T. J. Rodgers is a man of many passions. He is the founding CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. He is recognized by Upside Magazine as one of the “100 People Who Changed Our World”. He has been named as one of the “Top 100 Chief Executives” by Chief Executive Magazine. He was an initial investor in SunPower that became a Cypress subsidiary. Mr. Rodgers designed, built and donated to UC Davis the world’s first wireless fermentation system. And, with his wife and partner Valeta Massey, he established Clos de la Tech, an innovative winery high in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a clear goal of producing the New World’s Best Pinot Noir.
To make his New World’s Best Pinot Noir T.J. Rodgers focused on following many of the same practices followed by his inspiration, Domain de la Romanee Conti, recognized as one of the premier and highly valued red burgundies in the world. As with any great wine, the key to final product starts in the field. And at Clos de la Tech they are following the best winemaking practices established by Domain de la Romanee Conti with heavy planting of vines with four times the density of vines as found in most Pinot Noir vineyards. Yet they still get an average of one ton of fruit per acre which is an amazing low yield per vine, delivering a very high degree of concentration.
The entire winemaking process from the whole cluster fermentation to gentle pressing to barrels from the same cooperage as used by the top Burgundy producers is followed by Clos de la Tech. In fact, T. J. Rodgers invented their own press that could meet his standards for gentle pressing. This press gently presses the cap of the wine through the wine, filtering stems, skins and seeds from the wine, producing juice that is similar to free-run wine.
Clos de la Tech consists of three vineyards. The Domaine Du Docteur Rodgers Home Vineyard around the Rodgers home in Woodside was planted in 1994. It is a single-acre, close-planted vineyard at a 400 foot elevation. The Domaine Valeta vineyard is at the 2,300 foot ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This writer got to tour the Domaine Lois Louise which surrounds the three-cave winery near La Honda. This is a close-planted, step-slope vineyard that was first planted in 2004.
The vines at the 80-acre Domaine Lois Louise are planted on a 35 degree slope with a 25 degree side slope. T.J. Rodgers had to have a special tractor produced in Germany to work these vineyards. It is lowered down the steep slope via cable and is specially designed to handle the 1 meter wine rows.
The network of three caves in the slopes of Domaine Lois Louise was designed by T. J. Rodgers. The first cave is for fermenting and crushing operation. The second cave is the barrel room where the wines slowly age in special French-oak barrels. The third cave is where the bottling and bottle storage occurs. All three caves are designed to allow gravity flow of the juice from the fermenting cave to the barrels to the bottling, thus treating the juice and wine gently in the process.
Of course the passion T. J. Rodgers has in his wine is reflected in the taste. The unique viticulture engineering combined with the technology of the winemaking process results in an exquisite wine.
The 2006 Domaine Lois Louise “Twisty Ridge” Pinot Noir comes from grapes grown at the top of the Domaine Lois Louise vineyard. All of the grapes are hand-picked. The wine delivers the aromas and flavors of red and black cherry with a touch of cola and lavender. It has a wonderful long finish.
The Clos de la Tech 2006 Domaine Valeta comes from the 4-acre 2,300 foot ridge vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is a great wine delivering ripe red fruit and a smooth texture.
The 2006 Domaine du Docteur Rodgers Pinot Noir comes from the small 1-acre Home Vineyard in Woodside. It has nice acidity and sharp red and black fruit including Bing Cherry.
Each bottle of Clos de la Tech is decorated with one of Cypress Semiconductor’s most success semiconductor chips, thus putting the "Tech" in Clos de la Tech.
Clos de la Tech wines can be found at the Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese Company in downtown Half Moon Bay. This store is owned by T. J. and Valeta.
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