We Asked Winemakers: What’s Your Dream Winemaking Region?VinePair
Often filled with a natural wanderlust, winemakers reside and work in some of the most desirable climates and stunning landscapes in the world. They also get to relish in their achievements, being able to physically see, hold, and drink the results of hard-earned vintages.
Outside of the grueling and lengthy days of harvest, a typical day for a winemaker can involve everything from monitoring vineyard growth, to testing and finalizing blends, to filtering, fermenting, and bottling wine. It’s a career that requires an innate passion for wine, a deep understanding of multiple sciences, plus profound respect for Mother Nature and what terroir can produce.
Winemakers get the privilege of working among the vines and in the cellar — a far cry from the typical work-from-home setup that most people are experiencing right now. However, like everyone else, winemakers have been affected by stay-at-home orders over the past year, which is particularly difficult considering travel is typically part of the job.
In a time when we’re all dreaming about the next time we can board a plane, we asked 10 winemakers which corner of the globe they’d like to one day make wine in.
The Winemaking Regions Sought After by Winemakers:
- Tuscany, Italy
- Barolo, Italy
- Bordeaux, France
- Catalonia, Spain
- Douro, Portugal
- Central Otago, New Zealand
- Penedès, Spain
- UC Davis, California
- Burgundy, France
- Barolo, Italy
- Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Keep reading for details about winemakers’ dream destinations!
“When you make wine in three very different yet beautiful wines regions (Okanagan, Niagara, and Lujan de Cuyo), as I do, there has to be something compelling to make me dream of making wine somewhere else. My choice would be Tuscany. Not because it’s wildly famous and celebrities talk of their villas there, or because the culture is consistent with my sensibilities, but because there are many small vineyard plots [with] various aspects and interspersed with olives and other crops. Organic production is the ‘normal’ method. I love the stone buildings and deep cellars for making and aging wine, and think it would be a fantastic challenge to make Sangiovese.” —Ann Sperling, Head Winemaker/ Partner, Sperling Vineyards, Okanagan, Canada
“Most of my friends know me for my love of Nebbiolo and the wines of Piemonte. I have often said that my winemaking career would never be complete if I died without making Nebbiolo in Barolo! It wouldn’t need to be under my own brand or anything, I would definitely pick up the phone if Roberto Conterno called. But why do we need just one dream? We sleep every night, right? The wines of Bordeaux continue to haunt me and bring me incredible inspiration. The day that one of my wines makes me feel like I do when I drink Haut Brion, I will decide to leave Napa because I will have achieved everything I could here. And not to mention, Bordeaux, in my opinion, is one of the world’s greatest ‘wine-country cities.’ I hope to have a chance to live there one day!” —Dan Petroski, Winemaker, Massican, Napa, Calif.
“If I had to imagine a place other than the landscape that I have chosen and that I cultivate today, I would turn to the Portlligat vineyard in Catalonia. Portlligat is a small fishing village that was once home to Spanish painter Salvador Dali. During a visit once, a very old fisherman took me by small boat to a cove and told me how, in the old days, the wine growers harvested by hand. Grapes were brought down to the sea, then transferred to small boats to get to the cellar. The steep shale terraces are flooded with sun. This is where the vineyard of my dreams is located.” —Mylène Bru, Proprietor, Domaine Mylène Bru, Languedoc, France
“For many years, I dreamed of making wine in Douro, Portugal. Having visited many times since my first visit in 2014, I dreamed of one day making wine in this enchanting landscape. My dream, more recently, culminated in the purchase — along with my partner Rita — of a tiny vineyard and cellar in the village of Casais de Douro, about five kilometers outside of Pinhao on the opposite side of the river.” —Marc Kent, Managing Partner & Technical Director, Boekenhoutskloof, Franschhoek, South Africa
“My dream winemaking region is Central Otago, New Zealand. I’ve had the chance to visit for a holiday and was blown away. The scenery is stunning: snow-covered mountains, crystal clear lakes, and only a few hours to the ocean. The people are some of the friendliest and [most] welcoming that I’ve met — good-spirited and laid back. And the wines are just incredible. I love Riesling and Pinot Noir. Central Otago wines are distinctive, striking, and complex. And it’s a relatively young wine region, [so] there’s still plenty to be discovered and defined there.” —Leah Adint, Red Winemaker, Canoe Ridge Estate, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, Wash.
“My dream vineyard is very close to the Parés Baltà vineyards. It’s a very special location in Penedès where there were vineyards for centuries until phylloxera arrived, and then all the most difficult vineyards to cultivate were abandoned. The area is terraced, with an incredible slope and only two rows of vines per terrace. It’s surrounded by wild forest and faces the blue Mediterranean Sea. My brother introduced this special place some years ago, and I fell in love immediately. You can only arrive there on foot, and everything has to be done by hand with the help of some experienced mules.” —Joan Cusine, Director, Parés Baltà, Penedès, Spain
“A dream is a dream. Definitely UC Davis would be one place. I would work there to keep trying to understand more about how to make incredible wines sustainably. And of course, because of my affiliation with Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), working with the team at Lafite in Pauillac would be a unique dream. Lafite is one of the most elegant wines in the world, and I am very passionate about helping achieve that kind of elegance, year after year, in challenging vintages and wonderful vintages. Also, because it is a family-owned château. I come from a family of winemakers and grape-growers. I am the fifth generation here in Argentina, so when it comes to wine, family means a lot to me.” —Fernando Buscema, Executive Director, Catena Institute of Wine and Winemaker of Nicolas Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina
“I am a lover of two wine regions in the world: Burgundy and Piemonte. I had the opportunity to visit both, and I fell in love with their wines. If I have to decide which of them to work in, I’d choose the Vosne Romanée appellation because when I was there, it was the first time I got excited to taste wine. It was an unbelievable experience, and I would like to continue learning, understanding, and feeling the same emotion I felt while at the same time improving my knowledge and continuing to [contribute] to the Chilean wine industry.” —Patricio Celedon, Oenology Operations Manager, Viu Manent, Cunaco, VI Región, Chile
“If I wasn’t making wine where I currently do, it would be my dream to work in Barolo, specifically with grapes from the Cannubi vineyard. This is based on my love of Nebbiolo. Wines from that particular cru are mind blowing in terms of their balance of depth, perfume, and structure. It also takes me back to 2016, when I helped during harvest with Chiara Boschis of E. Pira et Figli. I still dream of drinking and dining my way through the region — so many incredible places to eat and drink, which is a basic requirement in any place I’d call home.” —Sam Berketa, Winemaker, Alpha Box & Dice, McLaren Vale, Australia
“If I could make wine anywhere, I would choose Hawkes Bay in New Zealand, and I would make a wine made of 100 percent Syrah. I used to work for Constellation Brands in Hawkes Bay in 2013. I don’t know if it was because of the area, the climate, the terroir, the people who made the wine, or the experience of living there, but when I drank my first glass of Syrah from this region, something happened in my heart that I cannot explain. [It was] like a firework of happiness, joy, and excitement. I loved every second of my experience in N.Z., and I hope I go back one day.” —Sandra Rochel, Winemaker, Château Fortia, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
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