Monday, June 14, 2010

The Art of Winemaking: Phillips Hill Estate Winery: Our Visit

What does it take for someone to call themselves an artist?
  • Passion
  • Diligence
  • Imagination
  • A good amount of crazy
Great artists of our time each pertains these traits.

How do winemakers express themselves? 

The Phillips Hill tasting room is a little house off the main road in the town of Philo. There's a yard with few parasols and picnic tables. We walked through the front porch and entered the door, and it looked as if no one was around! We're curious folks, so we snooped around a little. I knew immediately that I would like this place. Because there was a tremendous amount of artwork being displayed in this modest sized room. Each art piece uniquely stood as its own, but unanimously spoke softly to me as if they were one. I was entranced and pleasantly surprised. Whoever decorated this room had a vision, and the walls whispered to my soul without ever making a sound.

I was touched.

I let out a sigh of happiness as we looked at the bottles displayed before us.  They were captivating and charming. Which only lead to my impatience to skip the white varietals and went straight for the Pinot.

The 2007 Toulouse Pinot Noir blew our minds. [sold out]
The wine spoke softly and poignantly. Smell of a beautiful Bing cherry as if you had just picked it off the tree. There were scents of hazelnut and almond trailing in the back of the palate. Light to medium amounts of tannin help the wine linger on w/ soft and long finish. My husband and I looked at each other with our eyes wide open. It was LOVE!! We begged for a little more because we wanted every taste bud to remember this bottle of wine.

Equally mesmerizing was the 2008 Ring of Fire. [pdf]
As the wine hits the nose, it felt like there was a cloud of smoke. Dark, over-ripen fruits set in as you take the glass for a swirl. Scents of earth, charcoal, and tobacco reveals themselves gradually without being overbearing. Its perplexity enchanting, almost as if you’re walking into a cloud of smoke while finding pleasant surprises along the way. This was a bold Pinot that was unfamiliar to us, and we liked it! It turns out 2008 was a year filled with forest fires, and the wine was therefore appropriately given its name.

Emily [of Phillips Hill] told us that Toby Hill, is both the winemaker and the artist. I knew that I wanted to meet him. Not only to meet him but to tell him how much we thoroughly enjoyed his different mediums of artwork.

“You’re awesome!” I wanted to say. 

I’ll never know if my subconscious was affected by all the arts around me. I felt enlightened and started thinking about how each winemaker is, in fact, an artist. An artist’s ultimate goal is for his audience to experience their artwork and interpret to their liking. Wine, like a painting, is the catalyst for imagination to take flight. Winemaker, like a painter, spends tremendous amount of time perfecting each bottle. In the end, the goal is clear: enjoy the bottle, and allow the art, through the bottle, touch a little bit of your soul.

Almost there! Come back soon to read our QnA. 

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