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.
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
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.”
Les Lunes / Populis
Shaunt Oungoulian and Diego Roig
Shaunt Oungoulian and Diego Roig produce two wines, Populis and Les Lunes Wine. With Populis, they purchase grapes from historic vineyards and multi-generational growers from Mendocino County. These wines are fresh, lively, fruit forward, and made in a playful style. In addition to making wine, they farm and manage over 8 ha of vineyards in Sonoma and Napa and are committed 100% to organic farming and restoring and preserving older and historic vineyards in those counties. Their Les Lunes Wines are made from these vineyards and the top sites from their growers in Mendocino County. The Les Lunes Wines show the more classic, refined, elegant, and ageable side of natural wine.
Their facility is literally the basement of Shaunt’s parents’ house in Orinda, just east of Berkeley. This allows them to produce wine without the interference of other wineries’ yeasts or influences as well as allowing them to age their wine for multiple vintages before release if needed.