Why Chronic Cellars’ winemaker is optimistic about new role

There’s been a lot of “new” at Chronic Cellars in Paso Robles over the last couple of years.

During that time, the winery with a reputation for having a bold style brought on a new winemaker and debuted a new label design. 

What’s more: New winemaker Kip Lorenzetti has completed his first vintage with Chronic Cellars.

Kip,who took over as winemaker in 2020, took a minute to talk to Vintner Magazine about the new design and vintage, and what it’s like working with his friend Josh Beckett, who co-founded Chronic Cellars in 2004.

VINTNER: What do you bring to the table as head winemaker that maintains Chronic’s traditions  as an adventurous brand, yet encourages it to continue evolving? How does your background in winemaking play a role?

LORENZETTI: Prior to Chronic Cellars, I was the winemaker at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard, a legacy site in the Paso Robles area. I had worked with a good cross section of Paso fruit in the past, and that experience really helped broaden my knowledge of the nuances in the area. We’ve got 11 different sub-AVAs in Paso and each one has their own unique characters to it. At Chronic Cellars, bringing those nuances to our wines is what we’re striving to do.

VINTNER: Your first vintage as Chronic Cellars head winemaker was recently completed. What happens when you hand the reins over to a new head winemaker during a year like the previous one? What are some positives that come out of the process, and what are some challenges that must be worked through?

LORENZETTI: Well, much like the rest of the year, Harvest 2020 was not without its challenges. In Paso, we had three record-setting heat spikes during Harvest, that were coupled with the ever present specter of smoke taint from the Dolan and River Fires in nearby Monterey County. It was a real challenge to make the right calls in the vineyard to ensure that we could make the best wine possible, but I am happy to say that the wines we made for the 2020 vintage will be outstanding through the adversity.

On top of all that, it was a bit daunting coming on board with Chronic Cellars and being handed the reins by the founding winemaker. Chronic Cellars has such an established presence and wine style, it is a real honor to be tasked with continuing that legacy. 

Fortunately, in no small part due to the quality of the growers and vineyards we work with, we were able to successfully navigate the 2020 gauntlet and create some really special wines that showcase the diversity of flavors that come out of Paso.

VINTNER: It sounds like you and Josh have a history as friends and experience working together. In what direction do you plan to take the product in the years ahead?

LORENZETTI: Chronic Cellars is all about trying to experiment and try something new each year to bring something special to our wines. One thing that Josh and I have waxed philosophically about often is that each year we should be trying to enhance wine quality. Whether that’s looking at sourcing from new vineyards, trying out new varietals, experimenting in the winery with whole cluster inclusion, new fermentation techniques, or blending protocols. We have the benefit of being in such a diverse region and working with top notch vineyards, it’s a real joy to try different things to see how we can showcase the unique taste of our area in our wines. 

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