Oregon Wine's Mark Tarlov
A creative businessman from outside the wine industry is coming up with some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to developing his new winery, including a clever way of fast-tracking his wines to consumers.
Although Mark Tarlov is the new kid on the wine block with his Evening Land Vineyards, the New York native is no newcomer to all things wine, especially Burgundy and Pinot Noir produced in California and Oregon. Despite his passion for Pinot, however, he comes to the wine industry from an unusual route, including the U.S. Supreme Court (where he wrote speeches for Justice Warren Burger), contract negotiator for movie studios, movie producer and director.
His out-of-the-box thinking includes involving some of the country’s most knowledgeable sommeliers to custom blend a wine in a contest. The ONCE Sommelier Series is offered to selected restaurants and specialty wine shops, with great word-of-mouth attention and recommendations from the sommeliers themselves.
“Who better to talk about our wine than sommeliers?” says Tarlov, a bicoastal Burgundy aficionado with a home base in New York City. “When you have so many wines to choose from, having sommeliers as part of our program makes sense. I learned a great deal from them when dining out—they are the point of entry at fine restaurants.”
Tarlov is a bright, creative thinker who is not hindered by all things he can’t do in the creation of his wine portfolio. He has put together a series of top quality vineyards in California and Oregon to make his wines, plucked some famous names in the industry to help, started a private label of wines especially made for high-caliber restaurants and created the wine-blending contest to pull in some of the top sommeliers, thus fast-tracking his wines out of obscurity right off the bat.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Evening Land Vineyards grows estate pinot noir from several highly acclaimed terriors—the Sonoma Coast (the Carl Myers Vineyard and the Occidental Vineyard), Santa Rita Hills (Looking Glass Vineyard in Santa Barbara County) and in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola Hills). Tarlov brought in Dominique Lafon for the Oregon wines, a superstar in the Meursault district of Burgundy, well known for brilliant, but hard-to-get Chardonnay. LaFon brought in Isabelle Meunier as primary winemaker, who worked in Niagara, Canada with former Oregon winemaker (Lemelson) Thomas Bachelder.
The Evening Land team in Northern California includes Sashi Moorman, former winemaker at Stolpman (fabulous syrah), and consultant to Red Car wines, who came highly recommended by Tarlov’s friends in the wine industry.
“When I approached Sashi, he played me,” said Tarlov with a grin. “Sashi said he might be interested in working for me. Now, I have dealt with movie moguls and some of the biggest negotiators in the movie industry, and here’s this guy who looks like a 12-year-old I never heard of telling me he might be interested. I was immediately engaged.
“And he graduated from Vassar—a thoughtful man who was passionate about Pinot Noir, despite the fact he was making Syrah.”
When master sommelier Larry Stone (Rubicon Restaurant in San Francisco) told Tarlov that Moorman “really understands California and its terroir,” Tarlov brought him on the team. It was then that Moorman and Tarlov discovered they shared similar interests in food and wine, art, music and politics—cementing the deal for Tarlov.