Being in the vineyards with a winemaker who loves what he’s doing is always such a pleasure. I’ve got a green thumb and love helping things to grow organically. Sharing that passion with someone else who loves to be part of a “growing things” process is so rewarding.
That’s not my only relationship to John Viszlay, though… We just met as a result of his joining PS I Love You. I asked for some wine to help support our annual volunteer and Groupies BBQ, and as a new member with absolutely no history, John stepped forward. He owns a vineyard about three miles from my home, so I told him I’d stop by and pick up his wine. He has a small company and I could save him the shipping fees. He was already donating part of an “under 3,000 cases a year” production.
Small business people think alike when it comes to helping each other. That’s something that John brings up in this video. When he arrived, he was amazed how his neighbors were willing to help him to get going, just as it has been over time… farmer helping other farmers.
John’s story is not unique – man or woman needs a radical change in life’s direction and chooses to become a farmer/winemaker, leaving some city or town, in this case Chicago, behind. After almost 20 years of being in this business, I’ve heard this story so many times, it makes one’s head spin. This is such a typical scenario that there are editors who just can’t be bothered, only taking on the “bigger picture” stories. This is where bloggers have become so important to the smaller companies trying to get some exposure. These smaller companies make it really easy to get right to the person responsible for the company’s success.
Viszlay’s come in with his eyes wide open and a passion he wants to put to use. Plus, he brought his son along with him… More reason to make it. His enthusiasm is infectious, his willingness to share was enriching, and his story is heart felt, sincere, and inspiring. Listening to him, you just know that he’s going to make it. He’s determined and learning all that he can from his neighbors, studying, and from his soils and vines themselves.
The vineyard that he purchased was already planted with 12 varieties, and Petite Sirah has become a quick favorite. He has two clones of Chardonnay (blending and single barrels are possible for each), the five Bordeaux varieties (Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc), the only Prosecco in the area (he uses méthode champenoise), Pinot Noir, Alicante Bouchet, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah… all in a ten acre vineyard. (What a great learning curve.)
I asked him to address veraison, because we’ve not talked about that in our video series yet. He also talks about flavors evolving in a grape, which I hadn’t yet tasted or thought about… beyond tartaric acid converting to malic acid.
Come with us into a Russian River Valley vineyard at the confluence of Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek valleys, where John Viszlay’s winery and vineyard sits, to hear his story. But more importantly, to learn what John has learned over the last two years, as he grows grapes and makes very good wine. He was so pleased to tell us that Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff had just given one of his wines a score of 91 points… He may be relatively new at what he’s doing, but he’s not new at the art of perfection.