Winemaking suits Valeta Massey well. It’s a discipline that requires equal parts logic and passion – two traits she has in spades. To satisfy the analytical side of her mind Valeta studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Early in her college years she took a job at Cypress Semiconductor, eventually becoming a senior SRAM design engineer.
Her passion for wine was kindled in the 1990s during a tour of Burgundy with husband TJ. They tasted at some of the region’s top wineries including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (with Aubert de Villaine), Domaine de l’Arlot, Domaine Méo-Camuzetand Domaine Dujac. The experience had a profound effect on her life and influenced many of Clos de la Tech’s future viticultural and enological practices including site selection, high-density planting, farming for low yields, intensive fruit sorting, foot crushing, native yeast fermentations and whole-cluster fermentations.
After returning from Burgundy, TJ and Valeta were convinced by Bob Mullen of Woodside Vineyards that planting a vineyard on their property would be more rewarding than landscaping. Says Valeta, “The first harvest came along in 1996 and we decided to play vintner, making one barrel of wine. It was all over after that…we were hooked.”
When describing what they are trying to achieve with Clos de la Tech’s wines, Valeta mentions age-worthiness, concentration, preservation of site and memorability. “Our priority is to do most of our winemaking in the vineyard. We have three cold-climate, coastally-influenced sites. Two are steep, mountain properties that require special farming techniques to accommodate the treacherous hillsides and extreme weather conditions.When you get things right viticulturally, you can produce compelling Pinot Noirs that stand the test of time.”
Valeta lives in Woodside with TJ and their Parson Russell Terrier, Dollar.