Being raised on a farm, my family knew that if you wanted to bear quality fruit from the orchard, you must maintain a healthy environment and respect and care for its resources. At the time, no one talked about sustainability; it was a means of supporting the needs of our family without compromising the land for future generations. Thirty years ago when I started Paul Hobbs Winery, the discourse around sustainability was still in its infancy, however, it was always at the core of what we did.
When I sat down to write this journal entry, it was with the intention of focusing entirely on the practice of “calling the pick”; a crucial decision that signals the start of harvest, and, ultimately, the birth of a wine. Then, on September 12th, a longtime friend and treasured colleague, Ulises Valdez, died suddenly at the age of 49, and so I want to spend a moment remembering this dear friend and singular man.
Terroir is often spoken about as if it’s a fixed construct; unmovable, definitive. It’s as if the terroir of Burgundy, for example, lives off in an ethereal realm, elusive yet sacrosanct; something to represent and uphold at all costs. Carrying this example even further, what defines the terroir of Burgundy’s most coveted sites, after all? Standing on the hillsides there, observing those storied sites, one comes to understand that many of them came into existence not because of their ephemeral terroir, but as the result of man-made choices bound by history, logistics and practicalities.