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Wine Enthusiast Podcast: Red, White and Green

This week, the Wine Enthusiast Podcast pays tribute to the planet with a special Earth Day episode. From natural wine to eco-friendly agriculture, we talk to leaders behind the green movement in wine. Raise a glass to Mother Earth and join us!

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Read the full transcript of “Red, White and Green”:

Marina Vataj: From Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this is the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m Digital Content Director, Marina Vataj.

Coming up, Red, White and Green. With Earth Day around the corner, we’re paying tribute to the planet, with a look at natural, and eco-friendly wines.

We’ll learn how one of those bottles goes from the winery…

Jared Brandt: No, that’s impossible. Wine can’t just be made with grapes. Then we go through this little dance of where I have to attest that it is just made with grapes.

MV: …to your table.

Gabriella Davogustto: You know, I don’t think that it’s a trend. It’s just going back to how wine has been made for centuries.

MV: Plus, the innovators working to conserve water in the in wine and beer industries.

TJ Rodgers: Cutting water use in agriculture is, by far, more important than any other method.

MV: It’s coming up, on the Wine Enthusiast Podcast.

April 22nd is Earth Day, and on today’s show, we’ll meet some of the wine industry pros working to have an impact, or more specifically, less of an impact on our planet. We’ll start with natural wines. You won’t find a standard definition or regulation for natural wine, but generally, it’s grown and made with as little chemical and technological intervention as possible. And someone who’s intimately familiar with this entire process…

Jared Brandt: The background noise you hear right now is our barrel washer.

MV: …is Jared Brandt.

JB: ‘Cause we’re getting ready for a bottling, it’s a bit of a mess right now.

MV: Jared’s showcasing us Donkey and Goat, the natural winery he and his wife Tracey have run in Berkeley, California since 2004. Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor, Christina Pickard recently spoke with Jared Brandt, who offered up his definition of natural wine.

JB: Here at Donkey and Goat, we try to let the wines speak for themselves. And so, our idea of natural wine making is to add as little to the wine as possible. In our case, it’s just sulfur, typically at bottling, and let the vineyards come through. Occasionally people think or call it “do nothing wine making”. And it sometimes perceived as being lazy man’s wine making. And it’s always interesting to me, ’cause almost the exact opposite. You have to be very careful at every step of the way to let the wine evolve on its own, and not to allow any outside interference.

Christina Pickard: And for those people who might know about the wine making processes very well, what additives or techniques might be used in more conventional wine making, that you wouldn’t use?

JB: In many wineries, when the grapes first come in, a chemical is added to kill everything that’s naturally in the wine. Usually it’s sulfur, but sometimes it’s other things. And then additives are added, after they’ve killed off everything, to bring it back to life. Typically yeast and nutrients, things like fermaid, which helps the yeast survive. Often DAP is added at that stage, which is di-ammonium phosphate, to add nitrogen, which the yeast like to survive.

Then there may be enzymes added to extract more color and more flavors. Fermentation occurs. The wine is done with its initial fermentation. Often then, everything is killed a second time. Again, often with sulfur, but sometimes with other chemicals. If the winemaker wants malolactic fermentation to go through, they add malos at that stage, after they’ve killed off the malos that would naturally be in the wine. And then, they might add other things after that primary fermentation, to enhance mouth-feel.

Gum arabic is often used. There’s like this conception from the wine industry that legs is really important in wine, and that’s something that you can just add a additive. So when you swirl your wine in a glass, you can make it go down more slowly.

After that, they might kill everything off again, after malos are done. And then they may adjust the pH, which they may have done earlier. They may adjust the color, which they also may have done earlier. And then it goes through that process.

I believe there’s about 360 legally available ingredients to be in wine.

CP: On that note, besides that sort of vague contained sulfites on a bottle, none of that has to actually end up on the label. Consumers then don’t know how wine has been made. What has been added, or what hasn’t been added. So what are your thoughts on what making wine labeling more stringent? So requiring produces to list those additives, or even wine making techniques on the back label.

JB: Yeah, it’s a huge topic. At first I’m gonna give a shout out to Ridge Winery and Bonny Doon. Both label their ingredients. We label the ingredients. I think we’re the only three wineries in the America right now labeling ingredients.

I think it’s super important for transparency. The wine has sold itself on this lifestyle image of being very agricultural and not commercial. You know, everybody, if you visit a beautiful winery, they say we picked the wines at the exact perfect moment, and then we bring them in, and that’s all we do.

I think there’s lots of wineries that that is all they do. But the vast majority of wineries, that’s not all they do. And having the label there with the ingredients, would give the consumer transparency. There probably, if transparency occurred, like if there was ingredients labeling, a lot of large wineries would probably, for economic reasons again, to sell their wine more easily, would probably move in more of a natural path just because they wouldn’t want to have their wine with 30 ingredients on it. Their back label would look kind of ridiculous.

CP: What about another argument that is made for the natural wine movement, if you want to call it that, being this sort of grass roots movement, anti-bureaucratic. So is there something to be said for, if you did apply stricter labeling laws, would that not contradict a bit of that grassroots feel?

JB: It might. Everybody is gonna jump on the marketing aspect of it. And if you don’t have some way to say, what’s the difference between a natural wine, and what’s not, then you run into a problem. How is the consumer ever gonna know? Is it a marketing effort? Or is it actually a philosophy that’s deeply ingrained with the winemaker?

I just went through COLA, which is the Certificate of Label Approval from the U.S. Government. And every year, I have to update my COLAs, which I don’t have to update every year. There’s rules to it. But we get … Like it’s very funny ’cause I always get rejected because on my ingredients, I say grapes, or grapes and sulfur. And I always get a feedback from the U.S. Government that, “Oh no, that’s impossible. Wine can’t just be made with grapes.” And we go through this little dance of where I have to attest that it is just made with grapes.

I think from even the government’s perspective in the U.S., that we’re doing something that’s not possible, even though it’s totally possible. There’s just a economic reason for lots of people to keep that misinformation alive.

CP: As we’ve already touched upon, nearly all natural winemakers, or we would hope the majority, you employ a lot of labor intensive, or some would say high-risk techniques. So things like foot stomping, of course fermenting the wines on their own native yeast. So, considering you only get one shot a year, a lot of people would say that this seems like just too big a risk to take.

JB: Normally when people ask about this … If it’s someone from the wine industry, I always laugh. Because one of the things that they often say, is that if you use commercial yeast, you have more control. Thus you take less risk. And I’m always like, “Wow. Okay. Show me the scientific research that backs that up.” And to date, no one has actually been able to show me any scientific research that backs it up. The control that a winemaker sometimes think they have, they really don’t have. And so, we’re just more accepting of that. That we’re a little bit of the mercy of nature.

The other thing is we’re in a constant learning path. So every year, we try to sit down before harvest and say, “Okay, we’re gonna do three or four experiments this year.” And the goals of the experiments is not to make wine, per se successfully, it’s to learn so we do have more control.

CP: There’s something on your website that I really like a quote that says, “Making our wines requires an artful approach. A gentle hand, and nerves of steel that allow us to follow our gut, even when the science might suggest less risky approaches.”

JB: The wines that I’m super interested in drinking, there’s definitely part chemist, or industrial engineer making it. Like someone thinking about how you get the soil to produce the best crop. How you keep that soil alive. But there’s also just the artful component of it, which is where the mystery comes in. Like, you now, they do certain things which they can’t even really explain why they do, but it somehow translates into the taste of the wine. And sometimes that can be so pleasurable, that it’s just incredible.

Marina Vataj: Once Jared and his team bottle their natural wine at Donkey and Goat, where does it go? One of its destinations is Chambers Street Wines in New York City. Eben Lillie and his father David have specialized in natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, since long before those labels even existed. Christina Pickard sat down with Eben, who described how his family entered the wine business.

Eben Lillie: We opened Chamber Street Wines in 2001. I was 18 at the time, and there was no natural wine. It wasn’t a phrase. It wasn’t a thing. That naturale, or whatever. You know, we were focusing on small producers, indigenous yeasts, so native yeast fermentation, malo cultured yeast, hand harvested. So no machine harvest. And people who worked without pesticides and herbicides in their vineyard. So it’s a lot more wordy. You know, it’s multiple sentences, as opposed to, “Yeah, we sell natural wine.”

But that’s the core of it. And it’s always been what we focused on. So we know, we’re not an exclusively natural wine store. We focus on organic, biodynamic, and also encompasses the natural wine category, if you will, because there’s no certification for natural wine. So people come in and ask for natural wine. I could just pick anything off the shelf. Oh yeah, and tell them a story. But of course, I would never.

I do tell stories what’s about people I know. And it’s about the wines I know. But yeah, it’s really on us. I mean, it’s the education, and I see it happening when people don’t know so much, and they’re just kind of … Especially a store. Like Chamber Street is very special in that, we all do buying. We all buy. Someone buys for Spanish section, you know. And I work on Noir Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon. And Amanda is working on Jura and also Languedoc with me. But yeah, it’s really on us. I mean, it’s the education and … There’s so many different buyers, that we really are passionate, and we know the best stuff in our category.

But you walk into a store where there’s one buyer, and there’s 15 sales people, they don’t know all the wines. And they might have just been told about a wine, and never tasted it. And someone might just say, “Okay. This is this new natural wine. We have like blah blah blah.” You know, if somebody asked for natural wine, you could just sell them this. Like that kind of stuff happens. I know it does. It’s a little bit complicated. And right now it’s our job to describe the wines, and tell the stories, and explain.

You know, my first thought when I started seeing it, when I saw the first article in Vogue, and it was the first article in Elle, and New York Times doing multiple natural wines, or “wines that are alive” articles. I thought, wow this is great. And this is all the buzz. It’s super cool because I know the winemakers. They’re friends of mine. And to me, it means more. It’s like publicity for them. And it brings more interested people to our stores, or to a wine bar somewhere that’s known for it.

The downside, I’ve begun to notice, is that because there are soms or wine directors, or wine staff, people in retail stores, who don’t fully understand,  nor have the passion for the wines. And so, things like, “Oh, this wine tastes really bad. But it’s suppose to because it’s natural.” Or people only pushing really cloudy, unfiltered, kind of volatile stuff and giving somebody the most extreme experience, when it might not be what they’re in the mood for, can be a disservice to the wine. So it can turn people off, where there’s all these people that are interested, and we’ve been gaining a lot of new acolytes, or people. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of people are just going nuts for it. And they say, “I can’t drink conventional wine anymore. I can’t drink wine with all this added sulfites anymore.” And that’s really cool.

But there’s also people who are saying, “Oh, I don’t like natural wine. Like you mean that cloud, nasty, whatever stuff?” It’s definitely the most risky way to make wine. That’s why so many people don’t do it. That’s why most enology schools in the world, do not do it. You know, they teach that you should inoculate, and use a cultured yeast. It’s too risky to just do native yeast fermentation. You don’t know what’s gonna happen. So there’s a huge amount of risk. I think when people nail it, there really is something that’s just … I mean, you cannot duplicate with a conventional wine. And there’s a purity, there’s a length, there’s a aromatic complexity, there’s something to these wines when they nail it, when they’re clean, that you cannot match.

I do want to say quickly, ’cause we didn’t get to it, but natural wine, although it seems like it’s a fancy new thing and people, like you know, cool kids are into it, it’s not expensive. And there’s definitely a misconception about wine in general, that it’s only certain people can afford it. There’s a kind of double time with natural wine, because people are used to organic things. Organic vegetables, organics produce costing twice as much, organic milk costs twice as much as regular milk. Apples, strawberries, whatever it is. Not the case with natural wine, organic wine, or biodynamic wine because it’s not the same. We’re not dealing with the same system with industrial farms getting more subsidies in the U.S. And the reason organic produce is more in the U.S. is a completely different story. It’s separate from wine.

So natural wine, if you’re curious, you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Ooh, I want to try theses, but oh, it’s probably too expensive.” They are not.

Marina Vataj: Natural wine has yet to go truly mainstream, but more and more restaurants are eager to get these bottles on their wine list. One of those eateries is Clay, a farm-to-table restaurant in Harlem, where yes, you’ll find several offerings from Donkey and Goat, the winery we visited at the start of the show.

Gabriella Davogustto is Clay’s Wine Director. She spoke with Christina Pickard about what sparked her journey into the world of natural wines.

Gabriella Davogustto: The wines that I try to feature in Clay wine list, are usually wines that are, yes, they are made with little intervention. But they are also very clean. And they are very approachable. Our wines like Donkey and Goat, for example, that if you don’t tell the person that you’re open the bottle for, that that wine has been made with grapes that can come from vineyards that are biodynamic, and that it’s done with minimum intervention on it. They wouldn’t know, really. Because they’re as clean, and as classic as other wines can be.

Christina Pickard: Would you say that there is some misconception behind natural wines all being considered dirty, or faulty?

GD: I can’t remember if it was Gravner who said that natural wine making shouldn’t be an excuse to make bad wine. Or faulty wine. And it is not, indeed. I find that just probably like a few years ago, it was maybe people that was trying to make wine in this way, you know, they had to find their way to get the wines that they really wanted to make. And yes, there is a misconception that natural wine needs … It’s like volatile, or you know, it changes tremendously in between bottles. And you know, the truth is, it’s not.

I have been working with these wines for a while now. And I find that at this point, that conversation of it’s natural, or this, or that is less and less necessary.

CP: So going back to your menu at Clay, Clay has a very farm-to-table philosophy when it comes to its food menu, and how does this approach carry over to your wine list?

GD: The common thread that the list has is that pretty much every winemaker that is featured on it, it’s a farmer or works with farmers, to really translate a place, and people in that place into a bottle.

So it’s pretty much the same idea behind the menu that translates into the wine list. So we try to be coherent, as a concept.

CP: Is there confusion amongst some consumers, about what makes a wine natural? And if so, how would you differentiate a natural wine, from a conventionally made one? To those who might be unsure of that difference.

GD: Well I would say, you know, people are, as you said earlier, people are a little bit afraid because they think they’re gonna have something that is undrinkable in a bottle. When you kind of explain them that this natural wine making way is basically going back to the roots of how wine was traditionally made, and then it’s kind of like a surprise to them, that wine can be really manipulated like in many ways, to make conventional wine to cover faults that you probably get from the vineyard. And they are little bit surprised by that. Because as I said, I think the common way of thinking about wine is that it’s a natural product.

CP: Are more and more people starting to ask specifically about natural wines?

GD: They are. And that sometimes is a problem, because yes, we do have some wines featured on the list that are biodynamic, are certified organic. But some people, some winemakers they really can’t afford to go through those certifications or they really don’t believe in those certifications. So that conversation sometimes can be a little bit tricky. People usually ask for wines are biodynamic and they really don’t understand what they asking for.

CP: Do you think natural wines are a hard sell?

GD: I don’t think that they are a hard sell. I think that you need to listen to what your customer is asking for. If someone is asking me, table side, for a wine that is super clean, and lean, and I probably wouldn’t recommend an aged orange wine to them. Because in that way, it would be a hard sell because that is not what they’re asking for. But I feel that once that you listen to your customer and you translate what they’re looking for in to the wines that you carry, it’s not at all a hard sell.

People tend to be surprised by them, table side, when you pour at the table. They don’t know it. They are surprised. They’re surprised about the complexity. They are surprised about what they have in the glass, which I think it’s great to see.

CP: Do you think it’s possible that the many positives associated with natural wine making, namely, the important environmental and health aspects of this approach, have gotten lost in the styles current trendiness?

GD: All these winemakers that are getting into this style of wine making, are basically going back to how wine has been made for centuries. I don’t think it is a trend. It’s just going back. When you start drinking natural wine, it’s very hard to go back to conventional wine. So I don’t know myself, if I could just open a bottle that it’s mass produced, and enjoy it. Because it is something that is missing in that wine. It’s kind of like a soul that is not in there.

Marina Vataj: Wanna learn more about natural wines? We’ve got the resources on our website, Including the encyclopedic wine list at Clay, and Donkey and Goat’s natural wine manifesto. Again, that’s

Time for a break, but when we get back innovators on the cutting edge of eco wine making technology.

TJ Rodgers: There is a very high corelation, and it’s causal. It’s not just the corelation between a lack of water in high quality wine.

MV: It’s coming up, on The Wine Enthusiast Podcast.

Welcome back to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m Marina Vataj.

Cape Town, South Africa is about to run out of water. California and Australia are no strangers to droughts. Water conservation is a serious concern for many regions around the world. And by extension, many wine regions. Wine enthusiast, Contributing Editor, Matt Kettman spoke with innovators at two companies dedicated to conserving water in these regions.

First up, T.J. Rodgers. The Tech entrepreneur spent most of his career in the semiconductor business. Now he is using his PhD in Engineering and his passion for wine, to build systems that just don’t conserve water, they provide better grape yields. T.J. Rodgers explained to Matt Kettman how and why he’s uniting his passions for science and wine.

TJ Rodgers: I came to California to go to Stanford, where I got a PhD in Electrical Engineering. And for the bulk of my career, 35 years, I was the Chief Executive of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, a 2.5 billion dollar chip company. During that time, I became a wine aficionado, particularly, the wines of Burgundy. Which led me to planting three different vineyards that are Pinot Noir clones from Dijon. So I’m a Pinot Noir guy, and as a hobby, I planted vineyards and farmed them, and made the wine.

Matt Kettman: You came in with a somewhat of an analytical, or very much an analytical background. And I think in the beginning you thought that you could treat the wine in the winery, rather in the vineyard, right?

TJ: I am a technical person, and whenever I work on anything, I can’t help but trying to learn as much as I can about it.

So, the first vineyard, the one acre vineyard in my yard in Woodside, I got the best root stocks and clones I could get from Burgundy. And I set out to make the best Burgundian-like Pinot I could. I started reading the Journal of Enology and Viticulture. And I read books on Romanee-Conti, the most famous of all the Burgundian vineyards. And assumed, to begin with, that the chemist would make great wine. That I’d understand wine chemistry, which I now do. I’ve been studying for 15 years. And I would be able to optimize the chemistry of fermentation, which is complicated. But it turns out, I discovered that didn’t matter, and I rediscovered what the French had known for several hundred years, which is “The wine is made in the vineyard.”

So then, about 15 years ago I started doing significant agriculture experiments, in order to make the best wine that I could.

MK: And at some point you realized that really, one of the biggest components of the whole things is water right?

TJ: There is a very high correlation. And it’s causal. It’s not just a correlation between a lack of water in high quality wine.

For example, in Bordeaux, they’ve got vintage histories going back several hundred years. And you can look at the quality of Bordeaux wine, which is rated in a 20 point scale, and also by the price that the wine’s fetched. Versus rainfall. There is no irrigation allowed in Bordeaux. And therefore, their rainfall, which they get every year, determines if they have a good or bad year. And invariably. With almost no exceptions, a wet rainy year gets bad wine. Nicely watered big grapes, big crops, but not a great wine. And the greatest years don’t all come from dry years, but they typically come from dry years.

MK: So basically, this WaterBit technology, I mean to really simply it, you’re essentially able to track, evaluate, and then water exactly how much you need per vine.

TJ: Yeah. And not quite per vine. That was our original goal, and we still have it as an end goal. The little system I have in my backyard for one acre uses the appropriate radio. And it’s a real good system. But it is a toy, relative to the kind of systems you’d have to deploy. And that’s what WaterBit is doing right now.

MK: Right, because you’re using this on a very small scale, on a very boutique, high level, Pinot Noir vineyard. But the potential for this to go across the entire agricultural spectrum is massive. I mean, it could be really revolutionary.

TJ: Just for me. I’m gonna cut my water in this vineyard next year, by a factor of two. No sweat. It’s plain as day, that is the careful as I’ve been with watering. I can cut my water even farther. And if agriculture, which uses 80% of water, cuts 25%, okay that’s as much water as the rest of Californians use in all their houses. So, cutting water used in agriculture is by far more important than any other method. So you can turn off the facet when you’re brushing your teeth or take a 10 second shower for the rest of your life, and you won’t put that much of a dent in water use. But if you can cut the amount of water use on farms by 25%, you can make a big difference.

Marina Vataj: Using less water is one tactic for water conservation. Another strategy is re-using more. And that’s exactly what they’re working on at Cambrian Innovation in Watertown, Massachusetts. The folks there have taken technology they developed for NASA, and used it to make water treatment systems for wine and beer makers.

Matt Kettman spoke with Claire Aviles and William Dean about the EcoVolt Reactor. A bio electrically enhanced water waste treatment system that extracts clean water and clean energy.

William began by painting a picture of the problems wineries and breweries are up against when it comes to water.

William Dean: Breweries, wineries, food and beverage facilities generally, they’re focused on producing their end product. And as they go through that process, they need to clean equipment, rinse vessels, wash down floors, etc. So they’re a high water consumption process. And at the back end of this, they’ve got beer in bottles, or wine in bottles, and then they have this waste water stream. Which is effectively, just diluted wine, from that cleaning process. It’s a relatively high strength waste water stream, and it can be difficult for local municipalities to treat that. It’s an energy intensive and operationally intensive treatment process. So, this can end up costing breweries, wineries, and other facilities, a lot of money. That’s really what Cambrian is focused on addressing. And our system takes that waste water, cleans it, and extracts renewable resources through that process.

MK: Yeah, that’s big problem here, especially in Santa Barbara Bounty. Certain municipalities really don’t have the capacity to deal with a growing wine industry. So, what your system does is basically takes that treatment and puts it on site, and makes the water re-usable. That’s correct, right?

WD: That is correct. And it can get that water to whatever quality makes the most sense for the winery. You know, some facilities are looking for rough treatment, and then they can discharge to their local township, without cost. Some wineries want to irrigate with it, so we can get it to a level of quality where they can water their vines with it, and that can be a really nice symbiosis and enclosed circle for the winery. And then yeah, we’ve gone all the way to re-use.

So we’ve got breweries who were producing a water stream that’s actually cleaner than what they get from their local town. We actually had one partner brew a beer with the recycled water. It was a project that Claire was actually heavily involved with. I don’t know if you want to talk on that. But it was a really cool project.

Claire Aviles: You know, it turned out really well. I think we did it for the California Craft Brewers Conference last September, and the feedback was really positive. We did blind taste tests at the event, and definitely a vast majority, I would say probably about 70%, chose the beer that was brewed with recycled water.

MK: And so when was this technology invented when it was originally invented for NASA.

CA: So the company was actually spun out of MIT back in 2006. The first, about four years, were definitely heavy research and development. And then we did our first pilot in 2012, and sold our first commercial system in 2014.

MK: And when did you realize that breweries and wineries might be a good customer base for this?

WD: Almost immediately. It was an early exploration for the company. It was California food and beverage market is big. Obviously wine and beer are big chunks of that. And our first demonstration was at a winery. It was a commercial demonstration unit. We ran it for 18 months. And it was … We had identified that wineries have this challenge of high seasonal fluctuations. You’ve got crush season, where you’re producing a ton. A lot of waste water. And then you’ve got a relatively low use period through much of rest of the year.

We wanted to start there, and beer kind of came naturally next. One of the key parts of that market is how quickly it’s growing. So you see small craft breweries. And same with wine. You see small wineries popping up all the time. And these are folks who start their dream business, and end up with a waste water problem. Or end up in a small town that can’t accommodate that waste water stream with the local infrastructure. And we can really help solve that.

MK: I would assume that public entities, like these townships and municipalities, that can’t handle this stream, they would be excited and maybe even supportive of something like this. I mean, even financially. Is there any chance of public money helping wineries and breweries purchase these things, or pay for these things?

WD: Definitely. You’re absolutely right about that. And that’s been an exciting development that we’ve seen over the past couple of years. So we’ve seen support from local municipalities, with grant money, from state agencies with grant money, and from the federal government, also through different tax incentives. There is a lot of support for it, and what I touched on earlier with breweries often starting up in these small municipalities, you’re right, those towns aren’t ready. They don’t have the infrastructure in place. But they want that brewery to grow. That brewery is invested in the community. That winery is invested in the community. They want to be a good partner. You can get everyone pulling in the same direction, and it really helps communities grow, which is exciting.

Marina Vataj: To take an online tour of the EcoVolt Reactor, visit our website

Before we say goodbye today, we turn to you, our listeners, for another installment of our series, Collections Recollected.

Kelly Cornett, a wine educator and consultant in Atlanta, Georgia, submitted this story about one of her most special bottles.

Kelly Cornett: I grew up in a family where wine was really important. And as I got older, I learned to appreciate that it connected you to more things. Wine could remind you of a group of people, a memory, a trip. I just wanted to keep learning about wine. And the more I learned, and the more I tasted, the more thankful I actually became, that my dad had really helped me find this passion very early on in my life.

So then fast forward, one year for Christmas. And I open a package. And it’s a bottle of 2010 Continuum, from my dad. When I opened it, he said “Now this just isn’t any type of wine. It’s that special occasion wine. Like, maybe even your five year wedding anniversary bottle of wine.” And looking ahead, I’m super excited, because next February 2019, is our fifth year wedding anniversary. A lot of special bottles have been opened. They’ve come and gone. I open that fridge, and I always take a look at the Continuum, but I put it back. But coming up next February, we get to open that bottle. And it’s definitely gonna be another memory.

Marina Vataj: Do you have a bottle you cherish above all others? Write us an email about it and tell us its story. Our address is We might feature you on an upcoming episode of the Wine Enthusiast Podcast.

That’s it for today’s Wine Enthusiast Podcast. We heard from Contributing Editors, Christina Pickard and Matt Kettman. You can subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please, write us a review, we love to hear what you think. We’d also love to stay in touch with you. You can follow Wine Enthusiast Magazine on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag, #WEpodcast. And please, visit our website,

The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Sheir and Shim, LLC.  I’m Marina Vataj, see you next time.