Most Burgundian wine makers learn about wine through osmosis by growing up in a family of wine makers, being surrounded by the vineyards and hearing people talking about it throughout their upbringing. Bernard van Berg on the other hand started his wine making career in his 50s as he retired from a long career in photography. Over a lovely lunch, his wife Judith describes to me: ‘I was a city girl and we had children so it made sense to stay in the city but Bernard always dreamt of being in the country. He was always good with plants. We had the most beautiful balcony filled with plants. He never killed even the smallest insect. You know, he really loves nature.’ And so as the couple’s children grew up and moved on Judith knew she had to give Bernard his dream to work with nature. The couple sold their home in Belgium and bought a little piece of magic in Burgundy.
Without history to bind him to any guiding principle, Bernard relied on his senses. He spent his first few years in Burgundy observing all the wine makers around him. He pondered what the most reputed wine makers would do with their land and he saw what the others did. He watched how the vines would respond. He noted how different wine makers would make decisions according to the weather and he tasted those details in the wines. When he went to make his own, I sense that Bernard was confident in his convictions through his observations and his personal understanding of nature.
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