Wine Makers

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Meet the
wine makers

 
 
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The Managing Wine Maker at The Red Hook Winery, Christopher began his career in winemaking in the late 1990s as a farm apprentice at a small organic property in Tuscany. Soon afterward, he met Abe Schoener, who sponsored and mentored him in California. Christopher spent three harvests as a cellar hand under Ted Lemon at Littorai in Sebastopol and an additional harvest in Italy under Franco Bernabei at Selvapiana in Chianti Rufina. Christopher's winemaking style is aimed at austerity and classicism; he intends to clearly translate a sense of place and time (of vineyard provenance and vintage) to each of his wines. When Christopher isn't making wine at the Red Hook Winery, he is running his own commercial fishing vessels in Bristol Bay, Alaska (a summer-seasonal fishery) where he and his family fish for wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. Christopher does not own a tv, but in fact has the sickest vinyl collection of any one being. He loves a good pop song, and can frequently punctuate with “fantastico!”

Abraham “Abe” Schoener:

“Learning is everything and if wines do not bring pleasure, they are worthless.” Abe, a New Yorker and scholar, just might be found reading Homer’s Iliad in Greek around the winery. He used to teach college students ancient philosophy. Now, after a midlife career change, he runs the Scholium Project, a winery rooted in the philosophical belief that only by experimenting at the precipice of disaster can we challenge our understanding of what wines can be — and create new ones. So while most of the wine industry sits on its hands, constrained by orthodoxy and the bottom line, Abe, explores the outer limits of each wine's microbiological potential. Abe’s confidence in the wine's ability to access new dimensions of flavor without imploding, He trusts the wine to recalibrate in the face of stress and, in doing so, achieve a more shocking state of deliciousness than most winemakers would have dreamed possible. Abe Schoener, defies the standard-issue image of second-career winemaker. His house is not a Napa villa but a rented bungalow on a rural road. The man is not a retired CEO but a former professor. And he doesn’t make fruity and safe wine to keep wine critics happy—in fact, his Scholium Project wines are on the edge of vinous sanity. Take, for example, his Web site, where he announces his wines “should make one sense decay, decomposition, transformation.” Becoming a high-wire winemaker was an odd course for a man previously committed to teaching Plato’s The Republic. Armed with a doctorate from the University of Toronto, Schoener returned to his undergraduate alma mater, St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD., for a professorship. This former assistant dean considered himself an academia lifer. Yet there he unwittingly laid the groundwork for his defection; he tended his organic garden, fell for plant physiology and fine-tuned his wine palate with colleagues. In 1998, He and his wife headed to San Francisco for his sabbatical. But his new passion deepened a rift in his marriage, and he and his wife split. He took an internship at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one of the benchmark cabernet makers and supplemented experiential learning with extension classes in viti­culture, then studied under John Konsgaard. He has made wine for Luna, Maldonado, Tenbrink to name a few others. His father is a well-respected author on the topic of NY having published many books, thus Abe’s intellectual start. He enjoys basketball and cycling..

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