What do you wonder about winemaking? Do you have something you've always wanted to ask a winemaker? Any burning questions that come about while you're enjoying a good bottle of wine? Let Round Pond ask the Napa Valley's most decorated winemakers your most challenging questions...
We've selected six different winemakers from throughout the Napa Valley to answer our most provocative query: What is your "Secret Sauce"? It's one that we had to pry out of folks, but we've succeeded!
Second in our series: Honig Vineyard's winemaker, Kristin Belair
ask a winemaker: kristin belair
What does a typical Saturday like for you?
There is nothing typical about Saturdays! Likely, I will be outdoors. Skiing, winter into spring, until the snow disappears. Spring through summer, hiking/backpacking, gardening, climbing. Fall is 24/7 winemaking!
What was the biggest lesson you have learned during your winemaking career?
Patience…with everything. People, winemaking, nature. Many times it is best just to wait and see what happens.
We all have things we don’t love about our jobs. What part of your job do you dread, or least like to do?
Bottling! It is final, tedious and fraught with ways to get complicated! You are committed! No more tinkering! At the same time bottling is exciting because the wine is done and almost ready to share with the world.
If you could share a great bottle of wine with any 3 people, who would they be?
This is a tough one! My daughter is the one that comes to mind first, second and third.
Then, what is the “great” bottle you would share?
It would be either a sparkling wine or a Rhone blend or varietal.
Is there a particular moment that made you want to be a winemaker? Was there a mentor who may have inspired you?
Not a mentor, but rather a classmate when I was a junior at UC Davis and failing biochemistry. He had just switched into the wine program and was so excited about it that I had to investigate it. It had never occurred to me that winemaking could be a career choice. It was one of those “a-ha” life moments.
If not wine, what would you drink on a Friday night?
Beer…An IPA or red ale.
What is the most purchased item on your debit card?
In order of frequency: Groceries, gas, ski gear, cat food (not what you think, I only have one cat)
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Ice cream. Double 8 is the best. It’s made of water buffalo milk in Sonoma County. Their hazelnut is to die for.
Do you have any secret talents? What is something that not many people know about you?
A green thumb. My front lawn is slowly transforming into an edible landscape!
What is your most overused wine descriptor?
“Balanced”. It’s relatively meaningless in many ways, but for me it is a way of saying the various parts of a wine fit together seamlessly.
And finally, what is your favorite winemaking or winegrowing technique (what’s your secret sauce)?
Blending, for flavor, texture and “Balance”! LOL
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