It certainly would be easier if we were in Italy because it’s a wine country. It’s one of the biggest wine producers in the world. There’s basically vineyards everywhere and the climate is perfect for growing grapes. Here in Colorado it’s quite different. There are some vineyards around, but they certainly aren’t everywhere. And there’s hardly any grape production in the surrounding states.
We’re not in Napa, or Bordeaux or Tuscany. We’re in a place that just doesn’t have a lot of grape production. So, is that the reason we aren’t growing our own? No. Some breweries are growing their own grapes, like Jester King outside of Austin. They make some of the best grape beers I’ve ever tasted. They clearly have a winemakers hand in those beers and kudos to them for what they are doing. They, like Oxbow in Maine, are trying to produce their own ingredients for everything they do and that’s fantastic. That’s the true farmhouse idea; from seed to glass. Places like that are creating a perfect life cycle. Growing their products and putting them in their beer. Places like Oxbow and Kerkom in Belgium are doing this and I respect that immensely.
What we are trying to achieve here is simply different. We want to explore the possibilities of this path from a scientific point of view. We are trying to understand what the boundaries are, what can be acheived in the world of oenobeers. In order to do so, we need access to the most vast array of ingredients possible. A California Chardonnay grape and a Chardonnay grape from Burgundy are two completely different grapes. We want to be able to use both. I want access to maybe super-tannic grapes that aren’t grown over here. I want to try out Canaiolo, which is normally used in Chianti blends along with Sangiovese. But I want to see what it can do on its own.
To have access to grapes like Canaiolo on our own land here in Colorado we’d need to plant hundreds of different varieties and they clearly aren’t all going to like this climate. For us it’s about the depth of our exploration. We can go deep with this. It’s not a variable that’s either A, B or C. It’s a variable out of hundreds and hundreds. It’s a monumental task, but that’s sort of the point. The grapes will be different year to year, region to region and country to country. We’re already playing with a lot of variables.
So, this is why I choose to not grow our own grapes, for now. I might choose that route in the future, but for now I want to work with everything we can get our hands on.