Perissos Vineyard and Winery has long been known for its excellent wines. Owner and winemaker Seth Martin has produced many award-winning wines over the years. Now winemaker Brent Pape is showing he too can produce excellent wines. We are happy to showcase Brent Pape for this month’s featured winemaker profile!
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I spent roughly six years working in agricultural research for Texas AgriLife through undergraduate and graduate school at Texas Tech University. The first half of that was focused on sorghum breeding and performance trials on the Texas High Plains with the second half being focused on viticulture and enology.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The unpredictable weather patterns are without a doubt the most challenging component to each vintage. Between late freeze/frost events, hail, drought, or flooding, each year is accompanied by its own unique set of obstacles in the vineyard that we must overcome. These seasonal challenges force Texas winemakers to be adaptive and creative which equates to unique wines each year that simply can’t be replicated.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
I believe it is a combination of the two; it is sometimes difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins. Having a solid grasp on organic chemistry allows one to create fault-free, balanced wines, which then allows one more artistic freedom and flexibility when it comes to decisions pertaining to oak selection, blending, and finishing.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
While that’s a really difficult question for me, I can narrow it down to just three. I really enjoy our Picpoul Blanc with oysters, our Reserve Roussanne with scallops, and our Aglianico with venison backstrap.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I would probably be involved in wildlife and fisheries management/biology in some form or fashion.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
Agriculture has always been a passion of mine. Once I discovered an industry that combined that love of growing things with fermentation science, I was hooked. This along with being surrounded by the most passionate people in Texas agriculture made my career decision incredibly simple. Next season will be my ninth vintage.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
How did you get into this industry?
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
If we wrap up while it’s still light outside, I typically try to slip away to do some bass fishing.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Sharing my wine with friends and family and getting to see their faces light up makes it the absolute greatest job in the world.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Our focus at Perissos is really on the farming aspect of our operation. We truly believe that wines are grown more than they are made. After we’ve achieved varietal correctness on the vine and we’ve harvested the fruits of our labor, my goal in the winery is to concentrate on extremely high standards of sanitation, combined with utilizing the best fermentation and aging practices possible. My goal each year is to be as low-intervention as possible to allow each vintage to be an exact reflection and expression of that individual season. This “farming first” mentality allows us to produce terroir-driven wines using only 100% Texas-grown fruit.
- Anything else you would like to add?
The most beautiful part of the Texas wine industry for anyone looking to get involved within it is that everyone you meet is more than willing to help you along your journey. Everyone I’ve encountered has been happy to lend advice based on their own experiences and education, the value of which simply cannot be measured. I would just like to thank a few of my mentors that have helped shape me into the winemaker and viticulturist that I am today; Ed Hellman, Kirk Williams, Maureen Qualia, and Seth Martin will always hold a special place in my heart!