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04.16.2007

How Small is Small Production?

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of small producers. Sometimes called boutique wineries, micro-wineries, or garagistes, these small wineries often don't even have their own vineyards, but merely purchase grapes in smaller quantities from highly reputable sources.

Wine is a domain rife with romanticism, and there's a certain sensibility out there (I admit to wholly embracing it myself) that small is beautiful -- tiny operations generally yield more interesting, higher quality wines than larger operations. Implicit in this sensibility lies a supposition (usually, but not always true) that smaller wineries can and do put more care and attention into their winemaking than the larger wineries can afford to. Like all generalizations small_production.jpgor stereotypes, there is definitely some truth to this.

But such thinking inevitably begs the question that a reader named Jill sent to me a week or two ago:

Just wondering...what level of case production do you think qualifies a wine as 'mass produced' versus 'limited production'? I know it's not a cut and dry thing, and factors such as how a wine is made and not just quantity dictate this. But as a general rule, do you have a figure in mind?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a very interesting question.

My first reaction was to throw out a number of cases at which I though small production ended, and large production began. But the more I thought about it, the more arbitrary that number was, and the less qualified I felt at being able to answer the question.

Ultimately, I think I AM unqualified to answer the question, as I've never been a professional winemaker. I think that if I'd had experience making wine commercially, I might have a sense for just how much wine -- how many tons of grapes, how many barrels, how many different varieties of wine -- finally pushes an operation from artisan to industrial.

I certainly know that the answer is not "a number." The answer is really a sensibility, a connection between the people making the wine (or any food product, for that matter), the raw materials, and the finished product. When we designate a product as artisan made, or small production, we imply a thread of attention, care, intent, and vision that runs through the process as well as manifests in our perception (real or imagined) of the final product. It IS possible to taste this care (though a far deeper and more tangential argument around terroir might explore what this care actually tastes like).

So how does one ensure that the final product is imbued with the quality that only the highest amount of personal attention and responsibility can ensure? The answer with wine, frustratingly, is many different ways. It is easy to see that at 200 to 500 cases, two to four people can shepherd a wine with the lavish attention capable of yielding an excellent product. But what about 8 people and 2000 cases? 16 people and 6000 cases? And certainly technology helps increase the ratio of cases to people, whether it's a forklift or a pneumatic press.

Part of the answer to this question also needs to be a redefinition of the (often pejorative) term "mass produced." The use of that phrase, and the sensibility behind it is often more what I call "knee-jerk romanticism" than real sense. Case in point? Some of the undisputed top wines of the world -- the great houses of Bordeaux that ALL the critics agree are some of the finest wines ever made -- are made in quantities exceeding 30,000 cases. So what then is mass produced, when you exceed 100,000 cases?

Welcome to relativism, where there are no concrete answers, only just "it depends." Perhaps those of my readers who are actually winemakers can offer criteria for when a wine no longer can be thought of as small production. Is it when you don't have the time, energy, or people to do hand punchdowns of every open-top fermenter? Is it when you can't have someone physically pick up, inspect, and sort every individual cluster of grapes? Is it when you have to buy corks by the ton instead of the barrel?

In the end, I don't really have much of an answer other than in reflection upon what I see of the independent small winemakers I know. It seems that with an entry level facility or a custom crush outfit; the help of a partner or close friends; and a lot of sweat and energy and skill, it's possible for one winemaker to make about 6000 cases of wine and say confidently that he or she really crafted every bit of it from start to finish. Much bigger than that, and it seems like it is harder to make that claim.

But what if you had two experienced winemakers working side by side?

You see? I think it's really an impossible question to answer fully, except to say that, in the end, small production is an aesthetic -- a point of view that is ultimately subjective, and in the eye of the beholder. Or the glass of the drinker, as the case may be.

Comments (30)

jp wrote:
04.17.07 at 6:41 AM

Jill-
I agree that "it depends" is a legit response, but I have a general rule that I use that I'm happy to share with you. Particularly when visiting a wine country area I've foud that at 10,000 cases or less the attitude at the winery is more "farm" than "operation". At 5,000 cases or less you can probably talk to the winemaker, walk through the vineyard and get a more personal connection. This has no bearing on the quality of the wine, only the quality of the connection you will make with the brand - but sometimes that's just as meaningful.
-Jen

Doug wrote:
04.17.07 at 9:23 AM

Good subject. We should consider that a small wine producer is also a small business requiring the same disciplines of any business and more. Besides winemaking, there’s sales, marketing, public relations, the vineyard work (if any), a tasting room/event attendance. Then, there’s the accounting, ordering, collections, continued education, compliance, packaging and shipping, did I mention compliance. Technology plays an important role, better equipment saves time and helps made better wine. Better accounting and web site management software save time too.

When defining small, there’s no substitute for that personal touch – the small producer (a Jack or Jill of all trades) must set the pace for the winery, select or grow the fruit, shape the wine, and define the positioning and the story for the brand. And make great wine. Consider that a small producer’s success or failure may have nothing to do with the wine, but whether they were successful at running a small business in this very competitive market.

NRC wrote:
04.17.07 at 10:27 AM

I work with another experienced winemaker on a project that some would call 'mid-sized' (22,000 cases or so.) My previous experience has always been in very small scale, quality producers. And in fact, I really feel that the size we are at now is a benefit over small size in terms of quality. We have 750 acres of top quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah to absolutely cherry pick. We have isolated picks in some of the more topographically difficult blocks to as small as two tons in a day, leaving the remaining 'downslope' portion for as long as two weeks longer. Every tool I need is available, manpower is never an issue, and we have a full laboratory staff at the ready to run analysis. Systems are in place to catch problems faster, and with trained staff, we as winemakers are more able to taste everything regularly and be in the vineyard throughout the year, where wine is really made. And having two winemakers multiplies the potential for quality - it is invaluable to have two palates to bounce ideas off of, more than one opinion on what is happening in the vineyard, etc...

By contrast, some of the small wineries I have been with have had to make compromises that I just don't face in my current setting. There was not the option to declassify 80% of our fruit, to cherry pick so extremely, and to set up systems and analysis to catch problems early. We never had every tool we needed, and often tasting and vineyard work were sidelined to make way for marketing, bottling, and other more mundane tasks. Small wineries may or may not have winemakers with experience, skill, and understanding.

That said, I too enjoy a diversity of options in my wine drinking, and I love the enthusiasm that brings so many people to this industry. It is usually the small guys who are first to take risks, to plant new regions, to try new varieties. That is where innovation occurs first. I find that in our industry, we all borrow from one another; the bigger guys sell fruit to smaller guys, and provide equipment or expertise and research opportunities, the smaller guys provide dynamic, interesting ideas, enthusiasm, and really connect with consumers.

I think you have to admit that small wineries are more likely to have higher AND lower wine quality; once a winery is at a certain production size the economic risk just demands highly trained winemakers to minimize spoilage risks and institute a solid Q.C. program.

Terry Hughes wrote:
04.17.07 at 12:46 PM

With everyone so serious, I hate to lower the tone -- but I will.

This topic has the potential to be a paradigm-buster. Think of it -- two winemakers competing on "my production is smaller than yours." "No it is not. Mine's REALLY tiny..."

NRC wrote:
04.17.07 at 1:36 PM

Terry;

Come on! Winemakers do this ALL THE TIME!!

(EG: My yields are smaller than yours, our vines REALLY struggle, we only press 120 gallons per ton; We use even LESS manipulation that you; Unfined & Unfiltered; on and on...)

It is pretty silly! Thanks for pointing it out.

-NRC

Alder wrote:
04.17.07 at 2:11 PM

Terry,

I want you to know that you are always welcome to lower the bar here !

Excellent point.

Terry Hughes wrote:
04.17.07 at 2:45 PM

NRC and all, I hear you. It's really like the reverse snobbery of trust fund kids who dress like impoverished wretches. "I got my shirt at Salvation Army for 25 cents." "I got MINE at Goodwill for 10!"

But really, who's kidding whom, eh? There's an implicit quality ranking in all of it. A different paradigm, that's all.

napa_vino wrote:
04.17.07 at 3:22 PM

When in doubt, look to the government for guidance (ha ha). The TTB legally defines a small producer as less than 100,000 gallons (about 41,700 cases) for the purpose of excise tax credit.

Arthur wrote:
04.17.07 at 5:25 PM

I think 'small' or 'big' should be considered in the context of market and demand.

Here is a case study: Joey Tensley started his label in Santa Ynez several years back with an inaugural 100 cases still made in Beckmen's winery. He now makes his 3,300 cases in an AP type of facility in Buellton.

In 2001 Parker and Laube brought his wines much attention. I don't remember what his production at that time was but let's just say 1,500 to 2,000 cases for the sake of the argument. All of a sudden, his total annual production was getting nationwide demand.

2,000 cases annually mean a different thing when you are only distributing to California, versus 50 states, or the entire wine-loving world.

SBCWGA wrote:
04.17.07 at 6:19 PM

That is such a good point.

In San Benito County, we pride ourselves with multiple "boutique" wineries.

You hit the nail on the head when you said "it is not a number", it is the love and devotion a winemaker makes to his/her craft.

Mo wrote:
04.18.07 at 9:39 AM

For the purpose of distribution, Maryland says it's 27,500 gallons (approx 11,500 cases). If it were only that cut and dry for the rest of us! :-)

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
04.18.07 at 11:35 AM

I tend to agree with Alder, "it all depends". I think one thing to consider is the size of red fermenters. If a winery is fermenting everything in 10 ton fermenters I would hesitate to consider them 'small production' ( but I am an Oregonian where only a handful of wineries use 10 ton fermenters ). If things are done in 1 to 5 ton lots I would consider them 'small', in mentality, even if total production is high. There are some great wineries making 20 thousand cases or more that maintain the 'small' mentality ( Craggy Range in NZ, Domain Serene in Oregon for instance ). Also look at the size of the unit of management in the vineyards. Is a block 20 acres or 5? How detailed and small is a manager willing to customize thier farming to achieve quality. Do they farm block by block or acre by acre or row by row? Again even a 200 acre vineyard farmed with management units of a few acres can, in my opinion, consider itself small.

But the problem with this is that most consumers won't get the truth about how the wines are made. No marketing I have seen or heard as stated "we are a wine factory, we through it together and bottle it" even though it is frequently done. Everyone is telling the public "we know each barrel and each block" or "hand crafted" etc. The real issue is do you believe them? More importantly; does production volume drive your purchasing descion (don't forget price)?

Alder wrote:
04.18.07 at 4:22 PM

Jerry,

I was secretly hoping you'd weigh in on this one !! Excellent coments and very thought provoking questions, indeed. You are so right on that EVERY winery, even those who make millions of cases a year, tells a story of a connection with a place, the personal attention to the grapes, etc.

In then end I think (selfishly, and perhaps pridefully) this is perfect justification for the type of wine reviewing I do, which is all about the story behind the wine. In the end, who is making it and how they do it is THE most important thing in choosing which wines to buy as an informed wine lover.

Retro wrote:
04.18.07 at 10:57 PM

Alder et al, while I appreciate your expertise, word crafting and equations, for me it all comes down to, what are you putting in my glass and over my tongue? Small and romantique...swell; big and commercial? No problem for me if it grabs my senses where it counts, my palate.

04.19.07 at 6:27 AM

We are a small producer (1500 cases) with a 5 acre vineyard, and are intimately involved with every aspect of our production. As we thought about this question, here is our conclusion:

Ron the winegrower would characterize a small producer as wineries

1. using manual or semi-automatic bottling, labelling, etc.

2. not using automatic fill or automatic bottling, corking, capsule machines such as a monobloc!

The break point is probably 5000 cases.

NRC wrote:
04.19.07 at 7:32 AM

Nancy;

With all due respect, probably 99% of wineries, large and small, have made the decision to use automated bottle filling devices, and for good reason; less random oxidation, less bottle variation, and it gets the wine from tank to bottle faster, which is much better for the wine! (It must also be more economical, which is important to a sustainable business.) I think you are describing something nearer to home winemaking than small commercial production.

As Jerry said (and how are you, Jerry? I hope well. See you at IPNC this year?) when wineries talk about being small production, they are speaking a lot more to the mentality of their crafting of the wine, and less about absolute size. It is all about the ability to have attention to detail and manpower to accomplish the style goals of the winery.

That is why it is impossible to scale it up to huge sizes, when huge wineries are huge because they depend on economies of scale and on selling based on low price points; this is also why First Growth Bordeaux still can pull off great wines at the 30,000 case level - it is a question of resources.

Makes me think of Kendall Jackson, they have a new marketing print advertising campaign revolving around 'Truth' and environment, and sense of place. At first, I had to scoff, remembering 12 years ago when they bulldozed thousands of acres of oaks in Santa Barbara County to make way for Chardonnay vines. But as time has gone on, I realize that they very well may have saved those acres from housing developments. KJ recently made a switch entirely back to their own vineyard holdings for their main wine (think it is Vintner's Reserve.) So where do they fit in? They are enormous, but they are also trying to play off the small, handcrafted thing, and they may be managing it, at least to some broad degree, in a wine that is in everyone's corner store across the nation for less than $20? Is this a good thing? Or does it confuse the issue?

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
04.19.07 at 10:49 AM

Retro,
I communicated, via e-mail, to Alder that I would allow consumers to order thier own priorities as to what kind of wine they should buy. You are well within your rights to not discriminate against a wine based on winery size. On the other hand I personally prefer wines ( and almost anything else ) that has recieved the 'craftsmen's touch'. I buy local produce and meats, I buy artisanal cheese and I see wine in the same vein. To me purchasing a factory made wine is similiar to buying factory raised chicken ( they are both sold in the same establishments )and I will not do it! However I won't waste one minute of your time or mine trying to convince you that I am right and you are wrong. Drink what you like for whatever reason you like.

NRC,
( I am well! Yourself? How is life in San Luis?) I think the KJ issue does confuse things. Though they are sourcing fruit from estate vineyards only I don't think this makes them small producers. I also don't beleive for a minute the are vinifying in small lots either. In the case of KJ, the last I heard, you are talking about 4 million cases of Chardonnay. Oregon, as a state, produces less than a million cases of wine period! Do I think this wine is any less worthy of purchase? For myself...yes! Do I think KJ should be boycotted by consumers in general? No. I do hope consumers can distinguish between a small producer ( pick a case production ) and a giant like KJ. You make a great point which I eluded to above; marketing has great impact on the consumer. A good marketing department or ad agency can create an image that has no relation to reality what-so-ever. This is one of the greatest tricks in the wine community; champagne has created the notion of rare and artisan but even a relatvely small player such as Nicolas Feuillat makes 4million bottles a year. Cloudy Bay in NZ, your years had american consumers believing they were a little winery in Marlborough yet they are crushing thousands of tons a year. Do I fault them? No. It is the consumers reponsibility to know what they are drinking. The question is does the consumer care and more importantly should they?

Nancy,
I think small isn't always a good thing. As far as wine quality goes I don't think which kind of labeler one uses is an issue. I beleive quality of wine is a direct result of meticulous farming and attentive winemaking. High technology won't do it for you but simply shunning technology doesn't mean you are producing a quality product. And I say this as someone who is, by nature, a technophobe.

Barrld wrote:
04.19.07 at 10:51 AM

All good points on the topic; from my perspective I think the artisanal/boutique label often rises to the level of marketing based on the particular circumstances of the wine maker. In many instances small producers do not have access to the grapes, acreage and/or facilities to produce more than a couple hundred cases. That they spend all their time and focus on those cases doesn't automatically suggest that the produce will be superior to those of a producer that has more resources and makes 5,000 to 10,000 high quality cases of wine a year such as say Pride Mountain. Using numerical output as the sole guide to the handcrafters vs. the mass producers misses the point of the very complicated economics that goes into wine making. I know Steve Yafa's Segue Pinot is always going to be good, whether he makes 400 cases at a co-op or 4,000 cases at a state of the art luxury facility. Thus in many instances in this debate size really does not matter.

David C wrote:
04.19.07 at 6:24 PM

I think what we're all getting at here is the question behind the question: why does it matter what size the winery is? We are trying to point to a vaguely defined notion of quality; not the 89pts-vs-90pts or too-much-VA type of quality, but rather the "how much love went into this" kind.

The question, as many have pointed out, doesn't begin or end with vinification, but rather encompasses the continuum from vineyard management to sales and marketing. Because it's hard to put a "love quotient" on a barrel or a bottle of wine, there is no substitute for the real story - not the marketing slick - and the real people. While there is some correlation to the size of winery, for some of the reasons mentioned above, I have found exceptions to every rule I might arbitrarily designate.

To take a different tack, the distinction we’re making is a bit like the old pornography “I know it when I see it” adage. Since it's harder to crack open to the centerfold on a bottle of wine, we can either tour the winery before we buy every bottle or rely on someone else to get that kind of skinny for us. That’s why there’s no substitute for small bottle shops, attentive sommeliers and cool blogs like this one to really guide us through the sea of wine out there to pick out the bottles with the higher “love quotient.”

Greg P. wrote:
04.20.07 at 5:05 PM

Barrld,

Pride is nearer 20K cases these days, but in general I do agree with your take on things.
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NRC,

I am a bit tied up time wise right now and will respond in greater detail in a day or two, but I do not agree with a number of your points as they relate to small wineries. I can assure you that I work with MUCH better equipment and crew than most any medium or large scale wineries around as well as elect to work ONLY with the best available fruit, price no object. No need to declassify ANY lots/barrels. THAT takes much more time up front and prior/during crush and it is obvious you did not work for the "right" small producers in your day, thus your seemingly skewed sense of reality.

750 acres? Is that planted acres? What do you do with the rest of the fruit? Assist in 2BC production? Why plant 750 to work with 15? Bad initial choice of location for planting?

Some too obvious questions that may go over consumers' heads, but not here.

Clark Smith wrote:
04.21.07 at 9:37 AM

As a winemaker with a brand which struggles to be at the small, artisal end of the spectrum, I can tell you unequivocably that you're concentrating on the wrong end of the shovel. The opportunity to make distinctive wines which make their own statement is entirely a function of the size of the market, not the winery. The larger you get, the more you need to provide the expected item, and be all things to all people, thus compromising your own vision. The production paradoxes you're looking at are the result of a market niche size choice, not the cause. It's a lot harder to make wine when you're small, but it's also a lot more fun. You think Jess Jackson would let me make Faux Chablis and Roman Syrah?

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
04.23.07 at 4:34 PM

Greg P.,

So it is obvious from your comments that you have deep pockets and can afford the 'best' of everything. Is this why your wine is so great? This whole hang up on technology as the source of good or great wine is BS. If your wine is great it is because the people who work in the vineyards you source from do great work, the vineyards are well managed, your staff is skilled and you manage them well and pay close attention to what is going on. And here is where this is going...
It is and always has been the privlege of the privleged to claim some expensive technology is required to make great wine. It could be gravity fed wineries, it could be must chillers, mechanical concentrators, cross flow filtration etc. By doing this you create the image ( enter marketing department ) that only YOU can make great wines, since only YOU can afford the shiny red button. I have seen it on three continents and it is BS. I am not saying you don't make great wine, I have no idea who you are but to claim that NRC ( I know some of the small wineries he has worked in ) has " obviously not been working in the 'right' small wineries" is to be quite presumptive ! Are wineries then to be lumped into the domains of Penthouses, Italian Villas and Rolls Royces; toys of the rich and arrogant? To attack NRC for selling off most of a 750 acre vineyard to keep 15 for themselves and postulate about the expertise and skill of the people who made the relevant descions to do so is the kind of arm chair winemaking I rarely see outside of Matt Kramers column in the Wine Spectator.

NRC wrote:
04.24.07 at 1:04 PM

Hey Greg P!

I mostly was pointing out my experience with large & small, and please recognize it as just that: my experience. Just an example of the somewhat paradoxical nature of the 'smaller is better' argument which can seem so plausable. (I tend to think that 'better than' is a phrase that should be generally excluded from any discussion of wine!)

In answer to your questions, the winery i work with ended up with 750 acres of vineyard due to planting contracts in the early 1990's - the entire property is over 2400 acres, and now includes a lot of land that is in permanent set-asides. As you can imagine, on a property that large, there is a little of every kind of land, and it has been a long process of determining which blocks / rootstocks / techniques are consitently the best for our chosen wine style. There are about 140 acres of the ranches that would make any winemaker's mouth water. (There are another 100 acres that would make any grape farmer rub his hands together in greed too!)

The winery itself started entirely out of love as a 250 case Chard & Pinot brand that was never going to grow, but then did, due to demand. But we are consciously holding production at a level that we can control quality and style, and have made the tough decisions we needed to in certain vintages to maintain a high standard.

Regarding the 'right' wineries, I worked for people who were, and are passionate, maybe more passionate for not having deep pockets to start with, but still having the courage to start. I will always be in their debt for bringing me into this career and sharing their enthusiasm.

Regarding KJ, I guess I threw that in to see what the discussion would be, not out of seriously considering them to be a 'small' producer. Alder is right that this is a whole different topic.

Best!

Greg P. wrote:
04.25.07 at 5:01 PM

Jerry,

Well, you are ABSOLUTELY wrong about all the assumptions you have made.

We are the opposite end of deep pockets and have been operating in red since day 1. The equipment we have access to is at a custom crush facility we chose, for that reason and among others. The fruit we work with is due to careful selection of growers. We pay custom crush fees at the top end of the scale as the result, but the difference is that we make much smaller profit margins and do not pass it on to consumers as do others with "750 acre" plantings.

This thread pretty much underscores what is wrong with the business: consumers know very little about winemaking and wine in general and wineries like to put down competitors.

Just where did I state that our wines are better than others" in my post? Care to point it out to me? Yet, the SLO expert pretty much stated that and at the same time proclaimed that small guys do not have the time/resources to produce as good a wine as biggr guys. For the record, we are at 2K cases and if anything there are no plans to ever grow beyond 3.5K cases, its just a choice made and there are no constraints.
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NCR,

Others here may be impressed by your proclamations, I am not. Sounds like you have worked at some "wrong" small wineries, thus your less than positive experience. Please let me know what wine have you produced at your "incredible" new place that set the world on fire, I am dying to find out.

Small producers are just driven harder and despite what you posted, we spend way more time in the vineyard than you can even understand. Growers ask for our input and oversight and the resulting wines are proof positive, IMO.

For the record, equipment we use includes 2 top end presses, one bladder and one basket (my preference), 2 top notch crusher/destemmers, 5 pumps, a good number of fermentors in all sizes, fully equipped and staffed lab on premises.

I am very cynical in regard to your boast of 750 incedible acres, something tells me that in today's world it is simply wishful thinking on your part and nothing else. Great land and terroir so hard to come by these days it is a revelation to read that hundreds of acres are simply sitting there collecting pollen.

Please remind me once again why is it that you think that small guys don't have the resources/means and time to produce geat wines like you do. I can point out a huge number of serious wines that are made, yes, by the small guys who elect to stay small.

And yes, please list the wines you make, I'd like to taste some to see how your incredible land and winemaking boasts correspond to reality.

NRC wrote:
04.25.07 at 8:08 PM

Anyway...

Anyone else think Greg might be reading my posts differently than I have been intending them to be read?

Certainly my aim was to offer my own experience without broadly applying it to all situations. No 'proclamations' were made.

At any rate, I won't be baited; I don't have anything that I need to prove to you.

Have fun with all your shiny toys, Greg!

Alder wrote:
04.25.07 at 9:48 PM

Greg,

I think you're reading a bit much into NCRs response in particular, which I thought was very reasonable and polite, given the fact that you're questioning his credibility -- his reply doesn't seem like grandstanding to me, and is certainly no more boastful than your post. Let's everyone keep the discussion to the facts of how small winemaking is done, please.

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
04.27.07 at 4:58 PM

Greg P.,

I will begin by saying that I am rushing to respond to your most recent post because it pointed out to me that I had completely misunderstood your first post. I APPOLOGIZE!
I thought you were suggesting that only wineries with the finest of everything are capable of making great wine which of course led to my diatribe. I agree that working in a facility such as your has tremendous advantages but lets also acknowledge some of the draw backs; namely do things get done when they need to be done or do you compromise your timeline? I don't know your facility but would guess this is sometimes the case. Also many 'Custom Crush' facilities are manned by a single winemaker that calls the shots and thier staff carries out the work. The wine is then labeled with a brand that would be considered small yet the wine recieved no more special attention than one produced in a larger facility, because it actually was. I think you also made the point, which I appreciate and appologize for again, that great wine is made from great fruit and meticulous attention to detail. I read your initial comments as touting all the bells and whistles as a way to make great wine, which I would not agree with. I think I am more in agreement with your comments then not. Again I appologize for my initial response. I too make wine for a small brand that has its own modest facility and take great issue with producers that use thier great financial resources to build wineries and marketing strategies that suggest small more modest producers, like you and I, make lesser quality wine because we don't have the best of everything. I will mention no names ( I am an Oregonian ).

Again I appologize to you, Alder and other posters for my misunderstanding.

Ray wrote:
05.14.07 at 6:11 AM

I have read most of the posts. Forgive me if I missed something. In all of the comments nobone mentions taste. Winemaking is a lot like being a chef. When a chef is so busy that he can't have quality control of what is sent out of his kitchen, his resaturant is to large. Similar issue for winemakers. When the small winemaker gets to a point that he has to release a wine, whether it's good or not, he has become to large.

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Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.