Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager
As both vineyard manager and winemaker, Aron Weinkauf carries on a rich tradition at Spottswoode of embracing an interconnected view of winemaking that has deep roots in the vineyard. In his dual role, Aron works alongside the winery’s in-house vineyard team, guiding the farming of the estate’s 24 individual blocks. In the winery, he applies his talents to as many as 20 small fermentations each vintage, just to make Spottswoode’s two acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons. Aron also performs dozens of additional fermentations for the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc and Field Book Syrah and Albariño. In addition to being the steward of Spottswoode’s legendary vineyard, Aron ensures that each wine authentically reflects its vintage and vineyards, and that it is true to the elegant, energetic and age-worthy style for which Spottswoode has been recognized since 1982. More
Since his childhood growing up in Nevada on three and a half acres with a large organic vegetable garden, a small orchard, and horses, chickens and pigs, a deep relationship with the land has been an important part of Aron’s life. Later, while earning a degree in Spanish from Berry College, Aron was introduced to the culture of wine, while studying abroad in Sevilla and Barcelona, Spain. In winemaking, Aron saw a way to combine his love of the land with his fascination with wine, and upon returning to the United States he moved to California and enrolled in the viticulture and enology program at Fresno State University. While still in school, Aron worked as the assistant winemaker at the family-owned Ficklin Vineyards, America’s oldest Port winery, before going on to work in the winery at Paul Hobbs after graduation.
In 2006, Aron joined the Spottswoode team as assistant winemaker. At Spottswoode, Aron embraced his desire for a deeper understanding of viticulture. “I fell in love with the sheer enjoyment of working in the vineyard,” says Aron. “Winegrowing is so dynamic—it requires both sensibility and sensitivity as you intuit and adjust to the ebbs and flows of nature.” In 2009, in addition to his role as assistant winemaker, Aron was named Spottswoode’s vineyard manager. Two years later, in recognition of his deep understanding of the vineyard, his gifted palate, and his artistry as a winemaker, Aron was named the fifth winemaker in the storied history of Spottswoode. “When you have the good fortune of working with one of the world’s great vineyards, you realize you are part of an ongoing story,” adds Aron. “I recognize decisions made decades ago that still profoundly shape the quality of our wines. Everyone who has had the privilege of working with our vineyard has strived to leave it better than when they arrived, which is no small feat.”
As part of this ideal, Aron expanded on a quarter century of organic viticulture when he introduced biodynamic farming at Spottswoode, with the goal of ensuring the vineyard’s continued vitality for generations to come. In many ways, biodynamics echoes Aron’s overall winemaking philosophy, which is gentle, thoughtful and vineyard driven, while still being intimately hands-on and detail-oriented. “Working with our vineyard, I’ve come to believe in the romance and interconnectedness of all things. This can lead you in search of both innovation and older, wiser ways of farming. With a vineyard like Spottswoode, if you are deeply aware of the needs of the land, you can make a wine of remarkable pleasure, beauty and balance in even the most challenging vintages.” Less