The story of life is pronounced by its embrace of death. Life is a tale of redemption in the face of certain demise, and grapes flourish only to tell the story of their unique qualities for, often, a short time. Lost Hills Ranch has its own path, one of restoration and ensuing renewal, that resonates just too damn well for us. Perched at between 1000 and 2200 feet in the Yorkville Highlands AVA, the slopes of the farm are encased in sandstone and schist, the latter being an intriguing parallel for many of our favorite French and Spanish wines.
The farm was originally generated as a growing grounds for Marietta Cellar founder Chris Bilbro. He found a special place for Grenache on the slope in 2002, where it remained until a planned re-planting scheme spelled certain doom for this wildly jammy and phenolic cluster of fruit. We found great pleasure in helping send it off, and with the graces of the farm’s new steward, Idlewild’s Sam Bilbro, we snagged a few tons for this years day wine, as well as a collaboratory beerwine blend with Ruth Lewandowski Wines.
Our day wine is a product of its changing environment. Selected in October and foot-treaded before resting on the skins, it began fermentation in the bins, before continuing at ambient temperatures in transit across the country to our winery in North Carolina. This process is a deviation from typical preservation methodologies, embracing purely natural and spontaneous fermentation upon the skins and stems, before being separated from them in its final moments of activity and moved into steel. We then aged it in 100% neutral oak for 4 months before bottling.
The intention of our vinification process was to allow the abundant natural tannins to pair with ample wild strawberry, star anise, steeped orange peel, sweet cherry juice and classic white peppercorn, a product of fostering its naturally-occurring wild yeast. The wine’s grip is purely from skin and stem tannins, as the pH remains naturally high and uncorrected. This wine was also bottled and cellared without sulfites, with the intention to not age the wine and to drink it fresh. Just 12% alcohol, the fruit and spice is not overwhelmed by the presence of alcohol. We dig drinking this wine in the sun with soft cow milk cheeses and fresh bitter lettuces.
Vineyard: Lost Hills Ranch
Varietal: 100% Grenache
Harvest: Mid-October 2019
Soil: Sandstone and Schist
Vinification: whole cluster fermentation at ambient temperatures in bins upon skins and stems; pressed into steel for end of fermentation; malolactic in neutral oak for 4 months
Bottling: no added sulfites
Aging: Drink Fresh