Breweries, Wine, and Cheese Lifestyle

The Grapevine: Indulge in Wines Crafted by Hand

Vines and harvesters cutting the grapes at harvest

By Gina Trippi

What is a handcrafted wine? In essence, these are wines dedicated to the hard work of the hands-on approach and ones that express those singular efforts in every bottle.

First, it’s a family affair. Everyone—from those working in the vineyard, to harvesters, to those in the tasting room—is family.

Every aspect of production involves constant attention including monitoring the water allotment, best practices in hand harvesting and walks through the vineyard to ensure that every vine is thriving. Grapes are harvested when each vineyard plot is at peak ripeness, sometimes taking weeks. And grapes are generally harvested at night or in early morning to provide the best quality.

The same care is given to the winemaking process: grape cluster size, yeast, barrels for aging, minimal intervention and no use of chemicals. For barrel-aged wines, the winemaker selects the particular barrel, considering wood and size, that will impart just the right flavors and weight.

The handcrafted vineyard is relatively small, allowing the winemaker to experiment in producing a wine that reflects the terroir. This “sense of place” concept coalesces the complete natural environment including climate, soils and topography, all of which contribute in a unique way to wine. The goal is for those who taste the wine to experience the place, the passion and the care that went into turning grapes to wine.

We have a shop full of handcrafted wines, but two are excellent representatives of this labor of love in the vineyard: Jose Antonio Garcia Cubos del Páramo Prieto Picudo 2018 and Navaherreros Blanco 2020.

Fermented with 50 percent whole clusters and indigenous yeast, then matured in French barrels of different sizes for six months, Cubos del Páramo is made by the family who does all the work in the vineyards themselves, signified by the term “viticultor,” meaning vineyard worker, on their bottles. The family restored historic vineyards, recovering old vines from the clutches of determined ivy. Every task is done by hand except the crushing of the grapes—which is done by foot!

Robert Parker assigned 91 points to this wine in his highly regarded Wine Advocate, saying this wine “feels like an infusion of aromatic herbs, even a little minty, with a smoky twist.”

From a vineyard just outside of Madrid, Navaherreros Blanco 2020 is made from albillo and macabeo, the predominant white grape varieties in the area. The vines are between 30 and 85 years old, plowed by horsepower and harvested manually!

Vineyards are made of decomposed granite and schist sited at high altitudes in a Mediterranean alpine forest. Dry heat and cool nights combine with just enough rain to keep the vines surrounded by flourishing aromatic and flavorful wild thyme, rosemary, figs and fennel. This organic wine presents a fresh white wine with honey and wildflower aromas. Now that’s terroir!

Handcrafted wines are truly what wine is all about.

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big-shop selection with small-shop service. Email or call 828.575.9525.

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