The sixteenth century English poet John Donne said, “No man is an island” and that is true in wine making.
Aside from all the people who lift heavy things, clean hoses and tanks, rack the wine, wash barrels and then make sure everything is truly clean, we need the chemists to conduct lab analysis and manage fermentation and then we need the artistic people with the developed palates and finally the visionary with global experience who knows exactly how the target wine might taste.
Through the kindness of the Jackson family, Williamson Wines began with their 2002 harvest operating out of a new, state-of-the art artisan winery called Stonestreet. At that time this winery was dedicated to the task of handcrafting small lots of premium wines using traditional methods while incorporating modern techniques. This permitted us to have hands-on experience throughout the wine making process from crush to racking to blending and bottling.
It was here we developed the concept of melding traditional artistic French methods of wine making while using modern technology to produce these complex, balanced wines, seemingly aged but with bright fruit and a refreshing, complex palate.
Originally we made only two wines. Immediately recognized for their quality and value, these wines quickly sold out so in the next year we added two more. This trend of releasing new wines and gaining rapid acceptance for them continued to the point where we now produce more than forty different wines, virtually all of which are award winners in competition.
All of our single-varietal wines are single-vineyard, standalone, terroir-specific wines. From these we then make a series of blended wines in accordance the the finest traditions of their Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone ancestors.
We have established individual protocols for every one of our wines which exactly defines each step of the wine making and aging process in the winery. Having outgrown our original winery we entered into partnership to make our wines in a modern winery facility where we are able to maintain our "total control" approach to making our wines using our own dedicated tanks and barrels.
Before we started we already knew a lot about how to make wine, even a little about how to make good wine, but our goal was excellence. For this we needed access to deeper levels of focused expertise in the form of mentors.
Our first mentor Cecile, grew up on her family vineyard in France and, after graduating as a winemaker, she made fine wines throughout the world ending up as Director of Production at Opus One Winery in Napa for several years. Through her gentle winemaking practices Cecile taught us that "the vintage dictates the wine making and we must use the synergy of the fruit, to respect and reflect the quality of the grapes in the wine."
Our second mentor Kerry, holds a B.S. in fermentation sciences from the University of California, Davis and shares our philosophy that “it's the winemaker's job to articulate a definable style for a wine but the identity must come from the grapes."
We have worked with other notable mentors in California, France and Australia, each focused on discrete areas from soil chemistry to oak selection, in order to confirm our beliefs, round out our knowledge and perfect our skills in that particular aspect of making wine.
The Sister Wineries
A vital part of our continuing education on wine and food is travel. Every year we visit wineries, taste wines and meet with other winemakers and winery owners from all over the world. Each experience teaches us something valuable so we made it our objective to find at least one winery owner in each significant wine area that shared our passion for limited production, terroir-specific, quality wines.
While this might sound difficult, we realized they are easy to recognize because they look and sound just like us, family-oriented, customer-focused, passionate about their wines and intent on producing limited production wines of quality. One taste of their wines tells us we have found the right winery. Just like us . . . a "Sister" winery.
We now have Sister Wineries in Australia's Hunter Valley and Barrossa Valley and in France's Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne areas. Our exchange of experiences and ideas has been invaluable in our focus on quality wines that show their sense of place.
Truly a Team Effort
To be a modern day Renaissance man such as Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo is difficult. These were diversely talented people whereas in today's world the focus is on specialization.
By taking personal control of our vineyards and wine making, supplementing with advice from our global winery relationships; employing mentors and using specialist contractors we have developed our own Renaissance Team.
Our wines reflect the sum total of the tremendous efforts of that team.