Our Winemaker at Home: JP Caldcleugh

Our Winemaker at home

For the uninitiated, JP Caldcleugh is the Director of Winemaking here at Union. What that means, basically, is that although it is a huge team effort preparing, perfecting and producing our wines, if you have recently enjoyed a can or bottle of Union, you at least in some way have JP to thank for it.

JP is the best sort of amalgam, making him a perfect fit for the Union family: a totally laid back dude (he was born and raised in New Orleans so that kind of comes with the territory) while imbued with just enough wine-geekiness to make sure he takes his job and responsibilities extremely seriously so as to create the product that we have all come to love over the past few years.

Having honed his skills working with winemakers in California, Australia and New Zealand, we were lucky enough to join JP at the top of his game. Aside from the impressive bio, we wanted to share the real JP—the man behind the man, if you will, and of course that story wouldn’t be complete without including the woman behind the man as well: his wife and traveling companion, Mandy. The two originally met at LSU (Mandy being a native of the Lafayette area) and have been together ever since. Mandy is not personally involved in the winemaking process, but she does spend several days a week out at the Amity Vineyards, cultivating an amazingly verdant and diverse garden of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, which she shares with all the Union employees.

Amity Vineyards

Amity Vineyards

For our interview, we asked JP to make a traditional dish, so he chose a chicken and andouille gumbo. We will get to that all in good time, but first, we wanted to learn a little more about JP’s interests when he isn’t busy at the winery. JP, like most people, is working a little less these days (though not very much less) so he has had a little more time to devote to his personal interests.

Our Winemaker at Home

So JP, what are you listening to these days?

JP: We’ve always got something going on the turntable when we are at home. These days we have been listening to The Comet is Coming, Quantic, J.J. Cale, and of course Miles Davis. Always Miles Davis.

How about Podcasts. Any standouts?

JP: Well, this one is an old tried and true podcast, but for us, you can never go wrong with Josh and Chuck from Stuff You Should Know. One of the most recent episodes, all about hummingbirds, was pretty great. (You can check that out right here.)

Our Winemaker at Home

I couldn’t help notice the guitar in the corner, a classical strung with steel strings…very bold. Learning any new songs presently?

JP: Actually, I have been working on Queen Bee by Taj Mahal.

Our winemaker at home

How ’bout literature? Reading any good books?

JP: I am currently reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and also very slowly making my way through The Tailor of Panama by John Le Carré.

Sounds like you have many irons in many fires. Gotta say that’s not surprising at all. But now I think it’s time we got to that Gumbo. Wanna give us a general ingredient list and then a simple How To?

Our winemaker at home

JP: Absolutely. There are lots of substitutions that can take place in a dish like this but here is how I prefer it:

JP’s Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
1 lb smoked andouille or other cajun sausage
3 stalks celery, diced
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
7 C chicken broth
1 1/2 C white rice
1 C butter or other high heat fat (such as avocado oil)
1 C all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Garlic Powder
3 stalks green onion, diced, for garnish

*Cook rice and set aside
*Heavily sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Sear on both sides and continue to turn in the pan on medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Set aside until ready to shred.

Our winemaker at home

*Remove the chicken and heat the remaining butter in the same cast iron until just bubbling. Add the flour, lower the heat, and stir continuously, whisking until the roux becomes a deep chocolatey brown.

Our winemaker at home

Our winemaker at home

*Add the diced vegetables and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Our winemaker at home

*Meanwhile, bring your stock to a boil. Slowly add the roux/vegetable mix and simmer for 45 minutes.

Our winemaker at home

*De-bone and shred the chicken. Add chicken meat and sausage to the gumbo. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Put a heaping pile of rice in a shallow bowl, ladle gumbo over the rice and garnish with the green onions.
*Enjoy with a Riesling or White Burgundy.

Our winemaker at home

Speaking of wine pairings, I feel we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about what you like to drink on your evenings off.

JP: I obviously drink and enjoy all sorts of different wines, but the bottle we are having tonight is one of my favorite styles. I absolutely love the chardonnay grapes grown in Burgundy. For my money, it’s the best Chardonnay in the world. How do I put this…there is just a tension of flavor that you don’t get anywhere else. Today we are drinking this specific Puligny-Montrachet. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

Our winemaker at home

Well, speaking for JP, Mandy, and the whole Union Family, we hope you are staying safe out there, practicing your social distancing, and washing those hands!

Our winemaker at home

’Til next time, stay safe, Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipe by JP Caldcleugh (@jcaldc1)

Reinventing Rosé: Pink and Polka Dot Rosé Ice Pops

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Here at Union, we obviously love to drink our wine, but we are also always looking for new and interesting ways to enjoy them. Today we bring you a delicious and incredibly simple recipe for fruity, blueberry polka dotted Frozé Ice Pops. With just a little patience and a few simple ingredients, you will be the hit of the party this summer.

There are lots of great silicone ice pop molds on the market but for this recipe we used the Stephenie brand mold. They make 10 pops measuring about 2.5 oz per pop. (You may need to adjust the amounts in the recipe if using a different mold.) Also, you have to buy the popsicle sticks separately.

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Rosé Ice Pops

Here’s what you will need to get started.

Pink and Polka Dot Popsicles

12 oz Underwood Rosé
6 oz pink grapefruit juice
4 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz cranberry juice cocktail
2 oz simple syrup
1 container fresh blueberries


Combine all of the ingredients except the blueberries in a large mason jar. Stir well and put this in the refrigerator until very cold.



To ensure even placement of blueberries, you will need to build the ice pops in three stages. The reason for this is that blueberries float and if you were to put the blueberries and liquid into the molds all at once, by the time the pops froze, all the blueberries would be bunched up at the bottom of the popsicle.

Place 2 or 3 blueberries in the bottom of each mold and pour just enough of the cold liquid to cover them. Place the mold in the freezer until liquid is completely frozen—not just slushy. Also, do not add the sticks at this stage.



Add 3 or 4 blueberries to each mold and again add enough liquid to cover. At this point place the top on the mold and insert sticks into each one. Return to the freezer and leave until completely frozen



Very very very carefully remove the top of the mold, making sure to hold each stick in place as you do. (Since the molds are not completely full, the sticks will want to move around.) Now, add 2 or 3 more blueberries to each mold and cover with liquid—leaving about a 1/4 inch of space at the top of each one. Put back in the freezer and leave until fully set. No need to replace the top at this point, as the sticks should be frozen in place already. When ready too remove the pops, run a little warm water over the bottom of the molds to loosen each pop.

If done with love and care, you should have ten pops that look roughly like this:

Underwood Rosé Ice Pops

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Once out of the freezer, make sure to pass around the pops quickly. Since there is wine in them, they will freeze solid, but will start to melt more quickly than if they were made of only juice. If there are going to be kids around, you can always follow this same recipe, omitting the Rosé, so that they can enjoy the popsicles as well as the grown-ups.

Feel free to try different variations of the fruits. You can use raspberries, slices of strawberry, a combination of all of them, or even leave the fruit out completely. If you choose the latter route, you will not have to do the popsicles in three stages, but can fill each one and place the stick in all at once.

These popsicles don’t only look fun, they are a delicious sweet surprise to the end of any summer inspired get-together.

Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkies down!

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

Photography, Text, and Recipes by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

Strawberries and Cream: A Cooler Cocktail

Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
In honor of strawberry season, we decided to make a simple but delicious cocktail using our Underwood Strawberry Cooler. We got to thinking, what goes better with fresh strawberries than some freshly whipped cream? (Just ask anyone who’s had the pleasure of going to Wimbledon where strawberries and cream is the official snack.)

So, we used this flavor combination as inspiration for the cocktail. We present:

Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
Strawberries & Cream
(This will make 2 cocktails)
6 oz Underwood Strawberry Cooler
2 oz heavy cream
3 oz Orange Liquor (we used Combier for this one)
2-3 shakes Orange Bitters
4 C ice

Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
First a note on Combier.
There are many orange liquors on the market to choose from. Often times we will use Cointreau or even Grand Marnier. But for this one, we wanted to introduce those unfamiliar with the French liqueur Combier.

We like Combier for several reasons. First of all, they are employee-owned, which is super cool and worth supporting. Also, Combier actually removes the pith from the orange peels so in the process you get less viscosity and a higher concentration of orange oil. (Just a little random fact for your next cocktail party.)

But let’s not forget the star of the show.

Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
To make the cocktail, just put all ingredients into a large shaker, shake vigorously, and then divide between two glasses.
Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to share this with loved ones, or, now that the weather has turned, in a small outdoor get-together, keeping appropriate social distances of course.

Once again, from the whole Union Family, stay safe out there, keep washing those hands and CHEERS!

(And always keep those #pinkies down!)

Strawberry Cooler Cocktail
Photography, Recipe & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

Get Involved


We have been spending some time reflecting as a team, thinking about the issues facing our country and community, and we have put together the beginnings of a list of resources that we have found helpful. Our hope is to support efforts to bring awareness around the Black and LGBTQ communities throughout the year, every year. We will continue to work and to listen and to educate ourselves.  We want to see a change and are open to conversations, collaborations and suggestions on any ways we can do more.

Please join in on our discussion. Leave comments about how you are feeling, what you have learned, any resources you have found helpful in the Comments Section below.

Thank you.



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Sparkling Pink Pimm’s Cup

Underwood Pimms Cup

One of my favorite simple spring cocktails is the Pimm’s Cup. I think I had my first one in New Orleans, but since then I have ordered them at cocktail bars all around the country. Unlike many classic cocktails, there isn’t a tried and true unwavering recipe for the drink. I have had them made as simply as combining Pimm’s with ginger ale or lemonade, but probably the best Pimm’s Cup I can remember was at Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, Texas. It was so good, I actually asked if they would share the recipe. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but they were so gracious that they immediately printed out a full copy of their recipe which included gin, club soda and muddled cucumber.

So, when I was recently tasked with creating a new cocktail using the Underwood Rosé Bubbles, I wanted to create my own interesting take on the classic cocktail. I decided to steal a little bit from the Anvil recipe but expand it in other ways. Pimm’s is a great addition to any at-home liquor cabinet, and you can have a lot of fun with this version or with inventing your own variations. The Rosé Bubbles adds the much-needed bubbles in place of the club soda or ginger ale.

Underwood Rose Bubbles

This recipe makes 2 drinks…’cause who wants to drink alone?

Sparkling Pink Pimm’s Cup

6 oz Underwood Rosé Bubbles
2 oz gin (we’ve been loving the locally made Rose City Gin)
1.5 oz Pimms’s No.1
2 oz Grenadine syrup
1.5 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 inch chunk of cucumber roughly chopped
10-12 fresh mint leaves
2 straws, (preferably not made of plastic!)



Put the cucumber and mint in a medium to a large shaker and muddle well.


Add the gin, Pimm’s, Grenadine syrup, and lemon juice to the shaker and gently muddle. Add 1-2 cups of ice and shake well.


Fill two tall glasses with ice and paper straws. Put 2 oz. Rosé Bubbles in each glass.

Underwood Rose Bubbles


Using a cocktail strainer (or small fine mesh colander) divide the liquid in the shaker between the two glasses.


Top off each drink with another ounce or so of the Rosé Bubbles. (This is where the straw comes in very handy. It, more or less, allows the drink to mix as it’s consumed.) You can garnish with extra mint or cucumber if that’s your jam, but I’ve never been one for unnecessary garnishes. I do strongly recommend serving the drinks with a side of cucumber slices with lemon and kosher salt for an extra little treat.

We hope this will brighten up your spring afternoons and impress your friends.

Cheers and keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography, Text and Recipe by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)