When I first started drinking wine, I had all sorts of romantic notions about what winemaking involved. I though of it as a mix of alchemy and poetry and all sorts of other things. Of course, once I learned a lot more about wine, such romantic notions were replaced by a sense of the back-breaking work, long hours, and exacting chemistry that is required to make a decent wine.
But no matter what Ive learned about wine, I never would have thought of winemaking as therapeutic. Sure, the Italians have their prisoners make wine as some sort of rehabilitation, but I was surprised and delighted when I read about a winery in Japan that is staffed by autistic and developmentally disabled workers, for whom the process of winemaking appears to be quite therapeutic.
Who would have guessed that the repetitive, detail oriented, manual labor involved in winemaking would be just the sort of work that appeals to the autistic, but apparently in addition to simply being enjoyable, it has provided a framework for some to make real advances.
The story of Coco Farms & Winery as both a winery and an institution for helping marginalized members of society goes back over 50 years. In its current incarnation it seems to be a labor of love for winemaker and steward Bruce Gutlove, who visited 20 years ago as a consulting winemaker and then never left.
Next time I'm in Japan, I'm going to try and get my hands on some of the wine, but regardless of whether it's any good, the story is wonderful.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune