I have a pretty good range of books on wine acquired over a lifetime of study, but what you can get out of a book will never compare with what you can learn from listening to winemakers themselves. Most everything I’ve learned about wine has come from talking with winemakers and like pretty much all fields of study, the more you learn, the less you really know.
The subject is vast and continues to evolve as we move back and forth between tried and true traditions, new innovations in viticulture and wine-making and the newest scientific gadget, which tend to be either a real boon or a complete delusion.
But what is always reassuring to me is when the winemakers themselves listen. And to what are they listening? To the unmistakeable clarion voices of the vines themselves. It is those who listen to nature and follow its paradigm who unfailingly make the best wines. It is those who are able to remain open to what is happening around them, to observe and learn from their vines who are the best at giving voice to their wines.
In an earlier post I spoke about wine and humility, pointing out that winemakers who work biodynamically (which would also include many working naturally and organically) show extraordinary humility in the face of nature’s mysteries, whereas conventional farmers tend to think that with the technology they posses, they know it all. This humility among those working with as opposed to against nature engenders openness and a willingness to learn. A willingness to listen.
“Son, you’ll do all right in this world if you just remember that when you talk you are only repeating what you already know—but if you listen you may learn something.” (J. P. McEvoy)