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Houses Of The Unholy: Maynard James Keenan

While fans whine about the lack of a Tool album, Maynard James Keenan’s doing a grape job down in Arizona.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GO INTO WINE-MAKING?

“I don’t know! I think it’s one of those things that kind of just finds you. Looking at the land around northern Arizona, it just seemed like it had potential for grapes. It was a wine-growing region at the turn of the century, but then Prohibition came along, and the Depression, and World War II, which interrupted a return to planting grapes.”

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT KIND OF WINES TO PRODUCE?

“I have a lot of varietals planted – Italian and Spanish, mainly – but a few French, of course. Having all of those things planted and just seeing them through from start to finish, you start to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Pinot Noir doesn’t work. Zinfandel and Primitivo don’t work. But almost everything else does.”

WAS IT A BIT OF TRIAL AND ERROR?

“You have to go with what the soil’s going to give you – it’s Mother Nature, you can’t force your will on her. You just put a bunch in, and in a way just guess. But, you know, looking at the soil, looking at the area, it seemed like the wise bet would be something southern Rhône, something Italian and something Spanish, and that proved to be true. So it’s being aware of what the soil looks like.”

WHAT’S A TYPICAL HARVEST DAY LIKE ON YOUR VINEYARDS?

“If we’re picking local fruit, within a 30-minute drive from our northern sites, then we’ll pick that morning. And then, depending on the temperature and condition of the fruit, process it that day. But generally, I’ll put it in a cold room or leave it in the cold truck overnight to do a cold soak. Assuming we’ve got fruit from southern Arizona, it’ll probably have sat in the truck overnight, having been tipped in the previous morning, so it’ll get about 12-18 hours of cold room sitting. So at 7.30am, we’ll get all the equipment set up, and then de-stem and process into bins that morning. A typical day is just an early morning, because you never know what’s going to happen!”

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