David Lecomte Chief Wine Maker
As far as David is concerned, winemaking is an endless learning process, not a science. As testimony to this philosophy, David has devoted the past 16 years to learning all he can from the finest in the industry, working at some of the best-known wineries in the world. He continues this process - and shares his knowledge - at City Winery, Manhattan's first fully operational winery, as its Head Winemaker.
A native of the Rhone Valley, David most likely has grape vines entwined into his genetic code. Armed with a Degree in Viticulture and Winemaking from the University of Davaye in South Burgundy, plus a Master Degree of Enology and Winemaking from University of Montpellier, David began his wine career at M. Chapoutier Estate as a vineyard worker at the age of 22. He has since worked at other wineries in France (Delas & Fils, Cave de Tain L'Hermitage and Colombo), China (Beijing Dragon Seal), and three wine regions in the United States (Virginia - at Afton Mountain Vineyard; Long Island, NY - at Premium Wine Group, and most recently in California - at Herzog Wine Cellars). In his role as Head Winemaker at City Winery, David takes on the unusual task of creating wine in the middle of Manhattan. Equipped with a deep appreciation for the importance of soil, climate, grape selection and vineyard practices, he is particularly dexterous in the art of identifying where the best of each grape variety is grown and gathering the fruit from the finest vineyards. As David states: "There are no perfect winemaking recipes because each combination of variety, soil, climate, vineyard management and cellar equipment is unique." With this in mind, David has the challenge of guiding amateur enologists - City Winery's 200 barrel owners - as they create their own wine in SoHo. To ensure they have the optimal experience, David sees to it that the grapes are not only the best, but they are transported from the respective vineyards in optimal condition; not just de-stemmed, but hand-sorted, and carefully monitored in each respective fermentation tank. While many winemakers work autonomously with only their own creative vision in mind, David is responsible for the wine what each barrel owner wants to create. By understanding their tastes and preferences, he not only makes the grape-buying decisions, but also advises on the exact blend, the barrel type and the duration of aging. Through his guidance, barrel owners realize their dream to create their own wine. And with approximately 250 bottles to consume at the end of the process, they will be grateful their guide has devoted his life to learning all he can about winemaking.
Aurelien GousseNYC Wine Maker
From Loire Valley, France
Aurelien hails from a picturesque Medieval town in the heart of the Loire Valley which he is very happy to talk about to anyone who is ready to listen.
Although he is fiercely proud of France and all it has to offer, his adventurous spirit and curious nature lead him to make the journey halfway around the world to create a new home in Australia. He settled in the beautiful seaside region of McLaren Vale and has a particular fondness for South Australia and new world wine making techniques. Always eager to learn and expand his knowledge, Aurelien completed vintages in the Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula while jetting back to France every now and then working in Madiran, Roussillon and of course his beloved Loire Valley.
His connection with nature and terroir is strong; from planting to pruning, Aurelien is truly at home in a vineyard. Which raises the question, why choose to make wine in a city of 8 million people? Pourquoi pas! As soon as you meet Aurelien, you will understand why he has decided to make New York and City Winery his home: he simply adores making wine, wherever it is. He is a vibrant, cheeky and bold person which is comes across in his winemaking. Aurelien enjoys travelling, drinking Champagne and eating cheese.
Yanky Drew, Kosher Assistant Winemaker
Yanky Drew says his passion for wine goes a long way back, especially since wine is used quite often in Judaism. “As a kid, I always tried to turn table grapes into wine,” he says. “As you can guess, I was not too successful. But when somebody was making wine, I was there to help. My real turning point was at Yarden Winery in the Golan Heights in Israel. I tasted their Gewürztraminer in the tasting room and was instantly hooked with the barrel rooms, vineyards and so on.” - See more at: https://citywineryblog.com/winemaking-team/#sthash.IbdLF6pi.dpuf
Yanky’s passion for wine drove him to be a home winemaker, tweeting and reading tweets about winemaking. And it was through Twitter that he came to know of City Winery. “I met the previous City Winery Mashgiach, Ilan Tokayer, may his memory be blessed, through our shared tweeting. He then told me about the vacancy [at City Winery].” For Yanky, winemaking is all about the love of the process. “What I enjoy the most about the wine world is people who have a real passion for winemaking and produce great wine for all to enjoy,” he says. “I also appreciate when wine tastes like the variety that it is, in other words, true to its variety. What I like the least about the wine world is producing and selling wine just for the business aspect of it — and people who don’t care to make good wine, only to make money.”