Winemaker Teaches Meditation, Learns from Dr. Seuss
Young woman winemaker learns to teach meditation in India, brings it home. Dr. Seuss inspires poetry.
Talking to Jenifer Bartz gave me a feeling of déjà vu. Here was a woman with an undergraduate degree in molecular and cellular biology, who had worked in biomedicine but was now going into the business of crafting wine. http://suruchimohan.com/2016/10/27/women-making-wine-encourage-others/
But Bartz was also doing something else: Teaching meditation. Her story drew me not only because it involved India, the country of my birth, but also because of her remarkable creativity. The idea of a young woman traveling to India to learn the techniques of teaching meditation intrigued me. So did her art and poetry, inspired by Dr. Seuss.
Like so many young men and women, Bartz was trying to figure what to do with her life. She received a rare start when a friend opened his expensive cellar in Paso Robles to her for tasting. His Paso Robles and Rhone varietals introduced her to the styles of wine made in Paso Robles. Subsequently, on a trip to Italy, she fell in love with the wines of that country. Now she wanted to make her own. http://lastsummerwine.com/
After a brief internship, she landed a job at Field Recordings Winery, http://fieldrecordingswine.com/ where the owner, Andrew Jones, asked her what she’d like to do. “Make grenache,” came the response, and he gave her the chance to do just that. At the same time that she started work at Field Recording, she opened her own winery, using her employer’s facilities to craft her drink.
Bartz likes old-world style wines, simple, well grown. Foot treading grapes in clusters to capture the tannins, she then ages them in acacia barrels. Oak, she said, changes grenache too much.
Like anyone learning a craft, Bartz keeps trying to perfect her wine. She would like to bring the alcohol level down from its current 14.5 percent. The proximity of the vineyards to the ocean makes this a more challenging as the cool air from the Pacific makes it harder to get the acid to the desired level and keep the sugar low.
But while these are the usual difficulties of anyone practising a craft, Bartz has come up with a new model for making wine labels. Every year, she brings an image from her travels to serve as a keepsake. From India she brought back an elephant. Her label from that year shows a young girl walking with an elephant. In Costa Rica, she swam with sea turtles.
Through all her winemaking, she has taught meditation. In fact, she is moving to Kauai to make that her primary job. But twice a year she will come to Paso Robles to make the wine she so loves. To continue to grow her winemaking repertoire, she will now experiment with picpoul blanc, a rare Rhone grape.
“I love making it, drinking it, sharing it. It builds a sense of community.”