Way Outside the Box With Greg Crone
~ By Maurajane Rogers
What we’re talking about here is simple: the nectar of the gods, the reason for living, the most civilized thing in the world, the blood of Christ, vin, vino, wine. Wine is proof that God loves us (Genesis 9:20) and we all know that Frankie “felt bad for people who didn’t drink; when they woke up in the morning, that was as good as they were going to feel all day.” It is this universal world and class-crossing idolatry and devotion to the vine and grapes that has had its grips on Greg Crone for, well, for some time now.
A Kiwi who has found his home away from home right here on the shores of the south, Crone puts forth a bottle of wine known and well-loved in many corners of the globe. It’s a long way from his native Aotearoa but that poses little challenge to Crone with export markets in the US, UK, eNZed, Australia and Canada. The bio reads easy enough…boy grows up, heads to Uni, gets restless, needs walk-around-money, lands a gig slinging wine and getting schooled on the beauty thereof. Fast forward a few years when the wanderwinelust comes into focus and Crone realizes his mother may have been on to something when she told him he better find a way to make his love of wine put money in his pocket instead of always emptying it. Energized passion for wine was revealed when he was brought on and eventually positioned himself to open the US market for New Zealand’s most prominent winery, Brancott Vineyards. After half a decade stateside and fueled by (every)man’s desire to escape ‘the man,’ Crone branched out on his own in 2003 with Liquid Brands, a parent company of Croney Estates and Cigar Box Wines, with boutique operations in winery and international vineyard contracts. Travels to his owned and leased vineyards in New Zealand, Argentina and Chile throughout the year keep him busy, operations and oversight and such, and while you won’t find him out in the vineyard stomping around in his gummies, you will find him producing a wine that when you take a sip, you nod your head. His fervent wish is to put the best product in front of everyone, to strip back the pomp, allow the circumstance to occur, and be buoyed, complemented by the drink.
For some, there is a ceremony and a dance with wine, before it even passes your lips. Crone says, to some degree, ta hell with that. Wine is meant to be enjoyed and delighted in, not to be the reason for it all. Life is difficult, sometimes most times. Does wine have to be difficult as well? Crone says no. “Too often there are too many people mystifying it all…when y’get down to brass tacks, it’s fermented fruit.” Well, that seems simple enough, but not exactly enticing. Yet one taste of the Cigar Box and you may find yourself like me ~ cracking the bottle and then realizing far too quickly that there is a great purple smile waiting in the mirror. That makes it sound like I have a problem, but that’s not actually the case. The Cigar Box wine, whether Malbec, Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc is, much like its owner; endearing, accessible, engaging. The name begs the question; is there an unrequited love of a leaf? A sidebar cigar obsession? Nah, just the whiff of an empty humidor, after a tasting one day seemed to be the perfect label and his Malbec, hugely popular in Massachusetts and Florida, is finding its way as deep as Tennessee and has turned and headed west to Texas. Pretty good for a 70-acre vineyard cropped at less than 4 tons per acre (2-4 less than the industry standard per acre).
Sitting in the office of Crone, there is an energy buzzing that makes it clear he is an individual intensely set on making the best of this so-called journey, that of life. Newspapers from hither and yon, some semblance of world news on the flat screen, muted, of course, and a social network on the Mac. Here’s a guy who doesn’t want to get bogged down in lofty descriptions and high societal unfulfilled promises of such far-reaching and illogical tags and associations (“hints of rabbit fur,” or “wet stone”) for a fermented fruit. That sort of thing is always a disappointment for Crone who has a true guileless love of wine. It has never been his desire to intimidate, confuse and/or frustrate the consumer. He will continue to aim ‘to make the best wine without snobbery, without being too ponderous…to make a tasty beverage that aids conviviality.” While the Cigar Box wine may be made with the ‘wine drinker’ in mind (read: sit down lovers of big wood), the latest from Liquid Brands fully embraces go big or go home with the BattleAxe Malbec. A very limited edition, this is a colossal swallow. Perfectly timed for Mother’s Day…or perhaps it’d be better gifted on Secretary’s Day. Right, why don’t you just take it home and enjoy it? That way no one gets hurt. Just make sure you let this one b r e a t h e. It’s big.
Personally, I like to drink wine. I may tend not to wholly trust someone who does not like to drink wine. That’s a mystery and a whole conversation in and of itself. Wine fosters appreciations — of food, of company, of humor. Greg Crone produces a wine that is quaffable, that is affordable and enjoyable, without being trite and cliché, and a wine that you can enjoy with one friend or a few, or ‘simply sitting alone in your room.’ After all…YOU’RE the boss.
LIQUID BRANDS, LLC.
320 Country Way
Scituate MA 02066, USA