Reaching for the Stars …

If you grew up in Lodi, CA and your father was a wine distributor, chances are you might take a look at the wine biz as a possible career.  But conversely if your height is 6’7” it stands to reason you might get some basketball offers as well. After winters at Notre Dame and South Bend Indiana, Joe Harden had no problem coming back to U.C. Davis for their basketball and wine programs.

While at Davis, Harden had two fortuitous events, he met his future wife Hannah on the basketball court and he had a brief conversation with Robert Mondavi who encouraged him to explore the world of wine.

And for serendipity, Harden is now Winemaker for the Robert Mondavi Red program and a guy who now has the opportunity to pair wines with Mondavi’s chef Jeff Mosher at their upcoming Mondavi wine dinner. So Harden was a natural to do the NSI quiz. Cheers.

What was last night’s dinner? After work I met my wife at Charter Oak in St. Helena for some wings and a cocktail. We then ventured back home and grilled some chicken and whipped up a salad from the garden.

What is your favorite drink? Outside of wine, I am a huge beer guy, but I do enjoy a well-made Kikori cocktail. It’s a small batch Japanese Whiskey distilled from rice. It is light and smooth and does great in cocktails.

Favorite dining spot in Napa? I live in Yountville so it’s hard to choose only one spot. I’d say Redd and Redwood Pizza are my favorites.

Favorite music? I love a lot of different styles of music. Deep down I am an old school country fan.

Favorite thing about living and working in Napa? Outside of the amazing wines, the food scene in Napa is amazing. My wife and I are huge foodies so we love getting out and trying new food spots.

What makes a great wine? It is all about the specific site, our goal at Robert Mondavi Winery is to have a minimal intervention approach for our wine making. Let the site speak for itself.

Any wine, meal or place to visit on your bucket list? I spent some time in Bordeaux last year and had an amazing time and tried some incredible wines. I want to head to Burgundy next.