The Way Winemaking Is Supposed to Be

My favorite corollary of Murphy's law is "Nothing is impossible for the guy who doesn't have to do it himself."  Today's case in point, this time a person rather than a guy, is Sheila Donohue's astonishing blog in which she touts the virtues of fiscal irresponsibility in the name of Natural Wine.  Check out

These guys sound great. Yet I imagine that if you ask the Soccis if “not producing a vintage” is “the way winemaking is supposed to be,” they might just demur.

Surely even a fledgling blogger can communicate love for a family winery without attacking all the rest.

The plain fact is that the “many of today’s winemakers who strive to match the expectations of the mass market” constitute less than 1% of my colleagues who are working for the 250 or so national brands. They are good at what they do, and do not deserve Sheila scorn.  She should avoid their wines, as I do, when seeking anything beyond a standard beverage.

The other 99% of wineries make extremely small amounts of wines that strive for diversity and uniqueness in order to build personal connections with their tiny (often local) following.  They have to do this to survive, and they represent the vast majority of players, unless you restrict your shopping to Dean and Deluca.

If your winery is located in sunny Tuscany and your family has worked out the fine points over a thousand years, it’s easy to follow the practices of la dolce vita she describes, and Lord love them for it.

The real heroes, in my view, are the Mom and Pop in Des Moines who sold all but 3 acres of the family farm to Cargill ten years ago and are experimenting with a few hundred cases of La Crescent, Brianna and Marquette at 40 below zero, literally betting the farm on something that’s never been done before. This is the story of the 100 or so new wineries established in Iowa in the last decade.

Most U.S. States have similar untold stories. If they want to use a little technology to stay alive, I think the Lord will love them too. I hope Sheila will not wrinkle her nose and scoff at their efforts.