Today marks one week with Lake’s Folly, and my time with the team will shortly come to an end. Legendary assistant winemaker of twenty eight years, Peter Payard, asked me today whether the experience has been what I thought it would be.
Hard question to answer, and I’ve resolved not to jump to too many conclusions before the year has played out. Two things are obvious, though. Firstly, I’ve an enormous amount to learn not only with respect to winery operations but also winemaking itself. The tree of decisions facing winemakers in the real world is related to what I learned at University in the same way mathematics might describe the path of a bouncing ball – accurate in its way, but quite unable to bring to life the reality of the situation, let alone equip one to catch the ball.
Secondly, and perhaps less obviously, I’ve had a niggling question in the back of my mind since planning this year: what if I hate it? What if I get into a winery, start helping out with things and realise in my gut that it’s simply not for me? To my relief, I am loving it. Even the cleaning. I’m excited by the vineyard, the juice, the ferments, the winemaking decisions, the transfers to barrel, the topping up, the sensory evaluation, the daily measurements; everything. No doubt some is due to the novelty of it, but what is more profound is a sense that I’m only now truly learning about wine, that it’s only in the making of it that I am starting to understand how the finished wine becomes what it is. As a wine lover, that is beyond gratifying.
So with that litmus test passed, what remains is simply to experience this year’s vintages here and abroad, to see how it’s done differently by different people in different regions and, eventually, to perhaps draw some conclusions about what it all means.
Much yet to come, then.
In the meantime, we have more beautiful Chardonnay to process tomorrow, a dinner with the team that promises to be spectacular for various reasons, and the long drive to Tasmania, my next stop.