Joe Asks Maynard James Keenan About His Vineyard


1 year ago



Maynard James Keenan is a musician, winemaker, and martial artist best known as the vocalist for the rock bands Tool, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle. Look for the new Puscifer concert films "Parole Violator" and "V is for Versatile" on October 28.


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But when you decided to do this in 2000, you must have had some sort of an esoteric appreciation. Yes, 100%. I just couldn't describe that to you and I couldn't map out what year was what wine. I could just tell you that everything about this wine is inspirational in some way. Whether it's the age on it, the acid structure, something, all the pistons were firing in terms of all the sensory alarms that are going off in my mouth, the length of the experience, how it's changing in the glass. Yeah, that was very inspiring to me. As far as actually being able to map that out for you, I'm an idiot. I couldn't do it. Did you go through any sort of education in terms of what is involved in the creation of a wine that you appreciate? I just thought time and sell are spending time in Adelaide Hills at Penfolds for a very short amount of time, seeing it happening around the world, going to wineries while on tour, while they're trying to time it where I can go when they're going to actually harvest today to see what's the equipment you're using, what are you doing, how are you doing this thing. When did that spark get ignited? 99. So it was right before you started? So before that, were you a wine connoisseur? Were you a wine appreciator? I started appreciating wine maybe around 96. Really? Yeah. So just a few years later, you own a vineyard? Yeah. That's crazy. Yeah, it just resonated. Whatever it was, it just clicked. It's like going back to, I was talking to Donald today, he walked into Hickson's place on Pico back in the day. Henry Ankins walked in the same week that I walked in to Hickson's Academy back in 95. Henry Ankins is one of the best black belts I've ever met. I can barely tie my belt. It resonated with him. It resonated with him. It made sense to him, it clicked and it went. And there's no way you can figure out what that is to make him what he is. I was not that guy. I had to work harder on it. Wine was like I'd been doing it my whole life. Almost instantly. It made sense. And then slowly backing up and understanding the chemistry of it, working with people to go action-reaction and logging that in to develop that constantly. But the process, just the basic logistics of making wine made sense to me almost instantaneously. And this was from 96? No, my first wine that I actually was involved in making was 2004. Oh. But in 96 when you first started getting interested in it, you went to a vineyard? It was just dinners. You start to all of a sudden went from a dude who grew up in a lower middle class family with parents that are on teacher budget, cutting wood for the winter, to being on tour with a band and all of a sudden I can afford a bottle of wine that was more than $50. Oh, this is cool. Seeing all the agents and the lawyers and the fucking promoter and the manager and the fucking accountant all backstage having a nice glass of wine while I'm drinking Bud Light over here. Going, what the fuck's that? And I want to know. And I grabbed a glass and tried it and went, this is the new thing. This is something I want to know about. And when was the first time you actually went to a, do you remember the first vineyard you visited while they were doing all that? I want to say it was like 97, I think. 98. It was Pegasus Bay in New Zealand. In New Zealand? Watching the process, watching, no, I think they were doing Sablanc, I think. It might have been Pino. I think it was Pino. But they were de-stemming and I was watching the stemming process going, okay, okay, machine. I can afford a machine. And you just thought, one day I'm going to do that. And then the wheels started getting into motion. Wow. How many people around you are going, what the fuck are you doing? All of them. All. It just seems like such a fucking intensive, complicated endeavor. Yeah. But it's rewarding. It's work, you're grounding, there's set up, there's clean up, there's logistics. Like Tim and I are like the logistics Nazis. Like we have to, there's a way to do it to not get in your own way to understand the 16 steps. Like today, dealing with that triangle, I kept getting my foot caught up and trying to get the leg around the head. Because I was getting in my own way. I didn't shift enough to make it so that I wasn't in my own way. In the cellar, I am not in my own way. I'm thinking five steps ahead and I'm not going to put a thing down in the way that I have to move and add six steps to get into the next step. And this is a thing that you get better at? I get better at it with every harvest, but I was already naturally inclined that way as far as like, Tetris is my thing. Hmm. Wow. That's wow. Because there's nothing like that in my mind that I'm fascinated by that I would want to go and start developing a company that makes these things. It seems like it's just so rare that something like light bulb goes off and you're like, I need a wine press. Yeah. Wow. So when you like crack open a bottle of wine today, do you ever open one and go, I should have waited? I mean, yeah, there's those instances or I open up some of my stuff from before and go, yeah, I fucked that up. This is a good bottle. It's okay. But I know that I could have done better on this bottle. And what would you have done to do better? Well, it depends on the grade. It depends on what I did and it depends on the thing. But, you know, there's adjustments that I've made over the years that have made it so that there's a higher percentage of success for that year for that wine. What are those variables? It all depends on the, you know, it depends on the grape, depends on how we picked it, depends on what it did. Is it too much oak? Is it not enough oak? You know. Oak in the casket? Yeah. Well, you know, when you're putting stuff in barrels, is it too new? Is there too much flavor? I mean, parting too much flavor on the wine. You know, going back and tasting some of the stuff I earlier did, it's because they were new. I just bought the barrels. So there's a lot of oak on some of the earlier wines that I did. It's not there now because now there are older barrels. They're no longer imparting that flavor of oak. So in hindsight, I, you know, I can't change it. It's done. Right. But I might have... Aged the barrels? Yeah. I get a couple new, but buy some neutral ones from somebody instead so that, like, there was just a kiss of oak on it rather than a lot of new oak. So there's a company that specializes in creating barrels? No, you just go to some of the other wineries that are cycling through some of their barrels, and you can buy used barrels from reputable wineries. Oh, because I was going to ask you next, do you reuse your barrels? I use as much as I possibly can because I don't necessarily want the oak influence on the wine. But does the wine that was in the barrel influence future wines? No, you're rinsing it out pretty good. You're not, you know, you're cleaning them out. What are you cleaning it with? Steam. So it's no chemicals? No, no. No, nothing. Just water? Wow. How the fuck do you have time for all this? I just don't understand this. Logistical time management. I understand, but I don't understand where it's coming from. There's not... I'm looking at a clock. I'm going, okay, this goes around. There's 12 of those, and there's another 12. Like, where the fuck is the time?