There are plenty of celebs and well-known people getting involved with wine these days, from Drew Barrymore to Drew Bledsoe and even Kate Hudson. For this month’s ‘12 Questions With,‘ I’m introducing you to the winemaker behind a very famous singer’s family wine label, Ferguson Crest! I got to meet ‘Fergie Ferg’ when I was at the LA Food & Wine festival this summer while she was there representing her wines, but I only got a small taste of the Viognier. The Ferguson Crest Fergalicious red blend is definitely on my list of wines to taste, but in the meantime, I’m excited to introduce you to the label’s winemaker, Joey Tensley.
Joey has been the winemaker for Ferguson Crest since it was established in 2006 by Pat Ferguson and his daughter, Stacy (aka Fergie). The winery’s 6 acres of vineyards is located in Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley, where they use organic farming techniques to produce Viognier, Syrah and Cabernet, in addition to the Cab/Syrah/Merlot blend, Fergalicious. Before Ferguson Crest, Joey spent time at other Santa Barbara County wineries like Fess Parker, Babcock, and Beckmen Vineyards. He even started his own label in 2001, Tensley Wines, producing highly sought after Rhône varietals that often get high scores on wine rating lists. Joey’s dedication and passion to letting the vineyard speak for itself has earned him a Food and Wine Magazine award for producing the “Top Syrah in America Over $20.” Not a bad thing to have on your resume, that’s for sure!
That’s Joey on the left with Fergie and her grape grower father, Pat, on the right. Read on to hear what Joey thinks of oysters and champagne and which Washington wine region he’d love to visit!
12 Questions with Joey Tensley:
What’s your current job title?
How did you get started in the industry?
I worked in a wine shop and deli when I was 16, and was intrigued by wine even at that young age. As soon as I turned 21, I started at Fess Parker in the cellar and it really continued from there.
What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting experience?
1989 Zaca Mesa Syrah
Do you have a go-to wine and food pairing?
Champagne and oysters; my favorite oysters are Kumamoto or anything from Vancouver and Puget Sound.
What’s the strangest word/s you’ve used to describe the smell or taste of wine?
Which wine varietal do you think is underrated?
Is there one person in the industry you really admire and/or has been a role model for you?
There are two people, actually; Bryan Babcock [Owner and winemaker of Babock Winery & Vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills; named one of the Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World by the James Beard Foundation] who was my mentor when I was younger
Bob Lindquist [founder of Qupe Winery} was one of the first in the area to produce Syrah and has spent the last 25 to 30 years producing the best.
When you’re all wine-d out, what is your drink of choice?
Favorite place in the world you’ve visited?
South of France: for its beauty, wine and culture
What is your favorite grape to work with?
Is there a certain state or wine region in the U.S. that you haven’t tried the wines from, but would like to?
How would you describe your winemaking style in 2-3 words?
Thanks to Joey for participating in this month’s 12 Questions. I can’t wait to try his Ferguson Crest and Tensley wines! For more Q&A with other winemakers, check out my 12 Questions With Trey Busch and Nat Gunter.
Personal photo provided by Joey Tensley.