I enjoy working with winegrowers who make wine from vineyards they've tended, and who shepherd the stuff from start to finish with a cohesive vision. It doesn't seem right to walk in at the very end of the process and quickly buy some grapes or juice, or slap a label on a shiner, and suddenly claim winemaker status. I never wanted to be a sommelier who "made my own wine." In my view, it's my job to source and support winegrowers, not create.
For this reason, I always swore that I'd never, ever, make wine... until last harvest, when I did.
I lost the demijohn of wine to a bad fermentation. But I did make about eight tiny bottles of tasty passito dessert wine from the beaker-- meager gains from a small experiment. Though the amount of wine is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I learned much about winemaking in the process. The palpable, tactile joys of handling the grapes, the smells and sounds of a fermentation-- all these things brought me closer to wine.
Hearing the satisfying "glug" as a gas bubble first made its way through the air-lock and signaled fermentation had begun, watching CO2 bubbles churn during the fermentation as tiny universes of yeast worked through their micro-life-cycles, and performing mundane tasks like siphoning without disturbing lees-- all the small decisions-- increased my appreciation for the motions and quotidian labors of winemaking. I always knew these things happened, but by performing them, I saw them in a new light.
Outside of educational experiments for professional growth, I still approach 'sommelier winemaking' with extreme caution. And yet, just yesterday I found myself bottling some experimental PetNat to see what happens... There's a certain gravitational force that pulls a wine lover to make wine. I already relish the day when I can pop the first bottle of PetNat, irregardless of what quality it might embody. I'm now viscerally connected to that wine and to this vintage. I can only imagine that this fierce connection to the casual wines I've "made" must be much more intense for the great winemakers of the world.