Here is the second in my intermittent series of opinionated interviews with local wine makers. Today’s interview is with Glenn Hugo, the owner and wine maker at Hugo Family Cellars. We conducted this interview late last year.
I met Glenn at a hotel in Napa where he was pouring tastings of one of his wines, 2009 Vision Quest, a yummy red blend. We struck up a conversation and I liked the way Glenn thinks about wine. And the Vision Quest in my glass confirmed that he knew what he was talking about.
What was your first introduction to wine?
I shared Lambrusco with my Grandmother when I was probably 5 years old. Apparently I enjoyed it then….not so much now.
How has your enjoyment of wine changed over the years?
Pam [Glenn’s wife and business partner] and I still enjoy wine as a beverage but have become much more appreciative of wine as a food. It is and should always be a part of the dinner table. Shared with family and friends, it can add so much more to an already great experience, enhancing the meal as well as being enhanced by the experience.
What is the most important thing a person new to wine (in general) should know about it?
Wine is alive! It is constantly changing and evolving. What you think you know about wine will most certainly continue to change and develop as well. It is truly a journey, not a destination.
What is the most important thing a person new to wine should pay attention to when drinking a wine?
Give wine a chance to show you what its got. Swirl the glass, take a sip. Come back in a few more moments, even if you did not particularly care for it initially. Try it with food. Most importantly takes notes, even if its just in your head. What you enjoy about it as well as what you do not. You are on a path of enjoyment that solely belongs to you.
I’m in total agreement, especially about the need to take notes. Is wine making mostly art or mostly science? Why?
It is both. Throughout a wine’s journey from the vine to the bottle we use science to help us keep it healthy and palatable. At the same, time we are constantly tasting it and making decisions that will impact it throughout its life. Much like a chef deciding how to prepare a particular dish and what additional ingredients to add to it, we are crafting our blend.
How is the essence of Napa County expressed in the fruit from that region? How can someone tell a Napa wine from an Amador wine?
I would define the fruit from this region [Napa and Sonoma] as opulent at times with the ability to gracefully age and develop in the bottle. When everything cooperates with have structure with elegance. Amador wines in general do have more opportunity to ripen even further than Napa. This can, at times create wines with very extracted fruit character. This is why I’ve always appreciated Zinfandel from Amador.
What is your wine making style?
It is constantly developing. We make wines that we like to drink and will always consider what they will add to a meal. Balance is the ultimate goal and if asked in twenty years I would hope I still have the same basic philosophy.
What do you drink at home at the end of the day?
Honestly…a beer to cleanse the palate. Once dinner is being prepared or ready I am on to wine….and what kind? What are we eating? What’s the occasion and with whom? I can find all kinds of reasons to pick a certain wine to enjoy…and then another, and another.
Thanks for your time Glenn!