“My ego is not in the wine,” says Longboard’s Oded Shakked in a recent interview held in his tasting room and winery in Healdsburg. “My passion is in the wine.”
Oded’s passion for wine came about through his passion for surfing. After surfing breaks along the Atlantic Coast in Bordeaux (“there’s big waves in Bordeaux!”), Spain and Portugal, he was the one sent into town to get their jug of wine.
It was a health matter, he explained: they couldn’t buy bottled water, and they didn’t have access to potable water, so they had to drink something right? As someone who grew up in Israel drinking wine with meals with his German and Czech relatives, Oded was deemed the one most expert and enthusiastic, so he would go into the neighboring small towns, find where the wine was for sale, taste some from various containers, and fill their jerry can with the wine of his choice. The group of surfers even worked a day of harvest in Pomerol.
Just like surfing, he was hit by the wine bug — and bad. When he returned to Israel, a relative told him that he could study wine and winemaking at UC Davis, so he applied, was accepted, and headed to the US.
Of the wine business, Oded says, “It’s the perfect combination of art, science, agriculture, and philosophy.”
He enjoys all aspects from driving a fork lift to designing the labels. Of the actual winemaking process, he says with a laugh, “I’m not a winemaker, I’m a vinegar stopper!”
“If I just looked at the economics, I wouldn’t do it,” Oded admits. He also says he’s happiest when he’s cleaning a tank. “What I hate most is going to the office or selling wine.” But I’d say, it’s clear he loves pouring his wine, sharing it, and telling stories about it. The wine is so good, and Oded so endearing, it sells itself.
He hadn’t planned to make merlot, Oded told me, but when the vineyard next to his house came up for sale, he couldn’t stand the thought of the vines getting bulldozed and turned into a development. So he scraped together the money, purchased the property, named it Dakine Vineyard (pronounced “Da-Kein”, a Hawaiian expression of multiple meanings, including “The Best”), and began making much maligned Merlot (thanks NOT Sideways).
Planted in 1985, the vineyard is about two acres of Merlot and just under an acre of Malbec. These “field blended” grapes all go into DaKine Vineyard Merlot. According to the website,, “Oded likes the concept and practice of field blends; not only does it begin the winemaking process by supplying grape lots with the “layered complexity” he loves so much but it also provides a link to the old farming practices of the Italian grape farmers that settled in this area more than a century ago.”
“What really powers me is the creative process,” Oded told me.
Read on for more about this Merlot, and know there’s two more wines and more stories from Oded to share so stay tuned and subscribe! Note: Merlot photos taken at the Bees Knees in Los Osos between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.
2017 Longboard Merlot, Dakine Vineyard, Russian River Valley
ABV 14.3%; SRP $39; sample for my review
Color: Ruby red to garnet, mauve rim, medium density.
Nose: Dirt, duff, forest floor, bramble fruit, oak woodland, rose petals, baking spices
Palate: Cherry, rose petals, raspberry, bright tart fruit, drying mouthfeel like cocoa powder. This is a very youthful wine without a hint of troublesome smoke taint from the fires from that vintage. You can enjoy this now, but you could also lay this down for a few more years.
Pairing: On a night where we were celebrating my husband’s birthday at the Bees Knees in Los Osos near Morro Bay, we paired this wine with food from the grill –a rack of lamb, corn on the cob, vegetables from our garden (eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes) and a Ceasar salad with Sue made dressing and lots of anchovies. A solid and enjoyable pairing, for sure, but on a subsequent night, I liked it even more with sausage, mushrooms, and wild rice stuffed into a portabella mushroom (sorry no pictures!)
Parting words from the Longboard website:
In winemaking, as in surfing, one learns to happily surrender to Nature. Control is an illusion, just remain humble and aware and react to what is given to you by the season.
– Oded Shakked, Owner & Winegrower
Visit Longboard’s Groovy Surf Lounge
Currently by appointment only: call (707) 433 3473
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Fitch Street
Healdsburg CA 95448
Open 11 am to 6 pm daily
NOTE: If it seems I’ve been posting more than usual, yes, I have! About twice as much as I usually do –my aim is 9x a month. October is Blogtober— a challenge to blog daily which I took up and wrote about here. I’ve completed 22 posts in 30 days, and I’m optimistic about completing a post about port tomorrow to make it 23 out of 31. That’s over 30k words since I average 1500 words per post! This is post 118 for 2020 and 989 for all time.
Plus I’ve posted 8 times on Art Predator including this one with a new poem and information about my December 3 zoom featured reading (and yes of course you’re invited!)
And if it seems I’ve been writing a lot about Merlot, well you’re correct again because October is also Merlot Month so in addition to this post about Longboard’s Merlot, in 2020 I’ve written about
- Sonoma’s Selby Merlot
- Columbia Valley’s L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot
- Napa’s Peju Merlot
- Napa’s Flora Springs special Halloween bottling of Merlot and their regular Merlot
Coming up on Merlot Day Nov. 7 is a super special vertical of Duckhorn Merlot: 2015, 2016, and 2017, and at some point I’ll get around to Duckhorn’s Decoy, their Merlot from Sonoma. See previous posts about Duckhorn here and here.
Here’s previous #MerlotMe and Merlot Day coverage:
- French and California merlot under $30
- three merlot under $30 from CA, WA, and Chile
- two merlot from Washington’s L’Ecole No. 41
- Markham’s for Merlot Day
- Washington #MerlotMe Paired with Ahi Tuna and Salmon for #WinePW
- #MerlotMe: Go Surf or Turf with WA’s Nine Hats
- #Halloween Pulled Pork and #MerlotMe for the WIN!
- Octpber. 29, 2018 #MerlotMe Napa: Duckhorn and La Jota w/ Flat Iron Steak, Blackberries
- Nov. 7, 2018 #MerlotMe on Merlot Day 2018