What does minimal intervention mean?

Published by Tamara Harrison - 16th May 2019

Winemaker Brian Fletcher from Margaret River, WA has been producing for 30 years now and once managed a winery in Tunisia, Italy working out of an old colonial French Chateau making Carignan.

As an extremely busy winemaker, Brian doesn’t often have time to share his wine knowledge, but when he can spare a few minutes, listening to what he has to say is worth the wait. Here Brian shares with us a few words on minimal intervention…

Today, liebchen, we are going to talk about “minimal intervention” and what that means for you out there in wine land. It’s a fairly obscure topic and has become a bit of a thing in Twitter-land and among the scribes – especially if someone has beaten them to a story about clay pot, amphora wine making in Georgia – that’s Georgia with the Tbilisi, not the fried chicken Georgia.

It’s an important topic across the wine industry.

To me, it’s a practice that was drilled into me as a student and working at Petaluma under Brian Croser. His interpretation was/ is that; as a winemaker, you employ the least amount of interference where the grapes allow, that is if you have good sound cold grapes, etc. Then you can use less and less intervention to achieve the best outcome as a wine.

And over the years I’ve found that to be absolutely true.

The corollary of course to this is you employ as much intervention as necessary to the fruit when you have “difficult”, let us say less than optimal conditions. This could mean not only fruit quality per se but the transport distance, the type of equipment, even analytical equipment that you have available.

I’ve been to wineries that had the most fantastic fruit quality – I remember this farmer in Tasmania. Talk about laconic, and it made me feel glum to see how simple the setup was and what came out the other end.

Don’t confuse “minimal intervention” with “bio dynamic ” or “organic” or “vegan” as these are separate and worthy wine making goals in themselves as I’m sure some of my Naked acquaintances and Angels would agree.

I’m out of vintage mode and into the desk a little more so look out for more.

El Cid is going well. Viva!



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