We were thrilled to have Curt Schalchlin at our wine society event this week. Curt is the winemaker for Sans Liege and Groundwork Wines. He has just begun his 17th harvest, but time flies when you are doing what you love. "I cannot believe that I have been doing this for 17 years!" he said. "It hardly feels like it has been 5!"
Curt's Sans Liege label features wines that age in the barrel for a minimum of 24 months. The name "Sans Liege" loosely translates to mean "without a leader/master." The inspiration for this name came when Curt took a trip to France and met a third generation winemaker. The winemaker expressed to Curt how envious he was of the fact that because Curt does not come from a lineage of winemakers, he is free to make wines however he wants to.
Curt really took this to heart, and has thought of many different innovative ways to harvest his wines. He has a very holistic approach to winemaking, and is not afraid of running into difficulty as he tries different approaches to making wines."With winemaking, every time you have a problem you learn how to make wine better. Then, you learn how to foresee these problems long before they happen." Curt uses his wisdom to help aspiring winemakers and works as a wine consultant when he is not creating wines for his own labels.
The Groundwork label was started in 2006 and is 100% varietal. The grapes age for less time than they do with the Sans Liege label, and Groundwork specifically chases rustic, bistro wines.
The philosophy behind Curt's winemaking is simple: "Stay out of the way." Curt keeps his wines natural in order to keep a sense of the place from which these grapes came and to honor all of the people there who produced them. For instance, Curt's Sans Liege 2016 The Offering is a GSM that was named "The Offering" because Curt views it as what he is giving back to the world after each harvest. "This is my mile marker, it is very soulful," explained Curt. "It is a way of paying homage to all of the places I have roamed around as it sort of brings them all together into one bottle."
Curt is so passinate about what he does, we could not count how many times he said the words "I love what I do." For Curt, wine is all about making connections with people. "These days, we do not talk to each other except when enjoying wine and food," explained Curt. "These bottles build community!"
Our fourth wine society was wonderful, and we hope that you will join us for the next one!