My guess is that most people don’t think fine wine and concrete have much in common, if anything. It’s unlikely that these two things ever come up in the same sentence, with maybe one exception,
“I dropped my glass of wine on the concrete the other day and the concrete won.”
Over the past twenty years, I’ve come to recognize concrete as a wonderful medium. I am intrigued by the fact that it starts as a formless, dynamic slurry and eventually cures into a rock solid surface. Wine, on the other hand, comes from solid earth in the form of fruit, seeds and stems and is transformed into liquid treasure. I like the idea that somewhere in each process, the two cross paths and then, end up more like the other one started.
Cement, sand, aggregate, water and special ingredients (including a few secrets) go into our mix design. What isn’t a secret is that all of our pigments are made from ferroxide iron oxides, which are non-toxic and made from 60% post-industrial recycled content. Like winemakers, the secrets we keep close to us are those that won’t hurt you and those which only add to the magic of our creation.
Once the ingredients are in the mixer, we mix until we achieve the correct consistency. The consistency needed varies on the time of year because of temperature, humidity and mold design. When the desired consistency is met, we are ready to pour.
Similar to harvesting grapes, timing is very crucial at this stage. Move too fast, mistakes are made. Move too slow, the mix sets up before we get our molds poured and the product is lost.
Yet, there are thousands of factors that go into each concrete creation and many of those factors are out of human control. Again, it is not so different from wine: vintners craft their medium based on the factors they can control and the result is something unique; it is never exactly like what came before.
Every concrete junky or wine maker has their own style and specific ideas about what is the best mix or combination of factors, and most of us have valid reasons for our arguments. But fundamental elements, like minerality, air, temperature and moisture ultimately decide for us.
Our craft is based on very specific knowledge and a fair bit of faith in the elements. What we produce, in many ways, is a record of what we’ve learned along the way.
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