DISPATCHES. An Interview with California Winemaker Sean Thackrey

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By Charles Halton

I recently travelled with my wife, Lori Halton, to Bolinas, California to talk with winemaker Sean Thackrey. Thackrey’s winemaking style is often referred to as “unconventional” since he blends ancient practices with bold experimentation. This atypical approach produces incredible results. The most influential American wine critic, Robert Parker, commenting on Thackrey’s Pleiades label said, “One of California’s most iconic and mystical winemakers. Sean Thackrey has logged in 20 or more vintages of consistently stunning wines … .”

For all the critical praise he receives, Thackrey retains a healthy sense of humor and an iconoclastic spirit. The label on Pleiades bottles begins: “The object of Pleiades Old Vines is to be delicious, delight the jaded, irritate the Wine Police, and generally go well with anything red wine goes well with.”

In this interview Sean Thackrey talks about how his training in art history led to his career as a winemaker, his disdain for hierarchical structures involved in the marketing of wine, the purpose of education, the delights of books as objects and sources of intellectual engagement, and following one’s pleasures.


Sean Thackrey and Charles Halton at Thackrey's winery in Bolinas, California
Sean Thackrey and Charles Halton at Thackrey’s winery in Bolinas, California
Sean Thackrey monitoring the vats
Sean Thackrey monitoring the vats
Wine Barrels at Sean Thackrey's winery
Wine Barrels at Sean Thackrey’s winery
Sean Thackrey's truck
Sean Thackrey’s truck