Interview with proprietor and winemaker, Henry Crowson of Crowson Winery
Crowson Winery is known for its non-interventionist approach to wine, which converges environmental and social energy into each of his bottles found in a small-town neighborhood of Johnson City, Texas.
Henry Crowson started working in Texas wine in 2014 at William Chris Vineyards. Despite starting behind the desk in a managerial position, he was always finding his way into the winery after hours. After transitioning to the winery full time in 2015, he was working to learn, absorb, and witness the fundamental growth of the Texas wine industry.
However, it wasn’t until 2015 that he took a sip from a Zinfandel that introduced him to non-interventionist wine made in Sonoma, California. Inspired by Tony Coturri’s zero-zero approach that could be traced from the 1960’s, he started chasing the same process and flavors ever since.
“That moment drinking that Zinfandel from Sonoma was like, man, this is the coolest wine I’ve ever had. I want to do more of this. So, in 2016, I asked my bosses for permission to buy some grapes, make my own wine, and that led to what would become my brand,” said Crowson.
As part of the brand for non-interventionist wine, it better defines the umbrella term of natural wine. Crowson explains the approach by painting a very simple picture. “If we had an ingredients list on the wine label, it’s just grapes. A lot of people call it zero-zero wine. Nothing added, nothing taken away,” said Crowson.
Other characteristics unique to the process result in cloudier wines and lower alcohol content provided by the fermented yeast that came out of the vineyards on the grapes themselves. It’s this process and final product where he finds the most joy to stay committed to the craft.
If anyone asks why he continues to make the wine he does, he’s honest in following his passion and sharing it with whoever is willing to discover it for themselves. Crowson defended his non-interventionist wine by saying, “I enjoy it and if anyone else likes it, that’s a really beautiful thing. But it matters what I enjoy, because I have to make it, I have to pour it and I sure do have to drink a lot of it.”
Put simply, he’s fully modest with his process behind and in front of his wines. So when Henry Crowson thought about the design for his label, he knew he wanted to reflect the love and simplicity that was at the forefront of his wine. In late 2016, he called his dad, a fellow teammate, and asked him to write down his signature 100 times, scan it, and email it back to him. After piecing together the best of the best curves and strokes, he created their two-piece logo that centers the bottle, greets you at the front door, and is even worn and poured by calligrapher himself.
“It’s really simple, and that’s what I wanted. It needs to look good. It needs to feel good. And although labels shouldn’t matter, it does to experience it in that moment,” said Crowson.
Crowson’s wines represent exactly what is that moment, taking in a new concept of terroir that goes beyond its physical location. The French term “terroir” means an “honest sense and place in time.” Crowson is dedicated to ensuring that each individual bottle provides an experience that takes on whatever environment the grapes encompassed.
“Terroir is everything about what happened to those grapes that year, if a farmer is experiencing a really happy time in their life, maybe those grapes can reflect that. Just like how some wines are meant for rainy days and some wines are meant for a celebration. It all just kind of goes back to that energy. So there’s so much of a wine that is the experience surrounding it,” said Crowson.
One of the unique experiences surrounding his wine is that he breaks boundaries, redefining how wine can be made and what it can represent and striving to bring a wine revolution to his brand.
I’d love to be well known for extreme degrees of transparency. And, you know, borderline recklessness. I think there’s a wildness to what we do, which I personally think is endearing. And I like to think that a lot of our guests enjoy that too. I love the idea that maybe we’re making provocative wine, wine that provokes thought or provokes conversation,” said Crowson.
As an aid to the conversation, Crowson provides evidence that there’s always something new to learn in wine making, wine story telling, and wine culture. Yet there was one unforeseen lesson that Crowson learned that affects us all.
When I first chose my career in wine, I thought entering in the wine industry was cool that I don’t provide a need, I provide a vice. And then a COVID happened. Then I realized, man, people really do depend on us. It’s not necessarily the need to drink, it’s the need to have a social beverage and I believe that our tasting room creates a really cool environment for that social interaction,” said Crowson.
Crowson invites you to schedule an appointment at their unassuming home and pull up a chair at his ten-foot tasting table to experience, sit down, and learn more about his approach to wine that will take in the energy of what his wines have to offer.