Spoofulated or Artisanal?
“Whatever people in general do not understand, they are always prepared to dislike; the incomprehensible is always the obnoxious.”
~Letitia E. Landon, author (1802-1838)
November 28, 2007
I make Eurocentric, balanced, distinctive, somewhat offbeat wines, which share the purpose of presenting alternative styles for California and thus don’t resemble the mainstream. They are not impact wines. They are harmonious, skillfully crafted wines of balance and harmony, each a unique expression of terroir. They age well.
Writers love to coax winemakers to be open. Then sometimes they nail them. When I started posting the particulars of techniques used for specific wines, it proved helpful in convincing Vinovation’s winery clients to explore style options outside the lockstep mainstream, but among the media, it has mostly made me a target. No points for honesty from this bunch. Since I consider inauthenticity the heart of the problem, it’s ironic to watch critics go for the throat when a winemaker tells the truth.
Likewise there are retailers who have joined the bandwagon, dropping wines they really like when they discover they are made by someone willing to be honest about their production methods. More dupes than villains.
I don’t know if that certain writer for the Wine Spectator who started it all in 2001 (and continues to rail against technology) has ever tasted my wines, though I sent him a flight. He won’t return my calls.
It’s a timeless irony. The problems we complain of today are actually children of the solutions we found to yesterday’s problems. Our malaise du jour? Much of this good clean wine is pretty doggone boring.
The Good, The Bad and the FunkyNo doubt about it. Ninety percent of the wine we drink is supplied by ten percent of wineries, mostly big corporate outfits - commodity McWine in a dozen conventional styles - who deliver their product with scientific precision and industrial efficiency. For the most part, marketing departments at large wineries and the winemakers who work for them are astoundingly responsive to market demands. Most wine is a commodity that sells based on very specific parameters that have been honed over the last couple of decades. The simple fact is that unusual wines, wines of distinction, don’t sell very easily, so the mega-boutiques don’t waste time and money making them. For them, producing “interesting” wine equals fiscal suicide.
The remaining tenth is divided among thousands of small niche producers whose main problem is an honest point of distinction. It may be an extrinsic strategy: a cute dog on
Anyone who hasn’t tried to do so can’t possibly imagine how much work it is to establish a new brand today. In truth, there is almost no receptivity for a new player outside the norm. You would think that all that web-kvetching about terroir would show up in the marketplace in a way that a guy could use to build a brand.
In your dreams, maybe. It’s really weird to spend all day trying to shoehorn a damned good Euro-centric Cabernet Franc or Chablis-styled Chardonnay onto crowded retail shelves and then to come home to an Internet forever moaning about sameness and “anywhere-ness.” Us small winery guys keep wondering: When are you te