It struck me recently that as an industry, we – wine people – spend too much time in the winery.
Last year I spent a lot of time visiting natural wine farmers and we would spend hours in the vineyards. I realised just how nuts these guys are about their vines. They're crazy about them and so naturally, like anything you are crazy about, they just want to spend as much time as they can in amongst them.
Take Xavier Broujou or Alain and Guislaine Castex, they spend their Sundays going for walks amongst their vines. The vines are literally part of the family and what happens in the cellar is almost incidental to the resulting wine. For them it is all about the vineyard not the winery. So inevitably when you visit them all they want to show you are the vines, the soil, the environment, the wild herbs.
This is a stark contrast to the majority of conventional winemakers for whom the magic happens in the winery. When you vist them they're dying to show you the latest gadgets they've acquired or the technology they use. Admittedly, you can rectify pretty much anything in the cellar nowadays: alcohol levels (chaptalisation / reverse osmosis), mouthfeel (gum arabic), freshness (tartaric acid), tannic intensity (oak chips / powdered tannins), colour (mega purple), aroma enhancement (yeast), and so on...
We need to do as Xavier, Alain and Guislaine do, we need to go back outside. We should be focusing on the vines and trying to understand what each one needs. Being that up close and personal, I reckon we'd be less inclined to interfere so much with both the vine itself and its resulting juice.