Kevin Holt, award-winning winemaker, shares his approach to winemaking
Non-interventionist winemaking is a myth. The end result of crushed grapes and natural biochemistry is vinegar; to stop the process at the wine stage requires intervention. The winemaker’s job is to decide where to draw the line from there. While there is a place in the world for both “natural” and “manufactured” wines at either end of the spectrum, I believe that great wine is made somewhere in the ever-shifting ground between these two extremes.
As with any craft, the skill lies in knowing when and how to apply the correct tools to gently shape the product, and when to get out of the way and let the beauty of the raw material shine through. Finding and expressing the character of a great vineyard is what makes great wine, and sometimes that takes a bit of spade work, but it never requires burying the grapes in winemaking. Finding the balance point is the key. Balance in the process results in balance in the glass.
Cool, long and very slow, the 2018 growing season led up to the latest harvest I’ve experienced in more than twenty years of making wine. While late harvests can be scary, as fall sets in and the onset of winter rains approach, they can also lead to exceptional flavor development in the grapes. In warmer seasons we sometimes see sugars rise before flavors are all the way there; not so this year. By the time we got sugars where we like them, flavors were rich and concentrated, and since 90% of the flavor in any wine was in the grapes at harvest, this was a very good thing.