Barnaby, Olga, Lexi and The "J Turn"
We caught up with Teutonic Winemaker and Owner, Barnaby Tuttle, on his way to Home Grown in Asheville for lunch. Barnaby was eating his way through Asheville! After the Teutonic Tasting @MetroWnes on Friday Night, he went two doors down to Gan Shan downing a bowl of Drunken Noodles and a healthy serving of Bok Choy. He woke up hungry at Midnight and had frozen pizza burned to charcoal on the bottom and cheap BIG BOX beer. Yes, even winemakers DO crazy when on the road!
Barnaby is a Portland, Oregon native. Before his current incarnation, he was an iron worker and worked for an autowrecker that salvaged vintage car parts from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Hold that thought - both jobs become very important later........
Before we go further, let's set the Tuttle stage. Barnaby is married to Olga who drives a 62 Plymouth Valiant at the Dragstrip in Woodburn, Oregon (http://www.woodburndragstrip.
com/). Lexi a Border Collie mix with some way cool ears (see below) gleefully joins the pack a little later. Moving on......
Barnaby decided to go down a different path and took a job at a restaurant in Portland. Until that moment, Barnaby's path and that of wine had not crossed. So, not because he was interested because he really wasn't, but because the restaurant needed someone to learn about wine, Baranby was sent to wine classes.
The class was based on blind tasting. Barnaby found this process valuable as he was "forced to analyze and look deeper." One day the instructor brings in a series of bottles of Pinot Noir from different areas. Barnaby became fascinated with the difference in the bottles as a result of the different terroirs, "just a block away." Who knew? Now Barnaby knows. His path has crossed that of wine. He becomes the wine buyer at the restaurant.
Back at the restaurant, Barnaby met a German Importer. One thing leads to another and to Germany and tasting a lot of German wine and meeting German winemakers and finally to Barnaby telling Olga: "I got to quit my job and make this stuff!" I ask how Olga took the news. "She was concerned but she knows that once I make up my mind, I follow through." And so he did......
Starting Teutonic on a shoestring budget, Barnaby says his experience at the autowrecker came in mighty handy. He built his own machines, designed a process for stacking barrels, was able to repair his forklift and benefited from his understanding of the "flow" of production. "And frankly," Barnaby says: "I would not have been able to afford to start the winery without this experience."
Teutonic Wines are intended to complement food, lower in alcohol (9 to 12%) and a little higher in acidity. Wines are made in neutral barrels so that the flavor of oak does not overpower the wine and the delicate flavors of some dishes.
But who is Barnaby outside the winery?
What is your favorite part of being a winemaker? "Discovering the unexpected. Being surprised by what a wine becomes. And then traveling the country presenting the wines. I met so many interesting people."
What do you drink if not your own wines? "Mostly, the wines made by my friends. I like Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc." (BTW, friend of the shop and one of the MetroWines favorites, John Grochau, lives down next door to Barnaby's Grandmother.)
What do you do in your spare time? "I work on old cars if I can, but, honestly, I am working all the time. I am consumed by this!" The hard and constant work has paid off. Barnaby has been successful in placing his wines in a number of states including New York, Washington DC, Texas and is very close to placement in England, Norway and Japan.
Favorite movie? "Spinal Tap."
TV guilty pleasures? "Old shows like Perry Mason and Rockford Files." Here, I tell Barnaby that I am also a Rockford Files fan and ask whether Olga can do the famous Rockford turn. "Oh, you're talking about the J Turn! Not yet but I'll suggest it to her!" Stand by Portland for Olga working it in a parking lot near you soon. Oh yeah!
What would you do if not a winemaker? Barnaby is interested in linguistics, specifically accents.
"Language is oral history." The pervasive regional dialects, according to Barnaby, tell centuries of stories and global movement. Barnaby says that in one small German village he visited there were 6 dialects! The winemaker by day sounds pretty far into this subject. "I think you could map world migration considering language with an overlay of DNA." WOW!
Barnaby noticed my New Orleans accent and said that I should be proud of it. "Think of the confluence of cultures that went into making that unique sound." I feel good!
Bottom line? What do you want readers to know about who YOU are. "I am a working class guy who made good."