Bella Luna Estate Winery Blog
Sherman's Mom, Grandma Sherlie as the kids called her, was an avid reader and she passed her love of words down to Sherman and his daughter Carly. In the spirit of Grandma Sherlie, we put together ten of our favorite quotes about another one of our favorite things―wine!
2. "In the abstract art of cooking, ingredients trump appliances, passion supersedes expertise, creativity triumphs over technique, spontaneity inspires invention, and wine makes even the worst culinary disaster taste delicious." ―Bob Blumer
3. "One should always be drunk.That's all that matters...But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk." ―Charles Baudelaire
5. "Wine is a living thing. It is made, not only of grapes and yeasts, but of skill and patience. When drinking it remember that to the making of that wine has gone, not only the labor and care of years, but the experience of centuries." ―Allan Sichel
6. "It is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool―it drives the
man to dancing...it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told." ―Homer, The Odyssey
7. "There's always a wine bully. The one person who did read the 'Wine Spectator,' who tells you what to drink and why the '97 is better than the '98. I want to punch the wine bully in the face. I want to make sure this generation of wine drinkers isn't elitist and snotty. I want it to be about family and bringing people together." ―Gary Vaynerchuk
8. "There’s something about being able to literally consume a work of art―then to divide all that pleasure of it―because it’s a memory. A great wine for me is a memory, it’s an extraordinary experience." ―Robert Parker
but his heart drinks wine" ―E. E. Cummings
And here is bonus quote about champagne, though not something we make at our winery, it is still something we love to drink.
11. "'Do you know,' he asked in a delicious accent, 'what Dom Pérignon said after inventing champagne?' 'No?' I said. 'He called out to his fellow monks, ‘Come quickly: I am tasting the stars!'" ―John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Is a phrase we hear a lot when we tell people we are dry farmers. For those unfamiliar with dry farming, we understand the common shock and awe that people often express when they learn just what dry farming is. Since dry farming is a staple of our vineyard and our wines, we wanted to talk more about it to help people understand just what it means and why it matters so much to us here at Bella Luna Estate Winery.
Below is an interview with the winemakers, Kevin Healey and Sherman Smoot, all about dry farming.
For those who are more unfamiliar, what is dry farming?
Sherman: Dry farming means we don’t irrigate the vineyard; we let Mother Nature rain on it instead. Even more importantly, by dry farming we are trying to conserve water and be a water-friendly winery.
Why did Bella Luna choose dry farming versus more traditional methods, like irrigation?
Kevin: I think it makes for more interesting wines with more minerals and earthy content. It means wines with lots of earth and sun and light.
How does dry farming impact the vineyard?
Kevin: Dry farming is a challenge because every year is going to be different, according to the weather and rainfall. If you have a wet year you’ll have more grapes with less character, but with dry years you will hopefully have a lot of character but not as much wine [laughing]. It makes more interesting wine and every year is different.
Sherman: The grapes are smaller and the skins are thicker and since a major part of the varietal character is in the skin, we get more intense fruit characteristics in our wine from our dry farmed grapes.
How does dry farming impact the wine?
Kevin: If you're irrigating grapes you are going to have big, plump grapes that are consistent, but with dry farming you get smaller, different fruit that makes for more concentrated wines.
Sherman: We get more intense fruit, because the roots go so deep causing them to pick up trace minerals from the earth, meaning we get more unique, mineral characteristics in the wine.
What are some of the positives you’ve seen with dry farming?
Kevin: You can walk around your vineyard and you don’t have to duck under pipes and things and manuever around drip lines everywhere [laughing]. Also, you get better looking vines when they are head trained and "au naturel." Every vine is different and has its own character. Pruning is cool with dry farming, because every vine is like a sculpture, with individual identities and has to be pruned accordingly.
Sherman: No water bill [laughing]. We don’t have to worry about drip or irrigation and we don’t have to worry about our well going dry.
What are some of the challenges with dry farming?
Sherman: Well, you are dependent on rain and Mother Nature. We don’t get the tonnage per acre that a wet farmer would, but what we do get is higher quality fruit.
Describe dry farming in three words.
Kevin: Unique, intense flavors.
Sherman: Quality, Mother Nature.
Hi there! Welcome to the new and improved Bella Luna Estate Winery blog!
As Sherman’s daughter, and the one in the family who pursued English as a career versus Wine and Viticulture, I’ve been tasked with launching and revamping our social media. As part of this job my dad asked me to start blogging for the winery, which is right up my English major alley. Typically when I sit down to write the words flow as quickly and heavily as the wine or coffee near me (as a grad student, I have developed an equal addiction to both). However, this time around, I was just stuck—cursor blinking, forehead on the desk sort of stuck.
I decided that it would be best to chat with my dad, since he is the winery expert and this is our winery blog after all, and see what sort of stories he had in mind. We productively passed ideas back and forth, and by productively I mean I mostly rambled on about what I thought I might be able to write about with not a whole lot of wine expertise. After at least ten minutes of me talking in circles, he stopped me saying, “Why don’t you just write about what you want to write about?” I rolled my eyes and shot back something along the lines of “Dad, I’m fairly certain no one wants to read a blog post about things I love, like dancing, puppies, literature, photography, and so on—it just isn’t related to wine, you know?” His response: “You’re a winemaker’s daughter, you must have something to say.”
He’s right, as dads often are, so here is what I know to be true from being a winemaker's kid:
1. Good wine takes time…and so does a lot of other stuff in life.
A phrase I grew up hearing from my Dad almost daily was, “Patience is a virtue.” Those words didn’t sink into my thick, twenty-six-year-old skull until recently. In a society of instant gratification, I think we highly underestimate the importance of taking a breath and being patient. Growing up watching my Dad and Kevin tediously measure pH, spending hours on end pruning grapes, and waiting as our wine aged in the barrels taught me that stopping and taking your time is a good skill to develop. So yeah, sometimes we just want a giant chocolate bar and we want that bar now…like…right now, and that is totally okay. However, sometimes we have to stop, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that, just as vines need ample time to grow and be pruned, as humans we need that time too, to be patient, to take things slow, and the ending is stronger, healthier vines and stronger, healthier humans.
2. The wine industry is all about people.
At this point I’m convinced that if you offer up good food and good wine, people will flock to it. Sure, since I am a winemaker’s daughter I’ve been privy to a whole heck of a lot of good food and wine, but what is truly important is how those things offer up a place for conversation and connecting with people. My dad taught me the art of open-mindedness and the importance of human connection through showing me the power of sitting down at a big table and sharing food and wine with friends and family. I have gotten the chance to know so many amazing people just by taking the time to sit down over a bottle of wine and talk with them. Something I never regret is finding those moments to have meaningful conversations with others, and I understand the importance of this because I saw my dad do it a million times a day with people coming into the winery, winery events, big family dinners, and so on.
3. You can actually have fun at work.
My dad and Kevin work hard. Really hard. There are days that I am at the winery and the two of them are running around juggling chemistry sets and wine bottles, while also talking on the phone, shipping orders, etc. Really, when you get down to it, making great wine is a rigorous business. However, no matter the long, hot days in the sun picking grapes or the late night hours checking the wine as it ferments, I witness as much if not more joy and laughter and fun as they work. My dad and Kevin truly love being winemakers and that rubbed off on their kids. When I was deciding between the career that would pay me a lot of money versus the one that I actually enjoyed doing, I looked back at my dad and realized that I wanted to have a job that I loved as much as him and Kevin—so I picked that. I am never disappointed in that choice, because now I reciprocate the joy, fun, and laughter in my own job as a teacher. It really is the best loving your job and being happy and present in it.
4. Winemaking can be finicky, but you have to fight for what you love.
I have witnessed talks between my Dad and Kevin when they were worried about not getting enough rain for the grapes (we dry-farm, so we are a bit more dependent on the weather than some other wineries), times when yucky bugs were out to get local vineyards, and tension when the wine levels weren’t quite right, but what they never did was give up. My dad didn’t look at wine and think, “Ah well, better luck next year.” He said, “Oh no you don’t give up on me wine, because I’m not giving up on you!” So they work tirelessly to keep the vines healthy and the wine tasting delicious, but the product is so good, because they fight for it to be that way. Good wine isn’t born, it’s made, and it’s made through a lot of perseverance. When I’m feeling bogged down and stuck on a paper or dealing with a student who is giving me a tough time, I look at that stuff and think, “Hey student, paper, [insert any other issue here], I’m not giving up on you!” because when you love and care about something, you fight for it.
So yeah, being a winemaker’s kid means you get a lot more sunburns than the average youngster because of working in the vineyard, bottling, etc. and it means sometimes having fingers and clothes stained red for days on end because grape juice is not forgiving, but all of that pales in comparison when you take into account the lessons you get to learn from winemakers who still believe in hard work, patience, people, artistry, and, of course, fun!