Lise Ciolino's Real Time Reasoning Biodynamic Ballet
This year Montemaggiore knocked all the bloggers' glasses over with their wines, olive oil, passion and dedication to the wine community. They poured at the conference and also hosted a vineyard hike and tour of their Dry Creek Biodynamic Estate.I also found her 2005 Paolo's Vineyard Syrah to be my favorite Sonoma Syrah I tasted at the conference. I will be following Montemaggiore's 2009 crush and we'll shoot some video of Lise in action soon!
Q&A with Lise Ciolino
What was your epiphany to make your own wine?
I've always been the type of person who delights in
learning new things, and while I grew up with wine on the dinner table and
understood the importance of vineyard terroir, I didn't really know much about
winemaking itself. So when I moved to California
Can you describe a time you succeeded when the odds were against you?
I think that one's biggest barrier is often oneself! My biggest personal challenge is in knowing when the time for analysis is over, and that action is now required. The odds were against me in starting my own wine business because I was highly likely to fall victim to my own analysis paralysis. But my husband is my great counterbalance in life, and he gave me (actually, us) the confidence to just do it!
I work with my father in the family business, and found out a lot of great things I didn’t know about my dad. Any new revelations about your husband as you work with him?
I am always amazed at the clever solutions to engineering problems he has! I've always been more of an intellectual type, and he's more of a hands-on type. I knew him as a computer geek, and didn't realize he could both drive and repair tractors, for example. He comes up with clever engineering-type solutions to equipment failures or misfits--for which I am extremely grateful!
Winemaking is an art; what “artist” (writer, musician, actor, visual artist) is your inspiration or kindred spirit?
I would have to say that the French artist Paul Cezanne is my kindred spirit. He's straightforward on the surface, but has a lot of depth when given a chance. He's really a balance of science (representation) and art (abstraction). He has the ability to present a simple still life, and make one feel that it merits a lifetime of appreciation. That's what I aspire to do with wine: make it immediately enjoyable, yet worth an evening of appreciation.
Winemaking is a science; what scientist or concept, or technique are you?
I think that the basics of winemaking are scientific, but overall it is more like art when viewed from the consumer's perspective--and after all that is the most important perspective. I can think of all sorts of art that I hope my wines could be viewed as: Frank Lloyd Wright Homes (beautiful, innovative, practical, value-conscious); Rennaisance Architecture (beauty, balance, rhythm); William Morris designs (inspired by nature, practical, useful, simple). On the science end, I come up blank.
What is your “rebel yell”- the thing you’re most passionate about?
There are so many, but I'll narrow it down to three. (1) Never stop learning. The day I stop learning is the day I will die. (2) Eat local and eat healthy. Support your local farmer, grow fruits and veggies and the body that supports your mind. (3) Everything in moderation (and it's corollary, "Less is more").
What’s your current favorite restaurant and or wine?
There are so many great restaurants and wines, it's just a matter of the mood. Since I love exploring both food and wine, it's really hard for me to choose!
What’s the greatest challenge facing a vivacious vigneron today?
The biggest challenge in my mind is "getting the word out" (in other words, Marketing). There are so many great wines on the market today, and wine is such a personal experience for the consumer, that I think it is difficult for people to (a) find and select wines they could be interested in, and (b) gain confidence that they are highly likely to love the wine with little investment in time/money. I am always looking for ways to reach out to people in order to help them decide whether Montemaggiore wines should be invited to their dinner table.
Places or things you do that give you the most inspiration, i.e. your dreams, a certain hiking trail, baking a pie?
Learning about different aspects of nature always gives me inspiration because there is so much commonality in life. Learning about wind energy, how to best prune tomatoes, and bee colony behavior has provided me with lots of inspiration.
What magazine would you love to be profiled in?
Edible Magazine, which explores the farmers, food artisans, and culinary wonders within communities that make eating local food an everyday pleasure.
Bonus question: Most people don’t know that you……
... once tried out for the New York City Ballet (they helped me realized where my career did not lie)
... hold a patent for Real-time Reasoning with Uncertainty (an algorithm for very fast computer-based decision-making).