Hint: If serious wine lovers know the name Chris Ringland and his
award-winning Australian Shiraz, you should too. And now you can -- in person no less! Yes, this bloke from down under will be happy to pour you a glass himself at Wolfe's Wine Shoppe this evening. Thirteen different tastes, to be exact, if you're feeling adventurous and keen on the spit bucket. The best part is that it's all free!
Because we here at Short Order have your best interests in mind, we spoke to Ringland earlier in the week about cellar rats, his wine-making tween dreams, and how the green-washing of business for marketing is a crock. So you don't show up clueless, of course.
Ringland began his career as a cellar rat. Glamorous, no, but like most who excel at a certain trade or talent, one must start somewhere. And that usually means doing all the work.
"In Australia we actually don't use that term, like in the U.S.," he explains. "Even with a degree in enology at university, I started out as a cellar hand, the person taking instructions from the winemaker. As they say, winemaking is just pumping liquid from one barrel to another."
I've never been to Australia, but apparently passion for the grape begins at a young age. For Ringland, it began with a Christmas present when he was 14.
"I have always been fascinated by the whole process of the transformation of something such as fruit juice into wine by fermentation and was interested as a school kid to experiment," he reminisces. "[Since] it's keen to give men in the family books that will further their ideas when they are growing up, I got a book on home winemaking as a present from my uncle and aunt. They wound up being my beneficiaries in the business."
Pretty good investment, if you ask me. In 1997, Ringland released his 1993
Three Rivers and this small-time producer made it to the big time. Sky-high scores from The Wine Advocate's Robert Parker created a feeding frenzy after his tiny production. With pricing soaring from $500-$1,000 bottle on the auction
circuit, this is now the point of reference for Barossa Shiraz.
Ringland's favorite part of the winemaking process? The same as us on the consuming end. Drinking it. The most challenging? Selling it.
"It's about finding a connection with people that enjoy it, developing relationships and following the story of the wines over time," he adds.
This self-made purist is skeptical and cynical about the influence of the so-called "green" movement on the industry, and the potential of wineries to use it for marketing.
"Any grape-grower and winemaker who deeply understands and is passionate about the wines they want to make would naturally make the process sustainable," says Ringland. He agrees that it's a dead giveaway for disingenuity. "Better to do it quietly, rather than advertising loudly."
So as someone so keen on the quality of the product and an eye for detail, how can he keep things small, and is that even important?
"No matter the volume of wines that we make, I always encourage my team to treat them as if they were making a tiny batch of wine," he adds. "With an attention to detail and a respect for the wine, volume doesn't really matter. With the success over the years, I have been able to test that theory and am very happy with the results we've been able to achieve."
I'm going to pull myself up to a glass of the Darby and Joan Cab, which Ringland claims to be extremely proud of and is the best bet at $9.90 a bottle for the budget conscious. He "could drink gallons" of the Chardonnay, but that won't arrive to the States until later this summer.
Chris Ringland will be at Wolfe's Wine Shoppe at 124 Miracle Mile from 7-9 p.m. RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 305-445-4567.
Wines to be tasted: ALL FROM R-WINERY
Darby and Joan Cabernet Sauvignon, Riverland & Langhorn Creek, 2008
Southern Gothic Southern Belle Shiraz, Barossa Valley, 2005
Southern Gothic Poor Thing Grenache, Barossa Valley, 2006
Southern Gothic Diddley Bow Riesling , Western Australia, 2007
Marquis Phillips Grenache, Southeastern Australia, 2007
Marquis Phillips Shiraz, Southeastern Australia, 2007
Bitch Grenache, Southeastern Australia, 2007
Strong Arms Shiraz, Southeastern Australia, 2007
William Downie Permutations Pinot Noir, Victoria, 2008
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Chateau Chateau Columns Grenache, Greenock Creek, 2006
Chateau Chateau Island Grenache, Ebenezer, 2006
Chateau Chateau Magic Window Grenache, Maranaga, 2006
Chateau Chateau Triumphal Arc, Light Pass, 2006