The Pursuit of Perfection

Ralph Hertelendy recently received a 99 point score for his 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, making this wine his label’s highest-rated to date. Of course Hertelendy is thrilled, but never one to rest on his laurels, the vintner of distinguished Hungarian ancestry hopes to one day achieve a perfect score. “This pursuit of perfection – in every single detail of my wines – is what sets me apart in this industry,” said Hertelendy. “I actually lose sleep over the winemaking process.”He admits that his perfectionist tendencies can be both a blessing and a curse. “On one hand, it forces me to continue to want to improve, even for things that most people wouldn’t think need improvement; however, it’s a hindrance because I’ll take extra time and effort to complete a task to ensure every detail is perfect, which can cause lots of frustration with everyone who deals with me. I don’t know how my wife Lauren or my assistant Brianna can put up with me.”

The annual winemaking cycle involves many steps and decisions, each of which Hertelendy deliberates fully, from farming principles, optimal picking time, and phenol structure during fermentation, to which French and Hungarian cooperages to choose, and which intricate design to use on his dramatic labels. (His wines are as well known for their boldness as they are for the labels: the Chardonnay label changes color; his Audere red blend label glows in the dark; his Heavy Metal red blend label features augmented reality (AR) animation.) “There are just too many variables to list,” said Hertelendy. “Every step involves a detail that needs to be maximized to the fullest. It is fair to say that all of our wines are handcrafted with the utmost love and care, with the pursuit of excellence in mind.”

              

Hertelendy works closely with winemaking consultant Phillip Titus during all phases – a collaborative relationship that Hertelendy greatly values; blending is Hertelendy’s favorite part of the process. “There’s nothing more exciting to me than sitting down in front of a bunch of empty wine glasses adding a little bit of this, taking away a little bit of that, and discovering the perfect blend. These sessions include a lot of creativity, which is very fulfilling on many levels from a farming, artistic, and scientific perspective.”Though Hertelendy has been invited to showcase and serve his wines to celebrities and professional athletes at Emmy, Oscar, and Espy events, he said that his wife Lauren is the VIP whose opinion he cares about the most. “My wife is the most notable person in my life, and she enjoys all my wines. Whatever I have leftover, I am able to offer to the public.”

Story By: Fran Miller // Photos Courtesy of Hertelendy Vineyards

For More Information:

www.hertelendy.com