Top Ten Interviews of 2009 (Okay, Eleven)

Ξ December 30th, 2009 | → 5 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Interviews, Wine & Politics, Wine History, Winemakers |

It has been an extraordinarily productive second year on Reign of Terroir. Founded in early December 2007, this merry band of writers has continued to improve and deepen our work. With undiminished passion for the culture, history and future of wine filling our sails, we expect to be around for many years to come. The guiding principle of this blog is that no topic, story or individual will be approached without the writer learning too. I share with my colleagues this principle: if we don’t learn alongside our valued readership there is no point to the work. We would prefer, we insist, that something durable, something of lasting value come of our untold hours of scribbling!
But for the purposes of this post I will speak only for myself. What follows are the ten (okay, eleven) of my favorite interviews of the year, listed in chronological order. I decided not to include narrative and/or more technical pieces, despite my fondness for many of them, in favor of those posts where the idea is to let another speak with limited interference. The interview format, each requiring hours of (mostly) faithful transcription, has proven a favorite of mine. Even my sole complaint, the hours of tedious transcription, is actually a benefit. I am compelled to listen closely, in some instances to replay a dozen times difficult accents or wind and noise-buffeted passages and sentences to finally understand the sense of my interlocutor. (I’ve had migraine-inducing days teasing the meaning from an international phone call with an Aussie! Did he just say he wore women’s dainties?) For it is not always easy to receive clarification in a timely manner.
Just as with learning a foreign language, through repetition I am left with a lasting memory of the encounter. Indeed, though posted, I often keep the tape, not only for the resolution of the rare dispute, but because the voices of these people are fascinating, their speech rhythms and word choice, very much a part of the story. Sadly, the ‘performance’ of the conversation cannot be adequately conveyed. Perhaps I’ll begin posting audio files alone. Seems lazy to me, especially in a culture where the written word is under threat.
And doubtless the greatest reward from the interview format are the details which emerge from the brains of these gifted people. Some individuals are more guarded than others, to be sure. But in the fullness of the time I spend talking with folks much does emerge that seconds ago was unsaid and, perforce, unknown. Of course, the reader, too, will have to spend time with the people mentioned here to learn these things. Let me assure you, there are some wonderful insights to be found.
Let me add that many of the interviews are broken up into parts. The ‘infinite’ WordPress page is not. Reader patience is also a consideration. In any event, links to subsequent parts may usually be found at the end of the post. Sometimes after the introduction.
I have a couple of hours of recorded voices still awaiting transcription. And I will be back on the phone in a few days speaking with a new, creative soul. Stay tuned.

The charming and delightful Ariel Ceja of Ceja Vineyards.

Forensics scientist John Watling.

Swiss winegrower Peter Schmidt.

Sonoma winegrower Will Bucklin.

A lovely soul, Neal Rosenthal.

What a voice! Clive Coates.

Founder of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, the magisterial Ken Burnap. (I still have one portion coming. Fascinating man.)

The brilliant Jonathan Nossiter. His mind moves like quicksilver.

Portugal’s First Family! My friends, the Sequeira’s of Carcavelos.

Another intellectual hero of mine, Portugal’s White Knight, Virgilio Loureiro.

Colares’ enologist, Francisco Figueiredo.
Happy New Year!


5 Responses to ' Top Ten Interviews of 2009 (Okay, Eleven) '

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  1. Ariel Ceja said,

    on December 31st, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you so much so much for the inclusion! Feliz Ano Nuevo!

  2. Admin, Ken Payton said,

    on December 31st, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    You are very welcome, Ariel! It was a pleasure to speak with you.

  3. ANDREW YAP said,

    on December 31st, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Firstly, I would like to wish you, your readers and all the wonderful people you have interviewed a happy and prosperous 2010. Fortunately, I was interviewed by you in 2009 because of your principle of wanting to learn and sharing new knowledge, and I would like to thank you for that. For wineries, high power ultrasonics (for barrel sanitation) is now available to protect and maximize their barrel asset. Thank you for bringing this innovative and cutting-edge technology to the attention of the wine industry and your readers. Andrew

  4. Admin, Ken Payton said,

    on December 31st, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    You are very welcome, Andrew. And thank you for being so generous with your research. I have quite a bit more work yet to post on Cavitas’ tech.

  5. Amelia Ceja said,

    on January 2nd, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Muchas gracias for including Ceja Vineyards in your top ten (eleven) interviews — we are grateful. You always have an open invitation to visit us anytime!

    Amelia Ceja

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