Grayson Davies is the winemaker at family owned Arché, which is near Saint Jo in the Red River Valley. The tasting room is located in the middle of their vineyard and Grayson has been making award-winning wines. He even makes an estate Chardonnay that after tasting, a lot of wine lovers are surprised that Texas can actually make a good Chardonnay. This month Grayson Davies answers the monthly winemaker’s profile questions.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
Other than being a lifeguard, and then a restaurant waiter throughout college, winemaking is the only job, now career, I’ve ever had. I transferred into Texas Tech University back in 2008 because I was told by Viticulture professor Dr. Hellman that Tech was starting up a four year Viticulture and Enology program. While I attended TTU, I took over winemaking duties from my dad, Howard, at the start of the 2010 vintage.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The toughest challenge for grape growers in North Texas: rain during the growing season followed by heat. The toughest challenge for winemakers in Texas (using Texas fruit): heat, therefore lack of tannin development in reds and elevated pH in all varietals.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Art or science? I don’t want to come across pompous but I would have to say science; there is no true distinction between the two terms in winemaking. If a winemaker does not understand the science and treats it wholeheartedly as an art, issues will eventually occur. Treating winemaking as an art, and feeling the way through the process (while working with the best fruit) may get you a handful of good vintages. However, understanding the science is the only way to avoid problematic wines. Treating winemaking as a science while keeping an open mind produces consistent vintages and allows one to handle, fix, or prevent issues surrounding Texas fruit (high pH among other things).
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I’m a bit unorthodox, or perhaps not very sophisticated with my wine pairings. If I like a wine, then it doesn’t matter. If the food is good and the wine is good, then what’s the problem? A good bottle of wine is always nice to have for dinner.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
If I did not make wine, I would race cars. Seriously, without a doubt.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I have been involved in the Texas wine and grape industry since 1999 when my family began growing vinifera vines. With that said, I had been around the industry for so long by the time I went to college, I gained an appreciation for wine and it only seemed natural that I enter the family business.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Do you stomp the grapes with your feet…I Love Lucy has done so much damage to the perception of winemaking. 🙂 jk
I guess the most frequently asked question would be why do I love it so much, and the answer is for question 9.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Have a beer, preferably a Miller Lite or something from one of the local micro brews in the DFW area.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Being able to make something that people truly appreciate when done right. The fact that I get to create something with my own effort and knowledge, and then get to do it all over again next year.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Grow good grapes. If you don’t grow, then buy the best you can. It’s the only way to make great wine. With that said, just try to guide the wine based off the grape characteristics, and never try to “build” a wine; you’ve got to have a good foundation to start with. Other than that, get the pH right as soon as you can, pH effects everything.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Help the industry and buy real Texas wine.