All Dreams lead to Burgundy

Update 8.8.2012(10.12.2008)Ray Walker

Well, not everyone’s dreams lead them to Burgundy. Much the same, not all roads lead to Burgundy. In that same thought, I can’t imagine not going to France to make wine. Not too long ago I was on the less exciting side of a Harvest. Just waiting for it kept me up at night. I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty, to see the fruit coming in. And the experience was awe inspiring. Nothing can take away from that.

Now, just to back up a bit, French wines (Burgundy to be exact) were the first wines that set off alarms with me. Californian wines have provided me with many memorable experiences. The ability to age has been at times mind blowing. Yet, with the wines of Burgundy, there is a delicate strength, seductive grace, that just speaks to all of my senses. I have to try to learn how to make something that beautiful. Something that is expected to age. Something that will be given the chance to age, time to develop. I want to make a wine that follows the tradition of a Burgundy or a Rhone. And, I simply cannot do the wine justice by attempting to make a Burgundy or Rhone in California. To me, our local wines are best when they wear their origins on it’s sleeve. At times graceful, other times powerful. Nothing can take away from that. Yet, here in California, I can’t make a Burgundy. And adding my name to the list of others making excellent wines out here does not clear me of this passion and drive that I have for these two specific regions that got me started with this path.

Until recently, this was just a dream. I needed to take a run at it in California first. At first I took a few courses in viticulture at Napa College. After that, I left my job as a stockbroker/financial advisor to pursue wine making. Ed Kurtzman was the one person who would give me a shot. This last year I worked at Freeman Winery and Vineyards in Sebastopol, California and did light duties at August West in San Francisco for a few days. Overall, I worked with Freeman for over five months doing everything from cleaning tanks and barrels to punchdowns, brix sampling and bottling.  I figured that I had to first get dirt under my nails, let pain seep into my back, and earn a few bloody knuckles. I needed to see the work without to silky sheen of romance creating a haze over my view. One thing I have learned is that making wine is never like what you imagine it to be before you actually jump in and do it. No one is waiting to congratulate you when all is done. When the wine is done, hopefully you have learned something that will help in next year’s harvest.

Well, I have been preparing. I have been studying French. Not just the language, but the culture, history and vinification methods. We are set to take a run at it in France. We, as in my family will be taking a small, initial trip to France this coming February to sort things out. I will be going door to door, resume in hand looking for two things: a stagiere (internship) and fruit from Burgundy with the goal of coming back before June for a longer stay. I have been calling France early morning, at times 2am or 3am PST to catch someone for a phone appointment. Speaking French is something I need to get a hold on very quickly if I intend to be taken seriously. Like I say, I can’t guarantee how things will turn out. But, you will all be in on the progress of my journey.

Bill has been nice enough to invite me to be a guest contributor to this site. Burgundy Report has served as an enabler of sorts for me over the years. I’ll do my best to add a real look into what goes on along the way. I intend to maintain the high level of content all the visitor’s are used to reading on this site. In February I will be in Burgundy, sharing my experiences with everyone while I try to lay the groundwork for the chance to work in France. My goals are to learn more of the culture, spend time in the vineyards, study the vinification methods, and lend a solid hand at a Burgundy operation while making my own wine. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you all.

Thanks again for the chance Bill

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

Burgundy Report

Translate »

You are using an outdated browser. Please update your browser to view this website correctly:;