NOT A MILLIONAIRE
At first glance John Lockwood, owner and winemaker for Enfield Wines, may look more like a craft brewer than a farmer and vintner of some of the most exciting and downright mystical wines to come out of Napa (and environs) today. The beard, the clothes, a major in Physics at Bowdoin and years of learning to build guitars might easily be confused with a hip young alchemist of hops and malt. It’s not that he doesn’t have the pedigree: John’s time at Littorai. Bodega Melipal, Failla and Heron Lake would be impressive resume padding for any aspiring winemaker. Most importantly, the wines speak for themselves with startling eloquence.
So, what can we take from mistaken first impressions? John Lockwood is riding the crest of a new wave of winemakers hailing from the precious dust of Napa, Sonoma and other anointed AVAs in California, but whose wines are often not Napa-appellated, and who are not millionaires or the scions of winemaking royalty. Splitting the mortgage with a roommate in order to survive the brutal financial burdens of trying to build and run a winery on some of the world’s most expensive farmland, John and wife Amy nevertheless manage to create wines of complexity and depth, wines meant to express a sense of place. “From a winemaking point of view, I do not distinguish between ‘wines of place’ and ‘wines of ‘terroir.’”
John selects his fruit carefully, as would any winemaker worth their juice, but his search goes further than that. Before purchasing fruit, he looks to the vineyards themselves, seeking grapes genuinely expressive of the soil and the age of their vines, the climate and that indescribable singularity of ‘place.’ What this means for the wines is structure and grace uncommon to some of today’s famous high-alcohol bruisers sporting much steeper prices. John doesn’t drink those wines, he says, and while appreciating them for what they are, they’re not what he looks for, or craves. Neither celebrity prestige bottles or Brobdingnagian fruit bombs, the Enfield wines are just delicious, deep wines. The Haynes Syrah has garnered the most attention of late: powerfully aromatic, fresh with plush tannins, it is drinking beautifully already but like most of the Enfield offerings it’s built for aging. No less worthy of attention, his Citrine Chardonnay possesses an incredible balance of acidity and fruit, owing something to Burgundy just as his Brosseau Syrah from the same vintage plays a Northern Rhone song over the freshness of sunny California summers. John wields a light touch in the winery, using wild yeasts and allowing the wines to ferment naturally, which goes a long way toward his goal of producing wines whose language is unfiltered, unhurried, and clear. The land’s voice is in there, and isn’t that what wine drinkers really want, so much more than the stamp of a winemaker’s ego, or the shallow demands of a market trend?
THE NEW CALIFORNIA GENIUS
As mentioned, John is hardly a Napa millionaire selling hundred-dollar Cabernets full of oak and full of themselves. Nevertheless, he would be the first to admit that without the recent decades of stunning success among the Napa and Sonoma Cabernets and Chardonnays, the way would not be paved as it is now for, we must fervently hope, a new generation of terroir-minded genius to return to the vines and spend less time in the winery manipulating. Rather than spending resources he doesn’t have on Napa or Sonoma fruit, he finds vineyards in less well-known places, such as Wild Horse Valley.
Those who have enjoyed John’s wines understand the simple truth in this, and the expression of place is impossible to miss. After all, anyone who has studied physics knows that something can be breathtakingly simple and astoundingly complex at the same time. The Enfield wines display this duality in a single glass of incredible wine.
by Jeremy Simmons, Cincinnati Based Wine Lover
THE WINES OF ENFIELD WINE CO.
‘CITRINE’ CHARDONNAY ‘16
‘HERON LAKE’ CHARDONNAY ‘14
‘PRETTY HORSES’ RED BLEND 2015
‘LA FEMME SAUVAGE’ SYRAH 2016
‘HERON LAKE’ PINOT NOIR 2016
WATERHORSE RIDGE CABERNET 2015 FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW