Pavle Milic's Quest to Make Wine: A Quixotic Exploit?
I will admit that part of me was very sad when I moved back to Phoenix in late 2006. I still think of Napa often, but more so like a good friend that I am grateful to have even though she lives far away. Imagine my surprise when I moved back to Arizona and discovered that we have an emerging wine-growing region in the making.
Dick Erath said that the wine movement in Arizona was redolent of what was going on in both California and Oregon in the '60s. The challenge of not knowing exactly what grapes were going to do well here, for one, but also the pioneering spirit that build the aforementioned wine regions. It is no secret that I drink the Kool-Aid.
Charleen Badman (my business partner extraordinaire) and I have been serving Arizona wine at FnB for a little over two years and feel honored to be part of the community. During this time, I have come to know a lot the winemakers and some have become friends.
Our wine regions in Arizona are stunning. If you go to Elgin, you can't help appreciating the majestic landscapes. Arizona also is a wine region to be respected. We experience extreme weather, and by that I mean, the unforgiving propensity for frost during the winter; or in the summer, the eminent likelihood of hail, which can obliterate vineyards.
Am I beginning to sound like a wine groupie? Yes. I am not ashamed. The truth is, I always wanted to make wine. I have dreamt about it. I have been romancing the idea of actually doing it for a long time.
I finally mustered up the courage to ask winemaker Todd Bostock (more on him in future posts) something to the effect of, "How much would it cost to make a barrel of wine?" (That's 25 cases.) The answer to that question was followed up by more conversations and e-mails. Finally, this is the result of that conversation:
It would not only be disingenuous for me to say that I am making wine this year -- it would be an outright lie. The thing is, I have never made wine. I can go and purchase grapes, but where will I turn them into wine? Am I going to f@#* it up? Who will assist me in making this wine? Can I make good wine without any formal training? Hell, I don't have a winery.
First things first.
How do you find out if you really want to pursue a dream? You go and give it a try. You can volunteer your time in a winery and find out if it is as romantic as you thought.
In my case, I get to collaborate with Todd in making 100 cases of wine or 1,200 bottles that I will purchase from him. Todd is showing me the process from vine to bottle. I will spend time in the vineyard learning about pruning and the importance of being in the vineyard. I will be able to participate in blending decisions, the type of barrels utilized, label design, and take part in the actual wine making as a cellar rat, or intern of sorts.
I must admit that it seems a bit quixotic to follow this urge, especially when I have four businesses to run in Phoenix and a family that pines for more Papa time, But then again, how do I turn down the opportunity to rub elbows with Todd, learn from him, and follow a dream?