In the Company of Children

1 May 2015

Wine is a subset of life, a very nice subset, but a subset nonetheless.

It is a lovely thing to draw from the experience from the greater set and appreciate the parallels and analogies one can draw to your professional life, the subset.

My alter ego is that of a father of three young children. All girls as it happens. This is a very big part of my life and will be for the rest of my life.

As we worked through harvest I started to reflect on the parent in me coming through in the way I have found myself to be making wine.

My great hope as a father is to see my children grow to be the best expression of who they are. Hopefully they will have nothing but the normal hang ups, challenges and highs and lows in life and go on to find their inherent personalities.

I can but hope that I offer a nurturing environment and a strong but not coercive sense of direction for them to flourish and evolve over time. Far from being inactive this feels a very proactive process of allowing the development of a life and engaging with your own feelings and instincts and to challenge oneself to stand back when it would be so easy to step in under the aegis of parental authority and direct proceedings. I have no sense of what my children should be or become. And that I rightly leave up to them. Provide the right foundations and everything should turn out the best it can be.

And so to have evolved my feelings and practices with wine.

I will briefly say that I studied and trained and worked in environments where the technical approach was the route to the best results. I worked for and with some truly outstanding winemaking brains, many of whom started tossing out some of the contents of the winemaking tool kit and becoming more of the new age father to their wines. The fun and the magic in wine in this "new age" is watching what unfolds before you. Not losing yourself in every step it took to get there and nudging it in the "right" direction constantly (the winemaking equivalent of over-parenting).

This year I have been able to relax significantly more with the kids. The more I let go and focussed on a few basic steps the more I realised all would be ok in the end. So it has been this year with the move to 100% of the wines being fermented wild. Feed them well and they eventually stand up, run and flourish.

The results I have to say sparkle in a way that inoculated ferments do not. They are imbued with a little more of their own energy and like children test your patience a little as they drag their feet to initially get up and get going. From grape to wine (as with infant to young adult) these are unique and largely self-made individuals. A little care and guidance along the way, and a watchful eye to ensure they didn't charge off into the deep end goes a long way. As they graduate from the winery I can't wait to see them step out proud and ready to extend to the world the very best they have to offer.

So is the dream of a winemaker, so is the dream of a father. So is the joy to be in the company of children.

I thank my children for maturing me as a man. And I thank my wife and family for suffering me as a winemaker.


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