Saturday, May 1, 2004
Napa Wineries Put Some Aviation in Every Bottle
Turley, who undergoes IFR training six times a year with Barrett, adds: “Real winemakers go to the vineyards. You want to make sure that they’re perfect. If you had to drive, you wouldn’t go as often. I’m not selling nuts and bolts, so I don’t have to go to a store. Most of my clients are restaurants. So anywhere I go, I can visit accounts and clients. I do the occasional ‘winemaker’ dinner. I did one in Aspen, Colo., so we flew there. It’s quite an approach.”
|Chateau Montelena Winery|
|Turley Wine Cellars|
“It’s a killer drive in a car,” says Turley. “But it’s a beautiful hour-and-10-minute flight.”
Next to the practical uses of piloting a plane, the view from up in the air allows Turley to truly enjoy his vineyards. The reason he bought the vineyard in Paso Robles, in fact, is because of the perspective he got from first flying there.
“Everything becomes clear as soon as you’re up,” he says. “You could drive the same route over and over, and then, one day, you fly over it and it’s a completely different viewpoint. I thought, Oh, now I get it. So that’s why you can grow grapes here. There’s a gap in the mountains there; that’s where the fog comes in. This would be a great vineyard here because it’s right in line with the afternoon fog, so it’s not so hot. Every great grape-growing region in the world has maritime influences. You need heat, but you want it moderate.”
The reason why flying and winemaking complement each other is because the two are so different. They’re both knowledge- and labor-intensive, but that’s about all they have in common. Flying is immediate; you know exactly how you stand, or should, while en route. In contrast, there are several years between sowing grapes and sipping them as wine.
“You have to have a very long-term view in winemaking,” notes Trefethen. “It’s the opposite of flying. There’s a finite time you focus and, boom, it’s done. The span of time from which we plant the vineyard until the time we get a product out into the market is six years. Flying takes planning, too, but it’s very focused and, then, it’s over.”
Although Turley calls wine “bottled poetry” and flying is, in itself, poetry in the air, perhaps wine and flying should be likened more to wine-drinking than poetry. After all, both of them can be pretty intoxicating.
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