Name: Scott Greenberg
Winery: Convergence Zone Cellars
How long have you been at this: I’ve been making wine for about 8 years, starting as a home winemaker. After training at the NW Wine Academy, I began Convergence Zone Cellars about 3 years ago.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a winemaker?
My father-in-law has been a big influence on me. He is a wine connoisseur who turned me on to fine wines from not only Washington, but around the world. This peaked my interest in how wine was made, and the beginning of my winemaking hobby.
2. If you weren’t working with wine what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I’m still doing it—My full-time job is as Community Development Director (Planning, Zoning and Building Dept.) for the City of Burien. That’s the double meaning of the word “Zone” in our winery name.
3. What current wine trend do you particularly like (or dislike)?
I like the trend of red blends (which is what I mostly create). I also like that wineries are making all different sweetness levels of Riesling (ours is dry). A lot of consumers do not like sweeter Rieslings. They have a pre-conceived notion that all Rieslings are sweet, so they move away from that varietal. I love the positive reaction of people when I get them to taste our Dewpoint Dry Riesling—pure joy and surprise. I’ve converted a lot of people back to Riesling.
4. What is your go-to wine (varietal, region) – other than Washington, of course!
I have always enjoyed Bordeaux wines. Recently though, my palate has leaned toward Grenache and Mourvedre.
5. What’s your favorite wine and food pairing?
If I had to name one, it would be a big juicy steak with our 2009 Storm Front or a Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
6. What advice can you offer to a first time wine drinker?
Go wine tasting! In our area (Woodinville’s Warehouse District), we have about 40 wineries. You’ll be able to taste a wide variety of wines and winemaking styles. Often, you will be able to talk directly with the winemaker, who will be happy to tell you how his/her wine is made and answer any questions you have. The other advice is to try wines with different foods, so you can decide for yourself which wine you like with which food.
7. “I want to own a winery and make wine.” – Any Advice?
First, try it at home. Wine kits (which come with a bladder pack of juice and all of the yeast and other additions you’ll need) are a good, inexpensive way to experiment. They are $100-$200, and you’ll get about 30 bottles of wine. It’s better to make a mistake on a $100 investment than a $100,000 investment. Second, educate yourself. Read winemaking books, subscribe to winemaking magazines (WineMaker Magazine is great for a start), and take some classes. The program I attended—NW Wine Academy—is at South Seattle Community College. They offer a lot of evening classes in winemaking, wine science, marketing, food & wine pairing, sensory evaluation and my favorite—wines of the world. And yes, you get to taste wine in nearly all of these classes. Third, volunteer. Get a sense for what “living the dream” is really about. Most wineries (including ours) are happy to have volunteers for barrel work, bottling, crush, etc. I volunteered on a Woodinville winery’s bottling line four or five times. I knew I did not want the headache of using paper labels (crooked, wrinkled, double labeled, etc.), which is why I decided to have all of my bottles screen-printed before bottling. Finally, really understand the costs. Equipment is expensive and you may not get a return for several years. Some wineries will rent or share equipment, which helps reduce your initial cost.
8. If you could make wine with any winemaker in the world, who would it be?
I don’t really follow other winemakers outside of Washington. But in our state, I would love to make wine with Bob Betz.
9. What do you like to do when you are not making wine?
At this point, I don’t have much free time with all of the bookkeeping, marketing, promotion, etc. I need to do for our winery. When I do have a spare moment, I like watch baseball (in person or on TV).
11. What do you think Washington wines will be known for in 25 years, as compared to now?
Consistency and quality. I see quality improving with every vintage. We need to be sure that the quality is consistent year to year. A bad vintage in the vineyard could have a negative impact, but we can’t control Mother Nature.
12. Who in the wine industry do you think we should be watching?
Small, family-owned wineries are making some great wines. Their limited-production, handcrafted wines are generally reasonably priced and very high in quality. These “under the radar” wines are well worth seeking out.
13. Winery pet and name?
Chester is our winery dog. He is a Maltimo—50% Miniature American Eskimo, 25% Maltese and 25% Pomeranian.
14. What’s something about you or your winery that few people know?
My wife Monica named our winery. We live in the Kirkland/Redmond area and were stuck at home for days in the December 2008 snowstorm. While I was filling out my winery licensing applications, it was snowing harder and harder. The weather forecasters kept saying there would be more snow in the convergence zone. Monica thought that would be a great name for the winery, and Convergence Zone Cellars was born.
15. What is the strangest place you’ve served your wine?
I can’t think of one.
16. Describe your wine in 5 words or less.
Red blends and white varietals
17. What do you like most about the Auction of Washington wines?
This will be my first year, so I’ll have to let you know next year!
Meet Scott Greenberg at this week’s Auction of Washington Wines 25th anniversary celebration, August 16-18.
Visit www.auctionofwashingtonwines.com for more information.