On 18 March 2015, San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné writes about a recent barrel tasting event he attended. Here’s an excerpt of his interview with winemaker Paul Draper:
“You should see if your piece of land, or where you’re buying grapes, can do it on its own, without corrections,” Draper told me as we sat. “And it may not. In which case, be my guest, make the best wine with the grapes you’ve got. But give the grapes a chance.”
This might seem facile coming from the master of Monte Bello, but that’s just it: Monte Bello and California’s other historically great vineyards prove Draper’s point. They remain a source of pilgrimage because they represent not just that timelessness, but also serve as a beacon of culture within agriculture. We come to visit so that, for an hour or two, we can appreciate one of wine’s deep truths: The greatness of great sites endures, past any minor abuse at the hands of man or the cold numbers of industry.
Such places remind us that even as we sit here on the edge of America, on the frontier that’s always pushing into the future, there is a vitality and importance to California’s past. Tradition, in wine as in other things, has allowed us to progress to where we are.