We first stumbled into Bodegas Paso Robles last summer on our vacation. The tiny tasting room in downtown Paso Robles was one of several that were open that Tuesday. We loved the wines, a wide selection of little known Spanish varieties, so of course we wanted to talk to winemaker and owner Dorothy Schuler.
Imagine our joy when we just happened by the tasting room last November and found Ms. Schuler there. Not only was she happy to talk to us, the interview transcript was such a blast, we couldn’t think of anything to cut. So we’re going to feature Ms. Schuler in three posts spread out over the next few weeks. The first one looked at how Schuler got started in the wine business. Today, Schuler talks about last fall’s harvest and screw caps versus corks.
Quick note of explanation – Schuler uses the term “corked” both as a reference to wines that have been bottled with cork closures and in one instance, as the nickname for a wine that has been spoiled by cork taint.
Q- How was harvest for you last year?
Schuler – Bizarre. Absolutely bizarre. And I don’t know if everybody is going to be honest, but if everybody were honest, they would say bizarre.
Q – How so?
Schuler – Well, early in a lot of ways, I mean, in a lot of ways, early. Everything came in and then everything sloooooooowed down to like an ooze for fermentation. Now, this is not a bad thing, but sometimes they’re too long. It makes you crazy.
Q – Are you doing native ferments [i.e. using the yeast that’s naturally on the grapes rather than adding it]?
Schuler – No. Actually, I do a little bit. But not… I want a little more control. But this year, there was no control over anything. It was like, oh my god. It’s all weather in charge. You know the weather’s in charge, anyway. We like to pretend it’s not, but it really is.
Q – You have screw tops on your white wines and corks on your reds – why?
Schuler – Ummm, I think screw caps are great for freshness, and whites…. you know when you’re having a dinner party and you don’t have enough cold white and you go an put it in the freezer? And you forget about it? If you put a corked bottle of wine in there, that cork’s going to pop out and be all over your freezer and that screw cap is not going to do that. I don’t think they’re great for aging, though. I’m just not going there. As much as I hate to open a bottle of corked [spoiled] wine, I think the aging elements of a cork are just much better than a screw cap.
Q- Are you basing that on experience?
Schuler – And on drinking a lot of older wines. I’ve never had a wine that’s been under a screw cap for 25 years. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody’s had a wine that’s been in screw cap for 25 years. Pour me one and let’s talk about it when you’ve poured me one.
Q – But just to argue, you’re not going to get one that’s been in screw cap for 25 years unless you put one down for 25 years.
Schuler – I’m not going to put one down, but other people should be putting them down. The people who’ve eschewed corks and only do it screw caps but I don’t think they’re putting wines down, to be perfectly honest. I think the only people who are putting wines down are doing it in cork.
Q – It’d be interesting to see.
Schuler – I’d be interested. I’m drinking some wines right now out of the ’70s, the 80’s, reds. They’re like heaven, but they’re in cork.