Episode 337 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features John Lockwood, the winemaker and owner of Enfield Wine Co. in California.
We hear all the time now about California winemakers searching for interesting fruit from far flung parcels throughout the state, but what does that actually mean for the people doing it? From what John Lockwood of Enfield Wine Co. has to say in this interview, the search sure sounds like a lot of driving. Regular four hour trips to check on and sample fruit. Similarly long trips in big trucks on winding roads to haul that fruit out of the vineyard during harvest. And the realization that a lot of winemaking is actually a game of logistics management. Want to buy from a well-known fruit source and a famous vineyard name? There is going to be a waiting list, and if you want in on that vineyard past everyone else, you are going to have to offer more dollars for those grapes. Which means a higher priced wine on the shelf. Or you do have to go out of your way to find those far flung parcels that nobody else thinks is convenient to deal with. And maybe you have to arrange more of the details for a vineyard like that yourself. Those are the sites, John says, that usually need the most help. Plus, the little guy is rarely a priority over the bigger operations when it comes to harvest team scheduling, which can mean you have to get creative. How John has managed to navigate these several obstacles is as interesting as finding out about the challenges themselves, and there is plenty in this interview that would hold true for any number of small California operations trying to enter the market today. Or even those that have already started some time ago. As John mentions in this discussion, he is six years in on his own wine label, and he still has never drawn a salary off the margins. Which is what can happen when it takes two or three years of ageing a wine before you can sell something you have in the cellar. If you are looking for a wine world reality check, this interview serves it up well.
This episode also features a Warm Up from Erin on Wild Horse Valley.
Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine