Producers being known for just one thing is rapidly becoming a dated concept. “Beverage companies” is the new “it” term. While breweries diversifying their drink portfolios have become quite common, wine production is also finding a place in this new mixed-up world of wonder.
In this episode, we venture down the path of blending beverage worlds. Beer Editor John Holl speaks with three winemakers who are beer-space adjacent to get the latest info on this exciting crossover space: Jennifer Currier, head winemaker for Vīdl Wines in North Carolina; Mitch Ermatinger, owner of Native Species Winery in Michigan; and Travis Green, winemaker at the Odell Wine Project in Colorado.
Together, they discuss how we can all embrace the best of all the beverage worlds before us. Whether your go-to pour is wine, beer, spirits or something in between, there’s plenty of space for drinkers to enjoy them all.
For more blending of beverage worlds action, check out this story on wine-beer hybrids or this article about oenobiers, or wine-beer collaborations. Also, discover how dry-hopped wines could bridge the beer-wine divide.
Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.
Speakers: Lauren Buzzeo, John Holl, Mitch Ermatinger, Jennifer Currier, Travis Green
Lauren Buzzeo 0:08
Hello and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, your serving of drinks culture and the people who drive it. I’m Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor at Wine Enthusiast, and in this episode, we venture down the path of blending beverage worlds. Producers being known for just one thing is rapidly becoming a dated concept. Beverage companies is the new “it” term. And while breweries diversifying their drink portfolios has become quite common of late, wine production is also finding a place in this new mixed up world of wonder. So today we speak to three winemakers who are beer space adjacent to get the latest info on this exciting crossover space, and how to embrace the best of all the beverage worlds before us.
But first, a word from today’s sponsor. Welcome to Total Wine & More, a wonderland for wine, spirit and beer lovers. No matter what’s on your holiday table, they have the wine and the savings to match. Here’s their recipe for a toast-worthy feast: Pop open some bubbly as guests gather around. Pair baked ham with Cabernet for some tasty magic; turkey and stuffing plays nicely with Pinot Noir; pour Riesling with apple pie for dessert that really sings. And while you’re at it, check out their top 20 wines of the year and discover standout gifts for everyone on your list. Plus, there are so many new festive flavors to fall for, like pumpkin brews and hot chocolate hard seltzers. With over 8,000 wines, 4,000 spirits and 2,500 beers to choose from, you can expect the unexpected, always at ridiculously low prices, with the best service in America. What will it be today? Choose in-store or curbside pickup, shipping or delivery. Explore more in-store, online or on the app. Spirits not available in Virginia or North Carolina; delivery available in select markets.
John Holl 2:06
The idea of small alcohol producers being known for just one category is quickly becoming a thing of the past. “Beverage companies” is the preferred term and while breweries adding distilleries, hard seltzer options, soda, even coffee to portfolios is more common, wine production has found a place as well. Customers visiting taprooms want choice. Not everyone just drinks beer or wine or spirits exclusively and business owners want them to feel comfortable. So having a variety of options, especially when housemade keeps people around longer and contributes to the bottom line. From Texas to Illinois to California and everywhere in between. breweries that have launched wine components are serving up glasses, bottles and cans, all while planning for the future. And so I’m so pleased to have three such winemakers who are beer space adjacent joining me today, Jennifer Currier, she’s the head winemaker of Vidl wines in North Carolina, Mitch Ermatinger is the owner of Native Species Wine in Michigan, and Travis Green, he’s the winemaker at the Odell Wine Project in Colorado. Thanks all for being here today. I really appreciate it. And Mitch, I want to start with you and what you see as the relationship between having beer and wine production under the same company and what that means for you, but also for the customers.
Mitch Ermatinger 3:21
Sure, yeah. So we we started out as a brewery, and I just naturally got interested into wine, mostly because I was a sour brewer. And so there’s a surprising amount of similarities between sour beer and wine, especially natural wine. And really, I got interested in natural wine on a couple trips to Europe. And it just kind of stuck. And we we use mostly wine equipment at our brewery anyways. So it was kind of a it’s kind of an easy jump for us to just start dabbling in it. And after our first harvest, we’re like, holy crap, we can actually make wine. And so it kind of like from there, the idea started to really roll and now we are a fully operational winery three years later. It’s gone really great. We’re still very much in the experimental phase, trying to figure out exactly what kind of wine we want to make and how we present that wine to customers in our taproom. But it has been a great addition to the taproom.
John Holl 4:27
Jennifer, in addition to making wine, you also spend some time in front of the house at Wicked Weed, which is the brewery that’s connected to Vidl when we spoke for the article that’s up on the one enthusiast website. You were mentioned that customers were coming in and sort of asking about wine, what options you all had and what they could get from you guys. And then wine sort of was a natural extension to that. What do you see from the consumer standpoint of what people who walk through the door want to drink when they’re at a brewery?
Jennifer Currier 4:57
Yeah, I think Wicked Week, both of our pub’s locations are in a pretty interesting position, especially the Funkatorium because we get a ton of people that are really excited about sour beer. And kind of what Mitch already touched on a little bit, there is a common thread between sour beer and natural wine. I think that we’re getting a lot of very curious or, you know, super educated people coming into that space in particular, who are looking for those wines. As we’re self distributing everything across North Carolina right now, it’s been an interesting kind of thing to see which markets are already kind of jumping the gun on bringing in a bunch of natural wine and, and really spending time to educate a lot of consumers who are interested in learning more about what they’re drinking. And also, you know, I think that term natural wine as a whole has a whole lot of marketing value for people who are interested in kind of a healthier alcohol, which is one of the silliest things I think you could want.
John Holl 6:02
A little bit of a misnomer.
Jennifer Currier 6:03
It is. It is.
John Holl 6:05
The TTB which regulates such things doesn’t necessarily want you to be saying that but that’s okay.
Jennifer Currier 6:10
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Is the TTB on this call?
John Holl 6:16
I don’t know, this is Zoom. I have no idea who else is listening in.
Jennifer Currier 6:21
It’s probably TTB. But yeah, so we you know, kind of seeing all of those spaces has been really encouraging. I think, you know, larger retail spaces like Whole Foods,you’re seeing like Broc Love Red is on the shelf at Whole Foods right now. You’re seeing more natural wine make it into those larger spaces right now. So I think all the people coming through the door at our pub’s locations are excited about it, or at least willing to give it a shot. So I think it’s kind of our duty to not discourage that exploration.
John Holl 7:00
Travis, assuming you’re not a narc for the TTB, we’d love to get you to weigh in here now. You know, both Mitch and Jen mentioned wild sour beers, funky beers, which their two breweries are known for. Odell, while doing barrel aged beer, I often think of in terms of, you know, clean IPAs and, you know, easy drinking beers that have been around from a well established brewery for quite some time., not necessarily sour beers from you all. How did the evolution to the Odell Wine Project stem from your brewery?
Travis Green 7:36
Well, I think it came fairly organically. You know, Odell is an employee-owned brewery and they’re very open to employee ideas. So the wine project actually came about from the employee incubator. A coworker submitted the idea and the leadership team kind of began to think about it. At the same time, we were having quite a few coworkers who are gluten free, and were looking at other avenues for fermentation. You know, we have a ton of fermentation geeks here, whether that’s kombucha or wine or sauerkraut, who knows? Kimchi. A lot of people just love to play in that space. On top of that, our hop group was continually going out to Willamette, and we’re beginning to see that the same places where we were sourcing hops were also growing grapes. And so that kind of gave it another bit of impetus towards this project. You know, I do want to emphasize that we are a wine project, and that kind of connotes that we’re constantly like learning and changing and trying new things. So, you know, to begin with, we are really kind of getting the basics just with reds and rose and white from from Willamette. But at the same time, kind of mirroring how the brewery works, we also have kind of a pilot winery that we’re experimenting with new types of wine. For example, you know, going back to the sour beer, we love to play with the sour beer barrels. We did a skin contact white aged in our creek barrels that that really gave it some cool flavors and notes and kind of called back to the brewery in that way. So I think that relationship between the brewery and the winery is is incredibly close. We’re always kind of cross pollinating in those spaces.
John Holl 9:14
And that’s sort of interesting, and I’d love for whoever wants to jump in on this to sort of follow up on that. But when I think about the craft beer space in the US for the last 40 years, a lot of it was built on tradition, but then really sort of running with innovation. And saying, okay, just because things have been done one way for a very long time doesn’t mean that that’s how we a small brewers are going to do that. And we’ve had new styles and new flavors and just new categories emerge in the beer space because people wanted to run with something and play with something and not just be bound by history or rules or whatever. And it sounds like from my previous conversations with you three for the article that a lot of what brewing has done in the past, you’re trying to bring to your wine projects. And I don’t know who wants to jump in if, you know, if I’m getting that.
Mitch Ermatinger 10:08
Yeah, you’re definitely getting it right. I feel like there’s been a absurd amount of innovation in the beer space for a while now. And wine has just been so established and kind of monolithic that, not to say that there’s not innovation going on at all, because it definitely is, but I just think having a lot of brewers coming at wine from that new, different perspective, we’re going to see some pretty interesting things. Like we just don’t care about the rules as much. So for example, like, we don’t really care about typicity, we’re just kind of doing spontaneous ferments. And sometimes we have two grapes that are, you know, two batches of Seyval Blanc that came from vineyards that were 100 miles apart, and they taste completely different. And we’re just okay with that. So, that kind of stuff is minimal, but I think we’ll expand on that as a group of people, you know, brewers approaching wine, if that makes sense.
Jennifer Currier 11:07
Yeah. And I think, you know, for us, we’re obviously approaching this from from a brewing kind of mindset. But at the same time, I mean, the beers that that we’ve been making, and that we’re known for, I mean, it’s a ton of fruit fermentation. So it’s something that we’re very comfortable with. I kind of agree there that, you know, we’re so young. So it does feel like everything that we’re doing is experimentation to a certain extent. But I’m weirdly—so like, in general, I’m a very tactless, let’s kind of break the rules kind of person. But when it comes to wine, I really want to make everything that we’re doing traditional and very straightforward. So there’s definitely some differentiation, which is cool. I mean, Mitch and I haven’t had this conversation. So it’s really exciting to hear that even within this little niche of beverage market and industry that there are already these emerging, you know, schools of thought.
Travis Green 12:07
I came to this project from from winemaking and and kind of coming into that beer space was almost a bit of culture shock at how quickly that innovation can move, how agile they can be with new products, and new ideas. And it’s really been kind of refreshing to be pushed in that way from a winemaking perspective. As both of you alluded to, you know, wine has kind of been a little bit stayed in the in the past. And it’s really exhilarating to see it moving in such a innovative path.
John Holl 12:41
Are you finding though, in the beer space, the people who come into breweries, there’s some people who say, you know, “I just want to drink a traditional West Coast IPA,” or “I’m looking for a crisp, clean lager.” But then there’s other folks who say, “surprise me, wow me,” you know, “what’s new? What’s different? What have you done to really shake up the game?” Are you finding that people who are coming in, are applying that to wine as well? Or, because wine has been so established and because natural wine is still, I’m not gonna say largely unknown, but still is relatively new in the game, is there more education there? Is there skepticism? Is there an embrace? What are the customers looking for? What are the drinkers looking for when they walk through?
Mitch Ermatinger 13:29
For us, we’ve always kind of been a pretty wild and crazy brewery putting out just ridiculous things. And so I think a lot of our customers already walking in are kind of already expecting that out of anything that we have. So that includes seltzers, and just our random experiments, but I’m not sure if that’s true of every Taproom.
Jennifer Currier 13:52
Yeah, I think I might need to pull a bartending shift at the funk and report back to you guys about that.
Travis Green 13:59
I think for us, we kind of we look at it the same way as as someone coming into our brewery tap room and immediately saying, you know, “I don’t care much for IPAs,” and then giving them something that can kind of blow their mind and open up their eyes to that variety, and then coming over to the winery in the same way. You know, someone could come in and say, “Well, what the heck is a Chambercin?” or “I don’t like Colorado wines” or “I don’t like Chardonnay” is and having something there for them that’s totally different and kind of blows their expectations of what those wines can be. I think that’s a really cool talking point. And it gives us a good opportunity to kind of share the story a little bit.
John Holl 14:40
Jen, you mentioned and Mitch did as well, the connection between sour beer and natural wine, and I’m wondering if you can just sort of unpack that a little bit more for folks who are listening who might not be fully aware of the connection between the two.
Jennifer Currier 14:58
Sure. So sour beer, I would argue, I’m talking specifically about Belgian sour beer. Spontaneous fermentation and native fermentation is really the driving force behind lambic and behind gose. So utilizing native yeast and bacteria that are just floating around to ferment your beverage is something that one, kind of that style really inspired the the entirety of our sour beer program. And then obviously, being able to move into that style of production, you know, sticking to tradition there was really important for us. And so I think, kind of moving from that, you know, you’re creating this beer with all these native yeasts and then, most of the time, you’re going to be adding a lot of fruit. So Travis mentioned Creek, like you’re going to be adding a ton of cherries. I can certainly speak to how we process fruit. We want fresh fruit, we want fruit that really has all of those yeast and bacteria still hanging out on the skins of those fruits. So you know, you smell a peach, the reason that it smells like that is not only because of that sweet flesh on the inside, but also everything that’s on the skin of that is constantly just emitting aromatic. So that is all part of kind of the whole experience of a fruit. So then taking that approach, and bringing in just grapes and really allowing all of the, you know, yeast and bacteria that are just present on those grape skins and enzymes within those grapes to carry out that fermentation. And obviously, it’s a fruit, so we’re super used to working with that and processing that. So for me, it’s really just embracing that native yeast culture in any ingredient that we bring in and really trying to let that shine through.
Travis Green 16:50
It’s a sense of terroir as well. I mean, we’re urban wineries that don’t necessarily have a vineyard attached to that. So kind of allowing those native yeasts to run the show in the in the fermentation, I mean, it gives us a way to kind of express that terroir in one sense or another.
John Holl 17:10
And Mitch, for your winery, you’re sourcing just about everything from your state, right? From Michigan?
Mitch Ermatinger 17:17
Yeah, 100% of our grapes are from Michigan, specifically along the Lake Michigan. shore. So yeah, and like I mentioned earlier, we don’t have our own vineyard. So we’re buying grapes from other vineyards. I think last year we bought from seven different vineyards all along the coast. So it’s exactly has been said, the terroir is driving a lot of our wines. And you can really see it and taste the difference just between two different wines that we release of the same grape variety.
John Holl 17:52
What I was tickled about when I when I was working on the the article for this was learning that some of the hop farms in the Yakima Valley in the Pacific Northwest, that are also growing grapes for harvest, that there’s a connection there. So I think for Jen and for Travis, you’re able to work with farms that you’ve known for years, that your brewery has known for years. And now add more of those farm’s products to to your wine side. And I’m wondering, Travis, if you can sort of talk about that relationship of how it’s worked for hops and then how it translates into what you’re getting at wine harvest?
Travis Green 18:33
Sure, and that’s really one of the the reasons that the OBC wine project kind of came about was our hop group is is very active in Willamette. And they were beginning to see that as the hot farmers were beginning to diversify and Willamette, which is such a great place for for grape growing traditionally that that there was some overlap there. When they were going out to source hops into to view the harvest the grapes were about a month out from that. So they could actually begin seeing what those what those vineyards looked like. It’s also a fairly small community. So if we were working with a farm and they learned that we were interested in making wine, they connected us with a winery that would work with us for our first custom crush in that area. That winery could connect us to a viticulturalist who could help us source other other grapes in the area. It’s just really cool to be part of that community in that area and still kind of have a home base on the on the West Coast. In addition to that, we had we had relationships with these growers growing going back for quite quite a long time. And they kind of knew that we were always interested in playing around with different things. So they’ve been very helpful in that way to to kind of guide the process. They’ve been as big a part part of the of the wine project the winery has.
John Holl 20:06
Jen, what about for you?
Jennifer Currier 20:08
We got connected to the winery and vineyard that we work with out in Washington through our Yakima quality hop reps. So for us, it was very much a direct line to, you know, people that we already had a really wonderful time working with them and had a really great relationship. And then to see their excitement about this other winery and vineyard and really being able to work with both of those companies to figure out logistics. I mean, we’re shipping fruit from Washington to Asheville. And so it takes a little bit of finagling, it takes lots of calls during harvest time to, to make sure that everything is showing up the way that we want it to. But no, we’re super, super stoked about the Two Mountain guys. You know, they I think that their vineyards right now, the last time we chatted, they had about 350 acres. And there they’re producing 17,000 cases a year. So a lot of what they’re doing is, you know, they’re doing custom crush for other folks. And then they’re just, you know, processing fruit. They’ll send us juice or whole cluster or, you know, crushed on skins, and we just kind of take it from there and roll with it. But yeah, it’s been a really nice way to build on relationships that you already had. And also it doesn’t hurt for my tiny little wine program to be able to throw some grapes on the back of a giant hot reefer.
Travis Green 21:43
That is convenient.
Jennifer Currier 21:44
I’ll save a little bit on shipping there.
John Holl 21:46
I wanted to talk about process and equipment because Mitch, when I when I was talking to you, I was really struck by, you’re trying to go the traditional route and you’re either doing crashing by feet or the carbonic maceration, right?
Mitch Ermatinger 22:04
Yeah, correct. So we foot crush everything. And that was initially born out of necessity. And then we just decided we really like doing it that way. So we just continued on. It was definitely much more difficult as we grew, because I didn’t bring in extra stompers.
John Holl 22:26
Who needs Peloton?
Jennifer Currier 22:30
Have you already cut your 2021 harvest jorts?
Mitch Ermatinger 22:35
My current jorts are completely falling apart. So there’ll be perfect for the crush this year. But it is legitimately a workout. And it’s also a lot of fun. And so we just kind of decided to roll with it. And also, you know, a side effect of that is that it’s free, or almost free. You know, I just have to pay for labor and then we can we can hop in there and do our crush. We also have flexibility. We can we can go pick up the grapes and then just crush them when we get back. We don’t have to worry about anything else like that. Our whole production method is extremely rustic. We don’t have any pumps or anything like that. So we just free run the juice after it’s been crushed. We usually let it sit for a couple days, up to like 10 days, and then we free run the juice off. And we don’t press anything. All the leftover liquid in there and the skins and we do a whole cluster everything, so it’s all sitting in there. And we just make piquette out of everything that’s left in there. So that’s kind of how we utilize the alcohol that’s leftover from not crushing.
John Holl 23:45
And in addition to bottling, you are also putting some wine in cans.
Mitch Ermatinger 23:50
Yeah, we’re putting the piquette in cans, which is a lot of fun. We haven’t put any full strength wine in cans yet. It might happen someday. I’d really like to figure out how to can a Pet Nat without cans blowing up. That’s a goal of mine for sure. We are probably going to be about 80-plus percent Pet Nat in the future, beginning this year. So that’ll probably encourage me to attempt to put it in a can.
John Holl 24:21
And Jennifer, when I was talking to you, you’d mentioned you know, having your location in the brewery, keeping everything separate. But you are using brewery equipment as well. You have old barrels that once held beer that are being steam cleaned and then aging, but also using fermentation tanks as well, for a lot longer than beer typically sits in it, right?
Jennifer Currier 24:46
Yeah. And we really just kind of scooped up every grape that we could in 2019 and they all showed up and we’re like alright, well, we don’t have any equipment so we’ve got to figure this out. I would argue that my favorite tale and 100% the most absurd thing that we do is we do some whole cluster. So we have a carbonic red blend called Drop. And it goes into a single, walled stainless vessel that we used to use for fruiting at the Funkatorium. And so last year we brought in, it was nine tons of Cab Franc and Barbera. So we were able to throw, I don’t know, maybe like a ton, a ton and a half in through the manway. But you get to a certain point where there’s no headspace at that manway door, so I can’t get anything else in there. So at that point, you just have to get up on a scissor lift and hang out at the top of the tank and drop clusters of grapes in one at a time through a six inch port on the top of the stainless tank. So it took us about three days to get all of that fruit in the tank. And yeah, we do the same thing that Mitch does. We’re just kind of letting that tank build pressure when we get in every morning, We see that it’s off-gassing quite a bit, we’ll close off our valve, run some lines and then send juice right into another tank for fermentation. So we were able to kind of, you know, get get our yield that way. But we’re also making piquette, so we’re not pressing any of our grapes, either, because we don’t have the equipment to do it.
John Holl 26:25
And Travis, for your project it sort of worked out to your benefit where, as 750 milliliter bottles have fallen out of fashion in beer, they’re still immensely popular in wine, and you guys had a bottling line that could handle that.
Travis Green 26:45
We have a bottling line, sure. And that line is is our small batch series. So we do put wine in bottles, but the majority of our wines are going into cans at this point. You know, canning was another one of the influences for starting this project. Odell was one of the proponents of canning a few years back and and they really wanted to carry that experience into the winery as well. So the majority of our wines go out through cans. We have a can line on the winery floor. It takes up a huge amount of space that I’m looking at and needing for fermenters right now, but it’s a lot of fun to operate. And, you know, putting wine in, in the cans kind of forces us in a way to kind of take a little bit more of a natural path. You’ve both mentioned carbonic, and that’s a great way for the wine to go in the cans to kind of soften the tannins and keep that brightness in the fruit. So using those kind of more traditional techniques with a with a more, I don’t know, unconventional package has been a lot of fun for us.
John Holl 27:57
In my conversation, Jennifer with you, you had mentioned that you’re starting to think about the the next couple of years. And the way that the climate is changing, the way that different areas are being affected and you’re starting to think ahead about where you might be sourcing grapes from 10 years down the line. Can you talk a little bit about the necessity behind that and how you’re approaching that search?
Jennifer Currier 28:27
Sure, I definitely am a victim of doom scrolling pretty hard, and therefore have fully adopted eco-anxiety. Which, you know, as we’re looking at massive heat waves that are hitting Canada, you’re just like holy shit, you know, we’re all going to be on fire in the next 50 years. So, for us, it’s really about kind of hedging our bets. So we’re loving all of the fruit that we’re getting out of Yakima. But for us, we’re at a point where that’s kind of our limiting factor. We’re not able to get more fruit that we’re really excited about working with. And so we’re starting to explore other options because we see our program growing as much fruit as I can get my hands on at this point. And, you know, we’re we’re maxed out. And so I feel like it’s also given us, at least me, a really wonderful opportunity and kind of encouragement to try wines from regions that I’m not super familiar with. You know, I’ve seen so much about Michigan wine, a lot of things to Mitch in the speciation team, but you know, tons of stuff about you know, Finger Lakes wine, and obviously Texas is doing a lot of really great stuff right now as well. But I mean, there’s some wonderful wines that I would have never tried coming out of the East Coast now. I’m like, alright, well, maybe we just start sourcing a little bit closer to home. But yeah, for us it’s a really depressing necessity that we’re having to kind of move around, but also very excited.
John Holl 30:05
Mitch and Travis, are you thinking about things in similar terms?
Mitch Ermatinger 30:09
Yeah, I feel pretty fortunate to be located in Michigan. Not that we’re safe from the effects of climate change at all, but I do think that we’re going to see Michigan wine probably grow in prominence because of climate change, or just Midwestern wine. And, like Jen said, other regions as well. So yeah, I’m glad that we’re small. And I’m glad that we can source so many grapes from a stable region. For now.
Travis Green 30:42
I think 2020 was kind of an eye opener for us as well. You know, we were kind of chasing smoke all harvest, there were some of the largest fall fires in Colorado, last year, right around harvest time, right, in the western slope area where we were sourcing our local grapes as well. At the same time, you know, Oregon was on fire as well. So, you know, it really felt like it was a turning point for us. And we do want to start, you know, looking at other areas where where we can source grapes long term. I think we’re all very lucky to be in areas that do have at least some infrastructure for grape growing. I actually got started about an hour and a half from Jen. I was in the the upper Hiawassee Highlands AVA in Western Carolina there for a while. So these smaller regions not only have the local factor but they’re really exciting and dynamic. And sometimes it might take a few years for the grape growing to really catch up with the quality but it’s really fun to work with those grapes. Working with hybrid grapes out of Colorado, it kind of feels like the brewery working with those experimental hops early on. So it’s a lot of fun to source those and play around.
John Holl 32:05
Travis, I want to keep this going with you and ask you what you have coming up or planned that you’re excited to put in the glass in front of somebody.
Travis Green 32:16
Oh, man, so this year is going to be, after 2020, this is going to be the first year that we’re actually going to be processing on site. We’re really going to play around with a lot more skin contact whites, whether that’s Pinot Gris from Willamette or Aromella and Vignoles from the western slope here. Those were a lot of fun to do last year, and they kind of resonate with those sour beer drinkers as well. So I want to lean in more to that. The piquette, I’ve tasted a ton out of cans and that’s such an exciting style. We really want to play around with that as well. But honestly, it’s that variety and having the freedom to experiment and get those in front of our guests in the tap room and start getting that feedback and eventually scaling those up into into longer term releases. I think that’s so much fun.
John Holl 33:15
Mitch, I’ll put the same question to you of what you have coming up that you’re excited to put in somebody’s glass.
Mitch Ermatinger 33:22
Yeah, I think for us, honestly, some of the most exciting things we have and we’ve been making is our hybrid grape Pet Nats. We have a Frontenac Gris rose Pet Nat that’s coming out actually very soon here. And it’s just like super tropical explosion, like strawberry and lychee and pineapple. And I don’t know if a lot of people have had that in just a straight grape wine. And I think a lot of our beer drinkers will be kind of blown away by that too. So that’s really exciting is our hybrid grape Pet Nats. And then also piquettes. We’ve got a ton of them, and we just absolutely love them. I think it’s going to be, as a category, it’s gonna see a lot of growth over the next 10 years or so. Nobody really knows what it is when you just talk to random people. But then once they taste it, they’re like, holy crap, I cannot believe this exists. So I think there’s a lot of growth that’s going to be there.
John Holl 34:27
And Jen, it should be no surprise, I’m going to ask you the same question of what you have coming up that you’re excited about.
Jennifer Currier 34:33
Yeah, we’re, I mean, I feel like there’s a little bit of an echo chamber but we’re super into, I’ve talked about this, I really love, you know, having a variety that surprises me and it just becomes one of my very fast favorites. So for us, in 2019, it was Blaufränkisch, and I’m really excited to just continue working with that variety and making super crushable red wine with it. But, kind of on the the skin contact white train, in 2020 we pulled in some really lovely Viognier and let it sit on skins for about three and a half months. And it is so fun to drink. The the barrels at this point are wildly different but makes so much sense blended together. And initially that was going to go in a blend and we started trying it on its own and we went nope, absolutely not. We’re just going to do a varietal, skin contact Viognier and I’m super pleased about how it’s tasting right now. So I can’t wait to to get that one racked and bottled up.
John Holl 35:46
Well, Jennifer Currier, you are the head winemaker for Vidl wines in North Carolina and I want to thank you for being here along with Mitch Ermatinger, he’s the owner of Native Species Wine in Michigan and Travis Green, the winemaker at the Odell Wine Project in Colorado. Really, thanks to you three for schooling me a little bit and spending some time talking about how beer is really getting into wine these days and all the exciting things that are happening. I really appreciate the time.
Mitch Ermatinger 36:14
Thanks for having me.
Jennifer Currier 36:15
That was great.
Travis Green 36:15
Lauren Buzzeo 36:20
It is such an exciting time in the beverage world, with shifting landscapes, amazing innovation and even more varied offerings across all drinks categories coming in the months ahead. But whether your go-to is wine, beer, spirits or something in between, there’s plenty of space being created for equal opportunity drinkers to enjoy them all. Subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts. And if you liked today’s episode, we’d love to read your review and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine loving friends to check us out too. You can also drop us a line at email@example.com. For more wine reviews, recipes guides, deep dives and stories, visit Wine Enthusiast online at winemag.com and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @WineEnthusiast. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until next episode, cheers.