This is part of a series introducing you to interesting people in the wine industry. For many, the journey into wine is not only intriguing but often quite an adventure. These talented individuals are what make the wine industry what it is today so follow this series to meet this group of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to wine.
An interview with Vincent Fritzsche of Vincent Wine Company
Examiner: Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?
Vincent Fritzsche: There were many wine epiphanies in my life. Some special bottles, some less than special but still very memorable bottles, studying abroad in Europe in college and learning about wine there, visiting regions.
But the first epiphany was at four years of age. My family traveled to the San Francisco area for a family reunion. I remember having to come along on a day trip wine tasting. For years I had no idea where we went but something stuck with me – the sweet, earthy smell of wine soaked wood from a cellar we visited.
Years later I was in Napa Valley and visited what had been Inglenook but is now Coppola, and the barrel stacks in the “new” cellar seemed familiar in an uncanny way, the smell of old wine soaked wood, and I realized I’d been there many years ago. I have an odd memory for things like this, and I’m convinced that day was really when the wine bug first got me.
What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?
I entered college as a business major – thinking maybe someday I’d have my own business and probably should learn about that stuff. Quickly I was disenchanted and a friend said, you like to read, you should be an English major.
So I switched and liked it enough to get into publishing, get a Master’s in English and that led to working…at a School of Business for a local university directing professional development and training programs for the business community.
I still do it to this day as I continue to build my winery business.
How has being in the wine industry changed you?
Being in the industry hasn’t changed me as much as provided a way to bring together all the things I like to do and am good at. There’s agriculture, wine making, packing and promotion, sales, a whole mix of things that suit my generalist strengths. Not to mention culture and history, culinary arts and everything about the world of wine and food that has brought us to the present day and allows us to continue and evolve the traditions of the past though our work.
What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?
I love that connection with the world of wine and the past, not simply doing something in this particular place and time. On a more tangible level, I like that what I do is something people can relate to, literally consume, and that it provides plenty of opportunity to travel, geek out on everything from science and geology to philosophy and artisanal technique.
Wine has long been an endless source of fascination for me, and that’s only grown in the many years now that I’ve been in the business.
Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?
That scent memory of a barrel cellar I already mentioned is probably the best answer. But my grandfather on my dad’s side loved Chateauneuf du Pape and other French wines. Sadly I never knew him as an adult, but I think his passion is something I share and something that led me to wine unconsciously.
Vincent Fritzsche can be found at his winery website www.vincentwinecompany.com and at his nearly wine blog, nearly 10 years old now: elevage.blogspot.com.