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A wine drawing philosopher with a heart of gold. aka. #firekitten

17 Responses

  1. katems
    katems at | | Reply

    Tyler, great post.

    I think you’re hitting on something really important to the process of making wine, which involves both faith and intuition (since I agree with you that they’re different): no matter how much a winemaker learns about wine through experience and education, no matter how up-to-date the science is or how inscrutable each step of making the wine, the grapes have a life of their own that the winemaker has only a little bit of control over. The winemaker has to put faith in the grapes and in his/her knowledge of them, as well as his/her ability to manipulate, gently, and coax the grapes on the vine and off it. Intuition can help a winemaker to know what is happening; how the recent weather will affect the grapes or how many more hours to keep the wine on the skins for the perfect tannic structure in a difficult year. Faith, on the other hand, is that ‘confident belief’, as you put it, that you, the winemaker, can produce heart-gladdening wine even in tough seasons.

    This post makes me think about Red Hook winery, and their work right now to salvage the wine from 2012 after the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. They have hope, and faith that they can persevere, and love for the project of making wine. They also have expertise, experience, and intuition on their side. I think they’ll end up with heart-gladdening wine, even if it doesn’t taste like other wine they’ve made, because it will be a testament to the hope and the faith, the work and love, the devastation and joy, that they put into the wine. It will most definitely reflect their humanity.

    1. Tyler Thomas
      Tyler Thomas at | | Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Knowing something and knowing it for sure is tricky. As I wrote, it is hard to know a thing exhaustively. There was a moment when people believed knowledge would some day be known exhaustively. That likely ended with the theory of relativity. However it faded, winemakers probably ought to be sure not to dismiss secure knowledge altogether, nor dismiss what a more mystical colleague can bring to the table.

  2. The Humanness of Winemaking: Faith, Hope, and Love as the core of Life and Wine: Guest Post by Tyler Thomas

    [...] One of the elements of winemaking I enjoy is how its production employs our humanness.  This topic is difficult and very broad so I’ll try to remain on task.  We could start by discussing wine’s transcendence.  Wine transcends its original material.  It points to – no – engages the imbiber into an experience of enjoying flavors other than what would be expected from tasting its original components.  Cherry wine tastes like cherries, but grape wine doesn’t taste of grapes.  And while I think, just as NYU President John Sexton argues, that baseball implies a larger transcendence and the same could be said of wine, here we’ll leave that windy path for someone else to travel.  But there are plenty of other reasons beside wine’s transcendental nature that invoke our human experience, not the least of which is the way it draws our pleasure and gladness of heart.  Continue reading at Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews [...]

  3. Anna S.
    Anna S. at | | Reply

    Wow, a super interesting read, I’m looking forward to the next installment!

  4. Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: Metaphysical Lectures

    [...] Elaine Hawk Wakawaka turns her blog over to Tyler Thomas, head winemaker at Donelan Wines, to reflect “on faith in [...]

  5. Hardy Wallace
    Hardy Wallace at | | Reply

    Amazing post., Tyler.
    “A wine that produces a glad heart”- Love it.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  6. Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: Drink Five Bottles

    [...] Monday, Lily Elaine Hawk Wakawaka turned her blog over to Tyler Thomas of Donelan Winesto reflect “on faith in winemaking.” Yesterday, Thomas wrote an additional post detailing his personal [...]

  7. Zeke
    Zeke at | | Reply

    I kind of agree, but I wouldn’t call it faith. I’d say what you are describing is bravado. Unjustified confidence in oneself that plays out in my head like: “I’m fairly certain I’m right, but even if I’m wrong I’m fairly certain I can dig myself out of the hole I’m just about to put myself into.” Other than that, I agree with your thoughts on “wine’s transcendence”, though I wouldn’t have the guts to say that phrase out loud.

    1. Katherine
      Katherine at | | Reply

      It seems like bravado is circular in a sense it is always a projection of oneself for oneself. Whereas faith aims outward towards the unknown. In which case, since wine is outside of oneself, and something to be shared in community (or communion) bravado doesn’t seem to work.
      On another note, I’m curious about the role of love and faith, is the wine an expression of faith in part because of the love a winemaker may feel towards it?

      1. Tyler Thomas
        Tyler Thomas at | | Reply

        Katherine, thanks for your points. Interesting question regarding love. Certainly I think it a part of our humanness and a part of our winemaking, but I don’t know that it is as directly involved in defining faith. Perhaps we do act in faith because of our love for the wine we make? I think hope and faith are certainly linked, love less obviously so.

    2. Tyler Thomas
      Tyler Thomas at | | Reply

      Zeke, I had not consider that it could be bravado. Interesting point. Certainly there is bravado for some. But I find that winemaking is so humbling, and can be approached with humility, that this kind of winemaking would contain less bravado. I also don’t think the confidence always unjustified, just complete knowledge of the task is not always in possession. But even if the confidence was unjustified, wouldn’t bravado be totally unaware of that? Wouldn’t bravado involve a certain amount of unwillingness to be wrong? A lack of humility? Faith is assurance in what you hope for, not necessarily overconfidence because you may good reasons to hope.

      1. Zeke
        Zeke at | | Reply

        Tyler,
        You have assurance in what you hope for? I could use me some of that.
        lilyelainehawkwakawaka,
        Bravado isn’t exactly the word I was looking for, but it looked good in the sentence. I was reaching for something more along the lines of optimistic self-delusion.
        I have no doubt people refer to “wine’s transcendence” all the time. I even believe it and don’t blame Tyler for using it. It is just the sort of phrase that, when uttered out loud, has a sort of earnestness that cynical souls (e.g. me) find cringe-worthy.

        1. Tyler Thomas
          Tyler Thomas at | | Reply

          Zeke, indeed you are a cynic’s cynic. I appreciate your consistency and for such a cynic you are quite a quality person. How is this so!?! Ultimately I think we have very different presuppositions that clearly impact how we view the world. In your world, hope probably seems delusional, or – more kindly – a necessary figment of our minds to keep us from being totally depressed? But don’t you hope anyway? Hope in good people, hope for your kids, hope that your wines are good? Are you satisfied with that simply being optimistic delusion? Cause that seems hopeless to me.

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