This is a paid partnership with Columbia Crest Winery. The opinions, questions, and text are all mine.
When Columbia Crest became the first winery to crowdsource a winemaking process, coming up with the 2014 Columbia Crest Crowdsourced Cabernet, we knew there was something different here. We talked about the process before, how the group came together and provided options to its fans to come up with a new wine for the shelves and collections. And it is in this process that Columbia Crest’s winemaker Juan Munoz-Oca truly shined, becoming a mentor to all the fans and participants of the crowdsource program. And it is because of his participation we knew we had to interview him for our latest [LIFE]Style Maker’s piece.
[F24] Describe the moment when you fell in love with wine and finally, truly, ‘got the bug’?
[Juan Munoz-Oca] I think it’s difficult for me to pick a moment, I don’t remember ever even thinking about doing something other than grow grapes and make wine.
[F24] As a winemaker, what has been the biggest challenge when it has come to perfecting your craft?
[JM] I love food and I have a deep admiration for a chef’s capacity to discover new and exciting ingredients and develop techniques to showcase their uniqueness, fortunately for them they get to perfect that craft by performing that technique every night in many cases several times a night, in winemaking we have one chance a year, so the challenge is having the patience to become acquainted not only with the nuances of the terroir you work with but also developing the techniques that will ultimately better express that terroir.
[F24] Now that Columbia Crest has introduced the Crowdsourced program, do you think the industry might see some bigger changes with similar levels of involvement?
[JM] I would like nothing more than people becoming more involved in the process, what I like about crowdsourced is the fact that it created an avenue for people to engage and learn about our winemaking. A platform that speaks to our followers is what I think we have been waiting for, not everyone can make it to wine country to discover the secrets behind their favorite wine.
[F24] What was your favorite part of the Crowdsourced program? Was there a point you got a little worried about the final outcome?
[JM] The interaction during harvest when we had very frequent voting was great, I enjoyed actively participating in discussions with our winemakers around the country. From the beginning our winemakers showed a great understanding of winemaking and grape growing, I never once was worried that the community would not make a great wine.
[F24] Where would you like to see these kind of programs go from here?
[JM] I would like for programs like these to be the norm for future interaction between winemakers and wine drinkers, the openness will not only create more educated wine drinkers but also ambassadors for our wines, people who can carry the message and help us spread the word of wonders of the place where we grow our grapes.
For a limited time, Columbia Crest is offering customers the opportunity to pre-order 1, 3 or 6 bottles, with pricing as follows: