Perissos Vineyard and Winery has long been known for its excellent wines. The owner and winemaker Seth Martin has produced many award-winning wines over the years. Now winemaker Brent Pape shows that he too can make excellent wines. We are happy to present Brent Pape this month for the profile of the selected winemaker!
- What did you do before you became a winemaker (if anything)?
I spent about six years working in agricultural research for Texas AgriLife through undergraduate and graduate study at Texas University of Technology. The first half focused on sorghum breeding and performance testing at the Texas High Plains, and the second half focused on viticulture and winemaking.
- What’s the hardest challenge of being a winemaker in Texas?
Unpredictable weather is without a doubt the most challenging part of every year. Between late frosts, hail, drought or floods, each year in the vineyard is accompanied by a unique set of obstacles that we must overcome. These seasonal challenges force Texas winemakers to be adaptive and creative, which equates to unique wines each year that simply cannot be imitated.
- Is viticulture an art or a science or both?
I believe it is a combination of both; sometimes it is difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins. A good knowledge of organic chemistry allows you to create flawless, balanced wines, which then allow for additional artistic freedom and flexibility in terms of oak selection, blending and finishing.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Although this is a really difficult question for me, I can narrow it down to just three. I really enjoy our Picpoul Blanc with oysters, our Reserve Roussanne with mussels and our Aglianico with game.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I would probably be involved in wildlife management and biology in some form or way.
- What brought you to winemaking first and how long have you been dedicated to it?
Agriculture has always been my passion. Once I discovered an industry that combined the love of growing things with the science of fermentation, I was addicted. This, along with being surrounded by the most passionate people in Texas agriculture, made my career decision incredibly simpler. Next season will be my ninth year.
- What is the most common question you get as a winemaker?
How did you get into this industry?
- What do you do after a long day in a winery or vineyard?
If we pack up when it’s still light outside, I usually try to slip out and catch perch.
- What is the biggest thing about a winemaker?
Sharing your wine with friends and family and seeing their faces light up makes it the absolute best job in the world.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, so what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Our focus at Perissos is really on the agricultural aspect of our business. We truly believe that wines are grown more than they produce. After we have achieved varietal accuracy on the vines and reaped the benefits of our work, my goal in the winery is to focus on extremely high standards of hygiene combined with the use of the best possible fermentation and maturation practices. My goal is to make as few interventions as possible each year so that each year can be an accurate reflection and expression of a given season. This “farming first” mentality allows us to produce terroir-controlled wines using only 100% of the fruit grown in Texas.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
The most beautiful part of the Texas wine industry for anyone who wants to get involved is that everyone you meet is more than willing to help you on your journey. Everyone I met liked to lend advice based on their own experience and education, the value of which simply cannot be measured. I would like to thank several of my mentors who have helped me become the winemaker and winemaker I am today; Ed Hellman, Kirk Williams, Maureen Qualia and Seth Martin will always have a special place in my heart!