Friday, October 31, 2014

Winemaking - The Art and the Science

There are very few areas in life where science and art come together. The two things seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. Philosophers have fought battles about which mode of thinking is more central to the human experience. Regardless of whether one is preferable to the other, wine is one area where the two sides are married to one another to form a unified perfection.Wine makers are fascinating people and through the years it has become obvious that they don't fit a mold.

Some talk primarily about the science of wine making, how they selected their property and why. The types of grapes they grow, the soils, south facing slopes and weather patterns that each contribute to their final product. I have talked many times to these men and women and have felt like I was in chemistry class with all the talk of Brix, PH, and the mind numbing scientific contributions so important to making the beautiful wine that I am tasting. "This doesn't look like a scientist" I think to myself. Jeans and a flannel shirt say farmer to me and yet they are talking to me like a science professor. Very strange...

I have sat with and/or stood across the table from winemarkers that look like street artists, farmers, scientists, accountants, or members of a punk rock band. Some are very neat and put together in their designer clothes and are very painstakingly manicured, while others look like they rolled out of bed and pulled on their torn blue jeans as they set out for the day still carrying two days of scruff on their faces. There have been days at the store that have truly looked like a band of misfits have showed up and at other times you would think we were conducting a photo shoot for GQ.

There is really no mold but to talk to, and listen to these people it becomes very clear that there is a thread that runs through them all. Their minds have the unique ability to think and act on both a scientific and an artistic level. Sometimes as one is discussing all of these very specific steps that must be adhered to in order to create the wine that we are talking about, the artist inside of them pops out and the passion begins to ooze. When the artist begins to speak, the conversation suddenly comes alive and their creative side takes over and draws you in taking you on a word journey filled with passion.

Winemakers are truly a bred of their own. They are married to their land just like a farmer, they are methodical and considerate of their actions when it comes to their craft. These people are also very creative and passionate. Incredibly interesting people to talk with.

Here is a link to a video on youtube that talks about it from a scientific point of view here. There is a bit of artistry discussed that really lifts and livens it. The man running the show looks and sounds like my highschool science teacher and shares a great deal of interesting pieces that show us how science contributes to wine. Another video takes a very different approach here.

This video introduces us to Dave Breeden who is a winemaker from the Finger lakes region in New York. Here Luisa Ponzi's passion is discussed. Can you recognize the unique thread that runs through all of these people? Fascinating!

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