Get the Dirt about Benevolent Neglect Wines from winemaker Matthew Nagy

1 Apr

BNPeople1. What was your first vintage year? 2013

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? We make around 900 cases per year.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? We are available to see people by appointment only.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? We had the chance to work with an outstanding Syrah vineyard back in 2013. Prior to that there was no real intention to initially to start something out. Everything has grown organically from that point as we’ve grown with other varietals and regions.

5. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why? We initially started within the realm of Rhone varietals, but as things have gone on, our main focus has been on not regions or styles from the old world – but rather outstanding vineyards in California that can offer something a wine that is unique. Las Madres Syrah, especially the 100% whole cluster version, will always be special for us because that is where we started. That being said, we try not to play favorites and I love being able to make a diverse array of wines from many different regions.

BNVineyard6. What vineyards do you source from? Why? We source fruit from all over Northern California. From as far south as the Carmel Valley to north of Fort Bragg at the Alder Springs Vineyard. It is important to our minimal intervention winemaking style to find sites that offer not only a sense of place, but characteristics that allow for low manipulation, lower alcohol, but still possessing the ability to have fully mature flavors.

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why? In general, we do not use very much oak. A few of our Rhone varietals see around 30% new Hungarian oak, while our Cabernet sees a modest amount of French. Oak should serve as a compliment to the wine, and as an invisible hand. To us, while we know there are benefits, we also want to ensure that Oak is not readily apparent in the wines but rather serves only to help highlight existing characteristics that come from the vineyard and the varietal.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? I don’t consider us to really have a traditional region. One of the great things about the time we are living in now is the accessibility to all types of climates and regions. It makes for a lot more work but is truly rewarding.

9. What’s the story behind your winery name / label? Our name, Benevolent Neglect, explains our philosophy in winemaking style and practice. The reason we travel far and wide to find vineyards is so we do not have to manipulate the fruit when it arrives in the cellar. Our Syrah comes from a cool climate, allowing a more traditional northern Rhone style. Our Mourvedre comes from a vineyard at 3000 ft, creating an extended growing season with very slow ripening – allowing us to have a wine that is full and mature but without unpleasant amounts of alcohol.

BNBottles10. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? How much everyone generally wants to help everyone else be successful. I thought going into it that things would be more competitive, but with how hard it is to be successful it is amazing to behold.

11. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? What can you do as a small winemaker, that wouldn’t be possible for larger wineries? The best thing is we can do whatever we want. And create real connections with people we work with in the industry as well as with consumers. We can share our wines in a totally different and personal way as opposed to larger companies with big tasting rooms and large amounts of staff.

12. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? It is hard to say. I think we are in a wonderful period for small producers, but there are many factors that are outside of our control that could make the path ahead in the next 5-10 years quite difficult. Between the issues of climate change and our current political and economic climate, there is the potential for obstacles to the future sustainability of small brand. That being said, the consumer at large seems to be much more willing to embrace the minnows, hear our stories, and support what they believe in – which is wonderful for anyone crafting high quality, small-lot wines.

13. If you had to choose another wine region to work in what would it be? Everywhere. I’m particularly attracted to the Swartland and unexplored parts of South America, like northern Patagonia. Anywhere where there is much to learn, to discover or rediscover, and blaze your own trail. I’m currently also working with a winery in Colorado and I’m quite excited about what we have coming from the western slope region of the state.

To learn more about Benevolent Neglect Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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