Man Vs. Vine

So, I just finished a three part series on the 2012 vintage covering temperature water and pests.

Another dichotomy in the wine business is, typically,  when you have a lot of something it Lucas Farmer of Euclid Wine in Napa Valleyisn’t that good, but that is not the case with this vintage. We had such a balanced vintage that we got good juice… and a lot of it.  So, we can expect some wineries to sell juice off in bulk if they’re over capacity.

To me, however, it is what happens after the vineyard is that is the most important part of the winemaking process.

There are many purists that wax poetic about the expression of terroir and insist a winemaker be minimally involved… but, who are we kidding?  Even the most staunch biodynamic vineyard owner manipulates the vines with pruning and canopy management and soil additions. I don’t believe there is a commercial vineyard in the world that just “lets the ground express itself.”

I mean, really, the only thing that is truly natural is a weed.

What winemakers face are a multitude of choices in the vineyard, only to have the real fun begin when the juice is fermented and ready for barrel.

The barrel aging and blending part is the true art of winemaking in my opinion.  Barrels are a winemaker’s spice rack.  Some are toasty and sweet, others are bitter and fresh and herbaceous.  The combinations are endless.

Mike Farmer in Euclid Winery Performing Barrel Tasting

I’m known for big spreadsheets.  My Dad taught me, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”  Like a chef playing with recipes, I find true joy in experimenting with different juice lots in different barrels and then different toast levels in either new, once or twice-used barrels.

A question I get all the time is “what are you aiming for?” I believe there are many strategies to answer this. Your winery may have a “house style” that your customers have come to expect. Or, you may be looking to please a certain type of customer, price-point, food pairing or award critic.

I, personally, look for deliciousness.

I try to make wine that I believe tastes good. The final blend can be complex sets of formulas in excel, but hopefully it is just as complex and excels in the mouth!