Mention Paris to most people and you’ll get a rude waiter story; Aaron’s is that he was ten, and the sneering Monsieur brought him wine instead of the milk he had ordered, because milk ‘ees for babies.’ Aaron’s father was a minister, a great fan of Riesling and a keen student of the role and ritual of wine in the biblical world. He moved the family around: Berkeley, Eugene, Oxford, but landed in, of all places, Davis, California. Aaron stayed through college, getting a degree in Enology. As a career, it seemed the perfect choice. It was unusual and ornery… the wine industry in those days, still kind of marginalized. This was the era before the discovery of wine’s health-giving properties and benefits. Wine was expanding in California but was in danger of becoming over scientific – too sanitized. Even then, Aaron believed winemaking should also be an art, and was attracted to the larger than life characters in the Napa Valley, like John Kongsgaard and French consulting-winemaker Michel Rolland, who professed to reverse the science-driven trend. Aaron began working for John at Newton Vineyard in 1990 as his assistant winemaker, and along with the many Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons they also bottled an unfiltered Chardonnay (Unfiltered? Shock!). Suddenly wine was sexy again and Aaron was hooked. When Michel came out from France to consult, Aaron would squeeze his 6’3″ frame into the back of John’s beat up Ford Ranger and take notes. What a great learning environment! He lapped it up. Perhaps it was that waiter, or maybe that French school mistress (by then just mistress). Surely it was the charisma of M. Rolland… Aaron found himself yearning for a French wine adventure. He asked Michel if he could find him a job somewhere. Heeding his master’s call (his mind filled with romantic expectations of pulling hoses around a cellar) he dutifully showed up at the appointed Chateau… only to be taken on as winemaker. So began 6 years of living and working in France, culminating in a Masters Degree in Viticulture from the Université of Bourgogne, while being winemaker at Château Troplong Mondot and, in 1994, becoming director of Château La Tour Figeac.