Wavy Wines started as a friendly conversation between Eliot Kessel and Jude Zasadzki while celebrating Eliot’s daughters birthday in 2019. Eliot and Jude were drinking natural wines from all over the world trying to fathom how they could start a project that begins to resemble these styles of ‘Vin de Soif’.
After many conversations about where they should start, they came across an affordable source of Pinot Gris from an organic vineyard in Chico, California. Now they work primarily with Frontenac, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Syrah, and Palomino grapes, as well as some apple varieties for different co-fermentation experiments. The results are wildly expressive wines that incorporate a delightful drinkability… an easy summer wine for any season.
After connecting over a long-time love of low-intervention wines, Ben Jordan (Early Mountain Vineyards) and Sebastian Zutant (D.C. wine director and restauranteur) produced the first vintage of their joint project Lightwell Survey in 2015. They have a creative perspective on the historic landscape of Virginia wine and are constantly exploring new ways to express the terroir of the Shenandoah Valley. In their own words, “we aim for a bullseye yet prefer to land slightly off center.” Rounding out the team is Sebastian’s brother Jay Zutant (business operations) , Julian Caustrita (brand and marketing) and John DeNapoli (labels). Ben seeks out higher elevation, cooler sites in northwest Virginia. The wines are fermented with native yeasts, no to minimal additional sulfur, and are only filtered if required for stability.
Bitter beverage enthusiasts and Bay Area locals Max Rudsten and Ben Flajnik came together create the first San Francisco fernet and launched Fernet Francisco in 2015. Both had a beverage background and wanted to create a product that celebrated San Francisco’s love of fernet (the city drinks 25% of the US consumption of fernet and you will find more fernet on tap than anywhere else in the country). Master distiller–and biochemist, winemaker, and bartender–Farid Dormishian rounds out the team with his twenty years of experience. Like traditional Italian amaros, the trio will not reveal the full list of 12 local herbs, but will confirm that they use rhubarb, bay leaves, orange peels, and mint. Their distinct botanical list is macerated in local grape-based brandy and organic grain spirit.
In Northeast Philadelphia there’s a two-room urban winery making wine, mead, and cider using locally sourced fruit, and it’s all kosher. Camuna Cellars is the project of Eli Silins, a former California winemaker who moved to Pennsylvania with his wife in 2019 and used his creativity and expertise to explore local wine grapes and produce lighter styles, including experimenting with grapes, apples, honey and their different combinations. Eli’s overall aim is to “support best practice agriculture and minimal intervention in the cellar, and work with nature to co-create interesting fermented beverages that are good for the land, the body, and the soul.”
Kalchē Wine Cooperative
Kathline Chery, Justine Belle Lambright, and Grace Meyer established Kalche Wine Cooperative to bring transformative change to the world of wine and business ownership. In their own words: “Kalchē Wine Co exists to broaden the definition of wine. Paramount in this shift is addressing and dismantling racism, sexism, and colonialism in wine, which we are doing by amplifying and advocating for historically abused and marginalized voices in the industry. We have opted for slow, deliberate, and democratic growth by forming cooperatively, and will help lead the way to a new, sustainable, worker-designed economy. Our farming and production practices pay tribute to the pancultural origins of winemaking by working with and preserving the bounty that our environment provides for us. We get creative with hybrid grapes, local fruits, and various fermentation methods to maximize resourcefulness, limit environmental impact, and minimize waste. Join Kalchē in ditching the status quo and exploring The Next World of Wine™.”
Max Rose started Chertok Wines in 2017 with a mission to create New England country wine. He started out sourcing hybrid grapes and apples from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. He found that there were not enough vines to reliably source from and decided to plant his own. In 2021 Max bought a farm, Belmont Orchard, and moved his winery to Shoreham, Vermont. He is incorporating apples from his own orchard along with fruit from other local farms and will continue to buy grapes until his own vineyards are producing fruit.
Belmont Orchard is around 20 acres on an east-facing hillside. Currently 16 acres is dedicated to apple trees planted in the 70’s. There are 6 acres of vines planted within the last couple years: Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Noir, Frontenac Blanc, Crescent, Itasca, and Louise Swenson. The plan is to pull back the acreage on the orchard, removing trees that are in terrible shape or are in poor locations, and have an equal split of trees to vines. The apple trees will also be grafted to cider varieties. The soils are Vergennes rocky clay, slate, and pockets of farmington loam. There is a flock of Brahma chickens helping curtail pests and Max would like to add sheep, geese, perhaps some goats and ducks in the future.
Max takes the lead and manages most of the property by himself with support from friends and family. All understory/undervine work is done with a hand scythe for less soil compaction and to rely less on diesel, although he does have a mower for the heavier duty jobs. Max makes his own liquid manures from comfrey and stinging nettle.
After years of fostering a love for natural wine in the Bay Area, Cassidy Miller committed to the industry in 2020 and signed on to be a harvest intern for Vinca Minor. It was a destructive fire season in California and the winery was experimenting with apples to work around the intensely smoke tainted harvest. This inspired the creation of Buddy/Buddy, a project focusing on co-ferments of grapes, apples, and pears. Cassidy sources organic or biodynamically farmed fruit mostly from the Mendocino area. The project is spontaneously fermented, unfined, unfiltered, and uses minimal to no sulfur. While the first vintage was a collaboration with Vinca Minor, Buddy/Buddy continues to grow as an independent label. Cassidy still works out of the Vinca Minor space in Berkley.
Rob has spent many years around whiskey and just couldn’t let go of the question, “why are there thousands of grapes used in wine but there is the one rye and the one yellow corn etc in American whiskey? Why do virtually all Bourbons have the same half dozen flavor notes? What do heirloom grains taste like?” This began his journey to answer these questions by doing the work himself. Rob has dug in deep trying to better understand and interact with plants both cultivated and wild, wildlife and how agriculture impacts them.
This brand is dedicated to whiskies distilled from low-starch, high-nutrient, heirloom rye from CA/AZ/OR regenerative farmers such as Fritz Durst (Yolo County, CA), Camas Mills (Willamette Valley, OR), Reed Hamilton (Grass Valley, CA), Admiral Maltings (Alameda, CA), Grain R&D (Phoenix, AZ)
This brand is a pursuit of diversity of flavor, the historical context of corn, and the modern necessity to support families growing their ancient heirloom using their ancient practices of compost, companion-planting, low-irrigation, no-sprays, embracing wildlife, respecting soil, and respecting the trade. These corns have far less starch than commercial corn (it takes about 40% more heirloom grain to make as much alcohol as does commercial grain) but that means starch has not pushed out micronutrients and proteins which translate to much more flavor.
C. Cassis is made by Rachael Petach in the Hudson Valley, just a few miles from where their blackcurrants are grown.
Rachael fell for the spirit while WWOOFing on organic farms in France, and years later, decided to make a new interpretation that goes big on herbaceous, almost savory flavor.
U.S. cultivation of blackcurrants to a halt in the beginning of the 20th century when it was discovered that the plant was a potential threat to white pine and it wasn’t until 2003 that a New York botanist made blackcurrants his mission, and the ban was overturned in New York state.
Kirk Sutherland started Erde Wines after having worked during several harvests in Oregon. He decided to try by himself and founded his small scale winery in 2020.
RockFilter represents so many of the things we are excited about in spirits; grain-to-glass, heirloom varieties, organic farming—RockFilter has them all. Christian Myrah, is a fourthgeneration Spring Grove resident whose ancestors helped found the town. Christian raises all the organic grains for RockFilter’s small batch spirits on his 350-acre family farm. He mills at Schech’s Mill, the oldest water-powered mill with its original equipment in the state a mile up the road from the farm. Behind every variety of RockFilter whiskey, there’s a Spring Grove story.
As Mainers, Ras winemakers have a deep connection with wild blueberries. As they also loved wines, their choice of making blueberry wine is not a surprise.
Blueberries have been growing for 10 000 years in the region and Ras’ goal is to make wine that will connect drinkers to this beautiful fruit. Their approach to winemaking is to use local ingredients to produce wines that express the specificities of their region of origin.
American Wine Project
American Wine Project was born from Erin Rasmussen ‘s willingness to give a greater place to American grapes in the wine industry.
She first got into the wine making world when she interned in a winery in Napa Valley. After working in Californian wine industry and studying viticulture in New Zealand, Erin decided to come back to her home state of Wisconsin and founded American Wine Project. She works with local grape growers with the goal to shed light on the lesser known local varieties, such as La Crosse, St. Pepin or Marquette.
“In 2016, Dan Marioni went to the Coturri Winery, a historic wine making gem in Glen Ellen, to see what harvest was all about and he essentially never left. Dan began working with Nic Coturri, Tony’s son, making wines under the Sonoma Mtn Winery label. The duo created a philosophy that honors the new and the old world, while being uncompromising about additions and subtractions in the winery. This challenge blooms a variety of wines and styles that lean into each vintage and work uniquely with each site. Sonoma Mtn Winery closed up shop in 2019 and Dan launched Marioni Wine. Before catching the wine bug, Dan graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in mechanical engineering. Sonoma has been his family’s roots for five generations.”
Ryan Lawrence, Clare Byrne, and Thomas Giddings
Suncliffe gin highlights local plant species, combining a trio of native Arizona juniper—one-seed, shaggy, and alligator—with a blend of wild-foraged botanicals, including ponderosa pine bark, manzanita, and western elderflower. Curiously complex and aromatic, Suncliffe’s juniper berries are shaken from the twisted trees of Sedona—a slice of high desert beloved by mystics and adventurers—then sun-dried in a landscape marked by energy vortexes, soaring cliffs, and the endless Arizona sky.
Chenoa Ashton-Lewis and Will Basanta
5th generation Oakland native and 3rd generation winemaker, Chenoa Ashton-Lewis, and cinematographer, Will Basanta, got fully bitten by the winemaking bug in October of 2019 when last minute they bombed up to Sonoma Mountain from Los Angeles, on the news that Chenoa’s family vineyard still had unsold grapes that were quickly turning to bird fodder. With the help of family and friends they jumped in, picking and crushing to make an experimental Syrah and Pinot Noir co-ferment. The single barrel was then stored in a tent for 8 months on the family’s organic, 50-year-old vineyard, planted by Chenoa’s grandparents in the early 1970s.
In 2020 when quarantine hit, Chenoa and Will once again escaped to Glen Ellen. In the early spring while wandering the remains of the Pinot Noir vineyard destroyed in the 2017 Nuns Fire, Chenoa and Will found new vines alive and growing horizontally, buried and abandoned in a tall uncut jungle of grass. Inspired, they immediately and painstakingly walked row by row discovering and staking the new vines. To their surprise, by the early summer 160 vines that were once seemingly dead had been reclaimed and were bearing clusters of grapes.
Through this magical discovery of fermentation and natural renaissance, they became even more fascinated with the resilience of nature and connected with neighbor Tony Coturri on Sonoma Mountain.
For harvest 2020, Chenoa and Will were shepherds to their first commercial vintage at the historic Coturri Winery, introducing their label Ashanta Wines.
Ashanta Wines abides by zero:zero, traditional winemaking practices and makes a full range of bespoke wines. From experimental multi-fruit co-ferments, Pet-Nats, skin contact whites, field blends and elegant California Reds. Our wines are terroir driven expressions of Pachamama and her seasons.
Unfined. Unfiltered. Wild yeast fermentations. Zero S02.
We source our fruit from family-operated vineyards and work with growers who farm with organic and/or biodynamic practices. We hand pick some of our growers’ vineyards and sometimes, we forage for wild fruit in both the wilderness and urban spaces.
Ashanta Wines is currently located in Sebastopol, CA and Los Angeles, as they work with vineyards along the spine of California’s expansive landscape.
Woods Beer & Wine Co.
Kyle Jeffrey and Jim Woods and Matt Coelho
Woods focuses on making wines with little or no sulfur, and without any fining, filtering, or cultured yeasts. Woods wines are made from carefully cultivated grapes, sourcing from vineyards that are biodynamic, organic, or dry-farmed. Unique grapes such as Corvina, Valdiguie, Chenin Blanc, and Carignan showcase a breadth of style and creativity. Woods also uses more classic California grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Zinfandel, but with novel techniques like skin-contact fermentation and minimal-extraction saignée.
Little Trouble Wine Co.
Jennifer Reinhardt and Sara Morgenstern
Jennifer Reinhardt and Sara Morgenstern first met back in 2016 while working for a Sonoma Coast winemaker and grower. Jen was the assistant winemaker, Sara the sales director. After getting to know each other over bottles shared at Casino Bar and Grill in Bodega, they quickly realized their mutual love of bright, fresh wines, low intervention vineyard practices, fluffy dogs and eventually each other. Jen’s family took in Sara, an east coast transplant, and many a holiday was shared together. While joking for years about starting a label together, dreams became reality in 2020 when Jen discovered Stampede Vineyard in Lodi. Their goal is to make wines that highlight the fantastic vineyards we are privileged to work with.
Since 1901, Jen’s family has been in the food industry of California, most specifically raising ducks for restaurants in the Bay Area.
The winemaking bug bit in the spring of 2011, and that autumn Jen completed her first harvest in Sonoma County, California. Over the next few years, she completed six additional harvests, to the Sonoma Coast, down to Chile, back to Sonoma Coast, down to Australia, and back again. Harvest number eight brought in a new meaning, when she started her own label, Raft Wines.
These days, Jen continues to run Liberty Duck, Raft Wines, and Et Al wines. She’s roommates with Jack the dog and Mike the husband.
Sara’s journey has taken her from lab technician to wine director, national sales broker to winemaker. She has made or sold wine in California, New York, Florida and New Zealand.
Sara became enamored with low intervention wines when she first started working as a wine buyer in San Francisco. Growing up with a park ranger mom, environmental issues were always important and tied in directly with her passions in the wine industry. Her goal with Little Trouble is to express fun and transparent expressions of the fantastic vineyards LT works with, while getting in the way of nature as little as possible.
In addition to Little Trouble Wines, she is currently the Director of Operations for Ruth Lewandowski as well as the founder/winemaker of Killer Quail Wines. Sara is also a horse girl and mom to Ham the dog.
Rosalind Reynolds farms grapes organically and makes wine without additives.
She work within a likeminded community of grape-growers and winemakers in Northern California at the PAX facility including beloved Martha Stoumen, Patrick Cappiello, and Pax and Pamela Mahle. 2018 marked the first year Rosalind set out to create something of her own, albeit with the welcome support of the talented people who surround her.
Wine, at its core, is about community. Countless hands are involved in every glass you drink – the growers who planted cuttings three generations ago; the field workers who prune the vines in winter, tend them throughout the year and pick the grapes come autumn; the winemakers and interns who footstomp those grapes, forklift bins of fermenting fruit from tank to press, and fill barrels with wine to rest before bottling; and the distributors, restaurateurs, and sommeliers who help bring that bottle to you. An incredible amount of labor and love goes into filling a glass with wine, and Rosalind is constantly reminded of and grateful for the community who makes all of it possible. She could not do this alone, nor would she want to.
Similarly, at the end of the day, wine should be enjoyed with your own community of friends and family. Rosalind aims to make fresh, bright wines that taste good, encourage thoughtful discussion, and ultimately bring people together.
Buona Notte Wines
Buona Notte is very much a family endeavor. The team consists of father and business partner, Jeff Markel, and mother, Peggy Markel, as the culinary insperation. Last but not least, there’s winemaker and owner, Graham Markel.
From an early age Graham learned how to cook at his mother’s Tuscan culinary school from some of the best chefs in Italy. At 21 he got my first cooking job at The Kitchen back in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado. He moved over to bartending after a year and began learning about wine and cocktails. This is where the idea of crafting my his beverages was sparked.
Graham graduated from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and got a job at Antica Terra Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. For seven years he worked under Antica Terra’s Maggie Harrison and Hiyu Wine Farm’s Nate Ready. He learned many things from those two, but the number one thing he learned was to think deeply about winemaking and how to add beauty to every step of the process. No matter how arduous or tiring, every action must be taken to make the best wine possible.
Living at Hiyu Wine Farm in Hood River opened his eyes to the many winemaking possibilities that there were on offer in the Gorge. There are so many microclimates creating different opportunities to explore fun, exciting varieties. Gewurztraminer from the bluffs on Underwood, Mencia from Mosier, and of course the Sangiovese from east of The Dalles resonated the most.
Many people say that if you squint hard enough, the rolling hills of The Dalles look somewhat like the hills of Chianti. It reminded Graham of some wild hybrid of the American West and Tuscany; two places near and dear to his heart. The opportunity was too excellent to pass up. It was time for him to make his own wine.
In the snow-capped volcanoes, rolling hills, and big rivers of the Pacific Northwest, they have found gastronomic poetry. Oregon has a deep food and wine tradition, driven by the unique culinary culture of Portland and the world famous wines of the Willamette Valley. It’s the Buona Notte mission to add to that lineage.
Graham still loves to cook, and is always looking to push the boundaries of creativity in the world of food and wine. It’s his pleasure to capture this time and place in the best bottle of wine I can make.
Alice Jun and John Limb
More on Hana Makgeolli can be found here.
Meredith Bell and Luke Wylde
Statera Cellars is owned and operated by two friends, Meredith Bell and Luke Wylde. Their mission is to make delicious, honest Chardonnay from the most distinct vineyards in their region. They are the first winery in the Willamette Valley to exclusively make Chardonnay—they love the grape and want to showcase its potential and diversity in the Pacific Northwest. Their wines are made using natural and traditional winemaking practices, resulting in wines that are compelling and markedly alive. All of their fruit is sourced from vineyards with whom they have long-term contracts with, sometimes empowering these growers to transition to organics, while ensuring that all of the workers associated with their project are paid a living wage.
Both Luke and Meredith make a bit of wine on their own in addition to the wines they coproduce for Statera.
Lares is a form of creative exploration for Luke. This small label gives them the space to lean on what they’ve learned over the years and to create new things because of that experience. Ultimately, they want to make wine in their own way, in a style that’s not dictated by representations of anything but their own curiosity. Working with grapes that are either new to them as a winemaker or using them in ways unfamiliar to my winemaking acumen.
Old World Winery
Old World Winery is a small, family owned and operated winery. Using grapes from our 100 year old organic vineyards, we create “natural wines” that reflect our family history and the traditional winemaking (old world) practices in Sonoma County.
Pastoral winemaker and proprietor, Darek Trowbridge, has 20+ years of hands on experience in the art and science of vineyard management, grape production, and natural winemaking. His passion is inviting nature into his winemaking. His processes are simple and direct and eliminates the need for any manufactured (man made) chemicals. This process involves effort and shepherding but not manipulation.
Chad Hinds and Wolfgang Weber
“We focus on low intervention wines that reflect a sense of place and time. We are minimalists in the cellar, and in the vineyard. Our wines are dry, unfined, unfiltered, and with no sulfites added. Just foot crushed grapes, settled in old wood, and bottled by hand at the proper time.”
Margins Wine produces low-intervention wines using grapes from underrepresented regions, vineyards, and varietals. We are part of the growing movement in California to make wines from organically farmed vineyards using little to no additives during the winemaking process, thereby showcasing the vineyards the grapes came from.
Much like people living on the ‘margins of society,’ vineyards can be outcasts too. Most consumers of wine are only familiar with a handful of grapegrowing regions and types of wine. Margins draws attention to vineyards and varietals throughout northern and central California that find themselves on the margins without the recognition they deserve.
Margins Wine is a small winemaking project of Megan Bell, a winemaker living and working in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Prior to settling on the central coast of California, Megan received her BS in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis and apprenticed in wineries and vineyards in Napa, the Livermore Valley, the Willamette Valley, Central Otago (NZ), and the Loire Valley (France).
Chad Hinds and Michelle Westbrook Hinds
Iruai Winery (“ear-oo-eye” … the artist formerly known as Methode Sauvage) was started in 2013 by Chad and Michelle Westbrook Hinds in Berkeley, CA as a traveling natural wine project, before laying down roots in the mythical Shasta-Cascade mountains of Siskiyou County.
Trading in the urban winery hustle for the vigneron life, we are exploring avant garde vineyard planting and rehabilitation techniques using the permaculture methods laid out by Masanobu Fukuoka, while formulating our own “chaos organics” method of re-enchanting the land. Truly unlike anywhere else in California, Western Siskiyou County feels like a cross between Switzerland and Montana, cut with a rain shadow from Mount Shasta that divides it starkly between high mountain prairie and dense alpine forests.
Finding ourselves in largely untested grape growing territory, with high elevations and a continental climate, we have turned Iruai into exploration and celebration of esoteric varieties that flourish in the Alps of Europe. While we work to grow our Western Siskiyou County estate projects, we purchase fruit and lease vineyards throughout the Shasta-Cascade, from the Trinity Alps of California to the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon.
We seek to make wine with a sense of place by employing no additives, and removing no character. Our goal in the vineyard is to let the vines thrive like they would in the wild, and in the cellar, to shepherd each ferment through its own natural development and evolution.
California is my home, and I seek to express wines that represent my land with purity and precision. I have chosen to work with sun-loving grapes: either those historic to California Viticulture, or those that flourish and maintain elegance in California’s warmth, such as Carignane and Nero d’Avola. I utilize natural, traditional winemaking practices I learned while apprenticing in Italy and Southern France. And most importantly, to truly respect my Californian roots, I ensure my vineyards are farmed in such a way that healthy ecosystems are created and maintained.
Ruth Lewandowski Wines
After working at Binner in Alsace for several years, Evan Lewandowski moved back to Utah to start making his own wine. Using fruit grown at Fox Hill Vineyards and Testa Vineyards in Mendocino county, Evan begins fermentation in California then transports his fermenting juice in a refrigerated U-Haul to his home in Salt Lake City where he completes the fermentation, aging, and bottling process.
When asked to express his viewpoint on organic winemaking, Evan responds: “A winegrower working incessantly in his/her vines, with a mind focused both on the sky above and the soil below, not just the fruit zone, will naturally come to deeply know their vines and their specific place and inevitably seek to eradicate those things that destroy in favor of choosing to support and encourage life. It must start with these connections in the vineyard. Wine made by these people, the ones earnestly and honestly seeking to know their farms, in the end will be organic wine to me.”