What’s the smartest strategy you’ve never heard when it comes to visiting any wine region? More specifically, what’s the best way to explore the wineries of Washington state or Burgenland in Austria? Why is there such a variety in the complexity of Grüner Veltliners? What are the essential six stories about wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Lawrence Francis, host of the Interpreting Wine podcast.
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- Where would you find Burgenland in Austria?
- How does Burgenland’s most well-known wine, Blaufränkisch, compare to other well-known reds?
- What are Lawrence’s favourite food pairings for Blaufränkisch?
- Why is there such a variety in the complexity of Grüner Veltliners?
- What does aged Grüner Veltliner taste like?
- How are Lawrence’s best tips for planning a wine trip to Austria?
- Why is Lawrence excited about Austrian wine?
- Why does Washington state have diverse terroirs?
- How do the different soil types in Washington lend themselves to diverse wine styles?
- What are the wines of Washington’s Red Mountain AVA like?
- Which Washington Syrah was Lawrence’s most surprising wine ever?
- Why did Lawrence develop the six wine stories concept?
- How do the six stories fit into the bigger marketing picture for wine brands?
- I love the strategy of starting a wine trip in a base city and talking to sommeliers and restaurant owners about which wineries you should visit. You also get to taste the wines and determine which houses make the styles you like.
- I agree with Lawrence about the dazzling array of complexity and flavour in Grüner Veltliner, one of the most undervalued white wines in the world and one of the most food-friendly.
- I liked Lawrence’s essential six stories about wine, and especially how wine is not a spectator sport. You gotta get in there!
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The best place to discover something new and find your own new next pairing is to crack that bottle open and to start exploring. - Lawrence Francis Click to tweet
So often when people are talking about wine they cut to the chase and they don’t build up with any of the context. - Lawrence Francis Click to tweet
I don’t believe that how the wine looks and how it tastes is where the focus should be. - Lawrence Francis Click to tweet
About Lawrence Francis
Lawrence Francis spent 10 years as a Psychologist and Coach before entering the wine industry. He’s been the host of the Interpreting Wine podcast since 2017; helping winemakers with underpriced, undersold or unknown wines address these challenges with compelling storytelling that engages wine consumers. Four years later, he’s now published more than 430 episodes, with more than 300,000 downloads in 150 countries.
- Connect with Lawrence Francis
- Free Gift | Winery Members and Wine Brands: Lawrence is offering a free 1-on-1 feedback call to turbo-boost your impact online
- Interpreting Wine Podcast | Washington State Wine Deep Dive 2021
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
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- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 162: Sherry, Rioja, Cava and Other Spanish Wine Gems with Interpreting Wine’s Lawrence Francis
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 79: Why Sommeliers Love Austrian Gruner Veltliner with Heidi Fisher Pfaffl
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Lawrence Francis 0:00
Vienna makes a really good base to go from city music. Their food scene is so phenomenal and they’ve got amazing sommeliers start in the bars of Vienna and start a conversation with the Somalis there because they will know the really cool places to visit. Go for a weekend. Enjoy Vienna. And while you’re there, do your research, speak to some Lea speak to restauranteurs try the different wines, make some of these notes from there. And then in the midweek, get out there and visit these people tend to have more time and there’s maybe less tourists and then finish off with Vienna at the end of your trip.
Natalie MacLean 0:38
That is such a smart tip. I love that tip Lawrence, not just for Austria, but anywhere where you can have a base in a city, a cosmopolitan city and then branch out like Madrid, but it’s really a great way to go.
Natalie MacLean 0:57
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Oh, that’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 163. What’s the smartest strategy you’ve never heard of when it comes to visiting any wine region? Or specifically, what’s the best way to explore the wineries of Washington State or Bergen land in Austria? Why is there such variety and complexity in Gruner Veltliner and what are the six essential stories about wine, you’ll hear those stories and more during part two of our chat with Lawrence Francis host of the interpreting wine podcast. You don’t have to have listened to the first part from last week. But I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one. Now, on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir, so for five years, I couldn’t even look at the notes that I took that became the basis of this book. They were just too painful, too raw, to unprocessed. And I had no intention of writing a book. But I had to get the thoughts ricocheting in my head out somehow. So I wrote them down. It took another five years to make sense of them. And it’s only when I could pull back through the lens of time that I had any perspective on my story. As author Glennon Doyle said, Write from a scar, not an open wound. writing a memoir for me was like writing about a younger sister rather than myself. I was a different person a decade ago. Of course, we all were. But if I weren’t writing about that experience, I know I wouldn’t have learned as much as simply just going through it. A few people in my small but mighty beta reading team have asked me how I can even include humour in such a dark story. But that’s also the gift of time. If you can see how the absurdity of some things border on hilarity, I think they fit more holistically into your life. Nothing, no one is all good or all bad. And writing about it requires many shades to my fear that this book could be the one that ruins my reputation for Good is less important than its message. I’m all in and I’m doubling down. You’ll find a link to a blog post called Diary of a book launch, where I share more behind the scenes stories about this journey of taking the memoir from idea to publication in the shownotes at Natalie Maclean comm forward slash 163. If you want an intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know if you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at Natalie at Natalie Maclean comm I’d also love to hear from you if you’ve discovered a fabulous new wine we should know about a tip that will help us enjoy wine more or a question for me. In the show notes you’ll find my email contact a link to the post about the book launch a full transcript of my conversation with Lawrence links to his website and podcast. How you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube. Live every Wednesday at 7pm That’s all in the show notes at Natalie Maclean comm forward slash 163. Okay, on with the show
Natalie MacLean 5:15
so where should we point the jet next? Austria? What was Bergen land? Like?
Lawrence Francis 5:22
I’m so happy that you’ve asked me about Bergen land actually,
Natalie MacLean 5:25
where is it? First of all within Austria, maybe even where is Austria because
Lawrence Francis 5:29
I think you know it’s one of those interesting stories because I think even when I started my journey I hadn’t really done much with Austrian wine I’d never really been aware of it, it never sort of come up in the conversation. So it was a little bit that oh, they actually make wine in Austria. And they absolutely do. And they make really fantastic wine, mainly in the east of the country. And yeah, the Vienna airport is sort of Northeast, and you head east towards the Hungarian border from there. And you hit upon all of the wine regions that are sort of in a in almost like a semicircle, lining up alongside the border. And one of those and I think actually probably the largest of those is Bergen land. Historically, they have been known for a mixture of wines, really, but yes, like sweet wines and also reds. And I believe their main red planting is Blauw Frankish. La Frankish.
Natalie MacLean 6:25
Yes, what would you say that’s closest to if you could make any comparison? I know it’s a signature grape, it has its own identity. But if we’re trying to place that within the spectrum of reds, we might be more familiar with, what would you liken it to? Roughly?
Lawrence Francis 6:39
It’s a good question. I mean, I think for me, I always think of it as a more sort of structured grape, like we look at it in the glasses, not so much the purple you see behind me, it’s more a sort of a, you know, a deep, profound, you know, you’ve got you know, relatively thick skin, which is where I sort of getting the colour from so maybe you might want to consider some Cabernet Sauvignons but a handle in a certain way, something that’s a little bit more to add more depth, I would say. Yeah, that’s
Natalie MacLean 7:08
a good comparison. Yeah.
Lawrence Francis 7:10
I also think the interesting thing as well is that it may be in the producers that I’ve been going to see that they again have been quite sort of delicate with the use of new oak and sort of gone gently in that respect. So you do get that sort of brightness uncovered that maybe you get covered up sometimes with Cabernet Sauvignon, if people are using a lot of Voc and trying to make something in that sort of way.
Natalie MacLean 7:36
And whether traditional Austrian dishes or even non Austrian dishes that you would pair with low Frankish
Lawrence Francis 7:44
yeah, we’re just thinking back now because on the first visit that I ever did was just to Bergen land and visited a couple of producers down there. The first being Coppage Alexander, they’re pretty amazing. They’ve been making natural wine for 500 years on the site there and it was lovely invention. Yeah, very low intervention, not a large producer but Bergen land is actually on the banks of the lake no seedless A, which is an inland lake, sort of an oval country, which is slimmest east to west and then it sort of comes a lot longer a lot skinnier kind of north to south. We were sat in their home overlooking the lake no seedless say, and trying, I think it was more than 10 different wines. We had maybe two or three different la Frankish. But the tradition there was always that you’d make lots of different Kobe’s you’d always have lots of different wines you’d always have a lot of different grapes there kind of as a hedge really against different Yeah, hail coming at different time and grapes that we’re going to ripen at different times as well. But you know, it was very, very happy to see I think kind of halfway through our tasting I think just the time has we’d gotten to the bow Frankish is the knife came out and from memory it was like a hawk knuckle or something like that. And some I think pickles and Russell quite hearty food we were in January time so that I think was there so it’s good. I kind of smoked meats, pickles and so winter produce at the time.
Natalie MacLean 9:16
Oh wow. Okay, and so is Zweigelt the other read of Austria or Yes. Okay, I don’t know how popular it is compared to blow Frankish
Lawrence Francis 9:26
I think it kind of goes region by region. So I’m pretty sure in Bergen land Blair Frankish is king and I would agree. I would agree that x two one and two as the most well known red varietals that they have over them.
Natalie MacLean 9:40
Okay. And then the sort of best known grape I think for Austria is Gruner Veltliner so Did you taste lots of Gruner?
Lawrence Francis 9:48
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And in Bergen land and in all regions Absolutely. Gruner is everywhere. What’s so interesting there is that they explore different ways of Making it so you can get going about leaners that are really quite simple. And they’re really kind of zingy, really quite refreshing, maybe doing a sort of a similar thing to what we spoke about earlier with the fino and the mentor knee as you know that you can have them as aperitifs. But then also on that same afternoon, you know, I was lucky enough to grow from another producer called Lichtenberg on Silas on a different part of the lake nicey lessay. And trying these really complex grin about leaners that have been aged more, you know, they were more premium. They were phenomenal. What they taste
Natalie MacLean 10:33
like, like, how would you describe because I know I think Gruner is a zesty white wine. That’s a suddenly a darling, because it pairs with everything. But what were those aged gruters tasting like?
Lawrence Francis 10:44
I’m laughing because the husband there Martin Lichtenberger is a real sort of soil geek. As we’re going bout about he was very happily telling me how this you know, this one was planted on schists soil or this one was planted on limestone. And so you did get a lot of those characteristics. What characterise it as you turn down the fruit I would say and maybe even turning down the aromas. And you just get something that’s a lot more complex, picking up more of a sort of mineral characteristics. And then I think obviously, that’s then probably more enjoyable over the course of an evening to then have with your food with your schnitzel, which is the classic classics or Gruen about Lena food pairing. Yeah, absolutely, especially
Natalie MacLean 11:31
if it’s more savoury or more minimally. I also get the white pepper which I love on Gruner Veltliner. I don’t know how they get that but it’s so signature to me at least that’s what pops out. So what sort of tips would you have for people who want to visit Bergen land? Like where would you start? Where would you go? Other than favourite producers? Like how would you plan a visit there?
Lawrence Francis 11:54
It’s interesting. I mean, I, I have lucky enough to have been back to Austria I think around four or five times since. And Vienna is a really cool city, I would say not even just for Berlin, I would say Vietnam makes a really good base to go from city music, right, there’s music. And I would say because their food scene is so phenomenal. And they’ve got you know, such amazing sommeliers, I would say start in the bars of Vienna and go and start a relationship and start a conversation with the Somalis there, because they will know the really cool places to kind of go and visit and I get to do it. And time were no object, I would do that. I would say go for a weekend. Enjoy Vienna. And while you’re there, do your research, you know, go around, speak to some Lea speak to restaurant owners, try the different wines make some of these notes from there. And then in the midweek, which is for me is always the best time to get out there and visit these people tend to have more time and there’s maybe less visitors there that are tourists, and then finish off with Vienna at the end of your trip. So I would say that would be the way to do it. If I was for the first time.
Natalie MacLean 13:05
That is such a smart tip. I love that tip Lawrence like not just for Austria, but anywhere where you can have a base in a city, a cosmopolitan city and then branch out like Madrid. But it’s really a great way to go
Lawrence Francis 13:18
100%. And I think there is a wider point there. It’s like, obviously going to all of these places I’ve had to do planning before I got there. And it can be difficult to do that planning without context. I’ve come around now to the view that you know, really good wine bar or restaurant that really is authentic to the culture works with the producers, you’re going to get them in the capital cities. So it might feel kind of unromantic to go and start with the capital city. But then you can always go there, get that base, and then use that as your sort of jumping off point and maybe even you know, stay out in the wine country and drive around from there. But I just don’t think there’s any better way to kind of educate your palate and really kind of get into the culture. You say making friends with a local Somalia in the big city
Natalie MacLean 14:10
is great. And I like to when I go out to the wineries to ask them where are your favourite restaurants back in town? Do the flip thing 100%?
Lawrence Francis 14:17
Yeah, I’d imagine it’s the same in Canada, right? Imagine. Yep. Toronto
Natalie MacLean 14:22
to Niagara. Exactly. I mean, it is more of a four hour drive up to the Okanogan. But yeah, absolutely.
Lawrence Francis 14:29
Make it like your own personalised tasting just for you. And I think finding those restaurants or doing that little bit of research, you’ll find some le A’s who are a super knowledgeable which, you know, most of them are but I think you’ll also find the ones that have got those links, as you say, with the producers and may even be able to make suggestions and maybe even make some introductions.
Natalie MacLean 14:50
Yeah. And say, you know, make sure when you go to this winery, taste this particular wine or they’ve got a really interesting tour here or something really flesh out your experience. But this is super tip. Thank you for that. So is there anything else you want to say about Bergen land, I’d still love to talk about Washington.
Lawrence Francis 15:10
I’m blown away really when I go back to Austria because I think again, it’s from memory, they make around 1% of the world’s wine. So it’s a splash of wine really being made over there in a big perspective. But the last few years have just been so exciting for me. And I think that the Austrian thing now just known as Austrian wine, but the body that does marketing, on behalf of the industry, they do a great job of bringing people in from all over the world. So yes, when we have these sort of gatherings, I’ve, you know, met people from Canada and met people from the States and China and Hong Kong, and Brazil, and all over the world, they’ve kind of got a story to tell, because so many of those wines, they pair phenomenally well with Asian cuisine, and they have the full gamut of different whites, different reds, and on the whole really good quality and quite accessible price wise as well. So you know, it’s a thing. Hopefully, that’s given your listeners, some ideas and the confidence really to give some of these what might be new grapes of try, because I think ultimately, I’m known for saying wine is not a spectator sport. Really the best place to discover something new and to find your own new next pairing is to crack that bottle open and to start exploring.
Natalie MacLean 16:30
Absolutely, I love that wine is not a spectator sport, whether it’s, as you say, trying to wine or visiting the region, just give it a shot, like discover some new pleasures, and don’t sit on the bleachers.
Lawrence Francis 16:45
Get on the pitch.
Natalie MacLean 16:46
Exactly. So Washington, I love the fact that you kind of do Netflix series of wine regions. So you’ll do five, six or more episodes on a particular region or style of wine. Washington State for you was one of your highest ever listened to series. What really drew people to that? What was it about that particular region or that series that made it so popular?
Lawrence Francis 17:13
I worked with the wines of Washington State. At the start of this year, it seems like longer to essentially bring their brand and the voice of their brand out into the world. Because at that time, they weren’t able to travel over to London, or to any international market, I believe. And we couldn’t travel there. So that was kind of I guess, the challenge really that they had. Washington state is super interesting for so many different reasons. But I also think he being the second largest wine producing region in the States, I was thinking that that number two position is always an interesting one. It’s like, you know,
Natalie MacLean 17:52
what was the rental car company? We’re number two, we try harder or something? Yeah, yeah, of course, is number one. I think Oregon and then maybe New York State, I think at the top floor. Yeah,
Lawrence Francis 18:02
absolutely. Spot on. I think just even just that in and of itself, as you say, Wait a second. So we try harder. I think that a lot of people out there maybe more outside of the US that they either haven’t heard of Washington State or they’ve never tried a Washington State wine and they don’t know what to expect. That was a really interesting challenge was like, Okay, how do we get that, again? I missed a wine is not a spectator sport. So how do we sort of do that, in the end, it ended up being three episodes, my suggestion to them which I really enjoyed working with them, because they were very collaborative, very open to my ideas and suggestions. But my idea was to essentially take a sort of a virtual tour across the state in the company of the winemaker and to draw from them those different stories that was maybe as well that the first series where I really realised and really kind of maybe gave people what they were looking for in terms of I don’t need to keep episodes under an hour, I can go mentioning Netflix, you know, I can go feature length, if the conversation allows it, you know, it’s never about padding our conversation, but the very first episode of that series was with one millennials, aka who is the head winemaker at Chateau St. Michel in iconic Washington 100%. And we got into some real geeky territory. Like what I just curious, we’re talking about the Missoula floods, which I don’t know if you’ve come across I mean, I hadn’t come across them before that conversation. But believe it or not, they are the largest ever movement of water in the history of our planet. And these, as you can imagine, colossal forces are actually instrumental in shaping the region and essentially creating this real patchwork this real mismatch. hash of terroir, as you know, you’ve got a giant boulder where it shouldn’t be and you’ve got parcels where they shouldn’t be. It’s almost like putting the soil into a big washing machine and mixing it all around. Yeah.
Natalie MacLean 20:12
When did this happen? That was all the flowers is this ancient times? Or was
Lawrence Francis 20:16
it not that long ago, that was a really interesting thing, because essentially, I’m picked it from memory. It was a sort of order of around 20,000 years ago. But obviously, that predates a lot of the ways that we could record this and it was actually unpicking that patchwork that again, didn’t make sense. It was like how did this boulder even get there and super high level what they found was it actually there is a town in Missoula, I forget the state that is invest nicely in Washington state, it’s in the bordering state, but they had a massive ice dam there. And that sort of starting to melt, it would then be a crack, it would be this massive inundation of water that would come down there flow down, what is I guess now the Columbia River and right the way down there through Washington, and out into the Pacific and down into Oregon as well kind of covered both those areas, but then the dam would kind of refreeze, you know, maybe when there was less water in there, but then the same pattern would happen over several years. And then you had any sort of different layers that were built up by each massive inundation. Until we’re kind of left with what we have now, which again, is that complete mismatch, complete patchwork of different terroirs. But it’s not a known phenomenon. So it’s absolutely fascinating.
Natalie MacLean 21:33
All the different soil types that’s got to create some diversity in the wine styles themselves. So
Lawrence Francis 21:37
this is it. Yeah. And I remember one particular region, that one mentioned that we actually tasted a wine from there, it’s called red mountains. The way that he described it to me was, if you imagine kind of in almost in the middle of all of this tumultuous pneus going on there, there’s almost like a high point, which was up and out of that, I believe it’s one of the smallest DBAs there, if not the smallest of the regions, then the kind of stamps that you’ll see on your bottle. But just because that was sort of away from that. And I believe it was sort of a preliminary kind of clay face in Red Mountain, that in of itself is completely different from the rest of
Natalie MacLean 22:14
everything around it. How are they different? Like, what do they taste like compared to what’s around them?
Lawrence Francis 22:19
So Red Mountain, I believe is almost entirely Cabernet Sauvignon. And I think it was definitely a kind of a water retaining soil, quite big wines that you’ll get from there, because they’ve got, you know, kind of well fed, I guess would be the analogy. The clay would hold the water. Yeah, exactly. Because you’ve got the water and you’ve got the nutrients as well. Still very elegant as well. I think that interaction between the soil, the why make the climate all of these things kind of come together if you want to kind of go there and unpick that and I would still just say that it was very elegant. The Cabernet Sauvignon that we tried there.
Natalie MacLean 22:55
And Did anything surprise you about Washington in addition to these Missoula floods and the diversity of the terroir, or the soil types and climates, did anything else in particular standout
Lawrence Francis 23:06
for me he was they did such a great job of the choice of winemaker, I sure this is a question that you asked yourself as well, what makes a good episode, you know, who makes a good guest, I was asked all of those things and partially data driven but it was also just they need to be kind of educators really, they you know, they need to be okay with explaining and unpicking something like the Missoula floods, which is a massive thing. And I don’t believe one is a geologist but he’s a winemaker. He’s got his own take to bring on that and he’s got his own lens, which is fascinating to kind of bring to that. And then similarly, cross into the other regions down into Columbia Valley cross into Walla Walla, Yakima Valley, you know, exploring all of these other regions, but really getting the word on the ground, you know, people who’ve got their feet in the soil. They’re almost doing what we’ve been doing today, really that virtual travel around the region. I did have some of the most surprising wines maybe ever were from Walla Walla. They’re from a producer called rain van family vineyards and I believe majority of their production is CFR they call it a CFR they don’t call it a Shiraz, as a nod to the French the style. Absolutely. The areas that they were growing these grapes on it was almost like you couldn’t see soil. They were just these huge, I guess you call them riverbed rocks, brownstone round stones that were storing the heat. Just like the Rhone Valley in France is exactly like the Rhone Valley in France, and they just made these Surahs that were again, it was so complex, and I think that flavours that were coming out for me were more like tamponade they were all live. They were brine, but also this kind of irony, almost blood characteristic, almost like when you you know, if you bite your lip by mistake, I think it’s one of those interesting things. I think that you know, somebody who’s maybe new to wine, they may think that doesn’t sound so interesting, you know, how do I sort of get into that, but these are wines that uh, worth investing the time to kind of try and understand and really phenomenal.
Natalie MacLean 25:20
I loved my visit to Walla Walla got a rental car in Seattle, Seattle’s a wonderful base, Camp city cosmopolitan as well and get to know your songs there. And then I drove across the desert, and you know, is this open land of a lot of red soil and some mountains and so on. But after a while, it was like, I think I was driving a couple hours, I hadn’t seen a gas station, I thought, I hope nothing goes wrong with this rental car because I drive drive drive. But then you get to the Walla Walla region, which is a cute little town too, as you see these marvellous river stones, and then these powerhouse winds that still though do have elegance and balance. But that is worth a trip. That’s a wonderful way I think Seattle to Walla Walla would be a terrific journey.
Lawrence Francis 26:05
Yeah, no, I’m very, very fortunate that made friends there and have sort of been invited to go and visit. And all of that was done remotely, that was all done with myself in London, and the producers there at their winery, you know, kind of at home, I think is really a really amazing thing. Because I’d always said, and I always tried to get to the wineries, but I would honestly say hand on heart. That’s the best series that I think I’ve ever put out there. Almost everything came together, it was almost like that perfect storm, that swirling Missoula flood that that put together that perfect soil, it was almost like all of those things that the right people were chosen, the right wines were chosen, we had the ban or the block on travels. So you know, we kind of we had tension built into the series as well, maybe as well, just an interested audience as well. So I absolutely love that series and put it right up there. In terms of all the series that I’ve done,
Natalie MacLean 27:07
our listeners will have to go back and listen to that series and the other series that we’ve done. Now, I do want to answer the teaser question I asked. And the six stories of wine. Can you tell us what those are? Yeah, sure,
Lawrence Francis 27:19
sure. And I think they’ll make sense I think about around a lot of the things I’ve spoken about maybe the best context for that is actually that idea of wine is not a spectator sport. For me, good wine is a time capsule of so many things of who made it, of how they made it, where they made it all of the fantastic things that we’ve just been talking about there. And for better or for worse, I just find that so often, when people are talking about wine can be wine brands, magazines, social media, they kind of cut to the chase, and they don’t build up to any of that time capsule in that context. So I basically have developed this concept of six wine stories. And it came out of looking at my back catalogue really and focusing in on winemakers. And noticing that certain episodes from certain winemakers got repeat lessons, and had around 100 to 400% higher engagement than the others. And I was like what’s you know, and there didn’t seem to be an identifiable cause for this. But I look back and I realised Hold on, they’re all telling these six stories, and they’re telling the more in depth and the six stories, they will have a really nice symmetry to them as well. So first story is around people. So it’s, you know, meet the winemaker. Who are they? What are they into? What are they kind of like as a person?
Natalie MacLean 28:46
Yes, even beyond what they do, like not just the one aspect of winemaking.
Lawrence Francis 28:50
Absolutely and get them talking about themselves. Simple as that may sound that seems to be a really foreign concept to a lot of a lot of wineries out there. We want to know the person behind the wine. We want it know that about so many other things in our life, so many other foods and products. So we want to with the wine as well. The other thing, and again, I can relate this back to Washington just because we’ve been speaking about his culture. I purposely set out to the winemakers and I said, you know, I want you to talk about other wineries. I want you to talk about the wider scene. I think that sometimes for whatever reason, people think that they can only talk about themselves and that actually, by talking about the neighbours and the influences that they’ve had, it somehow distracts from their story. And I personally disagree. I think that that makes the story stronger, it actually forms links with all the other parts of the story. So people culture, then there’s the stuff we’ve been talking about earlier in terms of geography. Let’s take a little Google Maps man and drop them out there in the middle of the vineyards and in your place. During talking about Walla Walla and the stones, you know, let’s look at that, let’s put those in the context as well, you know, let’s give us that visual around 360 degrees of standing out there in the vineyard. Then underpinning that story number four is geology. So it’s against the stuff that you can’t see. But it’s absolutely, you might just be literally be sitting on the sort of the tip of the iceberg or the tip of the volcano, what is actually under there, what’s gone on there. And I think that that, again, can be brought together in a fascinating way and is absolutely relevant for the wine and the geography and often the people as well. Oh, they were shaped to not just the pines, totally, totally, totally. The fifth story. Yeah, it’s kind of illustrated behind you there in your vineyard scene. So it’s effectively everything that happens before harvests. So it’s like, again, you know, it’s visual, it’s visible, it’s like, okay, what are you doing out there in January in March and April, you know, what are unique challenges may be thrown up by the geology and geography that influence what you do. So it’s getting into more of the hands on part. And then the sixth and final story, which again, is usually quite hidden, is what are the winemakers and what is the team doing? After harvest? What is going on there in the cellar? What are the steps? How you get the grapes from the vineyard to the cellar? And what are some of the decisions that you make, and you continue to make and really getting into a little bit the nitty gritty of what goes on in the cellar, and usually behind the saying those closed doors.
Natalie MacLean 31:35
That’s great. I love that framing of it, I can imagine. That’s why your series have been so successful, because it really gives you a snout to tail. Because that’s actually like as I listened to you, and we talked about this on your podcast, it’s what I’m going to try to do with the publishing of my memoir, I want to take the behind the scenes, you know, and even go back further story idea and what it was like to the writing process, and then getting a publisher, and then finally publishing and what happens after that, like the whole story, because I think people are fascinated by that kind
Lawrence Francis 32:11
of thing. I could not agree more. It really sounds like a fascinating memoir. I’ll be pre ordering as soon as we’re allowed to reorder everyone. But again, I think it’s we’re getting nose. Yeah, we want to know, what is your process of writing the book, and it’s maybe becoming a little bit boring to just see that the one dimensional side, you know, maybe want to know about some of the challenges,
Natalie MacLean 32:36
right? The book lands on the table, the bottle lands on the table, that’s not enough. Yeah, absolutely. Find this, you know, don’t just start there, go back
Lawrence Francis 32:45
100%. The thing that I think often catches people out is, I guess, technically, there is a seven story that I haven’t spoken about, which is actually what the wine tastes like. And I again, if I’m going to say this, I have to be true to it. Wine is not a spectator sport. I don’t believe that that seven story around how the wine looks and how it tastes, that is where the focus should be. And in my experience, that is exactly where the focus has been. And those other six stories haven’t been given the space, they haven’t been given the bandwidth. And I, for many reasons, feel as though audio is a really powerful channel to tell those stories, because again, you don’t need to get everything into a tick tock or, or a three second clip, it can be an hour can be an hour and a half. And absolutely, because of the medium because of all of the good things around multitasking and audio literally reaching the parts that many other media can’t reach. People will listen, they will engage and they will take it in and they will take action based on that, which I think is ultimately it’s what those wineries need. You know, if they’ve got that big enough story, then they want people to be enjoying it. And wine is unique. You can get it out there all over the world.
Natalie MacLean 34:03
Yeah, and wineries need that connection with consumers or drinkers listeners, and consumers listeners want that connection. So 100% Yeah, we’re in the middle of bringing them together matchmaking. So tell us as we wrap up, tell us about your offer. Like we have lots of people from wineries, wine brands who listen to this, what is it you’re offering? Let’s regroup on that so that they’ll know and want to participate?
Lawrence Francis 34:30
Absolutely. So summer was very busy for me as well as developing the idea of the six wine stories. There’s also looking into really taking a step back and kind of saying, Okay, how does that fit into a bigger marketing piece and really found and saw that there are three big problems that not only why marketers is a broader concept, I think that holds up but absolutely that was, as you said at the start cost wineries money and costing them attention. And it was that they lacked one or more of the three C’s. So the first C being clarity. So the six stories kind of sitting under that, and it was like, what makes you different? Why should we buy your wine? Or why should we pick up your wine, even from the shell than another. And I think having those stories underneath and having people really clear on why you’re different, that gets you clear. The second was confidence, I just for me, it shows up, there’s just too many wine brands that almost hide behind the bottle, they’ll just put pictures of the bottle and then not doing what we spoke about earlier in terms of putting themselves out there talking about their challenges and their successes and their ups and downs, and really taking people on a journey with them. And then the third C is consistency. I’m the worst person to be talking about this, because I’ve never made wine. But so many times when things get busy at wineries and in regions, then the kind of the communication stops and the marketing stops, it’s so important to keep that going once you’ve got clear on the stories. And once you are starting to get confident and get your voice and your face out there, consistency is difficult to fix. But it can absolutely be fixed. And it just means that your front of mind, you have busy lives. So we always need to be reminded. So what the scorecard does is it It tests all three of those three C’s.
Natalie MacLean 36:35
Okay, so they’re answering a series of questions, and then they’ll get some feedback
Lawrence Francis 36:39
that it’s 15 yes or no questions. On the back of that, they’ll be very clear on which of those if any, they’re lacking and that they need to kind of focus in on. And as I say, it’s an exclusive offer just for your listeners, I’m very happy to offer a conversation with myself really as the person who’s developed that model to just yet get into a little bit more have a side conversation and start to diagnose what might be some of the opportunities and some of the challenges that they might be having in getting their word out there. I think I think it’s just particularly sad when you have people that are making fantastic wine. And they’re maybe not having the success that they could be having nothing to do with the quality of the wine, but all to do with the quality of that connection that they ultimately have with the person who’s going to buy it.
Natalie MacLean 37:27
Yeah, awesome. So Lawrence, they can participate or go through your scorecard at interpreting y.com or slash on reserve. And we’ll put that link in the show notes for this. So where can we find you online, Laura’s,
Lawrence Francis 37:42
hopefully, see you at interpreting wine.com/unreserved, I probably spend most of my time in terms of social media on Instagram, where I’m at interpreting wine. Now we’d love to, again, you’ve got obviously podcast listeners and people you’ve engaged and you’ve have a fantastic relationship with so also head to interpreting wind.com/listen, which is the sort of entry point really into the podcast. Also, I’ll look up and hopefully we can include, I’ve got some also some links that take you directly to some of the series that we spoke about. So I’ve got a special link just for Sherry, special one just for Austrian wine and Mother Spanish coverage that I’ve been doing. But I can’t remember them all.
Natalie MacLean 38:27
Put them on the show notes. You send them to me. Yeah, definitely for people who want to do that Net Flix binge on a particular region, or that’s it. Yeah. That’s great. Lawrence, thank you so much for this conversation. I really appreciate all your tips and your stories. I felt like we were travelling different wine regions, and I even made me thirsty. So you’ve done your job. I look forward to staying in touch and chatting with you again in the future because we should reconnect.
Lawrence Francis 38:55
I hope so. Yeah, yeah. Someday,
Natalie MacLean 38:57
maybe we’ll have the chance to have a glass of wine in person together.
Lawrence Francis 39:00
It’s it fingers crossed for anyone listening. Yeah, fingers crossed.
Natalie MacLean 39:05
So I will say goodbye for now and look forward to when we connect again.
Lawrence Francis 39:10
Natalie MacLean 39:12
Hi. Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Lawrence. Here are my takeaways. I love the strategy of starting a wine trip in a Bay City and talking to some of the A’s and restaurant owners about which wineries you should visit. You also get to taste the wines first and determine which houses make the styles you like to I agree with Lawrence about the dazzling array of complexity and flavour in Gruner Veltliner it’s one of the most undervalued white wines in the world and one of the most food friendly and three, I enjoyed listening to Lawrence’s essential six stories about wine and especially how wine is not a spectator sport. Yeah, gotta get in there. Just like life, and books. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact a link to the post Diary of a book launch the full transcript of my conversation with Lawrence links to his site and podcast and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at seven. That’s all in the show notes and Natalie Maclean comm forward slash 163 Email me if you have a sip question or want to be a beta reader of my new book at Natalie, at Natalie maclean.com. You won’t want to miss next week when we chat with Robert Camuto, who has just published a terrific new book called south of somewhere wine, food and the soul of Italy, about the people in places of Southern Italy. In the meantime, if you missed episode 79 go back and take a listen. I chat about how Austria’s Gruner Veltliner got its groove back with winemaker Heidi Fisher baffle. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Heidi Fisher Pfaffl 41:07
River can be so versatile, you can have Gruner that’s lively and fresh. But you also can find quite rich and full bodied pruners. That’s how reminds you of Chardonnay. We often have tastings of old carnival cleaners in comparison to old burgundy wines and it’s often hard to find the difference.
Natalie MacLean 41:28
So the age well because they’ve got the acidity which is one of the ageing elements. Yes, but
Heidi Fisher Pfaffl 41:33
also, not all of them are the same. You have some very full body rich ones that H V well the reserve styles, but you also have this easy drinking lively fresh pruners. They are really made for brain betrekking Young.
Natalie MacLean 41:51
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines we talked about. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps at groupie, Gruner Veltliner. You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie Maclean comm forward slash subscribe, maybe here next week. Cheers