Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 3:15 am | Fair 51º



For Vineyard Owner Andrew Murray, Taste of Success Came Early

More than 20 years later, his passion is as strong as ever for making wine, and next week he'll launch a new label

Wine is in his blood.

Andrew Murray, of the eponymous vineyard, began making wine at his family’s 200-acre ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley more than 20 years ago. He has since become one of the most recognized winemakers in the area.

“The year I graduated high school I fell in love with wine,” Murray said. “I loved the idea of the generational family aspect of the business. It seemed like a cool opportunity when my family came back from our Europe trip.”

After getting a real taste of the Rhone Valley of Condrieu, France, he decided to attend UC Berkeley to study paleontology. But he soon dropped out to pursue an internship at an Australian Shiraz winery under Roger Boulton. Three months turned into 15, and he was off to UC Davis’ oenology and viticulture program.

“Over 20 years later, I still get goosebumps when I find or taste a new wine. (Boulton) imbued that passion for me,” Murray said. “It wasn’t just about making wine. I was becoming head over heels in love with the stuff.”

He received quite the graduation present when his parents handed him the Andrew Murray brand along with the winery’s equipment and assets. Murray didn’t spoil it.

By age 25, Murray caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times, Bon Appetit and Appellation magazines by making two world-class Rhone varietal wines that most Americans weren’t planting in the late 1990s.

“Rather than make whatever wine the world wants, we continue to make what we want to make and try to educate and inspire consumers around us,” he said.

That’s the idea behind Andrew Murray Vineyards’ new label, This is E11even Wines, set to launch Sept. 10. It’s fashioned after the rockumentary/mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap and allows Murray to be more creative.

“I want to break the rules of blending and not just make varietal wines. I want to blend wine to be delicious and not all the sort of crap that goes with marketing,” he said. “It’s my opportunity to cut loose with this.”

Initial releases will include red wine blends of Grenach Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, a Syrah and Viognier blend and a white blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Murray also launched Root Causes, a focused form of philanthropy that targets children-oriented charities and nonprofits.

“It’s a good way for us to focus our giving,” said AMV consultant and marketing coordinator Julie Farrell, adding that she has enjoyed watching someone who loves what they do. “He’s very humble. It’s so neat to see how highly regarded he is in the industry. In addition, it has been fun to see his passion for it. There are few and far between like him.”

Murray may be an avid photographer, cyclist and hiker, but if it wasn’t for wine, he wouldn’t know what else to do.

“I just can’t get enough. It continues to provide a fun level of interest,” Murray said. “I still feel like I started yesterday. There are not a lot of people who have been in a career 20 years and think that.”

Wing Shots with Andrew Murray

» Red or white? “The macho guy in me says red, but I love a white, crisp wine. In the end, I prefer red.”

» Cabernet or Zinfandel? “Zin. I think a cab to me equals old-fashioned, and I’m anything but old-fashioned.”

» Film or digital? “I grew up on film. I had my own darkroom at the winery and could process photos in black-and-white and color.”

» Nikon or Canon? “Nikon for life.”

» Road or mountain bike? “I do road more.”

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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