Pulling grape samples with vineyard manager Daniel Ricciato

The Senses Wines founding team: (L–R) Christopher Strieter, Kelsey Perucchi, Lexi and Max Thieriot (with young Beaux), Myles Lawrence-Briggs

scratch, taking no outside investments. Thieriot would eventually focus on branding and marketing, Lawrence- Briggs on production, and Strieter on running the business, but that first year it was all hands on deck. “The three of us went out and pruned all the vines and did all of the farming ourselves,” says Thieriot. “We did everything from start to finish.” Just as Thieriot’s SEAL Team char- acter, Clay Spenser, a second-generation SEAL, had to demonstrate his worthiness to doubters, the Senses trio knew that they’d have to prove themselves to the local wine world. “I did feel like there was something to prove, and my competitive side was not going to let us do this half- assed,” Thieriot recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s make Russian River Valley Pinot Noir : $55 , bold yet smooth and goes well with poultry, venison, or veal Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir : $72 , fruity, velvety, and tasty with steak on the grill Sonoma Coast Chardonnay : $45 , pairs perfectly with a Thanksgiving feast or simple vegetarian meal Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon : $250 , rich and velvety, excellent for an extra-special celebration

“You don’t just taste wine—you smell it; you see what it looks like.”


the best wines we possibly can.’ I wanted to show everybody that we could do this.” After a small but critically acclaimed first few years, Senses added hotshot winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown to the mix, and the plucky brand went from strength to strength. In 2015 it was added to the wine list at the acclaimed French Laundry in Yountville, California. “That was a really exciting moment for us, when people started taking us seriously in this competitive industry,” says Thier- iot. “And since we didn’t try to scale pro- duction greatly in the beginning, we’ve been able to maintain a really strong brand value and demand for the wines just through building up slowly.” Today, Senses produces more than 3,000 cases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon a year, about 70% to 80% of which goes directly to customers on its coveted mailing list. The rest is available at fine restaurants on the California coast and beyond—and in select shops; prices range from about $45 to $250 a bottle. Senses made its onscreen debut in

Thieriot’s previous series, Bates Motel , and found its way into SEAL Team last season, when Clay shared a bottle of Senses Pinot Noir with girlfriend Rebecca (Adelaide Kane). “Clay’s favorite Senses wine would definitely be Pinot, because I don’t think he could afford our Cab- ernet,” Thieriot laughs. “I can barely afford our Cabernet.” His co-stars David Boreanaz and Neil Brown Jr. are wine fans, and on the Senses mailing list— something Thieriot didn’t know til Brown gave him some good-natured grief about it. “One day he was like, ‘I’ve been waiting two years, and I finally got some wine,’” Thieriot says. “I’m like, ‘Are you serious? And you never brought this up?’” Coming full circle, Thieriot is able to share the same father-son connection to the land with his sons, 5-year-old Beaux and 3-year-old Maximus, that he and his dad had when he was young. “They love to cruise around with me in the tractor when I check on the grapes,” he says. “And they love to go out in the vineyard and eat handfuls of grapes off the vine.”

MAY/J UNE • 202 1

Powered by