Wine sector is one of the most global sectors in the world, with high rotation of the information and the employees in between the countries. Although this brings a lot of opportunities to improve, it also can bring some risks – a viticulture or winemaking technique applied in one place with good results can be completely inadequate for another place. This is not only true for viticulture or winemaking, but also for human relations which is an important part of the wine sector. With this idea in mind, I asked Rodrigo Laytte his strategies and approaches in wine scenery of different countries he is working in.
Rodrigo Laytte, the technical director of Château Kirwan, and wine consultant in different countries. We already covered his story in the first part of our interview, “From Chile to The World”.
N: You have many experiences in viticulture and winemaking in different countries and regions. How do you change your approach to these depending on the location?
R: It’s true that I have experiences in various countries and with different cultures. I can simply adapt to different cultures, because I had a tough experience when I left Chile to live in Austria which has a completely different culture and language from Chile. I think I have learned there how to adapt to different cultures. There I also had the chance to work with people from different countries; from Italy, India, Germany, Turkey etc. And I realized that the first thing to do is to keep your mind open and to be more flexible. Not close your mind with the things that you know and you believe that are true, but let the other people express themselves and try to really understand what they want to tell you. It’s not easy to adapt to each culture and people but if you leave your mind open and listen to the people, you can finally do it, and of course along with language skills.
In the case of wine and viticulture, also as the culture changes, the aim of production and the realities change, also the personnel. The most important thing in this case is also keeping the mind open, and never forgetting that there are no recipes in winemaking. There are only realities and as professionals our job is to adapt to these realities to reach an objective that we put (or put by people who we are working for). Always keeping an open mind and trying to make the best of the things that you have is the key. I think we had success in different places because as we arrived in Mexico or in Chile we did not repeat everything they are doing in France. In my opinion that is the first mistake it could have been made. Because, the realities are different and we should adapt to them, as I was telling previously.
On the other hand, the scientific base is very important. I have the advantage of my studies in Montpellier and Bordeaux and I always upgrade myself with the latest research that is coming out, I am in contact with scientists and with the people who try new things. It’s important to nourish yourself with the new scientific information when there is a problem and try to solve it in the best possible way with all these. So, adaptation capacity and working without the recipes are the keys to work in different parts of the world.
Finally, never forget how to make good wine; the key is to know your vineyard, its climate, soil and all in all the terroir and the plant material. It is often believed that doing very well in the oenology part, you can make very good wine. Of course certain grapes can make a good wine but to make a real difference, the viticulture is the part that should be taken into account. In my opinion, an enologist is the person who will help and accompany the grapes during their transformation of wine. It’s not a job to change the grapes, but just to help them to express themselves in wine.
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