A Winemakers New Years Resolution
I had to think about my New Years Resolution this year. Well...at least I had to think about the wine related one. I like 95% of the world have the regular resolutions of wanting to start taking care of myself and train for a half marathon (especially since Tarara is associated with two this year - YIKES!) and eat healthier (but I love duck fat sooooo much). I like 95% of the population will likely fail at these great goals until my son out runs me for the first time and makes me feel old. Enough about that though. You want to know how I plan to do better things with wine, which in turn should be good for you.
This really was a hard task because if I am nothing else, I am a very passionate winemaker with no room for compromise. I only want to do the best, I do not want to cut corners, I love every second of my job and I know the type of wines i am trying to make. Well...that last one is one of my problems and the issue I would like to resolve this year. I am a very selfish winemaker and I know it. I need to look back at my first years in this industry and remember what I was drinking and what I was striving to do. My views have changed which is good in my opinion as everyone needs to grow. But, I believe one thing I have not been 100% with is really understanding others views because I can be so set on my own.
So this year my New Years Resolution is to get back to the tasting room more often and talk with you. While I will always remain focused, I do need to understand what each of our fans are saying they want and analyze if and how that all fits with Tarara as a whole and the style of wines I feel I can do the best job of. I miss being in the tasting room and hanging around people and talking wine. That is what got me intrigued with this industry in the first place and what go me to learn to craft the wines I love.
Part of my resolution of going after our wines with a more open mind is also going to fall on my day to day selection of my vinous pleasures at home. Now this is the part I am supposed to tell you the only wine I will drink is Tarara, but that would be a ludicrous lie. I can not grow and get better if I don't understand the rest of the wine world and what they are doing. That is how one falls behind the times and will end up with inferior wines. I can't ever let that happen and the day I find myself drinking only one wine because it is there is the day I need to change careers (that will never happen). Now, that said, I have been closed minded or should I say at least busy. Being a father has changed my priorities certainly, but I still drink wine. I just tend to not be as experimental. All too often I am drinking the same varieties or same regions and so on. I love Grenache from the Southern Rhone whether Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, or even simple good QPR Cotes du Rhone wines, but the problem is I know I love it and am very knowledgeable on it. What I don't know is what Cinsault tastes like in the obscure corners of the world. I don't have a good enough grasp on the intricacies of Tannat at 10 years old from several Madiran or Uruguayan producers. I don't completely understand the dramatic differences of Vermentino grown in Bellet opposed to Sardinia. These are all things I want and need to learn. It will help me here at home in Virginia!
How will my knowledge of Sardinia help me here in Virginia? Well let me explain.
While if you want to play the part of historian then Virginia is not new to wine grape growing and you can go back to when everyone had to plant 10 vines on their property and how Thomas Jefferson is the most notable connosieur in wine history. OK, cool, but the reality is our modern wine industry is very young. We really only started in the late 70's and quite frankly the dramatic growth has only been over the last 5-10 year both qualitatively and for quantity. What that means is that we don't know everything about our land, our climate or even our potential. We have all looked at the obvious choices for varieties in our vineyards like Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Merlot, etc. Some have worked and some of them really don't at all. We have started to find some varieties that work well that may not have been the obvious choices like Petit Manseng and Tannat. Well their homelands of Jurancon and Madiran respectively have some similarities to us with humidity, less temperature swing in the nights (warmer), and precipitation. What we haven't done is look around the world for more places that have similarities to us and there are such areas. We have a very Mediterranean like climate at many times Could we have some similarities to areas of Greece and thrive off Agioritikos, or Monica from Sardinia, or Nero d'Avola in Sicily. The answer is we don't necessarily know, so I resolve to enter each wine shop with an open mind and not pick up some Pinot Noir from the Russian River, but an obscure Cabernet/Cinsault/Syrah blend from Lebanon and study that wine. We need to always aim to be better and that starts with an open mind.
Now I have to go and get started by looking at our most recent wines that we made form Rkatsiteli this year and will start bottling in February and then go home and open a bottle of Croatian Cabernet that you awesome Vine Club Manager Kim's husband got for me. Time to have an open mind and understand more of our future. Salute.