Inside Winemaking - the art and science of growing grapes and crafting wine

At my request Zeke Neeley, who you may remember from Episode 2: Champagne, Cucumbers, and Estate Winemaking..., to come back and record a solo post about something he is well-versed, the use of Sulfur in winemaking.

In 15 minutes Zeke lays out the historical use of sulfur, specifically sulfur-dioxide (SO2), some of the common misconceptions it has had publicly, it's role with bacteria and yeast, the paradox of not using it, and his own personal opinions on the best use of SO2 for commercial winemaking.

Like cooks in a kitchen, all winemakers have different approaches to the use of SO2, and it's key to remember that Zeke's practices are a summation of his studies and practical experience.  Nothing can rile up a room of winemakers like the discussion of SO2.

I think anyone interested in serious winemaking will come away with new insights from Zeke's post.  I'm very appreciative that he was willing to sit down and record his thoughts on this hot-button issue.

Let me know if you find short guest post episodes such as this valuable.


Direct download: Zeke_Neeley_on_SO2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11am EDT

The first three years of Douglas Rennie's apprenticeship involved learning to make oak barrels using only hand tools.  These hand tools were treated with great respect, never placed on the ground, as they had been passed down from the men in his family.  Douglas is the fourth generation to become a master cooper in his family.

After making barrels for Black and White Whiskey in Scotland Douglas made his way to California and began a new career making wine barrels for the French cooperage, Seguin Moreau.

I traveled to Seguin to interview Douglas for the Inside Winemaking Podcast and had a chance to ask him all the questions I've been saving for a true expert of oak.  In this Podcast Douglas tells the story of his apprenticeship, what it means to be a master cooper, he describes the many differences between French and American oak, takes us through the process of assembling a barrel, and describes the importance of toasting the staves.


Direct download: Douglas_Rennie_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

This short podcast is a teaser episode for the interview with Douglas Rennie, Master Cooper from Seguin Moreau in Napa, California.  Listen as Douglas tells two short stories from his early days of apprenticeship in Scotland and then another about some "dodgy fishcakes" in Beverley Hills.  The entire interview podcast should be live by Monday March 9th.  

Direct download: Douglas_Rennie_Teaser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19am EDT

"God and the devil are in the details."  In this episode Cameron Parry, who is taking over the winemaking reigns at Groth Vineyards and Winery explains which details he views are most critical to ensure that each vintage of Groth wines are exceptional.

A highlight from our conversation include Cameron's description of the flavor and texture qualities that result from Sauvignon blanc's fermentation in neutral oak barrels vs. stainless steel tanks.

Cameron does a great job in dispelling the myth that winemakers have some sort of gifted sensory ability. Training is the key to develop one's abilities when it comes to smell and flavor recognition.  I like how Cameron works that training into everyday experience, especially with his kids and their time spent cooking and "developing their sensory capacities."


Groth is perhaps most well known for their Cabernets - all of which are from grapes sourced from the Oakville district of Napa.  Cameron tells the story of how the Groth Reserve Cabernet came about and the describes the most notable wines from the recent 30-year retrospective tasting that Groth put on as a press event.

Direct download: Cameron_Parry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48am EDT