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The Winemaker's Hand

The Winemaker's Hand: Conversations on Talent, Technique, and Terroir

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    The Winemaker's Hand
    Book Description:

    In these fascinating interviews, winemakers from the United States and abroad clarify the complex process of converting grapes into wine, with more than forty vintners candidly discussing how a combination of talent, passion, and experience shape the outcome of their individual wines. Each winemaker details their personal approach to the various steps required to convert grapes into wine. Natalie Berkowitz speaks to winemakers from different backgrounds who work in diverse wine-producing regions, including Chile, England, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States. They talk about familiar and unfamiliar grape varietals, their struggles with local terroirs, and the vagaries of Mother Nature. Some represent small family wineries with limited production while others work for corporations producing hundreds of thousands of bottles. Each individual offers rare insight into how new technologies are revolutionizing historic winemaking practices. The interviews are supplemented with personal recipes and maps of winemaking regions. An aroma wheel captures the vast array of wine's complex flavors and aromas.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53737-7
    Subjects: Sociology, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-xii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. xv-xx)

    Over years of teaching wine courses to wine virgins and wine veterans, I discovered each wine has its own voice, as does every winemaker. Wines speak if you listen closely, but vintners rarely have a platform to give voice to their visions.The Winemaker’s Handis an opportunity for a few articulate vintners to open a window into the intricacies of their work.

    André Tchelistcheff, the visionary winemaker who touched the lives of many fellow vintners, said in 1985 that the first prerequisite of a good winemaker is practical and theoretical knowledge. “Outside of that . . . the winemaker...

      • California
        • [Introduction] (pp. 7-8)

          After the age of exploration in the fifteenth century, the Spanish claimed mammoth acreage along the Pacific Coast. In 1769, Franciscan missionaries, led by Father Juniper Serra, built missions with the ultimate goal of converting Native Americans to Christianity, and planted grapes for sacramental wine. Jump past California’s statehood, the Gold Rush, and the huge population expansion to the state that began in the late nineteenth century. An emerging wine industry took hold in northern California’s Sonoma and Napa counties. Disaster struck the nascent industry when a phylloxera epidemic destroyed many vineyards and many wineries. Undiscouraged, Californian winemakers took control...

        • Napa Valley
          • DOMAINE CHANDON (pp. 10-14)
            JOEL BURT

            Chandon is hailed for its notable sparkling wines based on the classic combination of Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier. It seemed sensible to think about bottling the grapes as still wines as well as sparkling. The facility embarked on a still wine program under the leadership of Joel Burt, assistant winemaker for still wines since 2009. The winery’s 900-acre Carneros property grows dedicated blocks of Burgundian clones. “I’m married to the three varietals that are the historic backbone of Champagne and sparkling wine. My still wines come from the same estate fruit as our sparkling wines. Cabernet Sauvignon requires...

          • CORISON WINERY (pp. 15-20)
            CATHY CORISON

            One notable AVA is the Rutherford Bench, 2,500 acres stretching along 6 miles from Highway 29 west to the Mayacamas Mountains and north to St. Helena. The gravely, loamy alluvial soil of Rutherford Bench land is considered a perfect terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernets from Rutherford are noted for intense dark fruit and a discernible taste of Rutherford Dust.

            Spend time with Cathy Corison and you meet a strong, intensely focused winemaker who maintains she makes wines to suit herself, wines that totally represent her. The interview with Corison broke out of the gate when she said she liked the...

          • DYER VINEYARD AND CONSULTANT (pp. 21-29)
            BILL DYER

            I met Bill Dyer well over two decades ago, when his wife Dawnine, winemaker at Domaine Chandon, invited me to a St. Patrick’s Day party at her winery. Dawnine’s job was to create sparkling wine for Moët Chandon’s Napa off-shoot. Bill was Director of Winemaking at Sterling Winery, overseeing production of several varietals of still wine. Bill traveled a few minutes to his job down the steep road on Diamond Mountain Road while Dawnine drove up and down Highway 29 to its most southerly stretch to reach Domaine Chandon’s facility in Yountville. In 1992, after twenty-five years, the couple abandoned...

          • DYER VINEYARD (pp. 30-35)
            DAWNINE DYER

            Through the centuries, tradition maintained winemaking was an occupation for men only. Males held tight to the prerogative of converting grapes into wine. “No women need apply” was the general rule. Females were relegated to fieldwork—picking, sorting, and stomping on harvested grapes. History recorded the rare occasions when an occasional woman held the reins of business. One of the most notable was Mme. Veuve (veuveis the French word for “widow”) Clicquot, who ran the family winery after her husband died in 1805. Her name on bright yellow labels of the company’s Champagne bottles is a proud reminder of...


            Miljenko Grgich, the octogenarian better known as Mike, says, “The Bible says wine maketh glad the heart of man.” His black beret, tilted at a rakish angle, makes him instantly recognizable. I have known Mike for many years. I went to his eightieth birthday party in New York City and congratulated him on his ninetieth in April 2013. I’ve interviewed him several times, once about his strong feelings as a Croatian during the past war between Serbia and his homeland. Grgich is as feisty today as he was when he left Croatia as a young man. He is the undisputed...

          • SWANSON VINEYARDS AND AD VIVUM (pp. 44-49)
            CHRIS PHELPS

            Chris Phelps and I met for breakfast one morning at Sara Beth’s Restaurant near New York City’s Central Park. It was our first encounter. Over bowls of oatmeal and an order of eggs he immediately struck me as a gentle man who might have been a poet or a college professor rather than a thoughtful winemaker.

            Two events set Phelps on his future path to viticulture.

            In 1957, when I was little, my parents moved to vineyard-covered Livermore Valley, California. Th ey became friends with our neighbors, the Concannons of the eponymous winery. My folks usually drank local wines and...

          • ST. SUPÉRY WINERY (pp. 50-55)
            MICHAEL SCHOLZ

            It’s said you can’t go home again, but winemaker Michael Scholz returned to St. Supéry after an eight-year hiatus. Scholz’s profound impact on the winery was enough for St. Supéry to invite him back. “I left in good spirits and never thought I’d be back,” says Scholz. “Then I saw the opportunity to bring my personal vision to St. Supéry’s portfolio of Napa Valley Estate wines. I look back fondly on the period from 1996 to 2001 as a time of great accomplishment for St. Supéry and me. I am thrilled to work again with the two estate vineyards and...

        • Spring Mountain District
            STUART SMITH

            I sized up big, bearded Stu Smith as a guy you would trust to get you out of the woods and away from the big, bad wolf if you were lost. Stu is clearly a product of the 1960’ s. Right away you sense he is absolutely unafraid to voice his opinions. The former captain of his high school football team, a shot-putter and volleyball player, a lifeguard on a Santa Monica beach, where he made the princely sum of $2.96 an hour, has a reputation as a contrarian with strong viewpoints.

            I grew up at the pre-Cuisinart, pre-wine time....

          • CONSULTANT (pp. 66-73)
            DAVID STEVENS

            I’ve known David Stevens for a couple of decades, since his days at Domaine Chandon and Bouchaine Winery in Napa Valley. He’s a really fun, garrulous, quick-witted guy with a wide range of interests and substantial winemaking skills. David and I can get together and pick up on any one of a dozen topics from politics to literature to gossip as though our conversation survived a mere hiccup of an interruption. He can turn a mean phrase and should he leave winemaking, he’d make a terrific writer.

            I’m consulting now, and the lessons I learned from my main mentor, Brad...

          • DOMAINE CHANDON (pp. 74-81)
            TOM TIBURZI

            My long-standing affection for Domaine Chandon, its architecture, beautiful grounds, and complement of sparkling and still wines goes back over two decades. I’ve attended wine-blending sessions and enjoyed innumerable lunches and dinners at the highly esteemed Étoile restaurant. At a St. Patrick’s Day party we attended, sparkling wine was dosed with green food coloring. Chandon’s facility never fails to live up to my memory of its excellence. Sparkling wine was its major focus when I first got to know Domaine Chandon. Moët et Chandon, the French parent company of the California winery in Napa Valley, spared no expense to make...

          • HAGAFEN CELLARS (pp. 82-87)
            ERNIE WEIR

            Ernie Weir radiates Mr. Nice Guy when you meet him at Hagafen Cellars. The winery isn’t the fanciest in Napa Valley. Rather, it’s a homey, unpretentious place, not one of the flashy, high-end wineries featured in glossy architecture and wine magazines. The tasting room off Napa’s Silverado Trail has a small counter surrounded by stacks of wine cartons. Weir maintains he prefers to put his limited resources into vineyards and wine rather than focusing on flash and panache.

            Visitors sample a few tots from Hagafen Cellars’s wide range of single varietals and blends. “It’s a jolly atmosphere, where everyone walks...

          • FROG’S LEAP WINERY (pp. 88-96)
            JOHN WILLIAMS

            John Williams comes to farming naturally. He was raised on the family farm in the hamlet of Clymer in the Finger Lakes region of upper New York State. “My grandfather loved his dairy and his herd, but my father suffered the economic realities of small family dairies.” Williams thought he had left the life of a farmer behind when he enrolled at nearby Cornell University. One summer during college, he worked at Welch’s Grape Juice Company. Until then grape juice was the closest relationship Williams had with the fruit of the vine. The grape bug bit him, the first step...

        • Los Carneros
          • CEJA VINEYARDS (pp. 98-101)
            ARMANDO CEJA

            The Ceja family is a poster image for Hispanic immigrants who achieved the American dream. Five decades ago the Cejas and Morán families arrived in Napa Valley from Mexico in desperate need of work and a place to live. “My father, Felipe Morán, offered Armando Ceja’s father and his family a job harvesting grapes in Oakville in 1967,” says Amelia Morán Ceja, the first Mexican-American president of a wine company. The brothers Armando and Pedro Ceja met Amelia Morán in September, 1967, when they were kids picking grapes at Mondavi’s Oakville Winery, where Amelia’s father Felipe Morán was a vineyard...

          • HDV WINERY AND VIVIER WINES (pp. 102-107)

            Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, has two heads facing opposite directions: one faces eastward and the other looks west. Symbolically, they look to the future and the past. Janus may be the perfect symbol for Stéphane Vivier, who divides his time as winemaker for HdV Winery and his personal enterprise, the eponymous Vivier Winery. Th e young vintner adapts his past French training, experience, and sensibilities to winemaking in America. He works in Carneros with Chardonnay and Pinot noir, the two grapes that surrounded him when he grew up in the tiny village of Meloisey, where three hundred...

        • Mendocino County
          • CHIARITO VINEYARD (pp. 109-113)
            JOHN CHIARITO

            The phone rang at 8:15 one morning, a bit early for a late riser like me. It was 5:15 in California, time for farmers and winemakers to begin their day. John Chiarito was on the line, returning my call. I had reached out to him because of his particular interest in Sicilian grapes. While winemakers all over the world are introducing new varietals to complement or replace their indigenous grapes, Chiarito grew Nero d’Avola in Mendocino County in Talmage near Ukiah. He followed his parents, who had moved there when he was twenty-five years old. Chiarito had tackled all the...

        • Sonoma
          • DAVIS FAMILY VINEYARDS (pp. 114-119)
            GUY DAVIS

            Winemaking wasn’t on the career map for Guy Davis back when he was a college student in Seattle. School occupied his days, but at night he worked the late shift at a French restaurant. The best part of the long day came with a free dinner and a bottle of wine at midnight he shared with the restaurant’s chef.

            Each new wine was an ah ha! moment that pointed me in a new direction. At nineteen, I realized the importance of food and wine in life. My delight in the simplicity of sharing bread and wine evolved without my chasing...

      • New York State
        • [Map] (pp. 120-120)
        • Finger Lakes
          • [Introduction] (pp. 121-121)

            Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca Indian tribes believed the Great Spirit’s fingerprints created the five great Finger Lakes and the eleven smaller ones. Geologists tell us that a series of glaciers gouged valleys; the five long, deep lakes; and a number of smaller ones. The promise of the New World attracted an influx of European settlers, who slowly changed the topography of the area, clearing land for agriculture and commerce. After the Revolutionary War, veterans received grants from an immense tract, including land around the Finger Lake region. The country’s first commercial winery started in the region in 1829,...


            King Ferry Winery, owned and operated by Peter and Tacie Saltonstall since 1984, is one of twenty wineries around Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region. Pete, the grandson of Leverett Saltonstall, former governor of Massachusetts and a U.S. senator, grew up on a farm run by his father, an agronomy professor at Cornell’s agricultural school. It was he who bought 700 acres of local farmland.

            My father raised beef and wheat, barley, oats, and red clover seeds for neighboring farmers. Most of the family land was sold when my father passed away, except for Treleaven Farm, a small 150-acre...

        • Long Island
          • MACARI VINEYARD (pp. 129-131)
            JOE MACARI JR.

            It was a cloudy fall day on Long Island’s North Shore. Grape leaves on the vines turned to purple and gold in the vineyard and the last of the berries hung low on the vines waiting to be harvested. Kelly Urbanik introduced us to her boss, Joe Macari. Macari said, “Jump in my van. I’ll show you my property.” He trundled us around his 440-acre vineyard and estate, speaking passionately about his belief in sustainable agriculture.

            The property, with a dramatic view overlooking Long Island Sound, ended precipitously at the edge of a cliff. Macari’s plan to build a house...

          • MACARI VINEYARD (pp. 132-135)
            KELLY URBANIK

            Kelly Urbanik grew up in St. Helena, California, the heart of Napa Valley’s wine region. When she was young, her grandfather’s homemade wine spiked her interest in wine and led her to the enology program at U.C. Davis. “College was too close to home, so after graduation I flew to Burgundy in time for harvest. My favorite memory is digging out a tank after fermentation. We emptied the wooden casks with buckets. The smell of finished wine clicked and confirmed my future.” Urbanik returned to California with practical winemaking skills and snagged a job at Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa Valley....

      • North Carolina
        • [Map] (pp. 136-136)
        • [Introduction] (pp. 137-137)

          When the explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano explored the east coast of America in 1524, he took note of a prolific white, bronze, or lightly pink grape. Sixty years later, two captains from Sir Walter Raleigh’s fleet landed their ships at Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks and sent back messages about a land filled with grapes growing so abundantly the vines covered trees and shrubs. The Scuppernong grape derives its name from an Indian term for the nearby Scuppernong River. In 1585, English Governor Ralph Lane confirmed that the area’s wild grapes exceeded the best grapes from Spain and France....

        • BILTMORE ESTATE (pp. 138-143)

          Mega-wealthy George Vanderbilt’s country getaway, Biltmore, near Ashville is a mind-boggling domain of 250 rooms amalgamating the architectural styles of three famous French chateaux built in the late 1880’ s. The magnificent property in North Carolina’s mountains is a favorite tourist destination. The Biltmore Winery was established in 1971 to introduce a wide variety of wines to visitors. The winery is leading the way to the rebirth of wine production across the state. Every year the estate is a mecca, attracting 600,000 visitors who tour the house, grounds, and winery.

          Sharon Fenchak’s path to her career as a winemaker at...

      • Oregon
        • [Map] (pp. 144-144)
        • [Introduction] (pp. 145-145)

          Once only inhabited by Native Americans, Spanish explorers and missionaries led the way to the northwest area of America, describing its riches and drawing a mix of fur traders, American pioneers, and European immigrants. President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to map the territory, which encouraged settlers to cross the country on the Oregon Trail, a difficult route. They found deep forests, a dramatic ocean shoreline, and a favorable climate for agriculture and fruit orchards. Transcontinental railroads expedited the growth of the lumber industry and the concomitant metropolitan cities. Wine production got off to a start in the state...

        • ANAM CARA CELLARS (pp. 146-149)

          Whenever we speak over the phone, I can conjure up Sheila Nicholas’s ready smile and sense of humor. Decades ago, I met Sheila through her job in public relations at Sterling Vineyards when I was invited to the winery’s viticultural seminar as a wine journalist. At the time, she and her husband Nick were part of Napa’s lifestyle. Nick’s pizzeria was a hot draw to local vintners. Many winemakers often traded their cult cabs for a large combination pie. But pizza was only a means to an end for Nick. “My husband dreamed of owning a high-end steak house and...

    • CHILE
      • [Map] (pp. 150-150)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 151-152)

        Chile doesn’t come immediately to mind as a country with a long history of winemaking. Yet the South American country, bound by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east, is not a newcomer to the wine industry. Spanish conquistadors and missionaries planted European vines in Chile in the sixteenth century. By the mid-seventeenth century, Chilean winemakers planted enough grapes to compete with Spain. Spanish rulers prohibited Chile from exporting wine, but distance between the two countries made the edict impossible to enforce. By the eighteenth century, Chile was producing generally poor-quality wines. As time...

      • Casablanca Valley
        • CASAS DEL BOSQUE (pp. 153-157)
          GRANT PHELPS

          Grant Phelps hosted a wine tasting of Casas del Bosque Estate wines at Puro Chile, a wine center in the heart of Manhattan’s Soho district. One wall of the handsome space showcased the country’s vast array of reasonably priced wines and gourmet products. By the time we met, Phelps seemed talked out, but he revived when the tasting ended and the crowd left . The winemaker, who has the appearance of a hip rock star, is the fastest talker I’ve ever interviewed. His conversation is peppered with unique personal observations and an occasional salty expression. Phelps is originally from New...

      • [Map] (pp. 158-158)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 159-160)

        Early on, inhabitants of what ultimately meshed into the British Isles unlocked the secret of making wine, beer, and ale. The inhabitants of the sceptered isle, as Shakespeare called it, have always relied on the three staple beverages. It is surprising to note that winemaking is undergoing a renaissance, since English winemaking skills disappeared into the mists of time. Many issues—including wars, invasions, and a cool, rainy climate—were responsible for the decline in local winemaking, but those same issues should have led to the decline in French winemaking, whose history and weather are remarkably similar to those of...

      • NYETIMBER VINEYARD (pp. 161-165)

        Canadians Cherie Spriggs and her husband Brad Greatrix are the winemaking team at Nyetimber Vineyard. The Canadian couple met when they studied biochemistry in Vancouver. “You’d think as a Canadian I’d be a hockey player, but my interest in wine was sparked by Brad’s parents’ lovely tradition. On Friday nights the family turned off the television and caught up with each other over dinner and wine. I learned to drink wine without being a wine geek,” says Spriggs.

        Brad had a job in Switzerland that gave them an opportunity to visit Burgundy. Something clicked in that wine region for Spriggs....

    • FRANCE
      • [Map] (pp. 166-166)
      • Bordeaux
        • [Introduction] (pp. 167-169)

          Admirers of Bordeaux consider it the Mt. Everest of the red wine world. But there is more to Bordeaux than wine. The bourgeois city built by wealthy wine merchants in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is undergoing a renaissance, replete with excellent restaurants, museums, a concert hall, and art exhibitions. Bordeaux on a wine bottle label commands attention. Many wine lovers and critics consider Bordeaux to be the benchmark for red wine, so enviable that what is known as the classic Bordeaux blend is emulated in many wine regions around the globe. The region maintains its renowned position in spite...

        • Margaux
          • CHÂTEAU KIRWAN (pp. 170-175)

            Prestigious chateaux, whose names resonate loudly with Bordeaux lovers, dot the commune of Margaux. The chateaux are glorious remnants of centuries before the French Revolution, when the nobility and rich bourgeois lived the high life.

            It is a short 15-mile ride from Bordeaux to Château Kirwan. The grand estate harks back to 1740, when Mark Kirwan, an Irishman from Galway, acquired Domaine Ganet and Domaine de la Salle. The two plots were amalgamated into a unique single vineyard. In 1925, the Schÿler family, with a history of eight generations as négotiants, bought the chateau and winery. “Today the fourth generation...


            The Dutch have had a long interest in Bordeaux wineries, so it is not surprising that a Dutchman, Eric Albada Jelgersma, expressed his love for the Margaux region by purchasing Château Giscours in 1995. In 1997 he took the next step and bought Château du Tertre’s neoclassical chateau and a unique, single 50-hectare vineyard site. Giscours is close to the Garonne River, and its soil has a maritime river influence. Giscours is ranked a third growth in the classification system established by Napoleon III. Records show Château du Tertre’s land was under vine cultivation in 1143, when its wines were...

        • Graves
          • DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER (pp. 183-187)

            Sophie Schÿler Thierry from Château Kirwan first introduced me to dapper Olivier Bernard at a Bordeaux tasting in New York City. Winemakers from the region present their latest vintage at the annual event. At 1 o’clock vintners wait for the onslaught of hundreds of wine professionals, journalists, and consumers who crowd up to tables covered with bottles. Palpable excitement grew as tasters spent hours sniffing and slurping the latest vintage. A year later, at our second meeting, he graciously left his wife in charge of pouring samples of Domaine de Chevalier. Fellow vintners congratulated Bernard on his recent election as...

        • Sauternes
          • CHÂTEAU GUIRARD (pp. 190-191)
            XAVIER PLANTY

            A Bordeaux winemaker I esteem introduced me to Xavier Planty, saying, “Don’t say I said this, but his Sauternes is the best.” I hustled over to meet the vintner and taste his wine

            Understanding the development of dry white or red wine is fairly simple. Explaining the vintage of Sauternes and the creation and quality of its wines is also quite simple if we understand the idea of Botrytis contamination. To make a great Sauternes we need four conditions. The first requirement is perfectly ripe, earlymaturing grapes. We harvested our dry white Château Guiraud between July 11 and September 14,...

      • Burgundy
        • DOMAINE DE MONTILLE (pp. 194-199)

          I met Etienne de Montille one night at a tasting in a restaurant in Westhampton Beach on New York’s Long Island. De Montille claims the history of his region goes back goes back to the time when Gallic tribes planted vines, even before Romans entered the picture.

          “My family’s heritage is a drop in the historic bucket. The de Montille family owned land and vineyards in Burgundy for a mere 400 years,” he says. If one believed in the Lamarckian theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, it could be said winemaking is in his genetic makeup.

          In 1947 Hubert...

    • ITALY
      • [Map] (pp. 200-200)
      • Friuli
        • [Introduction] (pp. 202-202)

          Within Friuli-Venezia Giulia, better known as Friuli, lies the small appellation of Romandolo in northeast Italy. Friuli is bordered by Austria to the north and states of the former Yugoslavia to the east, with the foothills of the Alps as its backdrop. It has a distinct personality and history as a crossroad of many cultures. Its wines are highly sought after, although it produces the smallest number of bottles of the Italian winemaking regions.

          The timeline for its history and wines is vast. Around 1000 b.c., the Illyrians built fortified villages but were eventually pushed out by the Romans, who...

        • IL RONCAT (pp. 203-206)
          GIOVANNI DRI

          The church bells of San Giovanni Battista ring twice a day over Giovanni Dri’s vineyards. The estate is in northernmost corner of Italy, where the Alps protect the vines with relatively mild winters, but during pleasant summers, nighttime temperatures drop rapidly. Grapes prefer warm summer days and rapidly cooling nights, a combination best for concentrating flavors in grapes.

          The variations in climate may seem perfect, but at the same time, Friuli is in an earthquake zone and has frequent rainfall, a damp climate, and difficult soil. Persistent winemakers like Dri overcome these conditions.

          There was a period when wine was...

      • Lombardy
        • PERI BIGOGNO WINERY (pp. 208-214)
          ANDREA PERI

          “Lombardy, Italy’s richest region, is a fertile land of dreams and culture, whose poets drank and praised wine. It includes several notable wine regions: Valtellina, Franciacorta, Lugana and Garda, and Oltrepò Pavese,” says Andrea Peri, the charming, enthusiastic spokesman for Peri Bigogno Winery. The winery is located in northwest Italy. I slid into the last seat at a luncheon in New York City where Peri and other Italian winemakers showcased their wines. He went home to be married and we met again for dinner when he returned several months later with his wife.

          Peri claims wine has been an important...

      • Sicily
        • PLANETA WINERY AND VINEYARDS (pp. 216-222)

          Alessio Planeta, the Planeta family winemaker, and I talked over lunch in New York.

          We have been plagued by foreign incursions for centuries, and finally phylloxera traveled from northern Europe to infiltrate Sicily’s vineyards. Many reasons were responsible for the decline of the wine industry, beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, when three times the number of vineyards existed than do now. A lot of replanting took place around 1895, but the Sicilian wine industry shrank as other nations forged ahead with new technology and different varieties of grapes. Sicily, with excellent terroir for grape cultivation, is ranked...

      • Soave
        • CONSORZIO TUTELA (pp. 224-227)

          Giovanni Ponchia is enologist for the Consorzio di Soave. He is a hometownragazzofrom the Veneto. Even though he grew up surrounded by the region’s famous wines, his path to winemaking was circuitous. “When I was twenty, I was conscripted into the military and sent to nearby Friuli as a member of a specialized troop. We Italians claim the army separates boys from Mama’s skirts. It’s where we ‘lose the smell under the nose,’ the Italian expression for fussy. “When we spoke, he mentioned his fortyish brother was still at home.

          Every night, I came out of the barracks...

      • Tuscany
        • PIEVE DE’ PITTI (pp. 229-233)

          The 1970’s were a boon for Italian investors looking for properties and careers in wine. Savvy buyers bought estates and old vineyards in many areas, including Chianti. “My father-in-law was in the leather business and made an investment in land as a place to entertain customers for hunting and relaxation,” says Sergio Gargari.

          He had the good fortune to find a beautiful eighteenth-century villa with a large garden and park 40 kilometers from Pisa. In the beginning, I continued to work in family business, but in 2004 I decided to dedicate all my time to wine. When my son and...

        • CASTELVECCHIO (pp. 234-238)

          Three Rocchis—Filippo, Stefania, and their father, Carlos—make their wines, press olives, and run a holiday property at Castelvecchio, one of several small satellite towns 20 kilometers from Florence.

          Our grandfather bought the estate, once one of the most important historic estates in the region, in the 1960’s as a hobby. He sold wine in bulk or in fiascos. The winery is built on the ruins of an old castle and its logo comes from the coat of arms over the door of a nearby twelfth-century Romanesque Chapel of San Lorenzo. Inside the church, the pavement covers the tombstones...

      • Veneto
        • CASA VINICOLA BERTANI (pp. 240-243)

          Located in the Valpolicella Valpantena wine district in the province of Verona in the region of Veneto, Casa Vinicola Bertani’s long, distinguished history dates back to the nineteenth century, when two Bertani brothers from a politically powerful family in the area around Verona founded their winery in 1857.

          The history of Italy is much like a chess game between France and Austria. Armies subdued parts of Italy from the early eighteenth to the mid-eighteenth century. When Austrians invaded northern Italy, the Bertani family decamped to Burgundy for four years, where they learned vine cultivation and commercial aspects of producing and...

      • [Map] (pp. 244-244)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 245-246)

        Traces of viticulture suggest it began around the tenth century B.C., when Phoenician conquerors, famous as wine traders sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, introduced new grape varieties in the Iberian Peninsula. Through the centuries, Greeks, Celts, and Romans planted their local grapes across Europe, including the peninsula, where monks in medieval monasteries took winemaking to a higher level. In the 1600’s the country’s astringent wines were fortified with brandy to stabilize them for export and make them more palatable. Port wines came to dominate the industry, taking its name from Oporto, a city in the Duoro, the country’s highly regarded...

      • Duoro
        • VERCOOPE COOPERATIVE (pp. 247-249)

          “Because I had had no background or family history in wine, deciding to become a winemaker was like falling in love. I pursued my passion and studied enology in Lisbon after college,” said Casimiro Alves, head enologist at Vercoope. “Today, I work with two other enologists, but I am the chief.”

          Vercoope, founded in 1964, is one of several cooperatives dedicated to the production of Vinho Verde. Cooperatives provide strength in numbers and Vercoope does the job by representing the interests of five thousand small to mediumsize growers. Vercoope is the second largest cooperative in the country, shouldering the responsibilities...

        • JOSÉ MARIA DA FONSECA (pp. 250-255)

          Domingos Soares Franco telegraphs he is someone who gives an order and expects it to be followed. Like many winemakers, he sticks to the courage of his convictions with determination and strong opinions. One example is his remark about Portuguese journalists. “They tell me how to vinify, but I don’t tell them how to write.”

          Soares Franco is the younger brother of the family’s sixth generation running Fonseca Winery. “Historians went through our winery record book, which dates from 1815. Our family has been making wine since Jose Maria da Fonseca bought the winery in 1850. Perroquita was the first...

    • SPAIN
      • [Map] (pp. 256-256)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 257-258)

        Spain is Europe’s third largest country and has more acreage under grape cultivation than any country in the world. Th e country’s diverse landscape produces a panoply of whites, reds, sherries and other fortifi ed dessert wines, and Cava— the Spanish sparkling wine. Although many of Spain’s wines are sold at home, they are also exported to many countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. Russia and Italy are new, important customers.

        Food and wine have been braided into Spanish life for centuries. Th e history of winemaking across the Iberian Peninsula has much in common with...

      • Rioja
        • BODEGAS URBINA CRIANZA (pp. 259-262)

          Pedro Urbino Saez owes his perfect English to the five years he lived in Mendocino, California. The winemaker’s graduation from Ukiah High School was followed by a degree in business administration at San Francisco State. He attended viticulture classes and worked part time at the Frie Ranch for a year. He says,

          Frie is a small winery, the first to be certified organic and biodynamic in the States. When I was young, I wasn’t interested in making viticulture my career. But once I began, I enjoyed dealing with the world’s oldest beverage. Winemaking is all about history and nature. Every...

        • MARQUÉS DE TOMARES WINERIES (pp. 263-267)

          I met Oscar Montaña Porres at a tasting of Spanish wines in New York. Like most winemakers, he is passionately devoted to his profession as the maestro at Marqués de Tomares and Don Roman Wineries in Alta Rioja. Porres began his career with an MBA in business administration in the United States. Afterward, he worked briefly in Bordeaux, where he learned new winemaking technology.

          I returned to Spain with my experiences and shortly became the maestro of the family winery, where I team up with another winemaker trained in great wines. Our winery was started in 1910, which makes me...

      • [Map] (pp. 268-268)
      • Mosel
        • [Introduction] (pp. 269-270)

          Although Germany produces a small amount of red wine, Riesling maintains its position as the country’s dominant grape. The hardy, frostresistant varietal does extremely well in a climate with the short hours of sunlight and cool nights of Germany and Alsace. In the prestigious wine region of Mosel, the eponymous river is a critical component of the microclimate. Its waters reflect the sun’s warmth onto the vines, adds humidity, and sends fog into the vineyards at night to protect grapes from frosts.

          Riesling is susceptible to soil and geology. Small berries derive aromas and flavors from vineyard soils. Slate absorbs...

        • S. A. PRÜM (pp. 271-275)
          RAIMUND PRÜM

          Raimund Prüm comes from a renowned family of Riesling producers and heads one of the Mosel’s top wineries.

          Our company’s history stretches back 200 years. In the old days, sales were driven by loyalty to our winery’s name. Generations of consumers, from father to son, bought our wine, and what they bought was noted in our heritage book. Around the time of World War I, family factions split the company. In 1964, three of my grandfather’s children stepped out of the business. I came into the business in 1970, after I finished studying winemaking and barrel production in California for...

    • GREECE
      • [Map] (pp. 276-276)
      • Santorini
        • [Introduction] (pp. 278-278)

          Santorini, in the distant past, was called Thera. It is one of the Cycladic Islands strung along the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece. Homer poetically called the Aegean “the wine-dark sea.” Santorini is one of the most spectacular of its islands. Its fascinating history and unforgettable presence rising sharply out of the blue water make it a mecca for tourists. A dramatic half-moon caldera was the result of a devastating volcanic explosion 3,600 years ago that tore away half the island. Desperation for wine must have been the driving force that led generations of ingenious vintners to take...

        • GAIA WINES (pp. 279-283)

          Yiannis Paraskevopoulos exhibits the exuberant Greek love of life. I met him shortly after he arrived in New York to lead a seminar on wines from Santorini. The long flight did nothing to dampen his charm and enthusiasm for championing local wines he produces at two wineries—whites on Santorini and reds on the Peloponnesus. The Athenian-born winemaker says,

          Winemakers like me went to Europe to study. Although I have a Ph.D. in enology from the University of Bordeaux, I didn’t want to become a Bordeaux clone. The world didn’t need another French Chardonnay. When I came home to Greece...

      • [Map] (pp. 284-284)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 285-286)

        An invitation to a tasting of Croatian and Slovenian wines in New York was irresistible. Croatian wines were more familiar, but I wasn’t quite sure where Slovenia was. The Balkans? Yugoslavia? The country, its general history, and wine production were indefinable to me. So, curiosity aroused, I joined a small group of winemakers, the Croatian consul, and a few fellow journalists who were invited to help wineries break into the American wine market. Expanding their market was going to be tough sledding for wines made from unfamiliar varietals with unpronounceable names and winery names on their labels. Slovenia’s geographic position...

      • SANCTUM (pp. 287-289)

        Jurij Brumec is winemaker at Sanctum Winery located in Loce in the region of Stajerska, an area contiguous to Austria.Sanctumis a Latin word for “inner peace” or the place where one would find inner peace. Brumec says his father and grandfather were winemakers and winemaking is in his blood.

        I make wine with Marko Podkubovsek, who started in the tourism business but found that wine was his passion. He focuses on importing wine through his company, Vinum, U.S.A. His grandfather and father were also winemakers who owned a Pinot noir vineyard originally planted in 1374 by local Carthusian...

    • ISRAEL
      • [Map] (pp. 290-290)
      • [Introduction] (pp. 291-293)

        Lands once lumped together on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea are likely the ancient cradle of wine production. It is recorded that ships sailed from there exporting wine to Egypt as payment for taxes. Two-handled clay amphora found in sunken ships, some inscribed with vintage date and names of Jewish winemakers, sailed with cargoes of wine to Greece and Rome. In ancient times a Jewish family probably consumed an average of 350 liters of wine a year. Wine was safer and more delicious to drink than water.

        The history of wine in the region is also tied to...

      • Golan Heights
        • GALIL MOUNTAIN WINERY (pp. 294-298)
          MICHA VAADIA

          Micha Vaadia, winemaker at Galil Mountain Winery in the Golan region of Israel, is fascinated by the 5,000-year-old history of the Jewish connection to winemaking. He says, “Archeological sites throughout Israel unearthed numerous grape presses and images of grape-growing, testimony to the significant role wine played in the religion and mercantile life of those early days. Wine, grain, and olives, three products that can be stored, sustained our forefathers in ancient times. I believe wine had valuable health benefits to ward off pathogens because of its combination of high acid and alcohol.”

          Vaadia is an ex-paratrooper who came to winemaking...

  7. Conversations…
    • CONCLUSION (pp. 299-301)

      Myriad wine books fill bookstore and library shelves. Most are clones of each other.The Winemaker’s Handtakes the extra step to present the voices of vintners, and in so doing, to peer into their hearts and souls. Heart and soul are probably not our first thoughts when we sip a glass of red, white, or sparkling wine, but in truth, reading about the joys and tribulations that go into getting grapes to ferment and grace our lives enhances the experience.

      I chose to write about winemakers because few groups are so accessible and articulate about their jobs. Conversations with...

  8. THE AROMA WHEEL (pp. 303-304)
  9. GLOSSARY OF WINE TERMS (pp. 305-310)
  10. GLOSSARY OF WINE VARIETALS (pp. 311-314)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 315-316)