Wine gets a lot of attention and hype surrounding it and rightfully so. Wine has been there for people for thousands of years and it is simply a tradition that will never change. We praise wine for all the ways it makes us feel. It brings us happiness, comfort, relieves our stress, and makes us feel warm on the inside! Don’t forget that it has the power to bring people together and help people bond through all of their struggles and celebrations. We no doubt are incredibly thankful for wine and all it does, but I think that only focusing on wine and everything it has done for us would be unfair. I think that upon sipping wine from our glass and reading this article, we should make sure that we pay special attention to those who have worked hard and tirelessly to bring this amazing gift to us and for that reason the main focus of this article is a bit different. Here we are shining the spotlight on everything related to vignerons for they are a huge part of the process that brings this amazing beverage to our local supermarkets and stores. They work to make sure that they only produce the highest quality of grapes so that we only enjoy the highest quality of wine and for that reason they deserve their own spotlight. So here is a big thank you to vignerons, you are truly marvelous indeed!
Who are Vignerons?
Vigneron is a french term that is used to describe someone who grows vines in vineyards for the sake of wine production. That is essentially what this fancy term means! Vignerons have immense knowledge and understanding in how to cultivate vineyards for winemaking and the word “vigneron” helps to signal their importance in the process of making wine. They have to implement strict standards on vineyard placements and maintenance so that the vineyards can produce grapes that are perfect and ready to use. Now there are actually quite a few groups of people with seperate jobs and functions that are all a part of the winemaking process. Vignerons can often get confused with the term winemaker or vintner. This is because people tend to think that vignerons are essentially winemakers who work to create the wine after the grapes are cultivated. This is true. Vignerons are a part of the process, but they do more than just that. They are involved in all processes that create the wine including both the cultivation phase and the winemaking phase. This can be confused with vine growers or growers, who like vignerons, cultivate grapes too, but they are not a part of the winemaking process. They simply cultivate grapes and sell them to wineries so that the winery does the job of making the grapes into wine. Vignerons can also get confused with the term negociants or wine merchants. This term refers to those who are heavily involved in producing the wine but do not grow their own grapes. They purchase their grapes from vine growers or purchase a variety of wines from other producers and then blend them together. The important thing to note though is that they have no agency over the cultivation of groups in the vineyard. That is where they differ from vignerons. Vignerons are those who not only grow their own grapes, but also handle the process of making the grapes into wine. Hopefully, in this way you have a stronger understanding of the role they typically play in wine cultivation.
The Realities of Being a Vigneron
There can obviously be some pros and cons of being a vigneron as opposed to a vine grower or winemaker. One con about being responsible for cultivating the grapes and making them is of course the fact that there is an immense amount of pressure to do that job. Vignerons are responsible for every single phase and aspect of the winemaking process and that cannot be taken lightly. There is a lot of stress to perform well and handle the process well entirely. If any faults come up in the wine, vignerons cannot simply point fingers at others. All the responsibility and liabilities fall on them and that can be difficult to handle. That is a lot of hard work and money that goes into a responsibility like that and for that reason vignerons should be considered more often when we buy wine. We never think about the processes and phases that our wine had to go through in order to get on the shelf and in our hands, but I think that upon reading this article and seeing the hardwork and patience that people pour into it, you have a whole new respect for not only the winemaking process, but the people who are involved in it. Nonetheless, with the difficulties that being a vigneron can provide I also think there are a lot of benefits that vignerons have relative to other roles that people have in the process of wine. Since vignerons are responsible for everything in the production of the wine, they also have an immense knowledge about not just wine, but grapes in general. They know everything there is to know about climate changes, soil, terrain, and more and how each thing can have an immense influence on the grapes flavors and tastes. In addition, they understand the fermentation process extremely well and know the right kind of blends to put together to create wine. There is a lot of power that comes with that kind of knowledge. I also believe that having that vast amount of knowledge in a specific area makes you have more passion and respect for what you do. Vignerons see the whole picture, they understand it, and they create it for us to enjoy. It is absolutely beautiful when you truly think about it. Vignerons can never afford to be lazy with their work, because it is them that reap the consequences of poor quality wine and with that kind of liability on their shoulder, it puts more pressure for them to perform extremely well and do a good job.
Do not get me wrong, it can definitely help when you have many different people of different expertise handling the production of something, but at the same time there can also be some drawbacks to that. For starters when you are not knowledgeable about the entire process of something and how it works and you only exert effort over your own area of expertise, this can create a detachment for the rest of the production that you are not responsible for. Detachment and a lack of attentiveness towards other parts of the production that you do not deal with, can sometimes make people lazy or less meticulous and careful about their work. They work only to do what they need to do in order to get the rewards and they may not have any detachment for what happens after. I think when that happens people can develop less passion for what they are creating. This isn’t always the case but it can happen. That is why there is a certain unique and respectable aspect of a vigneron’s job. They know the whole picture from start to finish and they are responsible for getting there on their own and that takes dedication and passion to complete. In this way, you can probably expect incredibly tasty and high quality wines from hardworking vignerons!
Now that we fully understand all of the wonderful work that vignerons do for us, I think that it is only natural that we shed the spotlight on some real vignerons who work hard and utilize their knowledge and passion for wine to create something that everyone can have the pleasure of enjoying. These American vignerons have done nothing but pour their best into making something full of unique character and worthy of inspiration. Thank you to not only these spotlighted vignerons, but to all vignerons for all of the hard work that they do!
Edward Lee “Mac” McDonald
At the age of 12, Edward Lee had that first legendary sip of wine and from that point moving forward he knew that this was his dream. A dream that was quite different from his upbringing, growing up on Texas moonshine that his dad had made. He created an African-mask label that he put on his first Vision Cellars bottle of Pinot Noir. His progress into making becoming a vigneron was only heightened further when he decided to take up camp on Sonoma County, where he would lay out his beautiful vineyard and work hard to cultivate grapes that people can be proud of. He spends his days out on the vineyard with his straw hat and overall, tending to his vines daily and we want to thank him for all of the hard work that he has done!
Vietri is the vigneron of his own vineyards called Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pennsylvania. He is known to be the best Nebbiolo specialist outside of Piemonte and I guess you can say that cultivating grapes to perfection runs in the family since his family are also farmers. Since the 1990s, Anthony Vietri has farmed about six acres of different Italian varieties for many people to sip and savor. In more recent days though, Vietri has been making headlines with his own kind of four-terroir specific field blend wine. It is made from many kinds of varieties, rootstocks, clones, spacing, and trellising which he has been mixing together to create the most perfect wine of utmost class and character. His wine is such a hit in Pennsylvania that people drive from far distances to his Chester County Vineyard in hopes of bringing back some of the liquid gold that this man has created. Vietri is truly proud of himself saying that sometimes “I just like to stand in the rows staring at it. It feels very right.”
Christophe Baron is another marvelous vigneron that we are offering the spotlight to. He states that “A vigneron is a vine grower and a wine creator” and is the proud owner of Cayuse Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington. From 1997 to now, he has made a name for himself with his iconic, biodynamic, subscription based only Vineyard which spans about 75 acres. He also an additional vineyard that spans 10 acres and is home to his native Champagne. When Baron isn’t making incredible memories traveling around the world, then you will often find him back at his vineyard and winery, working tirelessly to create his own perfection. “I was born a vigneron,” he states. He has noted that his family has actually been growing grapes since 1677! Maybe that is why he is such a heavy enthusiast of wine and never beer!
This article is a little bit different from the typical wine articles, but rightfully so. It only makes sense that as we talk about the beauty and unique features of wine that we also pay special attention to the very people who work to bring the wine to us. Without their dedication, passion, hard work, and knowledge we would be unable to enjoy all that wine has to offer. Thanks to them, we can rely on wine to provide a dynamic and unique array of flavors and aromas that will surely satisfy us and enliven us with delight. The next time you go out to buy another bottle of wine bottle for your collection or you savor a couple of sips at the comfort of your home, take a few minutes to remember the people who have always been there to make sure that wine is there for you when you need it. Ahh the beauty of wine to bring people together is surely one that is absolutely marvelous and let us never forget this liquid gold and the people who have helped make it, for as long as we shall continue sipping on those crystal glasses.