After 9/11, when Carr, like so many, lost loved ones, he decided he wanted to work for himself and give up the corporate life of constant travel. “My wife, Dee, and I opened up a bottle of wine, and we stayed up until 3 in the morning talking about it. The next day I quit my job,” Carr says. Carr’s first venture into building his own company was his Joseph Carr label, a sophisticated wine born in Napa Valley. Josh Cellars was next, a passion project dedicated to his late father and born out of Carr’s ever-evolving sense of creativity. “It was supposed to be an ‘art project,’” says Carr. “I only expected it to last a couple of years. I used to sell the wine out of the back of my truck, and the first year we made a thousand cases. Last year we made three million.”
The Josh brand is known for its approachable flavor and price point. The distinctive label is written in the handwriting of Carr’s mother, who also gave him the inspiration for the name. “My father was a post-Depression child. He lived in Vermont and worked on the Rutland railroad for years, sending his paychecks home to his mother,” Carr details. “He gave me core values of trust, responsibility and working hard.” When it came time to create this project, Carr struggled to find a name for his new wines until his mother suggested he name it after his father. “Why not ‘Josh,’” she said. “And I said, ‘Well, Mom, who’s Josh? What are you trying to tell me?’” jokes Carr, who only ever knew his father as Joseph. “My father had a life before kids, and he hung out with this hell-raising group of guys who called him Josh. I loved the idea, but I said to my Mom, ‘I never heard my father called Josh,’ and she said with a laugh, ‘That’s right. Because anyone who called him that was not allowed in our house.’” The story of his father’s nickname is a fitting contrast to the elegant calligraphy of Carr’s mother, and equally fitting is the dynamic interplay between sophistication and approachability that makes Josh wines so unique.
“Josh is a family company,” says Carr. “Board meetings were always held at our dining room table and consisted of myself, my wife, my daughter Cailen and our rescue dog Max at the time. One day, my wife asked me when I was going to make her chardonnay, and I said, ‘I’m a red wine maker.’ And she said, ‘Really? Well I’m the president of the company.’ So I made chardonnay for my wife.”
When he’s not holding crucial meetings at the dinner table, Carr enjoys sitting in his kitchen searching for inspiration with a yellow notepad or wooden spoon in hand, cooking at his La Cornue range oven. Perhaps one of his truest passion projects is his Dennis home that he built on the very same property he showed his wife years before. “I grew up in a small town, so Dennis feels like home to me,” says Carr. “I shop at Dennis Public Market, frequent the local restaurants, go to the theater, watch kids play baseball on the beach—it’s a very compelling place filled with artists and talented locals.” As much as Carr enjoys the culture of California (his first visit came when he hitchhiked all the way to Napa as a young man and met people from Spain, France, Italy and other parts of the world who had brought with them their culture and, of course, their wines), he considers the Cape his home and a place that means family to him.
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