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I'm a winemaker for The Dreaming Tree, the label founded by Dave Matthews. Here's what goes into making a celebrity wine.

I'm a winemaker for The Dreaming Tree, the label founded by Dave Matthews. Here's what goes into making a celebrity wine.
  • Grayson Stewart is the winemaker for The Dreaming Tree, a wine label founded by Dave Matthews.

  • Stewart has worked in wine his whole life and says he jumped at the opportunity to work with Dave.

  • The brand is sustainable, and Stewart's schedule varies based on the season and California weather.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Grayson Stewart, the winemaker for The Dreaming Tree from Sanger, California. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I grew up in California's Central Valley and discovered my passion for grape-growing and winemaking at an early age. My uncle who was a winemaker in Napa introduced me to the business.

I worked my first grape harvest before I was of legal drinking age, and I was inspired to pursue an enology degree, which led to me entering winemaking as my career.

I started out as a sugar tester at The Wine Group, where I oversaw taking vineyard samples for analysis in the lab. From there, I became a grape sampler, then a laboratory intern, and finally, an enologist.

I've been the full-time winemaker for The Dreaming Tree, the wine label of Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band, since March 2022.

I jumped at the opportunity to work with Dave and his label

Dave Matthews holding a glass of wine in front of his face
Dave Matthews with The Dreaming Tree wine.The Wine Group

Before working with Dave, I knew all of Dave Matthews Band's top hits, but now I know every song — it has really changed music for me. I've never met a musician before who has such dedication from their fans.

I realized how much Dave cares about his wine once I started working with him. Every celebrity wine brand works differently, but Dave is extremely invested in how his product tastes and looks, and if he doesn't like something, he's vocal about it. All wine blends and designs go through Dave before getting approved.

We've recently gone through a relaunch to make the brand more sustainable, as that was a priority of Dave's.

My hours vary based on the time of year

Spring is here, so we're currently working with the juice we crushed from last year's harvest, which will go into our 2023 vintage wines.

My days start around 7:30 a.m., and I spend a lot of time on the road, traveling between all our California wineries. There's definitely some wine tasting involved, but a lot has to happen before we get to the stage where we're tasting blends.

The end of summer is a particularly demanding time for me, as this is when we harvest and crush our grapes. We have to pick the grapes when they're at their optimal ripeness, and we're at the mercy of Mother Nature. Winemaking is different every year since the weather is subject to change, which is the most difficult part of the job.

Here's how we make our sustainable wine

The Dreaming Tree is now fully sustainable, from the wine inside the bottle to the bottle itself. Our practices protect wildlife in the vineyard, reduce pollutants, and create habitats for pollinators and beneficial insects.

The first step to making the wine is to pick the sustainably grown grapes at the optimal time for flavor and ripeness. Once at the winery, the grapes for the red wines are crushed with their skins to develop their dark colors and intense flavors.

When we get the desired color and flavor from the skins, they're pressed onto oak, where they finish something called primary and malolactic fermentation.

The grapes for our white and rosé wines are processed without skins and pressed carefully to maintain their delicate flavors. They're then fermented in stainless steel tanks, which impart no additional flavors to the wine.

Once we're fully happy with the developed flavors, we prepare the wine for bottling.

I have a number of great memories with Dave

a man drinking a glass of wine with Dave Matthews
Stewart and Matthews.The Wine Group

When Dave and I work together, we're always laughing.

Dave is personable and funny and definitely makes you feel at ease. He also really trusts my judgment and opinions as a winemaker, which is very important as we collaborate to produce great wines.

My favorite memory is when Dave dedicated the song, "Samurai Cop," to my newborn daughter. He was performing with his band at a concert when I was away at my daughter's birth. While on stage, he took a moment to congratulate us, welcome my daughter into the world, and dedicate the song to her. It was truly a magical moment and now every time I hear that song, I think of her.

My friends send me pictures of The Dreaming Tree on store shelves, letting me know that they're trying the wine, which is really cool. My name is on the back of the bottle alongside a poem from Dave.

I think wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone, and I love that I make a product people can try nationwide.

Read the original article on Business Insider