Friday, October 1, 2010

The Future Makers - an introduction

Here's the foreword from my new book, The Future Makers. It explains why I wrote the book and why I think you should read it:

Something like this ...
Photo: James Broadway
A few years ago, I very nearly opened my own bar. I had this vision of a small, cosy place, crammed with bottles, serving small plates of good food and great wines by the glass. I have also, for a long time, dreamed about planting my own vineyard – again, just a small plot of vines, enough for a few barrels. Thankfully, neither dream has come true: thankfully because I haven’t got a business-minded bone in my body and I don’t know how to drive a tractor, let alone fix one; the bar would have quickly gone bust and the vines would no doubt have died. I’m much better off sticking to drinking and writing about wine, I’ve decided, than trying to make it or sell it.

The point is that when you do contemplate crossing the line from interested observer to active participant you’re suddenly faced with a whole heap of important questions: Where would be the best place for my vineyard? What varieties would I plant? How would I grow my grapes and make my wine? Which wines would I serve in my own bar? And why would I want to go to all that effort when I can buy plenty of lovely wines already?

I soon realised that the answers to these questions came wrapped up in broader considerations, such as the effects of climate change, my aversion to chemically assisted farming and my unashamedly romantic belief that wine should taste of where it’s from. I realised that, if I had my own vineyard, it would be planted with varieties suited to a warmer, drier future; it would be farmed biodynamically; I would make the wines with as few additions and as little manipulation as possible; and I would hope to produce something beautiful, which told a story of its place and time.

I also realised that the wines I would want to sell in my mythical bar – the wines I already buy and drink – come from winemakers thinking along the same lines. Winemakers who ask themselves: What’s special about where I am? Have I planted the most appropriate varieties? Is this the best way to grow my grapes and make my wine? Why am I doing this?

These are the winemakers who interest and excite me: the ones asking why. Because they are making the most characterful, appropriate and delicious wines sensibly, sustainably and naturally. These people – the larrikins and ratbags, the old and the young, the newbies and the nerds – putting the soul back into Australian wine are the people you’ll meet in this book.

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