Erik Neilson on February 24, 2017 0 Comments For centuries, wine has been lauded as a high art by collectors and connoisseurs around the world. It’s one of the reasons why many bottles sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars and continue to do so — wine is serious and has always been thought of as being so. Along with such a degree of seriousness came with it a hefty amount of snobbiness, though, which can still be found within the industry. This is reason enough for many people to avoid the wine world altogether, which is truly a shame. Enter a new generation of winemakers — one that is looking to break down the barriers and make wine more approachable than ever before. Old World vs. New World, Carried Over Anyone who is new to wine will eventually find themselves entering into the conversation of New World vs. Old World. While it can be confusing to differentiate the two, the easiest way to look at it is that Old World wines are those which come from countries that are considered to be the birthplaces of wine, essentially Europe and the Middle East. If a wine is produced in France, Spain, Italy or Germany, it’s an Old World wine. The same can be said for wines produced in Lebanon and Israel among many other countries, all of which serve as areas in which wine first originated. There are plenty of forward-thinking new winemakers working in Old World countries, but historically, the areas listed above imposed rather strict guidelines that made stepping outside of the box of “normal” technique nearly impossible. Shockingly beautiful wines were being produced, sure, but the idea of injecting nontraditional forms of creativity was simply not an option for most producers. With the coming of New World wines, everything changed. As one might expect, New World wines are those which are produced in areas that don’t count among birthplace wine regions. This includes the U.S., Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Many of these regions are in warm climates, which results in fruitier, bolder wines than what are typically found in the Old World. The latter is also a result of a new generation of winemakers working in the New World. Millennials now make up a large portion of modern winemakers, and their ideals differ from winemakers of the past in a multitude of different ways. What to Expect from Today’s New Generation of Winemakers If there’s one point of confusion about new winemakers vs. those from past generations, it’s what the real differences are. The first thing to understand about new winemakers is that their wines tend to exhibit extremes. Rather than finding some sort of middle-ground, most of today’s new generation winemakers are creating big, bold wines that are enough to take one’s breath away. At the other end of the spectrum are those who swear by only producing light, approachable wines and avoiding the “fruit bombs” that have come to characterize American wines from the West Coast. Today’s winemakers are also far more casual and relaxed than those of the past. There’s still a huge focus on producing high quality wines that deserve a spot in even the fanciest of restaurants, but the attitude among new winemakers reflects much of the “laissez faire” attitude that California in particular is known for. No one takes themselves too seriously, and winemakers work together rather than outright competing with one another. In essence, today’s generation of winemakers has helped to build a sense of community and togetherness that the wine world was previously lacking. New Generation Winemakers of Note There’s no better way to gain a sense of what sets today’s modern generation of winemakers apart than to taste their products and learn more about their production techniques. While there are thousands of new winemakers that are changing the landscape of the industry, some stand apart from the rest as being first in their class. Here are a few that fit this description: Dana & Scott Frank, Bow & Arrow (OR) Anyone who loves Loire Valley wines knows that getting ahold of a high quality bottle can be an expensive endeavor. There aren’t many producers throughout the United States that are producing wines that are in line with the Loire Valley, but Oregon’s Bow & Arrow finds itself squarely on the shortlist as one of the best wineries in the country. Utilizing grapes such as Melon, Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir, the Frank’s wine is deep and complex, with approachable price points. Try their Air Guitar blend, which mixes Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to create a truly sumptuous experience. Jamie Kutch, Kutch Wines (CA) Oddly enough, Kutch doesn’t come from a wine background, but rather that of Wall Street. He quit his job and decided to head out west over a decade ago, apprenticing at Kosta Browne and eventually launching his own label, Kutch Wines in 2005. Kutch firmly believes in fermenting with whole grape clusters, which adds a firmness to the Pinot Noir grape that he loves working with so much. Kutch’s McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir shines as the star of his offerings, and at around $60, it’s an affordable luxury. Evan Frazier, Ferdinand Wines (CA) Evan Frazier is another new generation winemaker who never expected to find himself working in the wine world — he originally wanted to move in the direction of green building. Today, he’s one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemakers, having launched Ferdinand Wines in 2006. A big fan of the Albariño grape as well as Tempranillo, Frazier differs from many American winemakers in that he prefers sticking to grapes that generally feature a lighter body. Just about any offering from Ferdinand will serve as a showcase for Frazier’s talents — don’t hesitate to grab a few bottles to try. The old days are over — modern wine is finally here. While these are some of America’s best new winemakers, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere in the world to discover wines from younger-generation producers who are truly pushing the envelope. The more wines you taste from new producers, the more apparent the differences between today’s wines and those of the past will become.