John Skinner
December 31, 2013 | John Skinner

Expertise and decision making

Wine is amazing. It’s mysterious, it’s complicated and it’s endlessly fascinating. The options available to those who produce it are endless as well. Do you impose a style or do you allow the terroir to speak and tread softly? Do you produce more by cropping heavily or do you choose to produce less and drop fruit to improve complexities and ripening.

The list of vineyard and winery options is endless as are opinions about these options. At some point decisions have to be made and each winery needs its business model so that all the decisions made are consistent with it.

At Painted Rock our model is clearly defined (apologies for repeating myself) and that is to aim as high as possible to realize the ultimate potential of our estate property. In order to achieve this we needed expertise familiar with the highest protocols, practices, equipment…a spectacular palate and blending talent wouldn’t hurt either. In retrospect my decision to hire Alain Sutre and his Ertus team from Bordeaux was, and continues to be one the best decisions I’ve made. When I originally considered hiring a winemaker I did not have the sophistication to discern who the right candidate was. With some tweaking we now have an operation that is virtually seamless. Our vision is clearly understood and pursued by Alain with his oversight and direction in both the vineyards and the winery. Our hierarchy is clearly defined and understood amongst our team and our wines are really starting to show the benefit of this focus. My staff is not told what to do, they are taught what to do and when to do it. Methodologies vary region to region and to have someone with Alain’s global experience directing our mandate it is not only good for Painted Rock it is good for our young wine region.

After six years of working with Alain we are growing in confidence. I have taken leaps of faith occasionally on initiatives where Alain’s only pitch to me was “trust me” and they have paid off. This not only builds my confidence in Alain but his confidence to bring these ideas to me. Alain once told me that I was the only customer he has ever had that has done 100% of what he asked. I think we’ll continue on that path. Thanks Alain.


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