Anne Amie Vineyards: winery information
Winemaker: Thomas Houseman
Thomas’ winemaking career unofficially began in the basement of his parent’s home in Hampton Roads, Virginia. At an age when other boys were playing with Stretch Armstrong dolls and Rock’em Sock ‘em Robots, Thomas made his first two wines from a kit he saw in a store. His Welch’s grape juice and orange juice concentrate wines are lost in time, but I’m sure they’d be showing well if any remained. Thomas pursued sports and the arts, but winemaking dogged him. In a remote corner of his university library, while looking for a book on Fauvism, Thomas stumbled upon a winemaking book from England. It described the wonderful elixirs that could be made from anything from rutabagas to damsons. Free wine from root vegetables sounded great to a starving college student, and a new passion for fermenting exploded along with a several bottles of pomegranate and banana wine. Thomas narrowly escaped blindness from this stage of his life and went on to New York City, where he pursued a career in modern dance. Traveling the globe performing, Thomas was able, for the first time in his life, to experience wines from different regions in addition to the terroir from which they came. The last turn of events that led to Thomas becoming a winemaker was the engagement of Joel, the lighting designer for his dance company. Joel was a home brewer of epic proportions, but his fiancé would have nothing to do with it in their shared New York City apartment. Thirty or so subway trips later Thomas had his newly inherited and free brewing setup crammed in every corner of his Queens apartment. So, he bought a book and taught himself to brew. With the creativity of a dancer, the eye of a scientist, and the encouragement of friends who loved the free beer, the passion for fermenting reemerged. A turning point in Thomas’ life occurred when he traded the stage for the cellar, and enrolled in the enology program at California State University, Fresno without having ever set foot in a winery in his entire life. But, with the passion and headstrong nature that propelled him into the arts he forged ahead. Two weeks into his first semester found him responding to an urgent need for a production enologist at Fetzer Vineyards, in Hopland, CA. Once again, without ever previously setting foot in a winery, Thomas was now in charge of tracking millions of gallons of wine as well as being the liaison between 5 winemakers and the cellar. It was an eye-opening and exhilarating harvest. Thomas was officially bitten by the winemaking bug. As a student, Thomas created a Primitivo wine that won several awards in international competition including a double gold at the California State Fair. It was also at school where Thomas developed an interest in barrels and how they interact with wine. This led him to work with barrel guru, Jeff Cohn at Rosenblum Cellars. But, Thomas’ true passion was for pinot noir which led him first to the Anderson Valley, to work for Husch Vineyards, and later to New Zealand, where he heard of stunning pinot noir being made where Hobbits once roamed. With good fortune he met the Giesen brothers and worked both at their Blenheim winery and at Bell Hill, in North Canterbury. His visa having expired, Thomas returned to the States, and responding to an ad for an assistant winemaker, drove to Oregon. Ponzi Vineyards was to remain his home for the next several years, where he absorbed all he could from the two generations of winemaking experience in Dick and Luisa Ponzi. He brings his passion for pinot noir to Anne Amie. Thomas is happy he can still use words like balance, grace, fluidity, elegance, power and style, words that once described his dancing, now describe his wines. In his free time, Thomas still brews, having dragged his equipment across the US. Yoga and running have replaced dance, but winemaking remains the common thread that started in a basement and continues in our cellar.
Annual Production: 12,000 cases
Grape Varieties Planted