So I wandered to the Central Coast of California as that’s the place I felt the greatest potential existed to make world class Pinot Noir. I was not alone in this thinking, long before me Robert Parker, Matt Kramer and many such respected wine writers talked of the potential that existed here. Long before me great wine makers like Jim Clendenen parked themselves here because they knew what was in front of them. But that word Potential is a funny thing you see, it’s an albatross hung around your neck that needs more than any single individual to advance and prove.
With all the advancement the region has made, from Rootstocks, clones, proper geography, spacing of vineyards, yields and the list is too long for this lonely blog, we still move backwards. The old ways hold their sway, and if (it’s always been done that way) well it has to be right! In their defense, selling wine for a price point conducive to making the sacrifice needed in the vineyard would be troublesome. There’s also the place one evolves too in the way of his or her palate. This always comes out arrogant but I’m past caring! It is under the same heading as (it’s always been done that way) so it should taste that way. That’s Bunk! We’re a fledgling wine region, and country as compared to Europe and since we’re talking about French Varieties compared to France in particular. Yes I know, we’re not France, but we could learn a lot from a country who’s been making great wine for over 400 years. And if you want to achieve the ultimate pleasure in wine, it certainly will never be making wines of 16, 17, 18, 19% alcohol! Yes the label lies; there I said it and very few wine makers tell the truth! We don’t claim to be saints but I have the lab work to prove our label accurate, all one needs to do is ask!
Aesthetics have much as anything to do with pleasure. You drive through Napa, all is beautiful, and all is good in the world. You have great places to lodge, and great places to eat all World Class. Your mind enters nirvana and the bliss won’t wear off for years to come, and maybe never. I’m all for the fantasy but reality needs to find its way home. We have a wine trail, look no further than Foxen Road, but the bliss wears off as you need to travel out of the beauty to get something to eat, and staying at the Holiday Inn will never return the dividends that Auberge du Soleil creates. Simply put we’re not as pretty in all places and as Humans go Aesthetics, Atmosphere and alike will always count for 5 points on the rating system.
As many of you know we stopped submitting or wines long ago when we were getting great scores. Has it turned out Ok? The simple answer is NO, out of sight out of mind. But I still believe in the grass roots effort. I was struck however recently when looking through the Wine Advocate and trying to find the scores for Santa Maria and Santa Rita Hills. I like to see how some of my friends are doing and send off a note of congratulation. But the region was left out of the hard copy of the publication! What! We’re still on the web version, Thanks! Now I still like News Papers, Hard Back Books, and Telephones. So if this is not a step backwards I can’t imagine what one would look like. With all the money, time and effort put into the region over the last 20 years what’s happened? I can only speculate but if we are not taken serious as a region, then as a whole we are all painted with the same broad brush.
Yes we will survive as the go to place for Cheap, yes I said it, Cheap wine! Want a buzz, drinking some MD 20/20, back to my college days! But 16 Percent Alcohol is not far behind those brain ravaging cocktails. Awful is awful and for the rest of us it put’s another nail in the quality alliance. Eventually many will stop making the higher end wines as they will be harder to sell, and leave the resistance. Yes we will fall to the Jedi Mind Tricks, with the wave of his hand, You like Tonnage, you like Alcohol, you like manipulation. But why Master?
Because it’s always been done that the way!