Paul Draper: Great wines are made with very straightforward techniques

The 2013 Winemakers’ Winemaker award went to Paul Draper of California’s Ridge Vineyards, who talks to Patrick Schmitt about his non-interventionist approach.

Paul-DraperEach year the Institute of Masters of Wine and the drinks business honour an exceptional figure in the world of wine with a unique award, the Winemakers’ Winemaker. The two previous recipients of the award, inaugurated in 2011, were both Peters: Sisseck, of Pingus and Gago, of Penfolds. This year it went to a Paul: Paul Draper, of California’s Ridge Vineyards.

The award’s name stems from the selection process, which requires MW winemakers to vote on a list of candidates drawn up by the drinks business and the Institute. In essence, it’s an opportunity for high-achieving cellar hands to reward a highly respected peer. However, as pointed out at the awards ceremony in Germany, this year’s recipient may not like the term winemaker, but in commending him, it was used twice.

For Draper, the title suggests wine is created by man, rather than man guiding a natural process. And for those who know him, he is highly opposed to interventionist measures in the cellar in making fine wine. Indeed, as discovered during a dinner with Draper after the awards event, he has opted for voluntary ingredient labelling to promote his non-interventionist approach, which has always seen him eschew commercial yeasts or modern winemaking tools such as micro-oxygenation.

As a result, all wines from the 2011 vintage now carry information identifying every addition to the wines, including an explanation of why and when water might be used. His simple explanations (see following page) are a sign of Draper’s clarity of thinking, as well as his practical approach to winemaking. He doesn’t choose a particular path for marketing reasons, but to enhance quality without compromising the inherent characteristics of the grapes. “Great wines are made with very straightforward techniques,” he says.

One Response to “Paul Draper: Great wines are made with very straightforward techniques”

  1. Keith Pritchard says:

    Ingredient if you look up the definition pretty much implies what is an ingredient is in the wine in some form. As such since about the only thing on his ingedient listing that is in the wine is SO2 it pretty much indicates to me the ingredient label is a lie. I would really doubt that the veracity of the label being legal. Wine is not food, it is the opposite of food as we are only after the growth medium and the waste products of the process. What goes in the wine does not in reality come out being in the wine in the end of the process. What goes in the wine will nearly always be either gone or changed in form or quantity. So an ingedient label is a lie in fact.

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