Interview with a Winemaker Pt. 3

Don’t ask Ben what his favorite wine is. It varies exponentially, and he won’t be able to give a straight answer, but that’s a good thing! When asked, Ben said, “What day, time is it? What am I eating? Who am I drinking with? What is the occasion? That, in my opinion, is what’s so great about wine. Its beauty is its variability.”

This couldn’t be more true, you can drink wine with food, or you can drink it alone while watching your favorite movie. You can drink it outside. You can drink it in the afternoon or late at night. You can drink only white in the summer, and strictly red in the winter, or vice versa. I have to agree with Ben that wine’s variability is beautiful, and I can relate how hard it is to pick just one favorite. When asked what his favorite drink besides wine is, Ben answered beer and bourbon, sometimes in that order.

Of course, besides drinking wine and enjoying it’s beauty and variability, Ben enjoys making beautifully varied wines. He enjoys wine blends that don’t follow convention, like a cuvee (another word for blend). From Ben, “I'm working on one now. Stay tuned!” I know I’m excited to see what this future blend will be.

Ben’s favorite grape to work with is Syrah. This is Ben’s favorite because it’s terroir dependent. Here’s a quick refresher on what terroir is from Oxford Dictionary: “the characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.” Syrah grows so well in Eastern Washington because of the unique hot and dry climate that imparts the big, bold flavor in the grape. It’s terroir dependent in this sense because the environment plays a big part in how the grape grows and how it affects the wine. Another grape that Ben is curious about making wine with … Pinot Noir! Another terroir-dependent grape that grows extremely well in the Willamette Valley, because of the cool/wet climate.

No need to worry, Ben won’t be heading down to the Willamette Valley anytime soon. His heart is set on Washington grapes. When asked what his favorite wine region he’s visited is he said it’s Walla Walla. However, if given the opportunity to visit, you’d find him hanging out with kiwis and enjoying New Zealand’s wine country. And to that I say, take me with!