Winemakers spend a lot of time on the road plugging their wine. They meet with retailers and distributors and do consumer tastings and dinners. They also -- cue Twilight Zone music -- meet with wine writers.
Most wine writers ask the same sort of questions: How much oak did this wine get? When did you pick the grapes? How would you describe your style? This is neither good nor bad; it's part of the business, in the same way one asks musicians musician-specific questions and ballplayers ballplayer-specific questions.
The Wine Curmudgeon, on the other hand, finds those sorts of questions a little dull. Yes, they need to be asked, but they're rarely the focus of my interviews. Frankly, I get bored asking about oak, and I'm sure most winemakers get bored answering. In this, winemakers are often much more interesting than many wine writers allow them to be. More, after the jump:
So my interviews are not just about the wine, but about the winemaker. This is not only a better interviewing technique (thank you, Medill School of Journalism), but more enjoyable all around. Mike Martini has probably been asked a trillion questions about his famous family. But how many people have asked him about his red sauce recipe, or playing with the children of California's other famous Italian winemaking families?
Sometimes, this is confusing. Former Quivira winemaker Steven Canter, who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music, seemed a little surprised when our conversation veered toward Robert Johnson and the Delta Blues. Other times, it's almost a welcome relief from the wine touring grind. The Guigal family, which has been making wine in France's Rhone for more than 60 years, was in Dallas during the run-up to the 2007 French presidential election. And we had a delightful discussion about French and European politics.
And sometimes, the winemakers are just interesting people. Biltmore's Sharon Fenchak came to wine from the military, and was stationed at Texas' Fort Hood. As we tasted her wine, which was impressive, she told me about her male colleagues staging scorpion fights during maneuvers.
That beats talking about oak any day.naneki of the United States, via stock.xchng, using a Creative Commons license