Friday, October 15, 2010

First Bit of Cellar Work

There was a familiar sense of accomplishment when we finished racking the wine off those few barrels.  That day's work would have an effect, however minuscule, on a future bottle of wine.

One of my initial attractions to wine production was that at the end of the day there were tangible results for your efforts.  The many tasks, varying from the mundane to the thrilling, are all building towards a beautiful final product.  As a group we are striving to create something that we believe in. The finished effort represents months, even years, of work and has the potential to provide an immense amount of pleasure.  All of those days of racking, cleaning, lab trials and blending are enclosed within a glass bottle, and that's just the winery work.

The term terroir gets thrown around a lot in the wine industry.  Many fine wine producers claim they are striving for terroir, or that their wine truly expresses their unique terroir.  For those of you who don't know, the French term terroir is loosely translated to mean a sense of place.  In this respect, wine should reflect the unique microclimate, soil type, elevation, etc. 

I do really enjoy thinking about all the various factors that can contribute to the creation of unique wines.  Nothing gets my wine-nerd juices flowing more than learning about some obscure wine region and their unique mineral components and indigenous varietals.  I can sip a glass and immediately transport myself to far-flung corners of the globe. 

However, what I think is lacking from this idea of terroir is the human effort that goes in to creating that bottle.  Starting from pruning in the beginning of the season to barrelling down the harvest, there are countless hours of work.  The level of care and effort invested in turning grapes to wine shows through in the glass just as much or more than a perfect vineyard site with optimal facing.

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