Philipp Pfunder, a Paso Robles, California-based winemaker, was born in Germany and moved to Miami at age 10. While learning his craft, he studied in New Zealand and worked harvests each year in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. When he wants to relax, he comes to Naples.
“My mother moved here 30 years ago, and my sister also lives in town,” says Pfunder. “I’ve always felt at home in Naples—for many years, it was really the only home
After stints at Bordeaux’s Château Angélus and Napa’s Screaming Eagle and HdV, Pfunder visited Paso Robles on vacation. It was love at first sight. “I had no idea that California was so well-suited to Rhône varieties,” he says.
Pfunder is currently the winemaker at Law Estate Wines, a boutique property that turns out between 7,000 and 9,000 cases annually of Rhône-style blends from nine different grape varieties. His 2018 releases are both sumptuous and arresting. First Tracks (42 percent Petit Verdot, 36 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 22 percent Syrah) is poised and ripe, with a core of mineral-inflected black fruits framed by pepper accents and stiff tannins. Beguiling and Aspire are mirror images of each other. Beguiling (85 percent Grenache, 15 percent Syrah) is fresh and balanced, with remarkable purity of fruit. Aspire (84 percent Syrah, 16 percent Grenache) is full-bodied and concentrated with aromas of charcuterie and flavors of peppery black fruits.