At Kwiker Liquor, we know that the key to having a great selection of fine wines is knowing a great selection of Vintners and Winemakers. And we take pride in cultivating these relationships to bring the very best to our customers in the Panhandle. This month we called on our friend Aaron Pott to share his story with us:
We had all been hoping for a fantastic harvest in 2020. After months of dealing with the pandemic we all felt that 2020 was going to be something wonderful, that somehow a great vintage would make up for all the horrors that we encountered.
On August 16, 2020 I spent the day working at my vineyard Châteauneuf du Pott 1600 feet above sea level with a dominating view of the Napa Valley. Our organic vineyard was in perfect condition. Thus far, the weather had been ideal; very little rain in winter, warm early spring and summer leading to a relatively cool early August provided by the cooling fog of the San Francisco Bay.
The next morning we would wake up to a spectacle that I have rarely seen in the Napa Valley- a lightning storm. The lightning would ignite a series of fires that would change the course of the vintage and the fortunes of many vintners forever. Great wines can become almost undrinkable due to smoke taint. This horrible outcome paled in comparison to the specter of losing a winery or even a vineyard destroyed by fire. Our little family owned winery is uniquely small. We make a little over 14,000 bottles of wine (about 1200 cases). Our wine is genuinely hand made from organic grapes, and hand sorted twice before going through a series of optical sorting devices. Grapes are put to open top wooden fermentation vats using gravity and punched down by hand (and sometimes by feet!) to extract the delicious flavors of the grape into the fermenting juice. Fermentation occurs naturally with no added yeast or bacteria. Wines are put to artisan French coopered barrel or clay amphora without filtration and stored in a strict environment of 55°F and 75% relative humidity until they are ready to bottle.
We make three different tiers of wine. The third tier known as Pott Wine Napa Valley is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from all of our vineyards scattered about the valley. The second tier is known as our Single Vineyard wines. These 4 wines come from 3 different iconic vineyards around the valley. Finally our top tier is from our organic estate vineyard on Mt. Veeder known lovingly as Châteauneuf du Pott. We make four different wines: a small quantity of Viognier (the only white we make!) that we call 20m3, a natural wine from 100% Cabernet Franc known as Agnès Sorel, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot called Space and Time, and finally our incredible mountain estate Cabernet Sauvignon known as Incubo.
Luckily in 2020 our estate vineyard was far from the fires yet we will still only be making a fraction of the wines that we produce normally due to smoke taint. We will not be making Kaliholmanok, Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Original Gangster. Although the dream of having a third great vintage in a row has been dashed by fire, what we have produced is exceptional. It has also shown one of the greatest fundamental aspects of great wine, terroir. Terroir is a French word that means all of the elements that affect the aromas, aspect and flavor of a great agricultural product. Whether it is cheese, peaches or wine, climate, site, and weather make a difference on how each of these looks, tastes, and smells. When you drink wine, smell it, taste it and think about what the site looks like, what the dirt looks like and is made of, what is growing around it and how it is affected by the weather. All of this and more is wine!