“Tastemaker” is a term typically used to describe a person — either a sommelier or writer in the wine world — who decides what is good, cool or otherwise interesting. With our new #NYTastemaker profiles, I’ve decided to usurp the term to mean someone who actually makes the wines, ciders, spirits, etc. that we love. A “tastemaker” should make something, after all.
Over the course of my nearly 12 years writing about wine, I’ve only had a few hands-on grape harvest experiences. One of the most memorable (and immersive) was with Johannes Reindhardt and Peter Becraft at Anthony Road Wine Company several years ago. I got to pick (pinot gris). I got to clean. I got to move the just-picked-grapes into the press. I got to clean. Oh, and I got to clean some more.
Most importantly, to spend a lot of time with both Johannes and Peter, mostly listening as they shared their experience and knowledge with me. Johannes has since moved on to his own Kemmeter Wines project and Peter has taken over the winemaking duties at Anthony Road, but I’ll always be thankful for those few days with them. I hope to do it again in the fall, somewhere.
And with that, I present Peter Becraft, a winemaker who has taken over for one of the greats and is putting his own spin on the wines of Anthony Road.
Location: Dresden, NY
Current Job: Winemaker at Anthony Road Wine Company
Wine of the moment: Sardo Barolo 2009. Not a stellar vintage for Piemonte but this wine did the trick with the pizza I made last night.
My winemaking style in 1-5 words: True to vintage, site and region.
First bottle of wine I remember drinking: I studied in Cortona, Italy in the fall of 1994. There was a little hole in the wall social club off the main piazza that had a barrel behind this small bar. For practically free you could bring any vessel and they would fill it up for you with a local red wine. “Fill up my 1 Liter Fanta bottle per favore”. Not sure what grapes were used but that was a mind opener.
How I got here: Chance encounter with Johanness Reinhardt at the winery one slow day in May of 2006. My wife and I spent a couple hours one afternoon in the cellar tasting wines and talking about our passions with Johannes. As we were leaving, Johannnes said that he was looking for someone to help during the harvest. My wife said “He’d love to do it!” We exchanged numbers and I would call him every couple of weeks to check up on the progress of the vintage. Johannes tried to talk me out of coming up a couple of times but I was steadfast. I wanted to learn as much as I could, work as hard as I could and at the end of it make them want me. I haven’t left.
My winemaking style — in more words: I am really into understanding our site and trying to showcase our fruit in the best possible light. I strive for balance, focus and complexity in the wines. I like to express what the wine is as opposed to what it is not or should not be.
Mentors: Johannes Reinhardt.
Music playing in the cellar right now: “Doing it to Death” by Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s. I like to whistle while I work and the stereo is on from open till close. “Doing it to Death” actually could be my new motto.
Favorite thing about Finger Lakes wine industry: We are organized as a group and proud to be growing vines and making wines in this special part of New York.
Least favorite thing about Finger Lakes wine industry: Not having enough production to reach all those who want the wines from the region.
One surprising thing that I’m really good at: I have a knack for doing impressions.
What I drink: Seltzer water (the Champagne of waters), coffee, beer, tequila and wines from all over, bubbly and still.
My “Desert Island Meal” — wine included: Oysters and Chablis.