactly. And you will like fight to the bone to learn everything you possibly can right now.

Leah Jorgensen: Not everybody doesn’t have to have a da Vinci kind of like outlook in life. But I think when you’re doing something as specialized as wine making. . I mean, I’ll go out and just say it. I just feel like if you don’t have that curiosity TA, then you’re going to sell yourself short and it’ll be reflected in

A.J.: your wines, right?

A.J.: No, you have to, you have to be curious. I mean, you have to, uh, like when I spoke with Jessica and Payton the other week, you know, they were like, I, you know, they’re starting their own, uh, label and they wanted to play with some varietals that, you know, is outside of Pinot and whatnot. So they have a, you know, A multiple, I wanna say a 23 day, uh, skin contact, Pinot GRE, and they just wanna play and just be curious and dive into all of that.

A.J.: I mean, that’s, that is, I totally agree with you. It is an essence of life and that’s part of the reason why I’m doing, you know, all the, the podcast and everything that I’m doing, because, you know, there’s, there’s so many stories out there and there’s so much to learn and just to understand and see the people behind the wine is just absolutely amazing.

A.J.: Oh,

Leah Jorgensen: well, yeah. And, and pulling it back to the review you just shared and Paul, Greg, um, I, I just appreciate how he, he still, um, I mean Carrie’s within this, this torch of curiosity. He’s not, he’s not interested in reviewing the old, the old school way. That’s why he, I mean, I love that he broke away from enthusiasts and is doing his own thing.

Leah Jorgensen: I think it’s brilliant. I, for one appreciate his voice and not, I don’t, I don’t believe that I deserve to have great reviews. I mean, I, I respect the critic. I really do. But where I have a problem is when critics are, they don’t even like, get to know who you are. Cause they’re just, they’re just tasting a bunch of wines.

Leah Jorgensen: Right. And, and it’s reflected. I mean, like I, I went through a PR a particular, I ended up ignorantly going down a rabbit hole with a, a critic that I thought I needed to have critiqued my wine. and it was a vulnerability on my part because it was, I was, I was seeking a validation. I mean, I’m gonna be just blunt and honest about it.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, and especially as a woman winemaker, I was like, well, if I’m gonna be taken seriously for the next iteration of wine that I wanna make, which is like expensive, small lot wine, then I better get these kinds of reviews to attract the kinds of readers and, and wine consumers who are going to appreciate this.

Leah Jorgensen: And I, my, my reasons were all wrong, but I, it. It was innocent enough, but I submitted wines. And then I got an email that in order to see the scores, I had to pay $399 to get the newsletter. And as a small, tiny little business, that is not nothing, you know, like I was like, all right, I guess I will have to figure out a bill that I’m not gonna pay this month.

Leah Jorgensen: I wanna know what the score is now, you know, because now it’s out there and I wanna know what it is. And one of the scores was just so basic. And then the other one was. As bad as it could be. And it was so humbling to me like, cuz I expected at least, you know, average average. And when I say average, I believe like 90 is like an average by, by looking at how the magazine score and this particular entity, like when I was flipping through, there were so many 90 twos and they didn’t mean anything and the descriptions were like, told you nothing.

Leah Jorgensen: Right? And I was like, what am I paying 3 99 for first of all, one of my wives was compared. He thought it was a Pinot noir. They meant wrote it up as a, as if it was a Pinot noir using the word Pinot noir in it. Oh. And I was like, this is Southern Oregon camera find you’ve totally missed the mark. And now it’s gonna be my shame because people who follow you and believe in you are gonna see that score and think don’t bother to buy that woman’s wine.

Leah Jorgensen: So I had a really hard moment of like, maybe I should submit my wines because nobody knows who I am. It’s gonna be totally misunderstood. And I believe in blind tasting and all of that. And I, I respect the critic, but this came to a point where I recognize, like they didn’t even know what they were tasting.

Leah Jorgensen: And so I was like, and, and like, like Mia, Copa, I guess, but, and then you flip and see someone like, um, Paul, Greg, and that’s not his approach at all. And he’s coming from a place of curiosity. He’s like, I wanna know what this wine is. And I wanna learn more because I love Cabernet Fran. I think it’s exciting that it’s being grown in Southern Oregon.

Leah Jorgensen: Here’s a story like he, he, again, so I don’t think that I necessarily deserve certain. Praise or scores, but I certainly appreciate when a critic takes the time to consider what a wine is before he, you know, writes about it. If that makes sense. Right. I,

A.J.: yeah, no, it does. It makes complete sense. And you know, one of the things that Paul does, you know, he’ll, he’ll leave the bottle open for like three or four days and kind of see what it’s like after that time to kind of get the, you know, um, what its aging potential is and right.

A.J.: Uh, you know, I come from a tech background and, you know, 99, 2000, you know, the whole term, the long tell effect was just, you know, coming into. Into play. And really when you get into wine, I, I think the long toll effect really comes into play, especially in a direct to consumer market. Yeah. I mean, you have those, you have your, your tribe, your followers, and really when you get, you know, the monthly wine enthusiasts it’s yeah.

A.J.: Like how many freaking wines are in there and it’s hard to keep track of, of everything. And it’s like, oh, it it’s just. It it’s, it is difficult. And I, you know, I really appreciate what Paul is doing as well. And it’s, uh, scores are scores are hard. Yeah. Oh, oh, mm-hmm you know, but, uh, I, I, I think you, you had kind of touched on, you know, that you were, um, Uh, did you, did you finish the, uh, HBO special that Brene brown did for, uh, I can’t think of the new, I didn’t

Leah Jorgensen: finish the whole series.

Leah Jorgensen: I actually only got to the first one. Okay. But I have the book, um, Atlas of the heart. That’s what it was. Yes. Atlas of the heart. I have a few of her books. Um, but I wanted to get that book because. When I saw, I watched the first episode first, I was like, oh, this is a Netflix special or HBO on Brian and brown.

Leah Jorgensen: Of course, I’m gonna watch this. Of course put the first one in. And it just, it resonated with me, um, just in interpersonal relationships of not always having the language for what you’re really feeling. Um, and I, you know, I worked in communications for many, many years, uh, from the standpoint of wine. But when you talk about communications in, in terms of like talking to your mother or your sister or your child or your neighbor, right.

Leah Jorgensen: Or whatever, um, it’s interest. It was just, was very interesting to me to see that there’s often not a language to describe to really adequately describe things that we’re actually experiencing or feeling. So I, I was, I was hooked on that concept, so I will finish it and I will flip through the book when I have some time.

Leah Jorgensen: But

A.J.: yeah, no, I, I totally understand though. My favorite book of hers is gifts of imperfection. Oh yeah. And. You know, there was a part in that book where, you know, a husband walked up to her and said, you know, well, you know, you’re only talking about the, you know, the female side of the fence, but you know, when you look at, you know, my wife, my daughter, they expect me to always be on that white horse and come in and save the day.

A.J.: Huh. And Brene was like, huh? I hadn’t really thought about that, but it’s, you know, in many ways it, it is so true. And, uh, you know, just to see her taking a, a holistic approach, you know, at shame and just constantly talking about these, you know, these, these difficult subjects. Right, right. So, And it, and it’s funny, you know, I have a 13 year old and, you know, within the LA you know, within this week, you know, there’s been a couple times, she’s like, oh, thank you so much for making that a very awkward conversation.

A.J.: I’m like, but, but that’s what I’m trying to do. I want you to be comfortable in these awkward situations.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah, it’s true. It’s, you know, I, I can’t even imagine, like, you know, every stage is it has its own unique, um, Challenges, but then also of course, the unique things that are so beautiful about the, that particular stage and three.

Leah Jorgensen: It’s it’s a tough one. It’s a tough one. Like I thought it was gonna be easy. I thought, I thought we, we breezed through too, cuz everyone’s like terrible too. We breezed through it. Right. We’re just happening to get a lot of it like now. So it’s, it’s, it’s fine. But it’s like, I’ve, I’ve realized that parenting is so less about me teaching Iver.

Leah Jorgensen: It’s like I’m learning, I’m having to learn so many things often uncomfortable about myself. Like maybe be in control, right? Like that’s good.

A.J.: Yeah. Yeah. And just there there’s so much, there is so much, I, uh, you know, she just turned 13 in October and you know, there’s been some instances within the last few months, I’m like really.

A.J.: Yeah, we’re gonna bring out the 13 year old right now, please. Don’t no, yeah. yeah, yeah. It it’s

Leah Jorgensen: just crazy. Here’s my little

A.J.: girl. Where is she? Yeah, so I miss her oh, talking about, uh, little ones and whatnot, you know, I, I know it’s super early on in, you know, in your, uh, son’s journey, but yeah. You know, what kind of legacy do you wanna leave, leave him or have you given that any thought at.

Leah Jorgensen: Always I think about him, like all the time, everything I do, I think about him. Um, and I think the thing about this business is it’s not that I necessarily wanna leave something for him to take on because I don’t, I don’t believe that we are here to create expectation for our children. Um, it’s here. If I wanna have something that’s there for him.

Leah Jorgensen: If he. Interested then I will a hundred percent support him and make sure he has all the tools he needs, but really I’ve ever since ever was born. My husband and I have had this philosophy on baby led everything. So like we didn’t force the feeding at like, oh, it’s three, six months, whatever. Now he, six months we gotta start.

Leah Jorgensen: We just let him kind of lead the way with. Potty training was a dream because we didn’t push it on him. He came to us. It’s like, mommy could have some underwear. Yeah. Let’s get some underwear. Let’s do. So like everything we’ve done weaning from nursing, everything has been about him and his journey and his, when his needs, when things are met, then we move on.

Leah Jorgensen: Right. And so we, that’s just our philosophy and we’re privileged that we can work. That way to give him that flexibility. It’s not like I have to go to a job where I have to leave and like, uhoh gotta go. So you gotta, you better learn how to potty treat. Like there was no pressure. There were no deadlines facing us because I’ve, I’m able both my husband and I now work from home.

Leah Jorgensen: So it, it creates a, um, an ideal. right. Environment, if you will, to do what we want. So that said, you know, I have no expectation for him to do anything, but be happy. So if he, I, what I, what I do want is I want him to see, we do our best to model the right behavior. Sometimes we model bad behavior as parents, you know, we feel guilty about that and it’s like, that’s life that’s.

Leah Jorgensen: We always tell ’em that’s part of the human journey. Sometimes we’re gonna mess up too. Right. Um, And I don’t wanna set up these false expectations that parents are perfect and they do everything right. And we’re authority. I want him to learn that we’re human and we do the best we can. Yeah. Um, but I also in raising him, um, my husband and I, and this is sort of our philosophy is that, um, you know, he, he’s just such a.

Leah Jorgensen: Sweet loving. Interesting little boy. And I feel like my work is to ensure that we’re, you know, we’re raising a white boy, so I want to make sure that privileges in check. I wanna make sure that he has empathy, compassion. Kindness. That’s my work. I’m more, more con I’m con concerning myself more with that than legacy.

Leah Jorgensen: But at the same time, it’s important for me as a woman and as a woman entrepreneur, I it’s important to me that he sees me in a position where he, um, hope , um, hopefully has some pride, like I’m proud of you, mom for how hard you worked and it wasn’t easy. And you, you did a lot without a lot of help. And, um, And I don’t mean like people working in the cell, that kind of thing, but I mean, in structurally running a business, um, I want him to see the struggles I want him to see when I’m like coming home crying.

Leah Jorgensen: Sometimes I want him to spare witness to that and I want him to glean his own interpretation of what my work was and is, or is, and was, um, And that said, if it’s around my label is around long enough that he could potentially work with it one day. That’s great. But at the same time, I’m not, I didn’t make this wine for him as a legacy thing.

Leah Jorgensen: I mean, I don’t even know if I wanna see it through for five years from now, to be honest, who knows? I probably will, but um, we might do a second label. I don’t know, but. But I just, um, I really am living my life to live in the moment and not in the future, which is why I’m not scaling because scaling your business brings a whole, whole onslaught of other issues.

Leah Jorgensen: As, as soon as you start scaling your costs, go up. Sorry. That’s okay. Your costs go up. Um, Your demands go up so everything, you’re not just making more wine, you’re making more, you’re taking more away from your life and right. And there’s so much more pressure. Yeah. There’s more pressure, more to sell more to do.

Leah Jorgensen: And that’s just not what I wanna do with my life. Personally. I enjoy making wine. I like doing it small scale. Um, and I will continue to do it until it just doesn’t serve its purpose anymore. And I, I try to live a purpose driven life. So I’m in this. Phase this unique phase in my forties where I’m trying to rediscover my purpose.

Leah Jorgensen: Um, So I’m doing a lot of journaling. I have a life

A.J.: coach. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I, I get it. I love forties, right? I’m I’m I’m 47. And really when I turned 40 it’s was like the best time ever. So I, I get it. I totally get it.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah. Yeah. I’m around your age.

Leah Jorgensen: yes. I same thing. And so. I’m I’m in a space right now where I’m, I’m focusing on what is my purpose. Um, am I using my gifts to help make the world a better place? What, what, what time do I have to do that? Kind of accomplish that kind of thing. Um, and it can be small. It could be very small. It doesn’t have to be this epic, like I’m Oprah Winfrey and I’m opening up a school for, you know, I don’t have to do this grandiose thing.

Leah Jorgensen: It can be just one small thing that I’m doing to help make the world a better place. So, um, I’m really trying to look inward, uh, At myself and what my legacy is and, and the wine business is just this wine, that thing that I created. Um, it’s nice. And I, and I’m grateful for it. And it’s opened a lot of really unique doors for me, but, um, it’s, it’s just it’s to me, it’s not the destination.

Leah Jorgensen: It’s just, it’s like, if you’re on a train and you’re, you know, your life is a train, it. It’s a stop along the way. Um, but it’s not the final destination. Does that make sense?

A.J.: Yeah. No, it makes complete sense. Yeah. Oh, do you have any idea what that final destination is?

Leah Jorgensen: Well, you know, I, I have gleaning moments of what I think I do, but honestly, my, um, my undergraduate degree was creative writing and I focused on poetry and I went to a very small woman’s college and my mentor was Mary Oliver.

Leah Jorgensen: So I was very lucky to. Have access to a poet of that level and esteem. And I was pretty good at it. I actually, um, she entered a poem of mine, uh, to the academy, American poets for a college competition. And I won the first place prize of a, uh, American college poets. Wow. And, and then I just, I didn’t have the.

Leah Jorgensen: I didn’t have the self confidence to carry on. Like I thought about, um, getting an MFA in creative writing, but then I was like, well, what am I gonna do? Eight? I was 22 when I graduated from college. Right. So I was like, what do I know? What am like, what am I gonna write about at 22? You know?

A.J.: Right. It it’s yeah.

A.J.: Decide what you’re gonna do for the rest of your life. At 22 that’s IM.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah, it made zero sense to me to go and get an MFA in creative writing at 22, I was just like, that’s kind of irresponsible. I need to go live a life. So I just decided to go out and live a life and make mistakes and, you know, have my heart broken a few times and just live.

Leah Jorgensen: And so that’s what I did. And there were all these stops along the way, including making wine. Um, but ultimately, ultimately my heart is writing and I, I just see myself as things. I have more confidence now because I have, I’ve had a, more of a lifetime now of experience. Right. Um, you know, I became a mom at 45, you know, that, that tells you that I revealed my age but that, you know, I never would’ve thought in a, if you asked my 12 year old self wouldn’t, you think you’re gonna get married, have kids.

Leah Jorgensen: I was like, I’ll get married when I’m 22 and off my first child at 25. Like that’s what I would’ve thought as my reality. And it, it just did not go anywhere near. That destination on that, on that train ride. So long answer to your question. I, I see myself being kind of a crone. I, I have an old, I have a braid here.

Leah Jorgensen: I want a braid that goes all the way down my back, and I want it to be silver. I will never color my hair or diet. I want an old lady, silver braid down my back and I wanna, you walk the beaches and mountains and just write poems the way Mary Oliver did really. She had a notebook and a pencil everywhere.

Leah Jorgensen: She went and she wrote most of her PO her poems writing in Provincetown, like in Cape Cod, just writing as she walked a meditation, if

A.J.: you will. Yeah, no, that’s, that is beautiful. That is absolutely gorgeous. Oh, that’s I have some rapid fire questions to kind of wrap things up. Sure. Okay. Uh, during harvest, who is your favorite artist?

A.J.: Uh, to listen to, Ooh.

Leah Jorgensen: I mean, I always love Florence in the machine cuz she’s just like my favorite. Um, but then I will go into, I mean, we’ve been do this for years, but it never gets old. Um, like seventies yacht rock. Oh yeah. no that’s ELO. ELO is one of my ultimate favorite bands. Oh

A.J.: awesome. Uh, harvest notes.

A.J.: Are they digital or handwritten?

Leah Jorgensen: Handwritten? A hundred percent.

A.J.: uh, what is your favorite indulgent food? Oh,

Leah Jorgensen: my favorite indulgent food. I mean, I love really, really, really good high quality organic fair trade. Dark chocolate.

A.J.: Oh, okay. Um, if you could choose a superpower, what

A.J.: would it be? Invisibility mm-hmm favorite superhero. Wonder woman. And last book that you read or, you know, like on audio or something of that

Leah Jorgensen: nature Vita by Isabella YDI. Ooh. What that about book it’s about? So Isabella YDI is one of my favorite writers. Um, she’s Chilean American. And she wrote house of spirits.

Leah Jorgensen: Like she’s just phenomenal. Um, but Violetta is, it’s wonderful because it Chronicles this woman’s life. Um, but it starts in when the Spanish flu was going on. So obviously I think she got her inspiration writing this with the pandemic. And so reading it today, um, you could just sort of draw. Comparisons of the experience of, of, and it’s only a small part of the book, just the intro begins with the Spanish flu, but it just Chronicles this woman’s life.

Leah Jorgensen: And it’s just beautifully written. Very, just, no, you just get pulled into her life story.

A.J.: Right. I’ll have to check that out. I I’m all about life stories.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah. That’s wonderful. That’s awesome. It’s, it’s a hundred percent fiction,

A.J.: but yeah. Yeah, but still, I mean, yeah, no, it that’s. It would Al I, I love a good story.

Leah Jorgensen: Yeah, she’s, she’s a phenomenal writer. So if you haven’t read Isabella Y day, I highly recommend her books.

A.J.: Well, very, very cool. Well, Leah, that’s all the questions that I have for you today. I can’t thank you enough for all, all of your time. I, I really appreciate it.

Leah Jorgensen: Well, thank you so much for reaching out.

Leah Jorgensen: It was a lot of fun and I hope I wasn’t too long winded.

A.J.: Oh no, it was great. I, I love the longformed questions and answers and just really diving deep. So I, I can’t thank you enough.

Leah Jorgensen: Well, thank you very much and have a wonderful rest of your day.

A.J.: You too. Thank you so much. Uh, cheers. All right.

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