A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog on how to make your own wine from home, which can be found here. Today, we wanted to write about wine-making from a commercial perspective. But you probably don’t want to read about something you’ve heard at every single wine tour you’ve ever taken. We wouldn’t, so we’ll focus on a unique winery endeavor and its way of making wine.
The collaboration is called Hard Six Cellars, in Napa Valley’s Diamond Mountain appellation. Wayne and Kara Fingerman, believe in making wine with as little intervention as possible. I can’t help but think of drinking wine during the Classical Antiquity period (Roman glasses in hand), and how great that would have been.
Many members of the Club have tasted his wine and it’s not only excellent but unique tasting (in a good way). When we wrote about the Lacrima varietal, we were excited to write about the varietal’s unique and fragrant nose. Hard Six Cellars’ wine is just as unique. Their ‘14 Sauvignon Blanc is not only unique looking (think unfiltered sake) but delicious tasting. One must respect, in this commercial age, a wine maker willing to forgo some profits to create something more pure and good, right?
Here is our exchange :
What is a minimum intervention wine maker? What is at the core of Hard Six’s beliefs?
Someone that allows fruit and site to speak for themselves. Essentially, we try and stay out of the fermentation’s way in the cellar. While we do allow for additions of sulfur, a natural byproduct of a fermentation to “stabilize” our finished wines, we do not add or take away anything else that could change the wine’s flavor profile or chemical makeup.
What do most minimum intervention wine makers have in common in their beliefs?
Wines made in a natural process allow for vintage variation and are expressions of time and place. Wines made in this fashion tend to have subtle differences and nuances and yet still are identifiable.
How does this affect the wine’s taste, physical appearance, mouth-feel?
Typically, our wines will be lower in alcohol and higher in acid than their conventional counterparts-overall we seek balance in terms of the wine’s composition.
Does this affect the cost of wine?
We not only make wine in this fashion, but farm our vineyards with the same philosophy. It is an incredibly labor intensive way to farm and produce our products, which can contribute to bottle pricing. However, the benefits are numerous: environmental consciousness, better working conditions, and an unparalleled product. In today’s market, price is really driven by demand, so I’m not sure the incremental production costs drive our pricing beyond the general market.
What are the drawbacks to being conscientious in this way?
“Minimal intervention” connotes an easier process or that we do less in some way. In fact, our processes involve a lot more hands on labor and quality control to achieve the best outcome with fewer inputs and without the ease of synthetic adjustments in both the field and cellar.
What is different about how Hard Six goes about it compared with similar others?
I think a fair number of people are making wines in this fashion, where we differ is our carry through approach to farming “beyond organically” and our commitment to working with very remote and difficult vineyard sites.
What are some lessons you learned in becoming a wine maker with this ethos? What are the rewards?
We are constantly learning and making subtle changes to make the best wine we can. It’s a lot easier to get involved and screw up a great wine than it is to allow it to make itself. The rewards come in sharing a bottle of wine with friends and knowing that wine is true to place.
True true Wayne, any commercial advantages?
People are clearly more concerned now than ever with what they choose to consume and put in their bodies, and the effect production has on the environment.
Is there a way for people to get involved and make a difference and if so, how?
Support small operations like ours! There are many varied approaches to wine production. We are huge aficionados of much of what’s created here in Northern California. That said, we are true believers in our non- interventionist process. It is an overarching approach which produces wine in the style we truly love, is more interesting, and preserves resources at the same time.