In wine, smaller is often better. You'd think that larger wineries, with more modern equipment and economies of scale, would make the best wines, but this isn't the case, the smaller wineries are generally better.
This is because great wines aren't manufactured. This sounds like a bit of a cliché, but great wines really are made in the vineyard. While quality can be lost in the winery, a great wine cannot be made from average quality grapes, no matter how skilled the winemaker. The quality of the grapes determines the quality potential of the wine.
Bigger wineries, such as co-operatives, don’t usually own all the vineyards they use. They buy grapes from many growers. The growers don't have their name on a bottle of wine; they are pooling their grapes with those of others. Often they are paid by the tonnage with no quality checks other than basic lab analysis for sugar levels.
Some growers do a great job; some are lazy; some are incompetent. The biggest problem is that in order to produce healthier grapes, they might be tempted to use lots of chemicals – herbicides, pesticides and fungicides – which can find their way into the wine, as well as causing damage to the environment.
For this reason, we at The Perfect Cellar
prefer to work with smaller wineries and growers: people who are frequently in the vineyard and who care about their grapes. They will often live on the property with their family, and so care very strongly about the sorts of chemicals that are sprayed on their vines. Many of our growers are biodynamic, which means the wines they produce are organic, and they don't use the chemicals big manufacturing wine companies use.
These smaller wineries and growers find it harder to reach the marketplace because they don’t make enough wine to satisfy the needs of chain wine shops and supermarkets. It’s only through retailers such as us, who can work on a personal level with the growers themselves, that you can access these sorts of wines. If you haven’t already tried wines from small growers, you should: the difference is amazing. It’s like the difference between a sliced loaf wrapped in plastic versus a freshly baked, artisan bread.
Visit The Perfect Cellar website
for fine wines from smaller wineries.