Greg Bruni is the Vice President Executive Winemaker at Llano Estacado Winery in the High Plains of Lubbock. Greg came to Llano Estacado in 1993 from California and became the Vice President of Winemaking. Today, Greg Bruni leads the winemaking team at Llano Estacado Winery. We are happy to feature Greg Bruni in this month’s winemaker profile.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
My father’s second cousins founded the San Martin Winery in California. I started working there at an early age as stock boy in the tasting room while my father helped his cousins by managing the tasting room on weekends.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Challenges will vary according to the winery. My first vintage in Texas was 1994, during this time a consistent issue has been our climate. Often we experience dry windy conditions during bloom, late spring frost, hail storms at any time, extreme heat, and very cold winter temperatures. This culminates in lower yields, lesser quality grapes, and higher prices. I might add that Texas does not require growers or wineries to compile statistical data related to grape yields or price paid by region. It is difficult to run a business without this sort of published data.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
As is the case in many businesses, technology is rapidly evolving in the winemaking field. To be a modern or postmodern winemaker requires application of good usable technology. All true winemakers are tied to being artists by their passion, and dedication in achieving the goals they have established for the wines they produce.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Currently, grass fed, air cured prime beef tenderloin, lightly smoked with (Llano Estacado) “1836” Red or Viviano.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I’ve always been interested in architecture.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
The chemistry, at an early age in my college career, when I was asked to run laboratory analysis at the family winery. I have been a professional in the wine industry since 1974, 42 years.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
What’s your favorite wine?
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
I have trained in Martial Arts since 1983 and I enjoy cooking.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
It’s an honor to know that your wine may be served at a meal with other people’s friends and family.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Safe to say we challenge ourselves to make the highest quality wine possible given vintage circumstances. At Llano, it’s not enough to make wines that I like or that wine aficionados like. Most importantly, we should also focus on wines that consumers like and can afford to buy.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Related to these questions is the idea of a time continuum. The state of Texas is producing some fine wines resulting from both artful creativity and the application of good science. The best wines in Texas have not been made yet; they are for the future. Part of my role is to have my passion flow through the hands of others, these fine smart dedicated young people that represent our future.
In the final analysis, it is relatively easy to understand the “how” of making wine, however it takes dedication and hard work to get it right consistently in the glass.
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