Yesterday morning, my commute took me all the way through Napa Valley and I got a little nostalgic, again. This keeps happening to me. Maybe I’m just a nostalgic kind of person.
Here’s what happened. I was reading a book the night before that reminded me of some music I had nearly forgotten about on my iPod. Rock from the 60’s. Specifically, I listened to Jefferson Airplane on the ride up and Cream on the ride back down. These two bands were mentioned in this book, so I thought why not spend my hour in the car each way today listening to these classics? That’s exactly what I did.
And as I whirred on by many newer wineries in the valley, I also passed by some that were built in the late 60’s (the same era the music I was listening to). I wasn’t around during that time, but I tried to imagine what it was like when this music was topping the charts and these (now historic) wineries were being built. Things were different, that’s for sure.
I listened intently to the music. It’s not often I get to listen to music un-interrupted by daily life. This music has heart. And soul. I’m not sure I fully understand the lyrics. I know I don’t, but this music is real. It’s from a time when technology happened in a computer lab. And wine was produced, but not necessarily made.
I love driving because it allows for so much time to think. And I thought about how many of the old-time music legends (the ones still alive) have been known to say that today’s music lacks the ingenuity and heart of the music they produced during this time. And it got me thinking even further. Is this how the old-time wine families feel about today’s wine world?
For instance, did Robert Mondavi, who was at the forefront of new wine-making techniques in the mid-60’s, feel there was too much interference with modern day growing and wine-making practices? I’ll never know (unless someone asked him this in the past and I just haven’t discovered it).
Right, wrong, indifferent, these are the things I think about. Are we intervening too much? Have we taken the science of grape growing and become too specific? Has the pre-sorting and sorting of grapes before the crush pad ruined the true characteristic of the wines? How about the barrels? Has the amount of new oak we’ve come to rely on gotten in the way of what the wine really has to say? Or have all these things made wine better and more enjoyable than ever before? I guess the real question here is does wine still have heart?
These are questions that could really be answered individually and probably multiple times over. And maybe I’ve just opened a can of worms that I should have left alone, but I just couldn’t help myself. I’m a curious individual and I truly want to know what the old school families and winemakers think about modern day wine making. Maybe I just stumbled upon an idea for my first book. Not sure I have the time or the writing confidence to take that project on, but one never knows.
I know that I never got a chance to taste wine that was produced in the 60’s. I know that I will continue to visit old and new wineries in search of quality wines that offer great value. I also know that I will keep listening to music that is both new and old. And I won’t stop trying to compare the two. And I’m pretty sure that I’ll always find a reason to be curious. Which means there’s a pretty good chance I’ll keep on writing about it.