Meeting the Winemaker

As we state on our front page, Power Tasting is not about wine as such, but about visiting Wine Country.  We offer advice to travelers, not connoisseurs.  The people we generally talk with when we go visiting are servers and tasting room managers, not winemakers.  Still, over the years we have had the occasion to meet many winemakers who just happened to be in the tasting room while we were there.

Perhaps our warmest memory was meeting two generations of the Charavin family at their winery in Rasteau, Domaine des Coteaux de Travers (  We were already familiar with their wines and made a point of visiting them.  The winery had only a simple bar in front of the production area.  The young woman who served us was the both the wife of the present winemaker and the daughter of the family that had owned the estate in previous years.  While we were talking with her, her father-in-law, Robert Charavin stopped by and we learned a bit more about the history of the winery.  And then his son, also named Robert, came by in his mud-covered boots.  They were all excited to meet Americans who loved their wines, but not as excited as were to meet them.  It was a unique and educational experience.

Also in the Rhone Valley, we visited Chateauneuf du Pape, an area famed for its hearty and expressive red wines.  Traveling through the sector, we stopped at a winery we had been told was up-and-coming, Domaine Paul Autard (, in French).  The woman serving us recognized that our accents were from North America and when we asked a few questions decided to introduce us to the winemaker, that is, her husband Jean-Paul Autard.  He explained that his father, Paul, had started the winery and that he was setting about to create world-quality wines.  We discussed his trips to New York, invited him to call us when he was there the next time (he never did) and he gave us a nice corkscrew that we use to this day.


Jean-Paul Autard (Photo courtesy of Domaine Paul Autard)

One more story.  We have been drinking the wines of David Cofaro for quite some time and visit his winery often.  We’ve gotten to know him and his wife Pat a bit over the years.  In 2015, we got to meet his new assistant winemaker, Josh.  He’s an earnest and thoughtful young man who has some great ideas about how he could improve wines we already thought were pretty terrific.

In all three of these stories, there’s a common element.  There’s more to wine than barrels and terroir.  There are the people and the way they think about wine, their personal histories, their way of approaching what they do for a living with passion and intelligence.  We are not oenologists or critics, so our interactions with winemakers is necessarily irregular.  But when we do get the chance, it adds enormously to our understanding or wine and to the pleasure we get going wine tasting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *