Coco Umiker continues to reveal the family history of wine making.
Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast, I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, the grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is: We continue our conversation with Coco Umiker of Clearwater Canyon Cellars. The last episode you kind of touched on the topic of Brettanomyces. It's always hard for me to say it, let alone spell it. B, R, E, TT, A, N, O M Y C E S - I've never been good at spelling orally because it is so difficult to say. Iin the industry, a lot of times people refer to it as BRETT - B, R, E, TT, wine.
In looking it up, it comes from the Greek term for British fungus. You could see when you tell people how the process works at a molecular level, you can kind of see their eyes glaze over. Oh, my gosh. Getting a chemical lesson here for you. That's where the joy is, right?
Oh, my God. Yeah. I love I was thinking yesterday, actually, how just obsessed Karl. Both are with the continual learning and crafting of wine from the grape to the bottle. This has been a crazy summer and we may only have like a week to to carve off or maybe not even a full week. We might have like a weekend to carve off a somewhat of a vacation. And we're actually talking about going to a different wine area and checking it out. You would think when you make and grow wine every single day, you would want to go do something else on your vacation. But yeah, we're obsessed. And you know, that science of it to me is where the magic is. The most interesting manipulation is if you want to say that you can do in a wine as a winemaker to make different flavors, really pop to accentuate certain characteristics. Seemingly simple timing of adding oxygen timing on leaves and how you manipulate that leaves. So leaves is like all the yeast and little bits of skins and grapeseed that settle at the bottom of the barrel. You put that great must when you're done fermenting through primary fermentation, you put that grape mass in the press and you press it off and people either go to a tank or a barrel. I usually go to a barrel. You know, the press removes a majority of the skins and seeds, but not all of it. There's always little bits that get through the yeast. And a lot of times you continue fermenting in the barrel for a while through the fermentation and things like that. So when all is said and done, it settles to the bottom of the barrel in this delicious mud. It's kind of a red color usually because it takes on some of the wine color and yeast and bacteria and a little bit skins and seeds. And how you handle that leaves as a winemaker is a big deal
Because we jump back for just a second in the time frame. Was there a point because you are so young and you're starting out with this ambitious goal, was there a point when you said, wow, what kind of an epiphany we can make this work?
Yeah, it's funny. You know, nobody's really asked me that question before. My family's been here since 1916 and I'm the fourth generation. 1916?
Yeah. OK, so we're in Idaho Century Farm. Sometimes people ask me why the farms lasted and I believe it's because we've all been long-lived. My great grandparents started it. Grandma Irene ended up having to run the farm on her own. Actually my great grandfather died, but my great grandmother Irene lived to be 93. She passed it on to my grandfather, who lived to be 96. And then he was the one that Carl and I discussed this next generation with him about like the next hundred years, Grandpa, like, what did it look like for us? And then we came to him and my mom, too. So my mom is still living and grandpa and my mom really kind of handed the baton to my my husband and I. But when we asked them if we could plant that quarter acre, you know, I think most of Lewison probably thought we were kind of crazy. I was twenty two. I was like barely legal to even drink wine. You know, we didn't grow up farming. But my grandfather clearly understood that for any generation to take the reins of a farm, they have to go their own path. He had to do that when he took it from his mom. So when my grandfather took over the responsibility for the farm, he did not run it the same way my great grandmother did. He developed different crops. He developed a whole Hereford cattle operation here to supplement the farming operation. And that was all his thing. And he had to do some real convincing. I remember him telling me about how he had to kind of sell that to my great grandmother. So when we came to him and we were really excited about farming but wanted to do this different thing, he probably was the most supportive of anyone because he knew how that was. I mean. He knew that that was the reality, and so he was amazing and we planted those first signs, that quarter acre, and the major epiphany, I think when we knew we could make a go of it, was when we harvested the first fruit from that quarter acre when we harvested Marleau had that a barrel and then bottled that. And it was delicious. We were like, holy cow, we did this. I thought, oh, my God, yeah. I mean, it was like I mean, and Karl and I, we may have been young, but we knew good wine. And I think that's the key to being a great winemaker is it's like a skill. It's like being a good basketball player. You got to have game right. And you got to know you got to have a great palate and you have to know the difference between good wine, great wine and bad wine. And I you know, I we do have that. I will say we know the difference. And and even then when we were so young and when we drink wine the first time and, you know, really right after harvest sipping on that wine as it was a barrel, I was like, holy cow, this is going to be huge. It was right about then Karl and I decided to try to make an AVA out of this, which took a million years. But finally, got done.
Thank you for listening Forrest Kelly. This episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM. If you like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe, until next time pour the wine and ponder your next adventure.