Morgan Twain-Peterson MW
Morgan was the first baby born in the town of Sonoma in 1981. His parents, Joel Peterson and Kate Twain, were both employees at the local hospital but opted for a home birth at their small bungalow on Andrieux Street. After Mom did some serious work, Dad made a clean catch, tied up the umbilical cord and Morgan’s life was off to the races.
Back in those days, Joel’s main job was running the bacteriology lab at Sonoma Valley Hospital. However, as a second job he also worked at a small passion project called Ravenswood Winery, a job for which he was steadily not making money while working out of a small building along the big curve on Broadway Street. Morgan fondly remembers spending much of his time after school and on weekends exploring the winery and surrounding vineyards and creeks. Both Kate and Joel were (and still are!) intrepid and engaged individuals and huge importance was placed in the household on reading, learning for the joy of it, cooking and baking, gardening, hiking and skiing. It was a common family dinner where Joel would want to talk about a new piece he was reading in Scientific American and audible groans would come from Morgan and older sister Caitilin.
Morgan was exposed to wine and wine tasting at an early age. In David Darlington’s “Angel’s Visits,” it is noted that “Morgan, at the age of five, could distinguish between Merlot and Zinfandel.” Morgan began making small lots of Pinot Noir at 5 from fruit given to him by the Sangiacomo family. After Joel opened up a few different examples of Pinot Noir Morgan was motivated by the best wines of Domaine Dujac. He began experimenting with whole cluster fermentation, different types of French oak, and various ripeness points. Vino Bambino Pinot Noir, as the wine came to be known, was made from 1986 to 2001 and has been featured on the wine lists of Craft, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill (which featured the original 1986), Delmonico’s, Aureole, and Mesa Grill.
Though always enamored with the wine industry Morgan bypassed a traditional Viticulture and Enology degree and instead attended Vassar College focusing on his other loves of History and Political Science. Following four years in the wonderful academic cocoon of Vassar Morgan played with the idea of a life in academia, enrolling at Columbia University with an eye towards a Masters in American Studies and potentially a PhD. At the same time Morgan worked as a wine buyer for a small shop in the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Pet Wines. It was there that he met Chris Cottrell with whom, after many long retail hours spent together, he became fast friends.
After two years in graduate school, despite a love for learning (though perhaps not so much for academia), Morgan decided to come back to California. In 2005 he worked harvest at the now not-so-small and decidedly more profitable Ravenswood Winery. This was followed by a harvest in Australia’s McLaren Vale where he worked at the large Hardy’s facility of Tintara along with some precious days alongside Drew Noon and Noon Wine Cellars. From there he made the trip to Bordeaux where he spent the 2006 vintage in the cellars of Chateau Lynch Bages. After returning home in the winter of 2006 Morgan set his eyes on starting his own project.
Bedrock Wine Co. was started in 2007 out of a friend’s tiny winery on the outskirts of the town of Sonoma. The facility, even smaller than the one his father used to launch Ravenswood, was literally a converted chicken coop and goat paddock. Fruit was hand pitch-forked into a small Zambelli destemmer and fermented outside under the sun and stars in one, two and three ton redwood fermenters. The ceilings were so low that a forklift could not be used and all barrel were hand stacked inside (Morgan’s chiropractor says “thank you” for this). The first fruit came mainly from the family’s Bedrock Vineyard but small amounts of old vines from Teldeschi Ranch and several Syrah sites were made as well. In somewhat dubious timing, the first wines were released 10 days after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an event which reinforced Morgan’s strong feeling that wine should be economically accessible to as many people as possible.
In subsequent years, through both perspiration and serendipity, several amazing vineyards were added to the Bedrock portfolio. In addition, Morgan started Under the Wire with his old friend Chris, who he had conned into becoming his partner-in-crime and finances at Bedrock. Only ten years after that first vintage, Bedrock has the opportunity to work with some of the best vineyards across the state of California. In addition to this, Morgan and Bedrock have received some of the highest critical acclaim possible in the wine industry. The wines have been featured in every major news publication in the country including the New York Times, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Articles have also appeared in Food and Wine, Decanter, Town and Country, SF Magazine, Sonoma Magazine and many more. The wine from the family’s Bedrock Vineyard, Bedrock Heritage Wine, has been featured three times in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List, placing as high as number 13. In addition, the winery has received a score of 90 points or higher from the same publication over 60 times. In 2014, Morgan, alongside friend Tegan Passalacqua, was named the San Francisco Chronicle Co-Winemaker of the Year by Jon Bonné. And, just in case his head wasn’t big enough, Robert Parker stated, after giving the winery its first two 100 point scores that “Everybody should recognize the incredible speed at which Morgan Twain-Peterson has built his Bedrock Wine Co. into a world-class performer.”
Despite this success, Morgan is happiest when pruning, walking his vineyards during the growing season, obsessing over biological control and cover crops, blending and muttering while tasting through barrels or spending hours in his truck between vineyards listening to podcasts, books on tape, and annoying friends with trivia about John Prine and Waylon Jennings. He has also been known to throw a good dinner party. Beyond his obsessiveness with work, Morgan continues to enjoy all those things his parents fostered in him as a kid—a love for reading and learning, cooking, gardening, skiing, hiking and travel.
In 2017 Morgan passed the Master of Wine examination, becoming one of just forty-five MWs residing in the United States and one of two California winemakers with the qualification.
Chris Cottrell was born in Staten Island, New York December 19th, 1985, thanks to his amazing mother Rita Fleming Castaldy.
His early foray into the finer side of consumables was through food, inspired by shows like Great Chefs, Great Cities, Molto Mario and Good Eats. Rita made it a point to take young Christopher out to restaurants from a very young age. “Experiences are worth more than things,” she would recite. But “things” had a way of appealing to Chris as well—his pre-teen birthday requests included an All-Clad stainless steel sauté pan and sushi kit. By 15 he had landed a stock boy job at the local beer store, already developing a fascination with craft brews.
When Chris moved to Manhattan for college, he quickly realized that New York offered many pleasures for a young man finally living on his own. However, money and lots of it was required, so a week after his 18th birthday, Chris scoured Craigslist in search of a legitimate job. There, he found a stock and delivery boy position at Pet Wines, a small neighborhood store on the Upper East Side run by Phil Kotek, a man who cared deeply about the wines he sold. (For example, Veuve’s ubiquity had no impact on Phil, whose Champagne shelves were instead stocked with an array of grower Champagnes).
It was at this small neighborhood shop that Morgan and Chris first crossed paths and quickly became partners in crime. Meanwhile, Phil and Morgan began Chris' education in the wines of the world and what made them special. Sadly, Pet Wines closed a year and a half later. Consumed with wine geekiness and a continued interest in earning some spending money, Chris sought out another store and found the newly opened Crush Wine Co.
Crush Wine Co. was a very different store—sleek and modern with a huge selection of fine wines. Chris was overwhelmed and humbled with the realization that he knew a lot less about wine than he thought (something that continues today), but he took up this challenge and flourished there working under Lyle Fass, Tom Stephenson, Joe Salamone, Stephen Bitterolf, Ian McFadden and the big boss, Bobby Schagrin. All had a huge influence on Chris’ wine and life education; in this incredibly generous environment, bottles—especially older ones—were opened religiously.
Chris worked at Crush from 2005 to early 2013, foregoing his original plans to attend law school, eventually becoming a full-time fine wine buyer and salesperson. Those eight years were a whirlwind of great wine, education, and travel.
Despite the demands of his fast paced job, Chris would join Morgan at his newly established Bedrock Wine Co. a couple times a year, often lending a hand at harvest and feeling what it felt like to wake up, rather than hit a pillow, at 5 AM. These trips were therapeutic and educational, reminding Chris that wine was not just a commodity but, a product expressing history, place and personalities.
In 2011 Morgan called Chris and said casually, "we should make a wine together." That conversation (and more bottles of good wine than one might care to admit) led to Under The Wire, a partnership project that focuses on single-vineyard, single-vintage sparkling wines inspired by the grower champagne movement.
As the 2011 Under the Wire developed in bottle and Bedrock Wine Co. continued to find success, Morgan suggested to Chris it was perhaps time to move across the country and join Bedrock. About a year later Chris, sacrificing a goat and pledging allegiance to Joel Peterson and the old vines in a ceremony reminiscent of the Sopranos scene where Christopher gets “made,” joined Morgan formally and became a partner in Bedrock Wine Co. as the first “outsider” to become part of the business.
The company, and friendship, has only grown since.