Another beautiful day in Colorado, sun is shining, birds are chirping, takes you to a kindler, gentler time…
When wine was…Well, unwell.
Or was it?
Last week, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with the winemaker and vineyard manager of Inglenook. No, not the box wine that many drank lamenting the ‘man’, and now are. I am referring to the resurrection of the original, the MF OG pimp daddy playa of the Napa Valley, the one that made the 1941 Cabernet that is still regarded the greatest wine ever made in California, Judgement of Paris? These guys were winning medals in Paris before Prohibition, yo. Founded in 1880, a gent named Gustave Niebaum started the first gravity flow winery in Napa, planted the first Cabernet in the area, and his grand nephew carried on the tradition until 1964, when it changed ownership to a group of growers, who then passed it to Heublein (Brass Monkey, baby!), who took the brand name and shoved it in the depths of jug and box wine. Francis Ford Coppola bought the property located in Rutherford in 1975, and is tirelessly working to bring the integrity and prestige of the estate back to its’ former glory. in the past 35 years, he has restored the original vineyard holdings, the winery, and the Inglenook name, buying it back from the Wine Group last year. In other words, looking back without looking back.
I tell you this story because at the end of the day, wine is fermented grape juice. Owners, winemakers, vineyard managers come and go, but the land stays the same. Great wine is produced from great land. Anyone who has seen the resurgence of Oakvilles’ To-Kalon as a special site can attest to that. Of course, we can chuckle at our earlier years, knocking back MD 20/20, Lancers, and Boones’ Farm. Wine Coolers have been replaced by Moscato. White Zinfandel is still a major player. We have better wines today on average, with a new, exciting winery and region popping up every second, at every price point.
But, as my mother said, “Respect your elders. If you do good, work hard, and be kind to those around you, the same’ll happen to you when you are old.” I hope so. For all of us that enjoy wine.