I’ve just returned from an overseas sales trip to the US. It was an interesting journey with stops in Napa, Seattle, Washington DC and New York. The humming propellers of the Air Alaska flight from Santa Rosa to Seattle in particular took me back in time as we wove our way north along the Russian river before tracing the ridge of the Pacific mountain range north. The ocean stretched out to our left and a sea of endless granite peaks in all other directions.
A few things stood out about this flight. Firstly, Santa Rosa was the most chilled airport I’d ever passed though and probably the best airport meal I’ve ever had: fresh Alaskan crab cakes. When last did you have anything fresh anywhere near an airport? Their wine and craft beer selection had a strong local focus and was also darn good. Secondly, the onboard staff were really funny, taking the mickey out of themselves and pretty much everything from the complexity of safety belts to the location of the toilets. We arrived in Seattle to vast expanses of forest and ocean inlets – a beautiful horizon composed of trees and water.
And they’ve certainly got their priorities straight. I had to pay $20 dollars at check-in for my luggage, but my massive 12 case wine carrier was free! If you go fishing in Alaska, the same applies to your catch: the fish fly free – you only pay for luggage. Who needs a change of clothes when you have wine and fresh fish?
I can picture a Monty Python skit:
“I’m terribly sorry sir, we have to bump your wife off this flight. We have very nice Washington state Pinot Noir that needs her seat!”
‘What? That’s outrageous, bump us up to first class!’
“Oh no sir, first class is reserved for fresh Alaskan salmon.”
Back from the flying circus, I began thinking about priorities. How you build your company on your values and how those resonate with both staff and customers, attracting the right people. What are our priorities at The Drift? What makes us plant Barbera on a very cold farm, high up, when experts tell us this varietal likes warm valleys? Why plant grapes in the first place in a traditionally wheat growing area on a farm known for onions and potatoes? Why spend more on a label than most companies spend on wine, bottle and label combined?
Once you distil your driving passion, your vision becomes clear. Poetry comes to mind: a poem is a thing of beauty; the essence. Poems require no explanation, you feel it in your gut – the words hint at something ephemeral, rooted firmly in the Mystical. We love poetry at The Drift, but ink, paper and quill are also important. These raw materials write a poem into being to create a cohesive whole.
How do you capture the essence of a farm? The wind gently blowing in the fynbos, the million year old weathered granite in the soil. Family laughter drifting out across the lawn.
There’s only one way to do it: grow something sensitive to its environment, something affected by all these unique and challenging elements. While our onions, garlic and olive oil represent the farm, it’s in the grapes that these nuances come to the fore, telling a story.
Timing is essential: we harvest when the grape is at its most flavourful and expressive. Too soon and the greenness of the fruit overpowers the wine; too late and its essence is lost in dull, dried out fruit. Better to cycle back the dead fruit into the earth for another year. There is a perfect moment between the in and out breath where nothing exists except what is – therein lies the poem. It has always existed. We refine the grape’s natural poetry gently in the cellar with as little mechanical interference as possible. Through hard work and humbleness, we encourage it to reveal its spirit. This is the magic and mystery of wine, the art form of creating it, and why we love it so.
We can no more claim it as ours, as we could the wind in the blumgums, or the winter sun streaming onto the verandah. But without us, it would be a fleeting, unheard song. It requires a team of dedicated idealists to nurture the poem into existence. And finally, after all this, you just have to open the bottle to complete the artwork.
Our red blend has revealed itself at last: a blend of Malbec and Shiraz with Tannat, Touriga Nacional and Pinot Noir carefully blended in to spice it up. From every block and parcel of The Drift, it’s as if the whole farm wrote a poem and called it ‘Moveable Feast’.
It is named after Hemingway’s autobiography. He was an author who stripped away irrelevant words to conjure a complex tapestry of emotions and images. The packaging took many twists and turns to complete, but the journey, we hope you’ll agree, was worth it.
Bottled and ready for you. If you wish to taste our farm in a glass, please drop us a mail an firstname.lastname@example.org. The first order in gets a bottle on us.