The Corkscrewer Report


The Editors of The Corkscrewer Report with the legend himself, David Ramey (far R).

“We’re making honest wines,” says David Ramey as we start to taste through the current and future releases of Ramey Wine Cellars and, newly under the winery’s umbrella, Sidebar Cellars. It’s a statement best left open to interpretation and the imagination. But, by the time we near the end of the tasting it’s very clear to us what he means.

What’s the secret? Aside from sheer skill and talent, it’s a word that came up several times during our meeting: relationships. David accredits a good portion of his winery’s success to the relationships he’s built with growers over the course of 20 years that he’s been making wines under his own label. He’s reached the stature where he and his viticulturist can direct the farming technique at the particular block of the grower’s vineyards that is sectioned off for the winery, which helps. Here’s an example:

DAVID RAMEY: We farm a little differently than other people. You can walk into Hyde Vineyards and see a Kistler block that’s completely stripped of leaves—so the fruit’s all exposed because they like to make golden wine from golden fruit. And then, you see our block: leaves still intact along the fruit zone but we have them clip laterals between wire for air flow because I want dappled sunlight on the fruit. I’d rather have greener fruit than golden fruit. You see the difference in color with our younger wines.

Great grapes, of course, give you the greatest potential to make a great wine, but that’s only half of the equation. The other half is winemaking, which David equates to conducting Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (“It’s not so bombastic like the 9th,” he clarifies). A great maestro, be it Leonard Bernstein or Michael Tilson Thomas, can make all the difference given the raw materials of the score of a symphonic work or if it’s grapes. Tasting through the Ramey wine portfolio is to experience the music of a master winemaker. It is, in sum, one of the most quintessentially American collection of wines one could ever experience. And that’s the honest truth.

– To read the full article, click here.

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