I've just had the pleasure of interviewing winemaker & Blood Into Wine film subject Eric Glomski about his experiences in Arizona wine country. Tomorrow evening, Thursday June 3rd at 6:30 p.m., join me for a tasting of the wines of Arizona Stronghold followed by a screening of the film Blood Into Wine. For tickets to the screening & wine tasting click here.
In the trailer for Blood Into Wine one scene in the vineyards makes them look reminiscent of the Rhone Valley. Is that a fair assumption?
"In general I would say yes – although we must remember that the growing regions of the Rhone span a great distance from north to south. Cote Rotie in the north is quite different from Gigondas in the south. Overall, though, I would say that one could easily find sympathy with parts of Italy, southern France, or even Spain."
What was it about your site that made you feel as if you could produce good wine? Was it the soil type? Micro Climate? Or perhaps overall terroir? Did it resemble a special vineyard you had visited in another part of the world?
"I believe strongly that Macro-climate is the biggest factor dictating the quality of a wine growing region. Geography, geology, and soils – of course – are very important factors within this larger picture. You could have the best soil in the world (take a viticultural classic such as limestone) and plop them down in the tropics or northern Alaska and it wouldn’t really mean much. I worked as a professional ecologist prior to falling in love with wine – and yes – the highlands of Arizona spoke to me – and the reminded me of some of the great wine growing regions of Europe. In Arizona, finding the right climate is all about elevation. There is a magical elevational band between the heat of Phoenix and the chill of Flagstaff around 4000-5000 feet that is perfect for growing vitis vinfera."
What are the largest obstacles you've had to deal with over the course of your winemaking career in AZ?
"COLD. RAIN. HAIL. IGNORANT Bureaucrats."
What is it you hope people take away after viewing the film?
"Well, first and foremost I hope it kept their attention and made them laugh a bit. Alongside that, I also hope they come away with a deeper understanding of how profound the quest for making great wine is – and how this quest brings both the winemaker and the wine drinker closer to the land we walk upon."
Who (if anyone) is your winemaking hero/mentor?
"Ken Foster, who was my primary mentor at David Bruce Winery (and now the winemaker for Mahoney vineyards in Carneros), is at the top of my list. Ken taught me about blending – the core art of winemaking. The late Don Blackburn from Marinus in Carmel (as well as Byington in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Rhys Winery and others) had a profound influence on my perception of wine history and philosophy. I have others, and too many to list."
What do you feel are wine drinkers prejudices when it comes to where a wine originates from? Have you experienced that yourself being a fairly young wine region?
"I try to remind folks that when the very first folks planted grapes in Napa (for instance, Gastave Niebaum – the founder of Inglenook in the late 1800’s – once the greatest Château in our Country) everyone gave them hell too. All I can say is “bring it on!”. I love the notion of being the underdog. I love the idea of changing people’s perspective when they least expect it. I once wrote on an early Page Springs label (my family winery) – “Enjoy this wine with lamb, soft ripened cheeses and an open mind”."
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