Time to get to know the winemaker … where we ask a Niagara-based winemaker a number of questions – some more serious than others – to get their take on winemaking, grapes, wines, other wineries, and a little “where would you be if”. We also ask them to have a little fun with this, proving that winemakers are people too.
Our very first victim is Greg Yemen of Organized Crime Winery on the Beamsville Bench, who answered all seven of our questions:
1. What brought you to wine / how long have you now been in the wine industry?
“2021 was my 14th vintage in wine. I am in the grape and wine industry due to a complicated series of rather unfortunate and not very well thought out decisions” (he says very tongue in cheek), “coupled with the desire to work much harder for much less.”
2. Favourite grape to work with and why?
“I really enjoy making Chardonnay in Niagara. It is very well suited to our Beamsville Bench vineyards and makes amazing wine every year. It never lets me down, and I never worry about it. I save all my worrying for the Pinot Noir.”
3. Your favourite wine/grape to drink?
“Without a doubt, Nebbiolo. Particularly Barolo from Piedmont in the North of Italy, there is nothing else quite like it. Ethereal and elegant yet powerful compelling wines.”
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
“My inspiration comes from the process, whether it be in the vineyard during the growing season or in the winery as I am making the wines. It’s all about being in the moment, this is where I am my most inspired and creative.”
5. Five Niagara wineries you like / admire/ or would be on your must visit list?
“In no particular order:
- Hidden Bench, for top Chard and Pinot
- 30 Bench, best Riesling in Canada
- Fielding, from sparkling to Syrah and everything in between [are] done very well
- Malivoire, the masters of understated elegance
- Tawse, making top wines across the board for years now”
6. If you were not a winemaker, what would you be doing?
“In difficult grape growing seasons, I have often considered moving to Belize to grow bananas, or coconuts. So, I will go with Belizean banana farmer. If that doesn’t work out, you will find me in a thatched hut on a tropical beach making rum-based drinks and grilling jerk chicken.”
7. Funniest / Weirdest “free” wine request you have heard?
“Recently we had a customer who claimed the Chardonnay we sold her was not the same wine she tasted at the winery (it was) and wanted free wine as compensation. I’m pretty sure she asked to talk to the manager.”
Author: Michael Pinkus – Grape Guy