This month we throw a spotlight on Paul Brock, the co-owner and winemaker for Silver Thread Vineyard in Lodi. With a significant background in wine and wine education, Paul and his wife Shannon purchased the winery in 2011 and have focused their portfolio on terroir-driven wines that accentuate the styles that can be made best in the Finger Lakes. Their Rieslings are known for having a perfect balance of acidity, sweetness and body while their red blends like the Blackbird and Good Earth offer rich flavors of dark berries, pepper and earthiness. We hope you enjoy reading Paul’s answers to our questions and tasting Silver Thread wines for yourself.
What do you find most challenging about making wine here?
Growing grapes. Our weather is so variable, we have to be able to adapt to each season to produce a crop that can be the starting point for the wine. Climate change is becoming more evident. We’ve had the hottest year, wettest year, cloudiest year, driest year, and most humid ripening season in the past 5 years! As we continue to meet these and more new and unforeseen challenges in the vineyard, the winemaking will fall into place as needed for each season.
How would you describe your winemaking style?
I like to give credit to the vineyard and growing season in my wines. Vineyard health is key to making wine here at Silver Thread. We have been focusing on biointensive viticulture techniques over the past 5 years and it has changed our wines. As we learn more about farming our soils without herbicides while using biological fungal control we are learning more about what our vines can express. By focusing on the biology of soil we are rebuilding our microbial ecosystem. This ecosystem interacts with the vines and helps express the nature of our vineyard through the grapes.
What wine do you love to drink… and your favorite to make?
Shannon and I both enjoy drinking other cool climate whites and reds from around the world. Any wine that is well made, goes with the company I am sharing it with and food that I am enjoying it with will usually make me happy.
My favorite wine to make… Riesling ; ) I day dream about Riesling in February while pruning vines, during the summer while managing the vines, and during harvest while fermenting the grapes. Months later while enjoying it I remember those times and how they might have influenced what I am experiencing.
Do you have any harvest habits, superstitions or traditions?
Thinking, late nights, and never compromising. If I think “oh that is not perfect, it will be ok if I wait till later” I stop and do something about it. Harvest is when the winemaker guides the grapes… you will never get a second chance to guide those grapes into wine. Once this moment is over, the opportunities present will never be there again. Sleep is for after harvest.
What do you love about where you work?
Work? Not sure that’s what I would call it. I never work a day in my life. I only refer to it as that sometimes so that other people understand that this is where I go during the day when I am not at home.
We have a nice view of Seneca Lake here… I never get sick of it. If I ever feel like I am having a rough day I look around and am thankful that I am no longer stuck in an office all day at ‘work’.
Silver Thread Vineyards, 1401 Caywood Rd, Lodi, (607) 582-6116, silverthreadwine.com
The Edible Finger Lakes Meet Your (Wine) Maker column is developed in partnership with the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance whose mission is to increase the visibility and reputation of the Finger Lakes AVA, its wines, and wineries.