Our Story

About Us

Our story begins with two winemakers: one from the Old World and one from the New World. Ernst Loosen, the famed Riesling producer behind Germany’s Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf wineries, has a lifelong passion for Pinot Noir. With many friends and a wine import business in Oregon, Erni recognized early on that there was something very special going on here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and he wanted to be a part of it.

Oregon winemaker Jay Somers was making a small-production Willamette Valley Pinot called J. Christopher when Erni met him. Erni was immediately impressed; here, he thought, was a New-World wine made in the Old-World style, with great structure and expression of terroir. The two soon began collaborating on a high-end Pinot that they named Appassionata. A few vintages later, Erni cemented his investment in Oregon by purchasing 40 acres on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, planting the Appassionata Vineyard, and building the winery where we continue to produce Appassionata and J. Christopher wines today.

Over the last decade, J. Christopher has earned international acclaim and has been named a Wine & Spirits World Top 100 Winery. Our Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Rosés, and our new GG Riesling continue to showcase the Old-World style that first attracted Erni to J. Christopher – a style that Erni has always maintained in his German wines. It’s a patient, unhurried approach to winemaking that gives each wine the opportunity to fully express where it comes from, whether it’s the Old World or the New. We hope you’ll come visit the J. Christopher tasting room and garden patio to enjoy a glass or two.

About Us

Our story begins with two winemakers: one from the Old World and one from the New World. Ernst Loosen, the famed Riesling producer behind Germany’s Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf wineries, has a lifelong passion for Pinot Noir. With many friends and a wine import business in Oregon, Erni recognized early on that there was something very special going on here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and he wanted to be a part of it.

Oregon winemaker Jay Somers was making a small-production Willamette Valley Pinot called J. Christopher when Erni met him. Erni was immediately impressed; here, he thought, was a New-World wine made in the Old-World style, with great structure and expression of terroir. The two soon began collaborating on a high-end Pinot that they named Appassionata. A few vintages later, Erni cemented his investment in Oregon by purchasing 40 acres on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, planting the Appassionata Vineyard, and building the winery where we continue to produce Appassionata and J. Christopher wines today.

Over the last decade, J. Christopher has earned international acclaim and has been named a Wine & Spirits World Top 100 Winery. Our Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Rosés, and our new GG Riesling continue to showcase the Old-World style that first attracted Erni to J. Christopher – a style that Erni has always maintained in his German wines. It’s a patient, unhurried approach to winemaking that gives each wine the opportunity to fully express where it comes from, whether it’s the Old World or the New. We hope you’ll come visit the J. Christopher tasting room and garden patio to enjoy a glass or two.

WINES

VINES

SUSTAINABILITY

MEET THE TEAM

Ernst Loosen, Owner

“A great wine begins in your head.” So goes the philosophy of Ernst “Erni” Loosen, owner of the J. Christopher winery in Oregon’s Willamette valley and the 200-year-old Dr. Loosen winery in Germany’s Mosel River valley. To Erni’s mind, a great wine should be true to its roots, vividly expressing its grape variety, geography, soil and climate. In Germany, Erni raised his family estate to near cult status by adhering to this clear vision – the same vision that guides the winemaking at J. Christopher.

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about wine, Erni loves to start new projects in new places. In 1996, following his passion for Pinot Noir, he took on the Villa Wolf winery in Germany’s Pfalz region, where the warmer climate would allow him to make Pinot for the first time. (Incidentally, 1996 is the same year that J. Christopher produced its first Pinot.) Three years later, his friendships in the Pacific Northwest led to his first U.S. winemaking venture: the high-end Eroica Riesling, which he makes in collaboration with Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. Named after a Beethoven symphony, Eroica celebrated its 20th vintage in 2019.

With Eroica in Washington and a U.S. import business based in Oregon, Erni soon had both feet planted firmly in the Pacific Northwest. It wouldn’t be long before he planted vineyards here, as well. In 2005, he launched his first Oregon winemaking venture, a high-end Pinot Noir cuvée made in collaboration with Jay Somers, the founder of the J. Christopher brand. For this passion project, he looked to Beethoven once again and found a fitting name: Appassionata. In 2009, Erni followed his passion to its inevitable conclusion, purchasing 40 acres in the Chehalem Mountains, planting the Appassionata Vineyard, and building the winery where both J. Christopher and Appassionata wines are made today.

Under Erni’s leadership, recognition for J. Christopher wines has grown worldwide. At J. Christopher, as in all of his ventures, Erni emphasizes sustainable farming and gentle cellar practices to allow each wine to develop naturally to its full potential. The result: wines that represent the best possible expression of their grape variety from the place where they’re grown.

Clifford Robben, General Manager

Clifford Robben has been part of J. Christopher since before the winery existed – he’s the guy who constructed the solid financial foundation that the winery was built on. Today, he oversees the action at J. Christopher in his trademark down-to-earth, approachable style. He wears multiple hats throughout the day, doing everything from managing the finances to supporting our team, nurturing our grower relationships and helping out in the cellar – and that’s just at J. Christopher.

Clifford also serves as the chief financial officer for Erni Loosen’s wine import business, Loosen Bros. USA, and as chair of the board of the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC).

Fun fact: as a young intern at an accounting firm that specialized in the wine business, Clifford was assigned Erni as his first client. By the time he left the firm to work with Erni full time, both his position and his taste in wine had risen considerably. Today, he is a certifiable Riesling and Pinot Noir fanatic. For him, being involved in the first New-World Pinot Noir venture of one of the world’s great Old-World Riesling producers feels like winning the wine lottery. “Stylistically, I have a great appreciation for the J. Christopher wines,” he says. “Like great Rieslings, they really express where they come from.”

Clifford is proud to be a sixth-generation Oregonian with deep roots in the state. He and his wife, who also works in the wine industry, live in the heart of Oregon wine country with their two daughters and a menagerie of dogs, ducks and seahorses. When they’re not working, they’re typically relaxing with a glass of wine on their patio or planning their next wine-centric trip.  

Kory Sumner, Winemaker

Kory Sumner runs the show in the cellar at J. Christopher. While he loves every aspect of the winemaking process, he says, “It’s the seasonality of it” that’s his favorite. “Every year is different,” says Kory. “We’re not trying to make a sterile, precise thing in a lab. We’re working with nature, not against it.”

Kory grew up running around outside in the southern Illinois countryside. “I always wanted to do something outdoors, working with nature,” he says. After a few visits to Oregon, he knew he’d found home. He moved here in 2005, and it didn’t take him long to discover the local winetasting scene. Soon, he was taking enology and viticulture classes at Chemeketa Community College, working for a local wine distributor, and “trying to carve a path into this industry.” That path led to a job at J. Christopher, where he started out delivering wine and just kept saying yes to every opportunity to learn, taste and get his hands into the process.

Today, as our capable, passionate and hardworking associate winemaker, he couldn’t be happier. “I just followed what I loved,” says Kory. “As a winemaker, I’m in a unique position to work alongside nature to make this finished product that people really enjoy. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

Outside of the winery, there is one other place that calls to Kory. “I’m pretty much obsessed with the Oregon Coast,” he says. If he’s not in the cellar, chances are good that you’ll find him with his wife and their crazy lab-mix dog somewhere between Manzanita and Cannon Beach.

Daniel Emmes, Production Manager

Daniel Emmes is our own resident philosopher and personal emissary of the Loosen family. Like his uncle, Erni Loosen, Daniel considered other paths, earning a master's degree in philosophy (Erni studied archeology), but eventually, there was no denying that wine ran in his blood.

Daniel moved to Oregon from Germany in 2020 to join our team, but it wasn’t his first encounter with J. Christopher. He interned with us during his university days and returned to work the harvest in 2017 and 2019. In the years between, he chalked up some serious wine cred, including internships at Dr. Loosen and Domaine de Chavalier in Bordeaux, a two-year winemaking apprenticeship at Weingut Dönnhoff in the Nahe, and three years promoting international sales for Dr. Loosen.

As J. Christopher’s production manager, Daniel makes sure we have everything we need, from corks to barrels, to keep wine production flowing. He serves as a vital communications link from the vineyards to the cellar to sales, both by leading the charge to bring better information systems to the cellar and by helping out personally wherever he’s needed. In many ways, his earlier studies prepared him well for this: “Whether you’re talking about systems of thought or systems of production,” he says, “it’s all about understanding complexity. It’s very colorful.”

The well-traveled son of a diplomat, Daniel speaks six languages and would be happy to engage you in deep conversation in any of them. He also enjoys playing guitar, and while he’s mainly a rock guy, he has a special affinity for the songs of the late great philosopher Johnny Cash.

Kelly Stewart, Direct Sales Manager

Kelly Stewart came to us in 2016 with a well-rounded history in wine wholesale, retail and hospitality. At J. Christopher, he connects all the dots, managing our tasting room, wine club and online sales. With every visitor and customer, he says, his goal is “to make sure they leave with a little education about our wines, a warm feeling about their experience and, hopefully, a few bottles in their bag.”

Kelly served in Sardinia for the U.S. Navy before sailing on to the world of food and wine. He worked both buying and selling wine for several well-known restaurants and bottle shops in the Carolinas, following what he describes as a “progression of passion” from restaurants to wine, before moving to Oregon in 2013. Prior to joining us, he manned the tasting rooms at Beaux Freres and Bergstrom wineries.

Kelly enjoys and values the relationships that he builds here with our customers, our growers and our neighboring wineries. On top of that, he’s always excited to come to work, he says, because, “The Wines! J. Christopher makes such delicate, Old-World-style Pinots, plus the best Sauvignon Blanc in the Willamette Valley.” Most days, you’ll find him in the tasting room, pouring wine and helping visitors navigate the ever-changing currents of new and old vintages. When not at work, he enjoys cooking, hiking and hanging out with his wife, Leslie, and Chevy the dog. 

Candace Fleischmann, tasting room lead at J. Christopher winery

Candace Fleischmann, Tasting Room Lead

When you visit our tasting room, chances are good that you’ll get to hang out with Candace, our fun, chatty and knowledgeable tasting room lead. Candace loves meeting new people and making everyone feel comfortable, whatever their level of wine knowledge. If you’re newer to wine tasting, she’s here to share her affection for wine in a relaxed, “non-stuffy” way. If you’re an established wine freak looking to learn all you can about the unique history and qualities of Willamette Valley wines, Candace is a wealth of information and says that she’ll be happy to “geek out with you.”

Oregon’s food and wine scene lured her to the state from Reno in 2006. By the time she joined J. Christopher in 2017, she brought about 15 years of food and beverage experience to the job, including nine years at Portland’s well-known Spanish restaurant, Toro Bravo. “I got my start with Spanish wines, for sure,” she says. “But the J. Christopher wines were the first wines that really made me fall in love with the valley.” Luckily for all of us, we were looking for someone just like Candace right when she was looking to make her next step into the wine world.

When she’s not in the tasting room, Candace enjoys getting outside with her wife, Megan. “I love taking advantage of everything Oregon has to offer, from gardening to hiking to being near the water,” she says, “even when it’s raining.” We’d like to add that a rainy day is a great day to come see Candace for a wine tasting.

Mick Trask J Christopher Wines

Mick Trask, Cellar Master

2008 was a big year for Mick Trask: that was the year that he fell in love with the aspiring winemaker who would become his future wife, and with wine, which would become his future career. Smitten by both, Mick gladly gave up his job as an auto mechanic to work alongside his wife in their first harvest gig in the Willamette Valley. Then off they went, working their way through the wine regions of Oregon, California, Australia and New Zealand before eventually returning to the Willamette Valley.

By 2014, after years of travel and harvest internships, Mick felt ready to settle into a permanent cellar position. Drawn to J. Christopher because of its intimate production size and its dedication to organic farming, he wrote a letter to our team.

“I was keen to join the ranks of such a notable producer that was always striving for balance and varietal purity,” he says. We invited Mick to help with a bottling session, and that was it – his sunny personality and strong work ethic fit right in, and we asked him to stay.

In his current position as cellar master, Mick maintains a spotless and well-organized winery. “A clean cellar leads to clean wines,” he says. “Ensuring the gentle elevage of our wines is my number one priority.”

A Northwest native, Mick enjoys living in the charming town of McMinnville with his wife, Paige (who pivoted to becoming a pastry chef), their son Wilde and their super dog Lalou.

Lukas Pospiszyl, J. Christopher Wines Vineyard Manager

Lukas Pospiszyl, Vineyard Manager

Since 2018, Lukas “POSS-pi-shul” (not popsicle, thank you very much) has kept our vineyards happy, healthy and humming with life. Lukas takes a low-impact approach to vineyard management that respects both the vines and their environment. “It’s not about producing a lot of grapes,” he says. “It’s about producing really good grapes that reflect the soil, the climate and the area, so that when you taste the wine, you can say, ‘Yep, that’s a Chehalem Mountain Pinot.’”

Lukas has always enjoyed growing things – it’s the reason he pursued a degree in viticulture. In the vineyard, he says, “You really see that if you put effort in, you get something back. You put this tiny, fragile stick into the ground, you take care of it, and it evolves into this nice plant that gives you flowers, and then fruit, and you can actually taste the fruit of your work.”

A native of the Pfalz region of Germany, Lukas first worked for Erni Loosen at Villa Wolf before taking off to explore other parts of the wine world. Ten years later, after an internship at the famed Dr. Konstantin Frank winery in New York’s Finger Lakes, Lukas found himself looking for his next job just as Erni was looking for a vineyard manager at J. Christopher. And here he is.

In his time off, Lukas enjoys gardening (no surprise), hiking, taking road trips and tasting local wines – “or beers,” he adds. “I’m from Germany, so there’s always a beer in the glass.”

MEET THE TEAM

Ernst Loosen, Owner

“A great wine begins in your head.” So goes the philosophy of Ernst “Erni” Loosen, owner of the J. Christopher winery in Oregon’s Willamette valley and the 200-year-old Dr. Loosen winery in Germany’s Mosel River valley. To Erni’s mind, a great wine should be true to its roots, vividly expressing its grape variety, geography, soil and climate. In Germany, Erni raised his family estate to near cult status by adhering to this clear vision – the same vision that guides the winemaking at J. Christopher.

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about wine, Erni loves to start new projects in new places. In 1996, following his passion for Pinot Noir, he took on the Villa Wolf winery in Germany’s Pfalz region, where the warmer climate would allow him to make Pinot for the first time. (Incidentally, 1996 is the same year that J. Christopher produced its first Pinot.) Three years later, his friendships in the Pacific Northwest led to his first U.S. winemaking venture: the high-end Eroica Riesling, which he makes in collaboration with Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. Named after a Beethoven symphony, Eroica celebrated its 20th vintage in 2019.

With Eroica in Washington and a U.S. import business based in Oregon, Erni soon had both feet planted firmly in the Pacific Northwest. It wouldn’t be long before he planted vineyards here, as well. In 2005, he launched his first Oregon winemaking venture, a high-end Pinot Noir cuvée made in collaboration with Jay Somers, the founder of the J. Christopher brand. For this passion project, he looked to Beethoven once again and found a fitting name: Appassionata. In 2009, Erni followed his passion to its inevitable conclusion, purchasing 40 acres in the Chehalem Mountains, planting the Appassionata Vineyard, and building the winery where both J. Christopher and Appassionata wines are made today.

Under Erni’s leadership, recognition for J. Christopher wines has grown worldwide. At J. Christopher, as in all of his ventures, Erni emphasizes sustainable farming and gentle cellar practices to allow each wine to develop naturally to its full potential. The result: wines that represent the best possible expression of their grape variety from the place where they’re grown.

Clifford Robben, General Manager

Clifford Robben has been part of J. Christopher since before the winery existed – he’s the guy who constructed the solid financial foundation that the winery was built on. Today, he oversees the action at J. Christopher in his trademark down-to-earth, approachable style. He wears multiple hats throughout the day, doing everything from managing the finances to supporting our team, nurturing our grower relationships and helping out in the cellar – and that’s just at J. Christopher.

Clifford also serves as the chief financial officer for Erni Loosen’s wine import business, Loosen Bros. USA, and as chair of the board of the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC).

Fun fact: as a young intern at an accounting firm that specialized in the wine business, Clifford was assigned Erni as his first client. By the time he left the firm to work with Erni full time, both his position and his taste in wine had risen considerably. Today, he is a certifiable Riesling and Pinot Noir fanatic. For him, being involved in the first New-World Pinot Noir venture of one of the world’s great Old-World Riesling producers feels like winning the wine lottery. “Stylistically, I have a great appreciation for the J. Christopher wines,” he says. “Like great Rieslings, they really express where they come from.”

Clifford is proud to be a sixth-generation Oregonian with deep roots in the state. He and his wife, who also works in the wine industry, live in the heart of Oregon wine country with their two daughters and a menagerie of dogs, ducks and seahorses. When they’re not working, they’re typically relaxing with a glass of wine on their patio or planning their next wine-centric trip.  

Kory Sumner, Winemaker

Kory Sumner runs the show in the cellar at J. Christopher. While he loves every aspect of the winemaking process, he says, “It’s the seasonality of it” that’s his favorite. “Every year is different,” says Kory. “We’re not trying to make a sterile, precise thing in a lab. We’re working with nature, not against it.”

Kory grew up running around outside in the southern Illinois countryside. “I always wanted to do something outdoors, working with nature,” he says. After a few visits to Oregon, he knew he’d found home. He moved here in 2005, and it didn’t take him long to discover the local winetasting scene. Soon, he was taking enology and viticulture classes at Chemeketa Community College, working for a local wine distributor, and “trying to carve a path into this industry.” That path led to a job at J. Christopher, where he started out delivering wine and just kept saying yes to every opportunity to learn, taste and get his hands into the process.

Today, as our capable, passionate and hardworking associate winemaker, he couldn’t be happier. “I just followed what I loved,” says Kory. “As a winemaker, I’m in a unique position to work alongside nature to make this finished product that people really enjoy. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

Outside of the winery, there is one other place that calls to Kory. “I’m pretty much obsessed with the Oregon Coast,” he says. If he’s not in the cellar, chances are good that you’ll find him with his wife and their crazy lab-mix dog somewhere between Manzanita and Cannon Beach.

Daniel Emmes, Production Manager

Daniel Emmes is our own resident philosopher and personal emissary of the Loosen family. Like his uncle, Erni Loosen, Daniel considered other paths, earning a master's degree in philosophy (Erni studied archeology), but eventually, there was no denying that wine ran in his blood.

Daniel moved to Oregon from Germany in 2020 to join our team, but it wasn’t his first encounter with J. Christopher. He interned with us during his university days and returned to work the harvest in 2017 and 2019. In the years between, he chalked up some serious wine cred, including internships at Dr. Loosen and Domaine de Chavalier in Bordeaux, a two-year winemaking apprenticeship at Weingut Dönnhoff in the Nahe, and three years promoting international sales for Dr. Loosen.

As J. Christopher’s production manager, Daniel makes sure we have everything we need, from corks to barrels, to keep wine production flowing. He serves as a vital communications link from the vineyards to the cellar to sales, both by leading the charge to bring better information systems to the cellar and by helping out personally wherever he’s needed. In many ways, his earlier studies prepared him well for this: “Whether you’re talking about systems of thought or systems of production,” he says, “it’s all about understanding complexity. It’s very colorful.”

The well-traveled son of a diplomat, Daniel speaks six languages and would be happy to engage you in deep conversation in any of them. He also enjoys playing guitar, and while he’s mainly a rock guy, he has a special affinity for the songs of the late great philosopher Johnny Cash.

Kelly Stewart, Direct Sales Manager

Kelly Stewart came to us in 2016 with a well-rounded history in wine wholesale, retail and hospitality. At J. Christopher, he connects all the dots, managing our tasting room, wine club and online sales. With every visitor and customer, he says, his goal is “to make sure they leave with a little education about our wines, a warm feeling about their experience and, hopefully, a few bottles in their bag.”

Kelly served in Sardinia for the U.S. Navy before sailing on to the world of food and wine. He worked both buying and selling wine for several well-known restaurants and bottle shops in the Carolinas, following what he describes as a “progression of passion” from restaurants to wine, before moving to Oregon in 2013. Prior to joining us, he manned the tasting rooms at Beaux Freres and Bergstrom wineries.

Kelly enjoys and values the relationships that he builds here with our customers, our growers and our neighboring wineries. On top of that, he’s always excited to come to work, he says, because, “The Wines! J. Christopher makes such delicate, Old-World-style Pinots, plus the best Sauvignon Blanc in the Willamette Valley.” Most days, you’ll find him in the tasting room, pouring wine and helping visitors navigate the ever-changing currents of new and old vintages. When not at work, he enjoys cooking, hiking and hanging out with his wife, Leslie, and Chevy the dog. 

Candace Fleischmann, Tasting Room Lead

When you visit our tasting room, chances are good that you’ll get to hang out with Candace, our fun, chatty and knowledgeable tasting room lead. Candace loves meeting new people and making everyone feel comfortable, whatever their level of wine knowledge. If you’re newer to wine tasting, she’s here to share her affection for wine in a relaxed, “non-stuffy” way. If you’re an established wine freak looking to learn all you can about the unique history and qualities of Willamette Valley wines, Candace is a wealth of information and says that she’ll be happy to “geek out with you.”

Oregon’s food and wine scene lured her to the state from Reno in 2006. By the time she joined J. Christopher in 2017, she brought about 15 years of food and beverage experience to the job, including nine years at Portland’s well-known Spanish restaurant, Toro Bravo. “I got my start with Spanish wines, for sure,” she says. “But the J. Christopher wines were the first wines that really made me fall in love with the valley.” Luckily for all of us, we were looking for someone just like Candace right when she was looking to make her next step into the wine world.

When she’s not in the tasting room, Candace enjoys getting outside with her wife, Megan. “I love taking advantage of everything Oregon has to offer, from gardening to hiking to being near the water,” she says, “even when it’s raining.” We’d like to add that a rainy day is a great day to come see Candace for a wine tasting.

Mick Trask J Christopher Wines

Mick Trask, Cellar Master

2008 was a big year for Mick Trask: that was the year that he fell in love with the aspiring winemaker who would become his future wife, and with wine, which would become his future career. Smitten by both, Mick gladly gave up his job as an auto mechanic to work alongside his wife in their first harvest gig in the Willamette Valley. Then off they went, working their way through the wine regions of Oregon, California, Australia and New Zealand before eventually returning to the Willamette Valley.

By 2014, after years of travel and harvest internships, Mick felt ready to settle into a permanent cellar position. Drawn to J. Christopher because of its intimate production size and its dedication to organic farming, he wrote a letter to our team.

“I was keen to join the ranks of such a notable producer that was always striving for balance and varietal purity,” he says. We invited Mick to help with a bottling session, and that was it – his sunny personality and strong work ethic fit right in, and we asked him to stay.

 In his current position as cellar master, Mick maintains a spotless and well-organized winery. “A clean cellar leads to clean wines,” he says. “Ensuring the gentle elevage of our wines is my number one priority.”

A Northwest native, Mick enjoys living in the charming town of McMinnville with his wife, Paige (who pivoted to becoming a pastry chef), their son Wilde and their super dog Lalou.

Lukas Pospiszyl, J. Christopher Wines Vineyard Manager

Lukas Pospiszyl, Vineyard Manager

Since 2018, Lukas “POSS-pi-shul” (not popsicle, thank you very much) has kept our vineyards happy, healthy and humming with life. Lukas takes a low-impact approach to vineyard management that respects both the vines and their environment. “It’s not about producing a lot of grapes,” he says. “It’s about producing really good grapes that reflect the soil, the climate and the area, so that when you taste the wine, you can say, ‘Yep, that’s a Chehalem Mountain Pinot.’”

Lukas has always enjoyed growing things – it’s the reason he pursued a degree in viticulture. In the vineyard, he says, “You really see that if you put effort in, you get something back. You put this tiny, fragile stick into the ground, you take care of it, and it evolves into this nice plant that gives you flowers, and then fruit, and you can actually taste the fruit of your work.”

A native of the Pfalz region of Germany, Lukas first worked for Erni Loosen at Villa Wolf before taking off to explore other parts of the wine world. Ten years later, after an internship at the famed Dr. Konstantin Frank winery in New York’s Finger Lakes, Lukas found himself looking for his next job just as Erni was looking for a vineyard manager at J. Christopher. And here he is.

In his time off, Lukas enjoys gardening (no surprise), hiking, taking road trips and tasting local wines – “or beers,” he adds. “I’m from Germany, so there’s always a beer in the glass.”