I was reading a blog article recently where the author had interviewed a number of seasoned winemakers about what they predicted was coming next in the Australian wine production business. As I read the article, a common theme was emerging. A theme that had me worried was that either after seven vintages as a wine producer company founder either I have the wrong Vision or that our industry has completely lost its roots!
The proposed philosophy in the blog was that as winemakers, it was time to go back into the vineyard and look at what needed to be done there rather than further process development in the winery. Which suggested to me, that wine companies are no longer carefully looking at or nurturing their main asset – namely the vineyard itself.
It has occurred to me over time that the profession of winemaker has become the most valuable job in a wine producing property. And I am not just talking Australia – worldwide. And that no matter how good bad or indifferent the harvest, the brilliance of the winemaker will overcome everything and a 95+ point wine will happily follow. And commercial success will be linked to the skill of that individual irrespective of almost everything else.
However, the tonality of the article suggested that the winemaker has progressively become responsible for only those processes, which take place in the winery once the fruit has been delivered – presumably with some kind of ‘gate’ specification separating it from the vineyard operations.
This approach seems to me to totally misunderstand how nature works and the overall process of making wine is put together. If you produce average fruit the best that even a brilliant winemaker can achieve is average wine, no matter how excellent that professional is. And don’t get me wrong good winemaking is absolutely required if you want to make good wine.
The key base to making better wine is to produce better fruit. To produce better fruit, you need a great vigneron who can actively develop the health of the soil as well as the vines growing on that land. At Paradise Rescued we have a three pillar business strategy captured on our (picture)Vision:-
1. Good Fruit
2. Expert Vinification
3. Niche brand market access
Three very specific steps.
During my upcoming visit to Paradise Rescued in Cardan, Bordeaux, the top priority with our amazing vigneronne Pascale is to review the progress in the vineyard. Of course, we will taste the delightful 2016 wine maturing in its oak barrels. But at the same time, the conversation will be re-focussed back around to what the next steps will be in the vineyard to take our wine up to a higher level yet.
That’s why my first book was entitled “From Cabbage Patch to Cabernet Franc.” We bought and then progressively converted a rundown unloved over sprayed “dead” vineyard into a small piece of paradise by progressively improving the quality / health of the soil and its vines. The very discernable improvement in taste over the first seven vintages is testimony to the results of having succeeded in the vineyard.
Good wine is made in the vineyard! That’s where it starts…