In this week’s episode of the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, we talk to winemakers carrying on their family legacies from previous generations, along with an alcohol historian known as the Indiana Jones of ancient ales.
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Read the full transcript of “Legacies and Lineage”:
Lauren Buzzeo: From Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this is the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m Managing Editor and Tasting Director, Lauren Buzzeo.
Coming up: Legacies and Lineage. We’ll meet winemakers who’ve taken the torch from previous generations, and hear how they’re keeping the flame alive.
Suzanne Groth: It was pretty exciting to all of a sudden see my parent’s brand in other people’s eyes who were professionals that, you know, knew about wine. And I think that’s when I really started to get that they had something really special.
Aurelio Montes Jr: One of the biggest advantages of working with your father, or with your family, is that at the end you can really trust in each other, and that’s something that’s not easy to get in your life.
Anthony Riboli: There aren’t many left like us, unfortunately. But if you love it, and it’s in your blood – which it is in mine – you do it because you love it.
LB: Plus: the “Indiana Jones of ancient ales.” An expert chimes in on how far back wine’s lineage really goes.
It’s coming up on the Wine Enthusiast Podcast.
The world of wine is defined by tradition. From the vineyards, to the barrels, to your glass: so much about wine is passed on through generations.
For many winemakers, the family vineyard is their literal inheritance. Today we’ll hear how second-, third- and fourth-generation winemakers are keeping their family legacies alive.
Our first story today begins with the American dream.
More than 100 years ago, Santo Cambianica left his home of Berzo San Fermo, in the northern Italian province of Lombardia, and set sail for America.
After registering at Ellis Island, he traveled across the country to downtown Los Angeles. After a few years of saving money, building relationships, and planting his feet in the Italian-American community… Santo founded the San Antonio Winery. Santo started the company in 1917, on Lamar Street — and, 100 years later, it’s still there!
Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor Matt Kettman visited the San Antonio Winery, and spoke with fourth-generation winemaker Anthony Riboli, along with his grandfather and grandmother: Stefano and Maddalena Riboli.
Matt Kettman: We are in the Vintage Room where there are these huge … Are those redwood casks over there?
Anthony Riboli: No, those are actually oak-
MK: Those are oak casks.
AR: …from, I think, Slovenia originally.
MK: From Slovenia. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how it started, Anthony?
AR: Well, thanks, Matt, for coming to visit. I know all of you listening are thinking, “Why is there a winery in downtown Los Angeles?” So, we’ll start with a little history: Back in the days Southern California at the turn of the century, we’re talking 1800s, it was a big agricultural area especially Los Angeles with many vineyards throughout. So, my great-great-uncle, Santo Cambianica came here from the Lombardi region of Italy, a little village north of Milano, and came to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1912.
And after about five years of that as a laborer I think saw an opportunity with this growing Italian population and their demand for wine as part of their culture, part of their consumption of meals, eating of meals, and started in 1917 San Antonio Winery right here on Lamar Street, and the same location we’re at right now.
MK: What was the motivation for the name, San Antonio?
AR: So, everyone always asks why I don’t have a Texas accent, so, Saint Anthony of Padua was his patron saint. Again, so, good luck to have a saint in the name and that’s where it came from. So, he opens up shop and it’s a very simple marketing plan. People back then would have a large glass jug, so they’d drop off the empty glass jug in the morning and on the way home they’d pick up the glass jug full of wine and go home. And so, he starts and-
MK: Although not the most fortuitous time to start a liquor business in 1917.
AR: Correct. So, unfortunately Prohibition occurs shortly after, and again thank you to the Catholic Church. He was a very devout Catholic and was able to have a trade and stay in business with just local parishes. Of course, you could use wine for religious ceremonies, but the priests also were allowed to drink wine, so he had a good relationship and that was at least a way to survive because Prohibition was many years, I believe. I can’t remember. 13, I think? Something like that, but a very long time.
MK: So, he’s making the altar wine for all the churches around here. And then when Prohibition is repealed what happens next?
AR: Prior to Prohibition there were a hundred little wineries right here in the City of Los Angeles. After Prohibition fewer than 10 survived, so that was a great opportunity for growth. It just happened that my grandfather, Stefano Riboli, he had been born here in the United States but had gone back with his family, raised in Italy in the same village north of Milano and he … His mother really wanted him out of Italy because the war was on the horizon, so he came here at 16 years old by himself in 1937.
MK: I’m here with Stefano and Maddalena Riboli. Tell me a little bit about coming back to California.
Stefano Riboli: Well, when I came back to California I was 16 years old. For me it was a big difference between here and Italy. So, I came and I stayed with my uncle overnight, and then next door was a lady, an Italian lady. She said, “You’re not gonna go … You’re not gonna to stay with your uncle. He’s all by himself, he’s a bachelor, so you could stay … I’m gonna feed you.” And then she was just like my mother for four years. And she-
MK: Was there a big Italian community in this part of the country?
SR: In this part it was all … I’ll say 60% were Italian at that time. And that’s why we started the … My uncle started this little winery here because there were a lot of Italians.
MK: A lot of customers.
SR: A lot of customers. That’s the only one that drink wine. The Italian. Well, we have a lot of good customers. We have a lot of Italians, French, Spaniards, Germans, and Portuguese. Those are the people that drink a glass of wine with their meal. The other, they were still used to with their beer or their hard liquor.
MK: And so you started … What was your first job in the winery?
SR: The first job, the next day I got here, he said, “I’m gonna teach you how to wash barrels.”
MK: How was the wine? Do you remember? Was it good wine you were making?
SR: It was a good dry wine. You see, it was a mixture of three or four different kinds of grape: You have Carignan, Mataro, Grenache, Zinfandel. Zinfandel was one of the best. All the grapes, they were planted, they plant one line of each flavor. And when they pick it they picked the four kinds together, there was already the blend, it was already made. That’s your Burgundy right there. See? And the Zinfandel they used to keep them separate.
MK: So, how did you meet Maddalena?
SR: Maddalena, that’s a long story.
Maddalena Riboli: Let’s hear if he’s right.
SR: I was buying grapes from this fellow up in Ontario. I used to go up with this little pickup that hold, I think, it was 40 or 50 boxes at a time going back and forth. He said, “You had one more little load to pick up tomorrow morning, and I want you … I have a girl that I want you to meet.” “Oh, no. I’m too young. I’m not there. I’m not ready to meet any girls.” Okay. So, the next morning I went up there. He said, “Now you’re coming with me, we go to her house.” Her house was only half a mile away.
Nobody was home, so we went back to the ranch. So, he said, “Do you see that girl over there on the tractor?” “Yes, sir.” From there to the street it took them half an hour to come down. In this half an hour I already made up my mind. If she know how to drive a tractor she can run a winery too.
MK: That’s great.
SR: So, that’s why I had … So, we’re still here. Still.
MK: Is that accurate, Maddalena?
MR: That’s true.
SR: And then I find out, after I found out that she was working for the Padre Winery and the Bonelli line, and the champagne Bonelli line. So, she know more than me.
MK: So then you became part of the winery operations as well?
SR: Right away. Three day after we got married. After my uncle passed away, then he turned the little … Whatever that little winery was he turned it over to me.
MK: You’re still involved. You’re here every day basically?
SR: Well, I like to come here because this was my life, and I like to see the way my children, my grandchildren, the way the work and I feel happy…
MK: Is there another generation coming up? Who’s the fifth generation coming?
MR: Well, there is Anthony.
SR: There’s his daughter.
MK: His daughter?
SR: That’s what I told, to have a boy so at least he can get the name.
MR: My daughter has a boy, Dante. He’s very good. He’s 30-some years old, and we have Chris, he’s 27. So, they’re all involved and they do very well. And without my children and their children, I don’t think we’d be in this position.
Anthony Riboli: There aren’t many left like us, unfortunately. The Sebastianis are gone, the Seghisios are gone, the Mondavis are gone. Many families are no longer in this business, because it’s a capital-intensive business. We’re dealing with Mother Nature and there’s all kinds of things that we deal with, but if you love it and it’s in your blood – which it is in mine – you deal with those things and you just do it because you love it.
Lauren Buzzeo: We move now from California, to South America.
Aurelio Montes, Jr, took the reins from his father, legendary Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, Senior in 2012.
When Wine Enthusiast Senior Tasting Coordinator Fiona Adams spoke with Aurelio Montes, Junior, the winemaker began by telling the story of his collaboration with his renowned father.
Aurelio Montes Jr: Well, working with my father at the beginning it was a kind of challenge. You know, your father is always your father and you’re always his son, and it’s hard at the beginning because you have to build your own space inside of the company, inside of the winery, and you have to be really generous to really leave some space for my father in my case and my father for me. So, at the beginning sometimes you have some fights and it is complicated like every family, but once you get the space, once you understand each other everything is so easy.
And you know, one of the biggest event that you’re working with your father or with your family is that at the end you can really trust in each other, and that’s something that is not easy to get in your life. So, when you can trust 100% in someone, everything is so easy.
Fiona Adams: Do you feel like it’s been more difficult or easier having a less clear boundary between work life and family life?
AMJ: Wine-making and working with the family it’s not only work. It’s a lifestyle. I spend so many hours during the year involved with wine, traveling, at the winery during the harvest, so at the end my family understand. It’s always, everything is all about wine. Even my vacations normally it’s in a wine area. I really love what I do. I really love … It’s my passion, it’s my life. So, for me even it sounds that you take work to home, it’s not really like that because I enjoy what I’m doing.
FA: Is it true that your family is the only family of winemakers in Chile that work together?
AMJ: That’s very true, and it’s funny. It’s funny because if you analyze Chile … We have been producing wine of a Chilean industry for around a hundred years. In the Old World there’s many wineries where you have much more than one generation of a winemaker in the family, but in Chile we’re the only one and we feel very proud of that.
FA: How would you describe your personal philosophy for wine-making, and how do you think it compares to your father’s?
AMJ: The first thing that is very simple to explain is that we are two different generations. My father likes to eat meat well done, and I prefer to eat sushi. So, That’s we’re different a little bit the style of thinking, of likeness of the wine, of the style of the wine. At the end when you put all this in your taste and you want to make a wine, of course there’s a difference.
But the amazing thing about working with my father is that after many fights in the past we decided to share each other each experience. So, he used me with my taste to really open his mind for new things, for a new taste. And I use his taste, his experience, to really go faster in my way of thinking, not to make mistakes, not to make… Sometimes when you’re young – I’m not that young anymore, unfortunately, but when you start it’s really a big advantage to have your father teaching you, “Don’t go this way. I tried in the past and I made mistakes.”
We always talk about something … Not in the middle, because we don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere, but if I have more reasons to produce a certain style of wine he’s going to approve that. And when my father have good reason to produce a different style than what I like it, or like it more, I agree. So, at the end you have to think of balance, to understand each other.
FA: Do you feel that the changeover has been really well accepted by your other employees and other members of your family and just the Chilean wine community in general?
AMJ: I think it’s not easy to replace, if we can say it like that, my father’s skills, but in the end I have been working very tough the last 10 years in Montes, and meeting with you I feel like I got the respect of the industry. I feel that most of the people know that what is happening today in Montes talking about the wine-making area, it’s in my hands. That’s the good thing about numbers, that you can see that Montes is still growing, and growing quite fast, and that is the best or easiest way to say what I’m doing is not incorrect.
I feel that consumers, new generations, they understand what I’m doing. They understand that even if I need to keep the tradition, because sometimes in the New World countries like in the States, like here in Chile, tradition is not as important as in European wineries.
When you talk about tradition in Europe it’s something really serious. Not many years or a month ago, last October, I visit one of the wineries that I admire more: Antinori Winery. He has been in the family for 600 years, so I’m saying, “Wow! That is really being able to keep the tradition of the family for 600 years.” And that’s a big challenge and something that we don’t know as a new countries. It’s something that it’s hard even to think about that. So, for me it’s a big responsibility to keep the tradition of what my father built, but also it’s also my own challenge to put my own touch in the wines.
FA: Looking ahead, then, would you like to see the family wine legacy continue with your own children?
AMJ: Well, that’s my dream because I think every father dreams when you talk about this kind of business, that one of your sons or daughters continuing what you have done. So, that’s my dream. As my father, I don’t want to push them too much, too much. I need to show them what it’s all about and since they’re born they have been following me, during the harvest, that I don’t slip mainly. They come here, they come to the winery. They love to come to winery. They play between the barrels, they’re playing in between the tanks, they help me with the analysis. They play to be a winemaker.
So, for them, I want them to look at this like a natural way of living, and if they like it at the end or not it’s their own decision. I can’t push them but my dream will be to have one of them in charge of the company in the future.
Lauren Buzzeo: We head back to California now… to meet another second-generation winemaker. One who’s been helping out at the family business since high school.
Suzanne Groth’s parents, Dennis and Judy, started the Groth Family Winery in 1982. Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor, Virginie Boone, recently spoke with Suzanne, who eventually worked her way up to become president and CEO.
Suzanne Groth: I was 12 when my parents bought the ranch. They bought 121 acres in Oakville. Nobody had ever heard of Oakville except for, of course, Robert Mondavi fans. My parents had … They were 39 the year they took all their savings and bought this ranch with the intent that some day they might retire here. We are from San Jose. My parents were both born in Sunnyvale, raised in what is now Silicon Valley, of course, and they watched it change all their lives. So, they knew as young kids even that it wasn’t going to be the Libby Canning Factory that their parents had worked at, or Lockheed as an electrician that my grandfather worked at.
It was going to have to be something different, because of course all the orchards were being bought up and turned into houses in Santa Clara Valley. My family, most of my family, still lives down there, all my aunts and uncles. My father was the first in his family to go to college. He became an accountant. He didn’t know what an accountant was when he was going to college, but he had a math professor take him aside and telling him he had a talent for it. And he was a young accountant for a company called Arthur Young. In my earliest memories as a small child, he would go out and meet accounts.
One of the accounts was the Wente Brothers Winery, as it was called at the time. Today it’s Wente Family. And he would finish doing their books, crunch their numbers for them, audit, and then at the end of the day they would taste him on wines. And those were some of the … He had had wine before but not from his parents. His friends were experimenting with wine, and he was very young in his early 20s. And then he would take my mom on weekends to Napa Valley and to Sonoma Valley as kids and they were really only 20 wineries, maybe.
They would go to BV, Berringer, Mondavi of course was new and exciting because it was the first Prohibition-built winery, post-Prohibition-built winery, so they knew that and they were impressed by the architecture and the newness. But that was really their first exposure to Napa, and it wasn’t until later, I think, that they really started to start the journey of loving wine together and learning more about it. I think my dad talks about his epiphany wine as a young accountant. A senior accountant buying him dinner, and it was a BV Georges de Letour 1968, and that was the wine that really made him think and said, “Wow! I didn’t know wine could taste like this.”
It turns out it was a historic vintage for BV too, of course. And that would have been one of the last wines made by Andre Tchelistcheff too. He didn’t know any of this at the time, but later he got a job for a company called Atari, but that put him in a position, since Atari did very well. Atari was bought by Warner Brothers and that put people who were there in a financial position that he never expected to be in. So, by, I think, really the late ’70s, early ’80s they’re thinking, “How do we invest in the future and what is going to be something that we might be interested in doing in our retirement?”
And my parents argued … That they loved wine and so they looked at vineyards and they looked at fruit. My brother and I remember. I was 12, Andrew was 10, my sister was already at Berkeley, my older sister. But we would spend a lot of time driving around and looking at bat-encrusted Victorians, and there were a lot of those in Napa and Sonoma, kind of abandoned wineries. Luckily they found this property. We really thought our parents were crazy. They thought they were crazy too, by the way. They were kind of convinced that they could go broke at any minute, and those first 15 years were hard.
The first five years it took … It actually took eight years to convince a bank to give them enough of a loan to build the winery. They really struggled, and there were vintages that it took them two and a half years to sell. It wasn’t until really the 1990s that things are moving through the cellar within a 12-month period. You make the wine and sell it now. At that time we didn’t. It was much … There were few wineries, but California wineries were still kind of new on the scene. So, I think until about the mid-’90s I really didn’t want to be a part of the wine business. I had been working in hotels right out of college. I graduated in ’92 from school with an art history degree. So useful, right?
My father begged me to do accounting but I didn’t listen. So, I had no marketable skills, so I worked in a hotel. For the first couple of years I lived in San Francisco and then I got interested in the wine business. So, I called my father and asked him for advice, and said, “What would you do if you were trying to get into the business of wine right now?” And he recommended a few people to talk to, distributors, salespeople. And then he paused and he said, “You weren’t expecting me to give you a job, were you?” They had 12 employees at the time, and had barely built the winery. And I was like, “Well, no, no. I certainly …” Of course I did think that might happen but it didn’t.
So, I ended up interviewing around and got a job working for Henry Wine Group, a distributor in Northern California, and they’re still in business. But I got to sell everything from Veuve Cliquot, and imports of all kinds, Italian, French. I got to sell Schaeffer as well, and Borges, and I went to high school with Steve Borges. So, it was pretty exciting to all of a sudden see my parents’ brand in other people’s eyes who were professionals that knew about wine. I think that’s when I really started to get that they had something really special. And by 1999 I was knocking on my dad’s door again and asking for a job. So, I came aboard as a salesperson to the winery at the time.
Virginie Boone: What was the transition like for your parents to begin to let go maybe of their more day-to-day involvement in the winery and to feel like it was ready to be in your hands? Was it something that you had to kick along? Or how did that go?
SG: Well, my parents did promote me a year ago to the president position, so I’m only the second family member to hold it, I guess, and I would love to say they let go.
VB: But not yet.
SG: But my parents, I think they are excited that the next generation wants to be involved, and I think that they embrace the idea that any family member that wants to stay involved … We’ve discussed. As all family businesses do you have that shoptalk on the weekends, or at Thanksgiving or something. Conversations come up and we check in with each other. We’re like, “Do you still want to do this?” “Do you still want to live here?” “Do you still want to farm?” “Do you still want to ….” Because I think our vision is that you can’t really be in the wine business at least here in Napa unless you want to be involved yourself.
We take a very personal interest, and although we’re not driving the tractor and doing the pump-overs all by ourselves, we’re involved. And we’re out on the road, we’re in the cellar, we’re the ones figuring out how are we going to finance the next improvements to the vineyard and to the cellar. And it’s personal, very personal. And we’re so wrapped up in it at this point, I think it would be really hard for me to back down and I would really feel like I was letting the family down.
But that’s not the only reason I’m here. I think everybody gets in the wine business because they love it. They love wine, they love the people, they love the landscape. We love everything about it, so I can’t imagine doing anything else in a lot of ways.
Lauren Buzzeo: Time for a break, but when we come back:
Dr Pat McGovern: You take all these sorts of hints or lines of evidence that you have, and then you try to do a recreation. It’s call experimental archaeology.
LB: A conversation with the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages.”
It’s coming up on the Wine Enthusiast Podcast.
Welcome back to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. I’m Lauren Buzzeo.
Today we’re talking about the legacy and lineage of wine. And for our final segment, we’ll go back more than a few generations. We’ll rewind more than three-thousand years!
Anthropology professor Patrick McGovern works at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, in Philadelphia. His title is a bit of a mouthful: Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health.
But to many people, “Doctor Pat” is known as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages.” Wine Enthusiast Senior Editor Layla Schlack recently spoke with Doctor Pat. She began by asking him to define… “extreme beverage.”
Dr. Pat McGovern: An extreme beverage is something that combines lots of different ingredients together. So, normally we think of wine, beer, mead made from honey, as separate beverages, but most of the ancient beverages that we’ve analyzed and identified their ingredients tend to be very complex mixtures, often putting together fruit, a carbohydrate resource such as a grain or a root, honey, and then also different types of herbs and spices and so on, which often have medicinal value too and they go into solution very well in an alcoholic medium.
Layla Schlack: And how did you get into studying them?
DPM: Well, that was sort of … By a series of fortuitous events where we got interested in doing the chemical analysis of ancient organic compounds, which hadn’t really been developed very well, let’s say 25 years ago when we started. And so we started out with a very famous dye called Royal Purple of the Canaanites and the Phoenicians, and we were able to show that the compound, which is an organic compound related to indigo, called Dye Bromo Indigo for the purple, is very well preserved. We had samples going back over 3,000 years ago from a site in Lebanon.
So, that gave us the encouragement when someone came to us with what they thought was an ancient wine vessel, to start in on the analysis. And I was working with a person, an analytical chemist who was … His family had come over from the Pfalz area of Germany and had been a wine merchant, so he was very interested in doing the analysis as well. And I had had my experiences in picking grapes on the Mosel River, for instance. And so, I had an interest in trying to figure out if we could really identify chemically an ancient wine. And so, we started out and we were able to show that was indeed what was inside that vessel.
LS: Is that how the research usually works? You start with a vessel and analyze the trace chemicals that are left in it?
DPM: Well, usually we want to work with pottery because that absorbs liquids and it also has a chemical structure, an ionic structure that holds these ancient molecules in place and helps to preserve them. And then we can extract them with different organic solvents such as chloroform and methanol, and get out the ancient molecules. Then we go through a whole series of analyses and we use a very sensitive technique now, which is liquid chromatography, tandem mass spectrometry, which breaks down the compound into pieces which can only come from that … Having a starting molecule of tartaric acid, so we get fragments that indicate just what the original molecule was.
And we put together the archeological data that we have, and hopefully we have very good contexts that are protected, they’re well dated, that haven’t been disturbed in any way either by humans coming later or other natural processes, microorganisms and so forth. And we look at the available textual evidence, if there’s any art depictions. Like in Egypt you often get very detailed wine-making scenes, beer-making scenes. And then we look at the local people even today, because they carry on often very ancient traditions.
For instance, in Egypt there’s a beverage still made in Nubia called Booza, but it’s not related to our booze etymologically, but it’s a very similar beer to what was made from barley and wheat millennia ago, and it’s still being made and it’s still very important to the culture. So, often you have to look at modern peoples, especially in Africa. Where we all started and where our first fermented beverages were made, and there are thousands of different groups and they each have usually their own particular fermented beverage that they center through religion, their social relations, medicine, and so forth and around.
So, you take all these sort of hints or lines of evidence that you have, and then you try to do a recreation, and we do it with … It’s called Experimental Archeology. So, we did that with Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, and we started out about 18 years ago with Midas Touch, which is based on a tomb in central Turkey that’s believed to be the tomb of King Midas. And there was a real King Midas, or his father Gordeas. And we’ve done now nine recreations.
And the idea there is just to see if we’re on the right track and see what the parameters might be, see if really we’re going so far astray in terms of flavor, aroma, and so forth, because we assume that humans have basically the same sensory organs going back even millions of years into hominid times. So, if they liked something we would probably like it too, or especially if you’re upper class or royalty, then you might have very special ingredients that you put in, and those are just somehow combined. And yet, with an extreme beverage, when you mix together wine, beer, mead, different herbs and so on, you might expect that you could come up with a rather strange combination.
At least when we first started out with Midas Touch, that was the feeling that we really had to test and see if this could even be made into a drinkable beverage. Nowadays we have breweries especially that are doing all kinds of crazy concoctions. But back in 2000 when we first discovered Midas Touch and started doing that recreation, we really had never heard of beer and wine being mixed together, and it turns out that all through the Middle Ages that was quite common. But then even going back into ancient times when we have these chemical analyses, that was also the case.
LS: And then you recreate these drinks, once you’ve analyzed what’s in them?
DPM: Yes. Midas Touch, the first one we did was really spectacular in terms of its flavor and profile. It has won lots of Gold Tasting medals, silvers, bronzes. It’s the most awarded of all the Dogfish brews. And it started out at a time when Dogfish was just about ready to go under, and around 2000 it was when there was a big shakeout of the craft brewers, and they just hung on by their teeth and they took Midas Touch and things like 90-Minute IPA. In the case of Midas Touch originally it was in the 750 milliliter large-format bottle with a cork, but then later in order to survive they made it in the 12-ounce bottle four-pack.
It was the same price but it had twice the amount of Midas Touch that you’d buy for the same price. That got them through the hard times and it’s still doing very well. It’s one of their main beverages. The others that I particularly like or have an affinity towards are the oldest one that we have chemically identified, which is called Chateau Jahoo, and Jahoo is a site in China. It’s one of the early Neolithic sites there that goes back to about 7,000 B.C. So, it’s a beverage that is similar to Midas Touch. Midas Touch is a mixture of grape, Eurasian grape, barley, honey, and then we didn’t know what the herb was.
The color of the residue was yellowish, so I suggested to the owner and brewer that Dogfish had, Sam Calagione, that he use saffron. And we know Turkey in antiquity is very famous for its saffron. It turns out that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, so this is the most expensive beer he says he’s ever made, but it turned out really spectacularly. Now, the Chateau Jahoo is similar in that it also is a mixture of honey and … Of course, these would all be Chinese ingredients. Honey, but rice instead of barley, and then a grape that is different from the Eurasian grape.
There’s more species of grape in China than anywhere else in the world. It’s like 30 or maybe even 40 different species. But according to our chemical analysis, Chateau Jahoo has a grape, and probably a wild Chinese grape, and then it also has something different than Midas Touch. It has hawthorn fruit. The hawthorn tree in China is used in Chinese traditional medicine for a lot of different things, but it has this sort of grapey flavor to it as well. So, they combined all these ingredients together and there could have been others that we just haven’t identified yet chemically, different herbs.
LS: Why did humans start creating alcohol?
DPM: That’s a big question, but I think it’s pretty straightforward because life on this planet is really based on fermentation. So, the earliest energy system on the planet is glycolysis and each of the cells in our body, actually 50 trillion of them, are using a modified fermentation process to get energy. So, my belief is that humans would have started making intentionally alcoholic beverages from fruits, honey, which has its own yeast in it, and also different carbohydrate, wild grain sources and roots of different kinds that they can chew and spit out, and this would have happened very early in our development. So, it really is the biotechnology that was first developed on the planet, and it’s been with us for a long time.
Lauren Buzzeo: You can learn more about Doctor Pat’s work with Dogfish Head Brewing, by visiting our website: www.winemag.com/podcast.
That’s it for today’s Wine Enthusiast Podcast.
We heard from Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor Matt Kettman, Senior Tasting Coordinator Fiona Adams, Contributing Editor Virginie Boone, and Senior Editor Layla Schlack.
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I’m Lauren Buzzeo. See you next time!