“You can do some fantastic winemaking if you just do the right thing at the right time,” says Mark Clarin. He has been doing quite a few right things at the right times in the course of his winemaking career in Livermore Valley.
First of all, Mark knows this valley: he has lived here almost all his life and has been a fixture in the valley’s wine industry for most of his working life His first wine job was driving a tractor in the vineyards and a forklift in the cellars at Wente Vineyards during the harvest of 1979. (It’s a nice touch that he started out here, since he remembers as a child that his parents enjoyed drinking Wente’s Grey Riesling.) He stayed on as a cellar worker, learning everything about the work flow, logistics and process of making wine.
Mark’s hard work and innate abilities earned him the title of Cellar Master in 1989. With this new responsibility for wine quality, not just work flow, Mark realized he needed to understand all the elements of the winemaking processes. He immersed himself in enology classes at UCD (University of California at Davis, the state’s most famous school for winemakers), joined the industry’s professional education group known as ASEV (American Society of Enology and Viticulture), and traveled to France to visit the great wine houses of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
In 2003, fully bitten by the wine bug (no relation to phylloxera), Mark became Winemaker for Wente’s Tamas Estates, a label specializing in Italian grape varieties.
Mark’s sole departure from his Livermore Valley roots came in 2004, when Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards asked Mark to take a senior management position for his famous company. It was a great experience until the business division Mark managed was sold.
Mark thought he would like to return to Livermore Valley, perhaps as a consulting enologist for some of the wineries there. As he was weighing his options and considering buying a winery himself, a friend tipped him off to the possibility of a winemaking position for a newly-created winery called Picazo Vineyards.
This opportunity seemed like karma to Mark: he was determined to make only fine red Bordeaux wine and so were the Picazos. He knew that Livermore Valley had the potential to produce grapes worthy of critical acclaim and the Picazos had these grapes. Mark had exceptional winemaking talent and skill and the Picazos had the marketing and business background to complement his abilities. Most important, all three had the mutual respect and liking that is crucial to the success of a business enterprise.
Since signing on, Mark has made sure that PICAZO’S winemaking and farming protocols are tailored to capture the character and quality of this historic appellation and the PICAZO'S unique vineyard site.