Joel Burnstein became a vintner after a classic mid-life career change. He was a trader on the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco. Living just north of San Francisco, Joel frequently escaped his hectic work life by taking his bike up to Napa or Sonoma for a days' ride, stopping for lunch and to taste and learn about wine. He was tiring of the demands and pressures of the ever-changing financial markets. As he thought about new careers, his passion for wine kept bringing him back to the inevitable - a calling where individuality and personal expression were still considered assets. Studies in Enology at Fresno State University led to an internship at Sterling Vineyards and then eventually on to his role as winemaker for Jekel and San Saba. Joel expresses his philosophy succinctly: "Making great wine is a two step process: 1. Get great grapes. 2. Don't screw it up." This strategy of "take what the grapes and vineyard give you - don't manipulate into something that's not there already" has earned Joel accolades from his peers, the press, and consumers. Twice in nine years, a wine made by Joel Burnstein has taken "Best Red" honors, out of thousands of entries at the prestigious L.A. County Fair professional "Wines of the World" judging.
Marilyn Remark was raised on a farm, one of six children, in Minnesota's Red River Valley. She graduated from college with a degree in Social Work, eventually moving to Monterey County in 1985. Ms. Remark continued her education; she now holds Master's Degrees in Social Work and Human Resources Management. Her full-time job, when not making wine, is a rewarding career as a Social Work Supervisor overseeing government programs that provides resources to aid the elderly in remaining in their own homes. Marilyn met her future life partner, winemaker Joel Burnstein, when she saw him in a charity "bachelor auction" brochure. Too shy to bid openly (Joel says "too cheap"), she asked her sister, who was volunteering at the event, to set up a date. Together now for 11 years, Marilyn and Joel have traveled widely and have settled in Monterey's beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands appellation with their two Golden Retrievers, Hogan and Snead (their names reflecting Joel's other passion). They are currently renovating an old house and property to become the future home of Burnstein-Remark Winery and the Marilyn Remark line of wines.
"...in May of 2001, we finally visited France's Rhone Valley. It was a magical time. The wines we sampled there were amazing, like nothing we'd ever tasted. Oh, we had tried these classic varietals before but never with such vibrancy, such depth of character. These vintages were from small vintners who sell every bottle locally to friends and family. We knew then the type of wines we had to try to make."
Accomplishing Joel and Marilyn's dream meant emulating their Rhone counterparts - finding the best possible grapes, using traditional techniques, and fermenting and aging in small lots that allow the character of the fruit and the place to shine through. The extremely limited releases of Marilyn Remark – Marsanne, Roussanne, Rose de Saignee, Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Syrah – comprise less 2,000 cases all-told. They're a perfect marriage of Rhone-style heritage and world-class Monterey fruit.