Todd Crowell is the winemaker at Spicewood Vineyards in Spicewood, Texas. He started at Spicewood Vineyards over two years ago along with an impressive winemaking background. We asked Todd Crowell about his background and his philosophy of winemaking.
What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I have been involved in wine production my entire professional career.
What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
In Texas, the majority of winemaking challenges originate in the vineyard. Mother Nature can be quite cruel in some years and very generous in others. Achieving consistency and balanced ripeness can be very difficult due to erratic weather. However; these challenges make Texas winemakers show their skills!
Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Winemaking is the perfect blend of art and science. I have always been artistic, and have a hard science background from college. As a winemaker, I use my artistic skills to decide what a wine needs and science to execute those decisions.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
That changes all the time. I love trying new wines and preparing dishes to pair with them. One of my most memorable wine and food pairings was a multi-course white truffle dinner paired with white Burgundies. The pairing I revisit the most often would have to be homemade pizza and Zinfandel.
If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I can’t imagine a life not making wine! I love the seasonality of it and how making wine keeps me connected to the land. Most likely I would be involved in farming.
What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
Early in my college years, a great friend of mine brought home a bottle of 1975 Château Lafite, which happened to be our birth year. Now I know that it certainly isn’t the best vintage, but for a young college student it was by far the best wine I ever had! I knew then that I wanted to make something that memorable. That was 1994. Four years later I was presented an opportunity to work for a winery, and thus began the path that brought me here.
What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
“What got you into winemaking?”
After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Enjoy a home brewed beer!
What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Seeing the results of all the hard work that goes into each bottle, and watching customers enjoying the wines I’ve crafted.
What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My goal is to let the wines showcase the vineyard and vintage. I consider myself a hands-off winemaker in the cellar. I strive to make the wine in the vineyard. In the winery, I’m more of a wine shepherd, protecting the wines as they mature. I firmly believe the world’s best wines are made in the vineyard.