When it comes to winemaking, there are very few rules. Dr. Garrison Ellam, Ph.D., owner of Four Monkey Winery, knows that well. We asked Ellam about his cheekily named wines and what’s in store for this new winery that’s already making waves.
CRUSHBREW: Can you tell us a bit about your background in winemaking? How and when did you get involved with Four Monkey Wines?
GARRISON ELLAM: I am formally trained in the science of fermentation and wine production. Four Monkey is an extension of our rum brand. With distribution channels in place, it was a natural extension.
CRUSHBREW: You pride yourself in using traditional methods mixed with large-scale equipment to make your wines. Can you tell our readers how you go about combing old and new, what those methods are, and why the mix is the best way to achieve the quality you wine you want?
GE: Traditional methods allow us to express our terroir fully. Being a larger small-scale winery, modern equipment allow us to do the process quicker, limiting the oxidation tone of both grape and juice.
C: While you use a high-end mechanized bottling system for your wines, you do all the labeling and packing by hand. Why is this important and what does it do for the quality of your brand?
GE: High-speed bottling allow us to get the product into the bottle with little to no contact with the atmosphere, limiting unwanted oxidation of the wine. We label by hand and pack by hand so that we can inspect each bottle for any possible problems before they reach the consumer.
C: Can you tell us a bit about your wines (maybe mention their names here, so readers can appreciate their catchiness/uniqueness) and what makes them unique? For example, some of your wines have a unique “soil” taste while others have a fresh fruity flavor. Can you tell us how you pick the flavor combinations you pick and how you decide what works well together?
GE: We produce four wines. Playful Monkey, named for our son, is a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine retains some jammy fruit notes at the front of the palette and moves throughout the entire palette range, with elements of tobacco, spice and leather tannins. Each wine represents the individual personality of the person for whom named. My son is in 100+ percentile for his age in height/size; he is big, bold and still playful Asst heart.
The Naughty Monkey is named for our daughter; this is a Moscato Bianco, sweet, clean refreshing, hints of perfume, spice, vanilla, apricot, melon, and mint. She is the kindest and most compassionate soul I know, so the wine expresses the true beauty of the grape, fitting for such a beautiful girl.