The Evolution of Our Love of Wine
Not in competitive way (“I found them before you did!”). It’s really about seeing what’s next, who’s trying something new. Even, who is trying to make their mark.
I think it is the motivation that overcomes the devoted wine lover after many years of discovering the classics, the well-knowns, tasting through the countries and regions. To a certain extent it becomes what’s exciting about wine: finding that brand new brand and its brand new wine.
I know I experience something akin to joy and excitement when a new winemaker pushes a glass of something in front of me and says, “Try this”, and I discover it’s really fantastic. Then I discover it is their first effort out of the gate. All sorts of scenarios run through your head. Will they succeed? What will it taste like down the road? Am I tasting the first of what will become a coveted brand. How far will this person go?
There is a lot of this sort of thing in California and certainly in Napa and Sonoma. And now that I’ve been in the business just long enough, I occasionally see someone I met early on strike out on their own. So I feel a certain affinity for them.
Certainly this kind of excitement strikes various wine reviewers. Some, like Doug Wilder at Purely Domestic Wine Report kinda specializes in finding the new and Allan Meadows at the Burghound could always be counted on for this.
I was recently reminded of this kind of joy and excitement upon tasting a new ENFIELD WINE CO. Napa Valley “Haynes Vineyard” Syrah made by John Lockwood. John just had a baby with his partner Amy. They live in Napa. He’s been working under Ehren Jordan at Failla Wines where my own wife tends to marketing and hospitality. John’s a good, likeable guy who has a whole new set of priorities in the form of a small bundle of joy. The wine is absolutely delicious, a fruit-forward, integrated, well-composed, intensely flavored wine that comes in a 13.7% alcohol, retails for only $36, but only 126 cases were made.
These types of projects pop up all over California and they often come from folks just like John; assistant winemakers or cellar workers who are ready to give it a go. They are almost never marketers and they almost always scramble to find the right outlet for their wines.
Sometimes word just spreads by mouth. Sometimes they luck out with a few great reviews. Sometimes it’s local sommeliers or retailers who spin their praise and turn enough people on to the new wine to sell it out or darn near. Sometimes, the new brands just fade away for lack of attention or lack of quality.
It’s just so much fun to discover these baby brands and baby wines.
I don’t know what will happen with John’s Enfield Wine Co. Syrah. Maybe it’s the start of something big. Maybe it’s the start of something that will put the new baby through college or perhaps through diapers. It’s a wonderful wine and it’s an example why so many of us can’t let our love of wine fade away.