1997, four friends sat around a table to hold a blind vote on a name
for their new venture, a winery. It had to be perfect. It had to immediately
evoke the meaning and feeling of their dream. It had to be the payoff
for a lot of hard work and planning kind of like christening
a boat's first sail.
The vote came down to a final four names. The friends looked at each
other, scribbled their choice on a piece of paper, and put them all
in a hat. The vote came back unanimous: Consilience.
Ironically the word they chose unanimously for their new winery actually
has a similar meaning to their very action.
Dont try to look up the word in a modern dictionary. You wont
find it. Consilience. Say it a few times to yourself. It is a word
that rolls off the tongue melodically and feels familiar. However,
it is not familiar to the modern world. In fact, it is an old world
scientific term that has long since been out of use until now.
Consilience, in a nutshell, means unity of knowledge.
Consilience is a singular word that embodies an old-time professors
philosophy about science and its methodology. He feared that his colleagues
were so busy using science to break everything down to its most minuscule
size, that it caused them to lose site of the whole picture. He suggests
that things work harmoniously in unity with each other and cannot
be removed from their context without losing a bit of their own unique
reason for being. He appealed to scientists everywhere to not lose
sight and in so doing, science all over would be unified in thought
Thats some pretty heavy stuff, but very fitting for wine and
a perfectly expressed idea succinctly coined with one word for four
friends. Wine is the unity of the universe and man and a winemaker
can never lose sight of that.
Brett Escalera is the winemaker for Consilience. He comes well-equipped
for the job too, because he daylights as the winemaker
for Fess Parker. With Fess Parker since 1996, Brett has learned the
skills it takes to be a winemaker for a large production winery making
hundreds of thousands of cases and what it means to make his personal
label at a mere total of 4000 cases. Brett handles both with ease
although they are very different, The biggest difference is
when you are small, what you bring in is all youve got. There
is no room for error. Youve got to be careful. When you make
wine for a larger facility, you have more options. You can cherry
Large or small, Brett loves making wine and feels lucky that Consilience
has so far achieved much of what they have set out to do, We
wanted to create wines with a strong regional identity and we have
been able to accomplish that. The other part is seeing the reception
our wines get from people who drink them. It is most fun when you
start to see people gravitate towards your wines.
Consilience has a nice line up of wines now although they started
with only one varietal, Zinfandel, in 1997. Brett remembers, Our
first vintage, the Zin came in from Contra Costa county and it was
super ripe. I didnt think I could make the kind of zin I wanted
to, so I made a Zin Port. Now, with 6 years under their belt,
Consilience has 6 varietals in total. Brett estimates they probably
will not add to their juicy line up any time soon, except for maybe
a Cab in the future. Right now, Consilience makes a Roussane,
Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petit Sirah, Zinfandel and when the 97
vintage is sold out, he may add another Zin Port to the mix.
A winemaker cannot always be hard at work. On Bretts days, or
should I say hours off, he loves to go home and spend
time with his wife Monica and his friends and partners, Tom Daughters
and Jodie Boulet-Daughters. However, his absolute favorite pastime
is coaching his 6 year-old son, Brett Jrs tee ball team and
taking father-son karate lessons.
I am not sure what his karate future is, but certainly the future
of consilience is to stay small and continue to grow by name across
the nation. They are off to a great start because many of their wines
have been well-rated by the critics and this will help put them on
the map for those not lucky enough to see them in Santa Barbara where
they will soon be opening a tasting room.
The Petit Sirah featured this month is a great feat in taming the
tough grape that can be so tannic it is undrinkable while young. You
will not find this with Bretts Petit because he has taken painstaking
care to ensure its drinkability.
Bretts style of winemaking is three-fold; express the land,
impress the fans, and keep the prices reasonable. He has achieved
all three. Brett urges feedback from the people who drink his wines.
He loves to talk about the style, the creation and what people are
really looking for in the wine they drink. It might be that it is
his way of creating a forum for wine drinkers to get what they are
looking for by talking about what they like - in other words, a unified
thought or in one word: Consilience.