A girlfriend who loves art once told me that the more she learnt about art, the more she realised she didn’t know. That’s exactly how I feel about winemaking right now. Not that I’m a winemaker. But as a wine writer, I’ve always felt it was important to learn some technical aspects to make the writing authentic. It’s easier said than done.
This is the fourth year in a row that I have worked a couple of days of vintage at Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury. Or is it the fifth? Who’s counting. And the word ‘work’ isn’t strictly accurate. It’s more a case of tagging alongside a winemaker or two, plunging the cap on a couple of Pinot tanks, measuring a ferment starter and, occasionally, digging out tanks of sticky Pinot skins after the wine’s been moved to barrels.
It’s amazing dabbling in vintage work. I’ve learnt so much about how much I don’t know.
The incredibly diverse range of skills a winemaker needs to be successful is mind boggling. Knowledge of plant biology is essential to coax the best from the raw material – the grapes. Then there’s chemistry for the winemaking, technical understanding and proficiency when working with pumps, tanks and pipes in the winery. And last, but far from least, you need to love it. That’s the only way to blend wine that tastes great.
So the week was interesting, delicious and humbling, yet again, thanks to the great communicators in the cohesive winemaking team at Pegasus Bay Winery in North Canterbury. Mat Donaldson heads up the team of talented winemakers, which includes Pete Lidgard, Mark Rose and Marie Christine Dufour, along with an eclectic bunch of international winemakers who come along for vintage each year.
The 2015 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir is available in store and online at Regional Wines - click here to purchase.
Speaking of vintage, last week began at Greystone Winery’s vineyards where writers and retailers were taken into the vineyards to watch the third commercial release of this winery’s interesting vineyard ferment Pinot Noir, which I wrote about here:
The Pegasus Bay vintage experience was originally written for my own website at www.joellethomson.com