St. John's College Santa Fe

Fearless Experimentation in Winemaking: A Tutor and His Vineyard

By A.J. Peters

Scholium Project Wine Label
Scholium Project Wine Label–from Newton’s Principia

A couple of months ago, ex-tutor Abe Schoener gave a fascinating Friday night lecture about Odysseus and wine. Now he’s being featured in the New York Times magazine for his daring and innovative approach to winemaking. Making use of tiny and often sub-par growing sites, obscure grapes, and a label with a diagram from Newton’s Principia, Schoener is finding success with exceedingly unconventional concoctions. Although I think his lecture was even better (what’s not to like about a discussion of Polyphemus as wine snob?), I love the way the ideas of St. John’s come through in this article’s account of his process. Tenacious in his eccentricity, he inquires into the unknown to produce something interesting—not just well-regarded.  And of course, he experiments for himself, instead of simply accepting the conventions. Read the whole article here.

He tinkered endlessly with obscure vineyards and varietals, with temperatures, with juice extraction, with acidity levels, with tannic structure, with rotting grapes. Sometimes he didn’t tinker at all and simply let a seemingly doomed wine repose in barrels for years, until the day came that a brilliant identity suddenly materialized. (Or not. “I’ve still got a 2003 botrytis-infected Malbec that’s turning into some interesting form of balsamic vinegar,” he told me.) Source:

For more information, check out The Scholium Project website.

Mr. Schoener, we wish you the best of luck.

1 comment on “Fearless Experimentation in Winemaking: A Tutor and His Vineyard

  1. This was a lovely bllog post


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