Edmunds St John wines begin with exceptional grapes. At harvest, I taste each variety, repeatedly, over a period of days, or weeks, until the flavors start to become vibrant and focussed. At the proper moment, when the balance is lively, the grapes are picked and destemmed, then fermented in open top containers. After pressing, the wine is aged in a simple and time-honored manner without introducing any flavor (such as that derived from brand new oak) that doesn't originate with the grapes themselves. It is our goal to produce wines of the highest level of quality, integrity, and authenticity, the hallmarks of which are balance, nuance, and elegance, wines that express their origins in place and time, wines through which "the earth speaks" in a clear and strong voice.
Wine first emerged from a cultural context, and there are still many places in Europe where that context is intact. Drinking wine from that kind of setting, one experiences a vibrant and compelling kind of harmony and balance. The wine and food, in that context, are of a piece; they enliven one another. The aromas and flavors are both vivid and subtle, and uniquely of that place and time. That kind of harmony can be found in California; what's required for us, as winemakers, is to focus, with our full attention, on the qualities inherent in the raw materials at hand, and to permit them to express what is theirs to express, in a natural way. Winemaking isn't Rocket Science; it's an ancient, relatively straightforward process that should yield, in any wine, a precise expression of the vineyard and the season that produced it.
As a winemaker, I've deliberately chosen not to court the market, i.e., the commercial context out of which so much modern wine is being formulated. Our wines may or may not receive the highest numerical ratings bestowed by the most popular wine journals. At the moment when the wine is in the glass, and the glass is placed before the taster, the numbers are meaningless; if I can offer someone a wine that is thrilling to smell, that is unforgettable to taste, that taster, being only human, cannot help but respond. If that response is forthcoming, I will have done my job.
At right: Winemaker Steve Edmunds
among rows of Sangiovese,
El Dorado County, California