I don’t remember meeting any winemakers when I was young. Farmers, musicians, nurses, lawyers, potters, and many teachers, but no winemakers. Wine came from far away, in a bottle, and was put there by someone like the author of a book, or the composer of a piece of music. Or was it more like a biologist with a butterfly net? Or simply a factory worker, a monkey with a bottle and cork?
The French term ‘vigneron’ emphasizes the custodial aspects of the ancient vocation. As the vintner is traditionally also the grape grower, the vigneron is the one who tends to the vines, a specialized farmer preserving their fruit after harvest. The word suggests that a winemaker need not be particularly creative or visionary, but should rather be observant and responsive, a shepherd to the microbial herd. There is a romantic echo in its holistic, self-effacing idealism – the wine will make itself; the vigneron is there to guide the process.
Here in the US of A, we call them winemakers, and they make the wine delicious. We know they have a lot of tools in their bag and they craft the wine to the most desired flavor profile. Vines don’t make hundred point wines; winemakers do! Its not that we’ve forgotten that it’s an agricultural product…well, maybe that is a big part of it, but we as a country, and increasingly worldwide, rely so heavily on the values of agency, individuality, and commerce, that it’s difficult for us to accept the natural uncertainty of the process, and so we’ve chosen to standardize, industrialize and control it.
Of course, it’s not so black and white as that; France has their Michel Rollands and we have our Lore Oldses, and here at OAKLAND YARD, we seek out wines made by winemakers with light hands from many lands. We appreciate their skills, but recognize that the magic begins with water, sun and leaf, and can be snuffed out by too much manipulation. Ultimately, they’re all at least one part chemist, trying to understand their liquids, and thankfully, as we’ve supported them in their endeavors, many of them have gotten wonderfully good at it.
This Saturday, from 2 to 5pm, Oakland Yard is thrilled to welcome one of our new favorite winemakers, Laura Brennan Bissell, for our first ever winemaker tasting. We were so impressed with Laura’s Inconnu wines that we picked up three of them for the shop. And we’re not alone in our admiration; these wines are showing up on all of our favorite local restaurant wine lists as well. Come taste the excitement, ask questions, and indulge your curiosity with the amiable and talented Laura Brennan Bissell.
See you Saturday!
INCONNU Wine Tasting with Laura Brennan Bissell
Saturday, February 18th from 2 to 5pm