Support your independent farmer! Choose locally sourced fare! So goes the gastronomic rallying cry in recent years. You are what you eat. And drink.
That said, the wine industry has also risen in support of locally owned vineyards-especially those wineries that practice environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices with an emphasis on natural methods of production that preserve the environment and renew the soil.
There’s a Native American Indian proverb that goes something like this: “Treat the earth well : It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors . We borrow it from our children.”
Two vineyards, one in California’s Napa Valley and the other in Washington State, seem to have incorporated this philosophy into their wine making traditions.
St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery proves that big does not necessarily entail a nameless and faceless corporation. This approximately 1515 acre vineyard based in Rutherford, at California’s famed Napa Valley, is Skalli family owned and is certified Napa Green.
Only grapes grown on the St. Supery estate are used to create estate wines. A little under two thirds of the land is left unplanted because greater spacing between vines allows them to better thrive. This practice also preserves the fertility of the land.
Water is recycled at the Rutherford Estate and the Dollarhide property uses only rainfall reclaimed water. Natural methods of pest control are used in place of pesticides and the byproducts of the wine making process-grape stems, skins and stems are used to fertilize the soil. All these practices come together at the Dollarhide Estate to create a microcosm of an environment in balance. Fauna, vegetation and other forms of wildlife thrive on the estate. Even the Audubon Society visits the property during their annual bird census.
The resulting wines? The single vineyard, hand harvested and double sorted 2012 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot Rutherford, Napa Valley consisting of 99% Merlot
and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% French oak with 51% new French oak for 19 months bursts with ripe berries and plums with hints of coffee as well as balanced oak. A wonderful candidate for aging.
The estate blend Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc presents with a gorgeous citrus and lemon bouquet followed by pronounced notes of orange, lemon peel and pear as well as a long finish. The 2013 Napa Valley Estate Moscato shines with sunny yellow and pale lime green hues, fresh notes of sweet ripe peaches, apricots and honeydew and is perfect for the summer season. Picnics come to mind. Pack one in the basket with a cool pack and you are all set.
Go up on the West Coast to the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area of Washington State for a Washington State take on a family owned vineyard and biodynamic wines. Hedges Vineyard in Eastern Washington State has been family owned and headed by farmers and winemakers since 1989, the vineyard is now in their second generation of wine making, passing from mother and father to daughter and son.
Now in their twenty-fifth vintage the Hedges family is credited with putting the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area on the wine making map. French wine making is in the Hedges family lineage.
Matriarch Anne Marie brings Old World production methods to Washington State courtesy of her upbringing in Champagne France. Vintages are expressive of the terroir and climate.
Dry climate and soil conditions, well spaced planting of vines and sustained sunlight yield small berries and thick skins that result in full-bodied and luscious Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. Biodynamic and sustainable farming preserves the quality of the soil and the wines.
Their latest and arguably greatest vintage is La Haute Cuvee’. This magnum, produced without artificial herbicides, pesticides and commercial yeasts and the first Washington State Demeter-certified Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon consists of one hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon is biodynamic, lush and fully representative of the land on which it is produced. When asked at a Hedges Estate family style tasting at Corkbuzz Studios in New York City why La Haute Cuvee’ was only offered in this size Christophe Hedges, general manager and head of sales, declared that 750ml. was just way too small for this vintage. I would have to agree.
Really enjoyed the article, Michelle. Very accurate, and interesting. We would love to have you spend a couple days with us on Red Mountain, soon!