My focus is on producing wines with minimal intervention not only in the vineyard but also in the winery. The few wineries in Massachusetts who grow their own grapes have already proven that it’s possible to make great white wines here. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Vidal Blanc are some of the varietals that can consistently produce wines of great quality in Southeastern Massachusetts. As for red wines, it is certainly more difficult due to a shorter growing season than required for most red grapes to achieve the desired degree of ripeness. However, in certain years it is indeed possible to produce red wines with grapes such as Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Some vineyards continue to trial different varieties, clones and growing techniques that may result in more consistent red wine quality. At the present, my white wines are made with grapes grown by Running Brook Vineyards in Dartmouth and Westport Rivers in Westport, both in Southeastern Massachusetts. Occasionally I also source some grapes from Long Island, NY. For reds, I’m now sourcing grapes from vineyards in Portugal, where I buy directly from growers that I’ve known for quite some time.
Wineries in the United States are allowed to blend 15% of grapes/wine from other regions with their local product without ever disclosing it to the public. This is a practice that I personally oppose. 15% of a variety can have a dramatic impact in the taste of a wine. No grapes from foreign origins are blended with our local fruit for the production of our Massachusetts labeled wines. I’m not against producing wines with grapes from regions other than local and in fact I may experiment myself with some interesting varietals and blends. What I’m against is the blending of grapes grown in different regions, especially while not clearly disclosing this to the public.
My goal is not to make wines that attempt to mimic any other. I simply want to make wines which are honest, distinctive, and characteristic of the region where the grapes are grown. That basically summarizes my philosophy, but if you are interested, please read on….
In the winery I have a minimalist approach to winemaking… but every winemaker in the world will tell you this. The reality is that good wines can only be made from good grapes – a cliché indeed, but it’s so true. In good years, the grapes can be of such good quality that a winemaker becomes more of a monitor or facilitator. But in certain years a winemaker is required a more manipulative approach in order to adjust certain parameters in a wine. But how far should a winemaker go with its “cooking” hand in the winery?
There are many additives that can be added to the wine in order to improve its aroma, bouquet, color and taste. From fining agents to tannin extracts, winemakers have a multitude of possibilities at hand. However, some of these additives can completely alter the authenticity and “tipicity” of a wine. Though some say that when used properly these additives are tools to improve the quality of a wine, my experience is that in most cases, the end result is a wine that is not true to its origin or growing season (what we often refer to as “vintage”). Each winemaker has to draw the line somewhere between letting the wine reflect the vineyard, reflect the winemaker/winery, or even bend to the pressure of a market built on standardized and preconceived tastes.
Here is where I draw my line at this point in my life as a winemaker:
Use only if/when necessary: Isolated yeast, Inactivated yeast, Fining with bentonite, filtration, potassium metabisulfite.
Do not use: Concentrate addition, Ameloriation, enological tannins.
If you have a question in regards to my winemaking, please don’t hesitate to reach me. I always love to “geek out” about things of this nature.