There is a new winery on U.S. 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg that is still expanding. That winery is Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa. The location will feature a winery tasting room, a restaurant, an onsite microbrewery, and an outdoor event center featuring musical acts. The winery is open and producing award-winning wines already. The winemaker behind the winery is an established winemaker from two wineries in Temecula, California. We met Jon McPherson during our visit to Temecula and knew the wines were going to be great having come from an established winemaker family including Kim McPherson, owner/winemaker of McPherson Cellars. We are happy to showcase Jon McPherson as this month’s featured winemaker.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I have always known wine. At age 10, I was digging postholes for grape stakes and planting grapevines. My father started Llano Estacado in 1976. I was 14 then, and cellar work was very romantic to a teenager; I needed very little coercing. I did do some time with the USDA in college at the Texas A&M research station in Lubbock. I moved to California after graduating in 1985 and have made wine ever since.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The weather and the distances that grapes may travel from field to cellar door during summer heat, and not always refrigerated. These are common issues in California as well. The weather always wins.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Both. It can be radically visceral in each spectrum; but never forget and always understand which one you are in. Without knowledge of the science involved in the production, there is no true appreciation of the art that follows.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Kettle potato chips and champagne or sparkling wine.
Perhaps, a Cab and a slab.
Or, make that a Rhône and leave me alone.
I will just have what’s open.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I probably would have been a chef. I like to cook. Flavors and aromas are something I am very excited and curious about.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
See answer 1. But to add here, this will be my 43rd harvest. I hope to make at least 50. I have had a pretty good run.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
What’s my favorite wine I make or buy?
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Have supper, take a shower, and go to bed. Maybe sit in the hot tub somewhere in between one of those. Have a gin and tonic or an ice-cold beer, and a glass of wine with supper.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
I work with Mother Nature taking something from the soil and turning it into the modern version of an ancient beverage. I work with wonderful people, and I meet even more along the way who appreciate wine and share this enthusiasm. It is a romantic business.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My approach is to make classically styled wines with a sense of place. I like to make wines that capture the characteristics of the grape. And I don’t want the winemaking and the aging process to be unnecessarily manipulated, but complexed and heightened, and thus, easily shepherded into a glass.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Just because a Pinot Grigio is grown in Texas or Southern California, it should still taste like Pinot Grigio, maybe not exactly like one from the Alto Adige (Italy), but it shouldn’t taste or smell like barrel fermented Chardonnay. The same is true of any varietal. And in some instances, some varieties are better suited to other regions. You need to work with what works in your growing conditions and appellation.
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