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Monday Manifestos
The Only Way To Make Wine

By Charles Olken

Let me be clear. I don't make wine. I have never made wine. Everything I may know about making wine comes first from books and secondly from correlating what winemakers say about making wine with how their wines taste.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of "learning", and I can now say with full conviction that there is no one way to make wine.

I have heard all the theories, listened as winemakers proclaimed everything from biodynamics to barrel aging, from high acid to high approachability as the only answers, the "right" answers.

I have had to hold my tongue with some difficulty as winemaker after winemaker disparaged their peers whose wines I have praised in print. "Added a little water"? "Added acid"? "Used more than 25% new oak"? All verboten.

"Used commercial yeast rather than wild yeast"? "Took advantage of alcohol-lowering technology"? Those wines must be flawed.

Over the years, I have heard it all, and, folks, the "my way is the only way" arguments just never seem to disappear. Now, don't get me wrong. I admire tasty wine, and I admire the faith in their technique that the winemakers espouse.

But I have news for them. There is no right way to make wine. There is no "only" way to make wine. And every time that I hear a winemaker say that there is, my BS detector rings louder and louder.

Stop telling me about your dung-filled cow horns and your planting by lunar cycles. Stop calling other folks' wines "flawed" because their winemaking process is not yours.

Most of the wine drinking world does not care how you made your wine or how your competitors made their wines. They care how those wines taste. And so do I.


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No Subject
by Bob Henry (wine professional)
Posted on:6/18/2013 3:00:33 AM

For those who wish to explore through interviews how many of the "wine luminaries" made California wine in the 1970s, I highly encourage you to secure a copy of Robert Benson's peerless book titled Great Winemakers of California.


Link to Amazon:


Steve Heimoff took his "inspiration" from Benson's book in conceiving. researching and writing New Classic Winemakers of California.


Link to "press release":


"Full disclosure": Bob was a colleague of mine at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  He taught courses in environmental law, public interest law, and the law of global warming

No Subject
by gabe
Posted on:6/21/2013 8:31:17 PM

Having made wine for multiple wineries, as well as making wine for multiple custom crush operations, I've come up with a mantra about winemaking:  "there is more than one right way to make wine, and there is also more than one wrong way to make wine".

I understand that a lot of consumers don't care how wine is made, but trust me, the way you make your wine matters.  The simplest way I can boil it down is that winemaking is a series of minor decisions, each one making very little difference by itself, but the final product is a direct result of a thousand minor decisions.

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