Speaking the Same Language

Working in the cellars all day for weeks at a time, you tend to lose track of what’s going on around you. In at 5am out at 7pm…kiss the wife, have a drink, go to bed. Not the most balanced life, but it is short and it leads to its own kind of magic.

The carved-out hours here and there I can spend with June are the best. Getting to spend a minute or two in passing with a fellow true-believer is good too.

I ran into Collin Cranor, a friend, and the winemaker at Nottingham Cellars, the other day and we tasted boxesb&wout of a fermentor together and shot the shit for a few minutes. We are living the same kind of life, dealing with the same pressures, the same hopes…the same fears, and it’s comforting to know that you are not alone.

Talk always comes back around to the current vintage, about the prospects for greatness, about folks who are doing a good job and folks who aren’t; sins of commission and ommission. Our watercooler holds 265 gallons of Cabernet.

Some people in our business like to think they can control all inputs, that the finished product is only the formulaic addition of certain ingredients at certain times. Nature is an irritant only, something to be overcome, they believe. With all these great tools, Nature can seem inconsequential as the wines are pretzeled into something that bears no real resemblance to what the season chose to give but is a close-enough approximation to what they thought they wanted to achieve.

They miss the point, of course. Once the vision is created, you spend the rest of your life trying to divine one more small piece of the Mysteries each year so that, at some point, they travel down the same lit path – Nature, the grapes, the winemaker – figuratively hand-in-hand in the words of James Dickey “in full knowledge/Of what is in glory above them….”

Trying to coax some bit of self-awareness and truth out of the thing I love to do is as religious as I care to get. But for those who’ve read in these pages before will know, I acknowledge that the bottomless nature of wine, those unplumbable depths, guarantees a lifetime of kneeling at her altar.


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