Call me: “Johnny Benchgraft”



I spent part of this past Saturday with Tom, an architect who lives in my area. Tom reached out to me with an interest to start up his own home vineyard. Prior to him, a Sony TV executive who lives on Mt. Washington also contacted me with some questions. Then, an Eagle rock resident whose wife reads this blog also contacted me for some advice.

I am far more comfortable with the “consultant” moniker in the context of my medical practice. Still, people have started to turn to me with questions.  I joke that there are few things I like doing better than giving advice. Ultimately, I do my best to share my knowledge and experiences while admitting any deficits of knowledge and experience and owning up to mistakes.

All too often, people who have been doing something for some period of time (or before others were doing it) become anointed as “experts”. Sometimes that title is deserved. All too often it is not. I believe I am going about growing grapes in a way that, with more time, will bring me closer to being an expert. But I’m not there yet. For the time being, I share what I know, point out options and areas where opinions differ and, when not sure, I ask someone who knows more than I do.

I gave Tom a few of my back up Montepulciano vines to experiment with and we talked a bit about his site.I gave him some pointers about planting the vines I gave him. In no way am I trying to push him to grow Montepulciano and Aglianico. I just had some spares which should do well at his site. He’ll make the ultimate decision about what he plants on a larger scale.

We then went to my vineyard and I showed him how I do things there. I explained my training, demonstrated how some things work in my vineyard. We then talked about his site and its possibilities.

Whatever Tom decides to do – if he does commit a chunk of his life to growing wine grapes – I stressed that he work with his site and not against it. This is not some new age mysticism. It simply means this: he cannot change the climate, sun exposure, slope and soils of his site. He needs to decide what sensory traits he likes in his wines and then pick cultivars that will give him that in his location and grow them in a way that optimizes those desired traits.

In a nutshell, that is the advice I would offer anyone.

Details…. well… that’s a longer, in-depth conversation.



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s