September 17, 2017 | POSTED IN

When ‘Craft’ has no meaning

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In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Longellow, The Builders

Do words mean anything today? Take the word ‘craft,’ long associated with an art or occupation requiring special skills, and usually handmade in small quantities. But today, because there are no strict legal definitions attached to the word ‘craft,’ it has lost its meaning.

Perhaps the corruption began with the ‘craft’ brew movement, started by small collectives of passionate and innovative brewers fighting against mass produced beer. But over the years, many of these craft breweries have expanded or been purchased by large corporations so that today ‘craft’ is applied to any brewery producing less than 6 million barrels a year (186 million gallons annually).

Or, just maybe, the corruption began with the rise of ‘craft’ distillers and their fanciful stories of secret family recipes reproduced in small batches. In reality, many of these stories were false. Many ‘craft’ distilleries didn’t even distill their own products, choosing instead to buy their spirits from MGP, a massive distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, a factory once owned by Seagram.

Occasio is a craft winery in the truest sense of the word, as we hand produce limited quantities of skillfully made wine using only traditional methods. So how do we, and those like us, stand out when craft has lost its meaning? How do we tell a true narrative when so much fiction surrounds us? I believe it is by being more transparent in our winemaking practices.

This year, I decided to document the way we ‘craft’ our wines. I have been photographing and writing about each step in the process, with the intention to follow our wines from harvest through bottling. I will not just tell what we do, but why we do it. It is a step towards making our processes more transparent, a way to authenticate the story of our wines.

To date, I have produced brief behind-the-scenes videos of the harvest and the sorting and pressing of our Sauvignon Blanc. In two previous blog posts, I have described the thought processes we have taken in setting the style for our wines.