The Wine Down – Rhone Varietals with Owner of Tercero Wines Larry Schaffer

Today we are lucky enough to have Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines make the trek down from his beautiful tasting room located in beautiful Los Olivos, CA. Larry is an expert viticulturist, enologist and wine producer who brings his immense amount of knowledge on Rhone varietals to the table. The team discusses art of the blend and Rhones specifically from the Santa Barbara appellation.

The idea for Tercero wines surfaced a number of years back. Larry Schaffer had been in the educational and trade publishing industry for a number of years and had achieved all he had set out to do. It was time for a change. Larry went back to school for a degree in Viticulture and Enology. He started his new career in earnest as the Enologist for Fess Parker Winery, a well-respected winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. Later Larry and his wife, Christie began buying grapes to make their own wines, which effectively allowed Larry to ‘marry’ his past with his present — to use his sales/marketing skills along with his technical winemaking skills to see what he and Christie can produce. Today Larry and Christie focus their efforts on Rhone Varietals.


00:00 Intro
02:20 Wines Larry brought.
02:50 What made you become a wine maker?
04:50 Tell us about the significance of the name, Tercero.
06:09 What was the most challenging aspect of pursuing this dream?
07:38 Building relationships within the wine industry.
09:27 After graduating did you jump right into the industry?
10:25 Talk about the beakers and petit syrah.
13:24 What inspired you to focus on Rhone varietals?
15:09 Its difficult being a researcher in the U.S. wine industry.
16:01 What intrigues Larry about Syrah.
22:15 Discussing the different Rhone varietals.
23:40 Who decides what the varietals are?
26:08 Robert Parker quote from “Food & Wine.” Why is the Rhone so important to you?
28:52 Knowing what varietals the public will want and how much of each is being grown.
32:25 How do you overcome the constant changes in consumer fads?
33:15 Larry’s Vinyards.
33:50 What is your case production?
35:10 Sonja explains “whole cluster.” And Larry talks about some of his methods of production.
37:25 “Topping off” gets explained.
38:48 Tell us about the Hospice du Rhone and some of the other events you pour at.
43:05 Rhone Rangers: When you were asked to be on the board you had some stipulations. What were they?
45:00 You are a member of a a couple different organizations. Why?
47:10 Larry talks about his wine, “Thread.”
50:45 Larry talks about his wine, “The Outlier.”
53:50 How and where do you connect best with your consumer? Larry talks about the flasks he uses, etc.
57:05 Do you get a lot of feedback from Twitter and Facebook?
58:15 Talk about what happened around Robert Parker’s review of your wines.
01:01:10 Talk about the real groundbreakers in California and your primary mentors?
01:05:38 Wrap Up. Larry’s tasting room, how to contact him and what they drank during the episode.