Californian indie wine maker John Lockwood on the craft and data that go into producing a good wine
‘In terms of my winemaking, many decisions are based on me interpreting nature,’ says John Lockwood. ‘What does this wine want to be and how can I maximise its potential and bring out its best character?’
Lockwood began his journey into wine from a craft point of view: ‘I was literally a craftsman, apprenticed to a luthier in Oakland, who built beautiful, sought-after, acoustic steel-string guitars’. It was here that he met winemaker David Mahaffey, who he initially worked with on the weekends before moving into wine full time: ‘David was not well known or a particularly sought after winemaker, but he had two small vineyards that he worked with and was involved with the whole process from vineyard through to wine sales in a way that very few winemakers I’ve encountered in California are. In that sense he really enjoyed his work, and the process, and taught me to do the same.’
In 2010, John started his own label, Enfield Wines, as a side project while working for winemaker Ehren Jordan at Failla winery in Napa. It wasn’t until 2013 that Lockwood turned his full attention to making Enfield into a sustainable business. ‘The reality of living in one of the most expensive parts of the world means that business cannot be ignored,’ he says. ‘If your business is not viable then you're not doing yourself or your vines any good, regardless of what your personal philosophies and interests may be’.
For Lockwood, making wine is an active, fully immersive process. Staying close to each stage of this process is where he finds the joy in what he does. ‘For me, craft comes mostly in the form of interpretation,’ he says. ‘Wine is not like painting, in that I cannot just make wine into whatever I want it to be. I have to take all of the thousands of little data points about what the grapes are, and where they’ve planted, and how they’re farmed, and what the weather has been like, and interpret that into decisions about what the wine wants to be and how I can help it express itself most completely – which to me is basically the definition of a “good wine”.’