If there’s something Joe Keenan understands, it’s red wine.
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Beer & &Wine Craft, I shared a couple of (or possibly more than a couple of) tastes of red wine with Keenan, who purchased business in 2012 and began a winery in 2014.
Named Sandy Springs Boutique Winery in 2017, Keenan states business is most likely the tiniest winery in the state and among simply a number of wineries in the city location. Earlier this year, Keenan was rewarded for his wine making efforts, getting the silver medal from the American Wine Society, which was developed in 1967, for among his white wines.
Here’s a gently modified variation of our tasting.
When I come through the front door, I right away sign up with Keenan at a little bar in the back corner. We present ourselves, and he asks me what kind of red wine I like– reds, not a substantial fan of whites, and I likePinot Noirs We begin simple, and he puts me a taste of a Pinot Noir fromSandy Springs Boutique Winery
“We make all this things here,” Keenan informs me, prior to quickly standing. “Here, I’ll reveal you.”
He leads me to the back space, where I see rows and rows of boxes of grape juice. Keenan states he purchases them from a business that has handle wineries all over the world– there’s Merlot from Stag’s Leap, Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, and Montepulciano from Tuscany, simply among others.
“All vineyards produce more grapes than they go through the winery,” Keenan states. “This business we purchase through has long term agreements with the grapes. So they purchase the grapes and bring them in and turn them into juice for us.”
Keenan is from Indianapolis initially, however resided in Texas for 10 years and moved from Dallas to Atlanta in 1977. When it concerns making his own red wine, Keenan has actually been doing so for about 15 years, he states. He concerned own the 53-year-old Beer & & Wine Craft in 2012, and began the winery in 2014. He started teaching classes and offering red wine sets, teaching red wine laypersons how to make their own white wines. The store and the winery transferred to their present place, 203 Hilderbrand Drive, in May of 2020.
During my fast trip of the winery, the understanding spills out of Keenan like an excellentCabernet “This simply can be found in– do you understand what this is?” He indicate a barrel. While I understand what a barrel is, I’m not exactly sure precisely what quality he’s describing. “Hungarian Oak,” he states. “I have not seen these things for years. And I lastly got one.”
There are 3 kinds of oak, he informs me– American, French, andHungarian The cellular makeup of the various oaks produce a various surface for red wine. American Oak has a vanilla surface, French completes dry, and Hungarian falls right in between– ideal as far as Keenan is worried, however obviously, the most costly.
Keenan’s understanding runs deep, and his desire to share it with individuals appears to be part of what drives him. He’s been teaching classes at the winery for the previous 8 approximately years We kick back down at the bar as he begins to describe the class, which starts with a quick session on the history of red wine. When I ask him to enter into that, he gets up once again and leads me to a little map on the wall in the back.
Georgia— the nation, not the state– has actually been designated by archaeologists as the birth place of red wine, traced back to 6,000 BC. According to Keenan, red wine moved south over the next 3,000 years to the Sinai Peninsula, where the royal household delighted in a flourishing red wine company.
“Once it struck Italy, the ballgame was over,” Keenan stated of red wine. “You can grow it in any location that isn’t a mountain or a rock.”
The class happens on Saturdays and runs about 3 hours long. After the history part, the class proceeds to the chemistry of red wine. While Keenan understands chemistry is the most essential bit, he purposefully jokes that some trainees discover it a little dry.
” I have actually got to be actually cautious, due to the fact that I cross individuals over,” he states to me as we kick back down for our 2nd glass. “They’re asleep due to the fact that of the chemistry … a great deal of individuals aren’t susceptible to entering chemistry, however chemistry is what red wine is everything about.”
Argentina, and more particularly Mendoza, is understood for itsMalbecs But according to Keenan, they’re a little stingy with the very best of their grapes.
“They will not enable the 10 finest Malbecs to come out of the nation,” he states, prior to offering a little smile. “Now, every vineyard grows more grapes than they go through the winery. This business people those grapes from those vineyards. So what you’re consuming is most likely the very best Malbec you can purchase in theUnited States How about that?”
Around the time I take my very first sip of this Malbec, I begin considering what bottles I’m going to take house with me. Before I might inform Keenan that he ‘d currently offered me on purchasing a couple of bottles, a consumer disrupted us. They require an excellent choice for mulled red wine, and they do not understand what to choose.
” I ‘d most likely utilize a Merlot,” Keenan states. As he believes more about the concern, he begins to get a bit ecstatic, ending up being more positive in his tip. He asks the consumer if they’re going to put fresh fruit in the mix– “Oranges are excellent,” he worries enthusiastically. Seeing Keenan in action, it’s clear he has a genuine love for assisting individuals discover the ideal red wine for them.
After the consumer leaves, I turn the discussion to the award. The American Wine Society granted him a silver medal in their 2022 Commercial Wine Competition, which has actually been held because 1986. The red wine that won Keenan the medal was a mix, a red 2019Private Reserve
“There are over 10,000 varietals of grapes on the planet,” he states as we go over the mix. “There’s over 1,000 that you can make red wine out of.”
As he draws out some treats for us (chocolate-covered espresso beans, a little wheel of brie cheese, and his “ace in the hole,” scrumptious fennel crackers he calls red wine donuts. These all featured an acquired best tasting), Keenan states he got in the competitors on an impulse. While talking, he gets a bit reflective about his wine making journey.
“Because I liked white wines, I began making white wines and here we are,” he states. “Isn’ t that cool?”
I ask him what his preferred red wine is right now. He states obviously, the silver medal winner– however the Montepulciano is rather great too.
“Isn’ t that abundant and great,” Keenan states after my very first sip of this Italian red. “And you understand, you can consume an entire bottle of this red wine, you’re not going to get a headache.”
According to Keenan, all Sandy Springs Boutique Winery white wines are made with about 40% of the sulfite utilized in the majority of industrial white wines. Sulfite in excess quantities can trigger headaches. I lastly inform him that I’ll need to purchase a bottle now, if just to check out that theory.
Keenan states for a consumer to make their own red wine at the Sandy Springs Boutique Winery, it needs 3 sees over 6-8 weeks. While there are some circumstances– whether it be an unique occasion like a birthday celebration, or a wedding event– where clients can assist produce their own red wine labels, the requirement Sandy Springs Boutique Winery label is based upon an old art piece that awaits the front space of the shop. Shanie Mattox, who has actually worked for the store and winery for approximately 4 years, is a graphic artist who assisted develop the winery label along with other personalized labels for individuals who make red wine at the winery.
After taking a look at the label, Keenan gets up once again and leads me to the image that acted as motivation. He does not understand who the initial artist is, however he enjoys what it represents. The image reveals a variety of Chinese immigrants dealing with a vineyard someplace beyond San Francisco in the 1890s.
“This reveals you the 2 methods they squash; with a press– see it streaming therein, etc, pumping it?– and by your feet, up here,” Keenan states, explaining the various elements of the image to me. “The factor you utilize your feet is you do not split the seed. The seed has really bittering things in it. You can mark on grapes all day, and the bottoms of your feet will not split them.”
After taking a look at the image, we head back to the bar for the genuine test (a minimum of for me)– gewurztraminer.
According to Keenan, Georgia law needs Georgia Farm Wineries to grow Georgia grapes, which needs owning or leasing a vineyard in the state. Keenan is an occupant farmer on a vineyard in Ellijay, which is where the grapes that make this next red wine originated from.
“You are going to attempt a white– I understand,” he makes fun of me, most likely seeing the search my face as he passes me the glass. The grape was produced by a French guy called Jean Louis Vidal in the 1930s. Keenan states Vidal took 2 Trebbiano grapes from Italy and crossbred them The hybrid was called after him– the Vidal blanc.
The grape is grown mostly in Canadian red wine areas, due to its capability to grow in cold environments. Keenan states it likewise grows rather well in North Georgia at greater elevations. He has a genuine love for discovering the ideal grapes and the ideal method to grow them– and while I’ll still constantly pick a red if offered the alternative, even I need to confess that this white is respectable
“It takes being an excellent viticulturist,” Keenan states about wine making. “Your red wine is just going to be as great as the grape on that vine, and you need to choose it ideal … it begins with high acid, and after that as the sugar grows the portion of acid decreases. You have actually got to get it ideal.”
Saving the Silver Medal for Last
After a couple of other tastings, Keenan lastly draws out the silver medal winner. I need to state, the American Wine Society made an exceptional option.
“Pretty damn great, ideal?” Keenan states with a laugh.