Plunging into the brave world of wine isn't for the faint of heart. As with any new business, there are challenges. But for Montclair resident Susan Weeden there are even greater rewards. Recently she and her friend Jim Carney, both wine lovers, began making their own premium Oregon Pinot Noir, which just went on the market this month. (An editor's note: I've tasted it and it's spectacular!)
Here are five questions for our local wine maker:
1) How did you get interested in wine?
I lived in London for 14 years, so through my travels around Europe, I was exposed to a lot of great wine, both simple everyday table wines and more serious bottles. Experiencing the wine of various regions became part of the pleasure of travelling. Only a fraction of the best wine gets exported, and it’s great to experience what the locals drink. I’d also never spent much time in wine country before travelling through the South of France and Tuscany. I just got caught up in the romance and beauty of it all. I never thought I’d actually make my own wine, but that’s where my Bomb partner Jim Carney came in. Jim and I have been friends for 20+ years. He fell in love with Oregon Pinot Noir during his days at the University of Oregon, and he’s the one who introduced me to it, before it became as well known as it is now. Jim is the kind of guy who thinks of a business idea and jumps in with both feet. I’m practical and detail oriented. We work well together, so when Jim suggested we go for it and make our own super-premium Oregon Pinot Noir, I didn’t hesitate.
2) What's the hardest part of getting a new wine business off the ground?
Probably navigating the complex federal and state regulations that surround every aspect of making and selling wine. It’s a leftover from Prohibition. Every state has different laws. For us it was frustrating that New Jersey doesn’t allow consumers to receive shipments from out-of-state wineries. For an Oregon Winery being run from New Jersey and New York City, this was hard to swallow. It is possible for our New Jersey friends to have Bomb shipped to them from New Jersey retailers (ask your local shop to order some) or have it delivered to a New York address.
Another big obstacle was federal label approval. When the feds asked us to change or remove words in the label painting, we stood firm and insisted that the painting had to be taken as a whole. They finally backed down, and what you see on the bottle is the original version of the label as the artist Borbay painted it.
3) How did you come up with the name Bomb?
We wanted a name that was unexpected, memorable, and packed a punch. We played around with other names, but just kept coming back to Bomb. It definitely bucks tradition, especially for a premium wine, and that’s what we like about it.
4) What are your favorite wines?
I know it sounds self-serving, but I honestly am in love with Bomb 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir. Jim and I are just thrilled with its complexity, depth, and balance. I am mostly a red drinker, and some of my favorite everyday reds are Borsao Crianza Seleccion 2007 (varietals: Grenache/Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon), Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil Juan Gil 2008 or 2009 (varietal: Mourvedre), Steele Wines 2008 Writer's Block Cabernet Franc, and a nice Barbera called Elio Perrone Tasmorcan Barbera D'asti.
In the summer, I love a good French rose. One of my favorites is Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 Rose. For more serious wines, all the Washington State Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignons are amazing, and I have great memories of a special bottle of Tignanello (Sangiovese) that Jim, my husband Craig and I once shared. For New Year’s Eve, I love to splash out on a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose champagne.
5) Tell us what makes your wine different/better and where will we be able to find it?
We are working with one of the most highly-acclaimed winemakers in the Pacific Northwest, Tony Rynders. His specialty is ultra-premium wines, and his techniques have consistently yielded 90+ rated wine. While Bomb is 100% Pinot Noir, Tony’s technique involves blending grapes from a select handful of Willamette Valley vineyard sites to achieve perfect proportions and balance. Bomb’s motto is “Art on the bottle, art in the bottle.” Bomb’s vision is to make extraordinary, artisan wines, labeled with original art that pushes the boundaries of the expected.
We are just rolling out Bomb 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir, and with only 500 cases made, we expect it to go fast. In Montclair, you can find Bomb at Anglebeck’s Wine Store, 621 Valley Road, or enjoy some at Upstairs, 608 Valley Road. You can also order Bomb online at our website. We ship to 34 states from our Oregon Winery, but for New Jersey shipping, go to Angelbeck's site. If stocks are running low on their website, they can order more for you while supplies last!