Winemaker Janis Mikan: "Like with kids, all wines are special!"

Winemaker Janis Mikan is known for his ability to create a wide variety of wine flavors, but only a few will know that the first insights into wine making took place many years ago when he visited a sailor fleet in Bordeaux, France, and watched wine being made there. Now the wines and spirits of the winery "Cremon" are highly appreciated in the Latvian market, receiving awards and praise from both experts and guests.

What is your daily routine?

There are many jobs and they are all very different. I help my wife, Dace Vanaga-Mikane, with work at Krimulda Manor, overseeing construction throughout Latvia, and the time left after all of my primary responsibilities goes to the winery Cremon.

How did you get to the idea of wine making?

 Laughing likes to say that for ages my wife was forced to make wine, even though the manor had its own wine and could attract more visitors, including tourists. Therefore, in 2008, the first attempt was made and already in 2009, the Alcoholic Beverage Act was passed and I was the first to start and complete all the necessary documents to do so legally.

Have you tried making other drinks like beer?

No, I haven't tried brewing beer at the time when there were relatively few starters, now, like wineries, there are a lot of small breweries in Latvia.

But here at Cremon, I also make various intermediates - liqueurs and spirits.

How were the ingredients selected?

We basically use what grows in the garden. At first the volumes were smaller and the knowledge was not so great, so I went through the process of making wine step by step.

Gradually we find the wine varieties that are delicious and in demand.

Do you remember the first wine made?

I remember - black currant wine. It was a pretty sad story (laughs). Lessons are learned from mistakes. I did a lot of writing, doing studying. The synopses are still stored from day one, every year, when I start to make the next "batch", then I take notes and read them because I have to refresh my knowledge all the time.

What is your favorite taste?

They change, often seasonally. The way other people taste it is something else, because the taste buds are different, so I do not argue about it at all, but I do not bring out my own favorites. But I work very hard on quality because it is an indicator not only of myself but of those who enjoy wine.

Quality comes with the time it takes to make Cremon wine?

At Cremon, wines are made during the year or even longer. It may be ready quit faster, but the rooms are large and allow me to hold the wine longer and take a really finished product out of the barrel.

Who else helps with wine making? Are there any quality testers?

The winery also has an assistant attached, but there is no shortage of testers (laughs). The Milly shop/cafe is right next door and the flow of tourism is almost daily, so all you have to do is to offer, then there will be people to taste from morning till evening (laughing).

But who really determines that the new wine tastes good enough?

That is why every year there are competitions where these wines are tasted and the place where each wine ranks, compared to other winemakers, is a definite winner and a definite opinion on each taste. It has to be said, however, that every year, Cremon wine, which receives awards and accolades, continues to grow!

Wine is also getting more…

… There are so many berries in Latvia and you have to work with what has grown in the garden. The key is to create flavors of Latvian delicacies and promote the local.

Which award are you most proud of?

With this year's 1st place for Lāceņu  wine.

The award surprised you?

Yes, I was surprised.

Because a lot of competitors?

Competition is felt, but it is very healthy. I can't say that Zilvers Janis, a winemaker on the other side of the river, is my competitor. We turn to each other for advice, discuss the various nuances of winemaking, and gain only positive emotions.

You also offer excursions. What excursions include?

The story of the Cremon winery and of course the wine. Most of the time I give to taste 3-4 different flavors of wine and some liqueur and finally a stronger glass of alcohol. The key is to enjoy everything in moderation, as taste buds may not feel everything.

What are the future plans?

I do not expect to be surprised by the new flavors, but for the time being, some wines are still better quality, others are maintaining it and it is a great job. There is no art to produce, the art is to realize it and to achieve maximum quality.

Nor is everything so simple, there have been fates that failed to live up to expectations, but the main thing is not to give in to the first setbacks and work as long as the desired taste succeeds. If wine, which tastes unsuccessful, was immediately rejected by hand, we would be seeted next to emty table.

What is the trend of buying the most?

In the summer, when warmer, the wines are very popular towards the autumn, when it gets more windy and cold, then people buy more liqueurs and calvados.