Wine Talk

Snooth User: outthere

Once & Future Wines - The return of Joel Peterson

Posted by outthere, Apr 12, 2016.

Looking forward to trying these wines. Pick-up is May 1st. Joel going back to his roots and old school production methods for these small lot wines. 

 

 
 
The Essentials
For this first release, Once & Future wines will be sold on a first come, first served basis. We have no idea what the demand might be for these wines, but the volumes are small that it is likely they will sell out. This first release will help establish a baseline for allocations on future releases. The offering will remain open, assuming the wines do not sell out, until Sunday, April 17th at Midnight Pacific time. If you do not get allocated as much as you would like, please use our wish-list request feature in the checkout process. The wines are in short supply but there may be some wine to redistribute.
 
There is $25 pro-rated Ground shipping on orders of 6 bottles or more. All orders will ship May 9th if Mother Nature cooperates. If not, we will hold the order until the weather is safe to ship. If you are in a warmer state and would like to receive the wines before the fall you can select 2nd day air shipping with ice for an additional shipping charge. If you have any specific instructions, please put them in the Special Instructions section of your order or email info@onceandfuturewine.com
 
The Spring Release pick up day will be Sunday May 1st from 12-5 at 19320 Orange Ave Sonoma, CA. 
 
PURCHASE YOUR ALLOCATION
 
 
Vinting like Kierkegaard
 
Joel, Joe Swan and Andre Tchelistcheff 1974
 
Life must be lived forwards but can only be understood backwards.” - Kierkegaard
 
In late 1972 I met Joe Swan and was given an extraordinary chance to learn the art of winemaking. I was a complete novice when it came to the craft, but not when it came to wine. I had grown up in a household of two chemists: my mother Frances, a nuclear chemist and my father Walter, a physical chemist. After my brother and I were born my mother applied her meticulous science skills to food (later doing much of the recipe testing for Alice Waters’s original Chez Panisse cookbook). My father became obsessed by wine, eventually writing one of the first wine newsletters in the San Francisco Bay Area: The San Francisco Wine Sampling Society. With this as a childhood backdrop, I learned about the pleasures and complexities of food and wine at an early age, along with a healthy love of science.
 
In the late 1950s and 1960s, with the California wine business still recovering from the hangover of Prohibition and offering few options of high quality wine (with some notable exceptions such as Beaulieu and Inglenook) my parents’ taste, and as a result mine, was informed by European wines. Many of the best were from single vineyards where the grapes were grown perfectly matched to site, the wines made by a person who had special insight into that location and a deft touch with the process. I learned that the most interesting wines were generally made in fairly small lots, frequently relying on native flora for fermentation and more often than not, stored in wooden cooperage for some period of time to mature and concentrate before bottling.
 
When Joe Swan took me under his wing in the early 1970’s, his fastidious winemaking techniques, and wines, mirrored my theories and tasting experiences. Grapes from carefully selected and cultivated vineyards were harvested at ripeness but not over ripeness. They were fermented in small 3 – 4 ton open top redwood fermenters and punched down by hand. The processing was minimal and the aging occurred in small, newly imported French oak barrels. Although Joe wanted to specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, he practiced his early winemaking with old vine Zinfandel. As the four subsequent decades have shown, these turned out to be some of his best wines. It was those first Swan wines that made me fall in love with Zinfandel and, in particular, with older vines. I came to see these as the most European grapes in California; mostly planted in the right locations, usually dry farmed, moderate in production (2 – 3 tons per acre), head pruned and frequently intermixed with other varieties that were unique to California.
 
When I started Ravenswood in 1976, I wanted to focus on Zinfandel. I planned to make single vineyard wines in a somewhat gothic, old world style. It was my hope to make wine similar to that made in Europe but with a Californian twist; small open topped redwood fermenters, hand punchdowns, extended macerations, native yeast, gentle transfer, minimal processing and small French oak aging – all done by hand. I thought the winery, if I were lucky, would grow to six or seven thousand cases. For a number of reasons, mostly dealing with the hard realities of cash flow and distribution and the necessity of equity partners, I found myself unable to make that vision of a small winery into a reality. Though I was able to make single vineyard wines that I hope helped redefine the qualitative ceiling of California’s old vines, Ravenswood also started to make a wine called “Vintners Blend” that proved immensely popular. Thanks to that, starting in 1983, seven years after the first vintage, Ravenswood began to grow and over the following three decades its annual production kicked up to nearly one million cases, at one point becoming the bestselling red Zinfandel brand in the world.
 
Along the way, I have watched and participated in the growth and maturation of the California wine business. I have seen the increased sophistication of an expanding wine consumer population. I have worked with some of the best, most talented and nicest people in the wine business. I have travelled to and sold wine in most of the wine drinking countries of the world. I have had the pleasure to taste many great wines. I have been a Sole Proprietor, a General Partner in a Limited Partnership, the President of both a C Corporation and a publicly traded corporation and a Senior Vice President at Constellation Wines. I have been the President of Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers. I helped found ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) and was its President two times. I support and consult with the Historic Vineyard Society and currently am a member of the Board of the Sonoma County Vintners. In 2011 fellow industry members gave me the honor of induction into the Vintners Hall of Fame. Best of all I have a son, Morgan Twain-Peterson, who has chosen winemaking as his career and runs the highly innovative and successful Bedrock Wine Company.
 
Both in the vineyard and in life, I have definitely learned a thing or two about vintage variation. I am enormously proud of the wines I make at Ravenswood, from those wines that sing of place - Old Hill Ranch, Dickerson, Belloni, Barricia, Teldeschi - to the more economical wines that helped turn a couple of generations of people onto the joy and deliciousness of well-wrought wine. However, after nearly 45 years in the wine business, I feel it is time to return to my roots.
 
Once and Future is the return to the original vision I had for Ravenswood so many years ago – a small project specializing in wines from unique older vineyards, made with a sensitivity to place and in a style that I personally love and believe in - wines that force me to dust off the old redwood vats and get out a new punch down tool (my original is in the Smithsonian), wines that dye my hands a harvest shade of black/purple and sometimes force me to take an additional Ibuprofen in the morning. In short - wines of sweat, commitment, and love.
 
 
 
                 The Wines
 
Bedrock Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel
Sonoma Valley, 1888 planting
 
 
[Disclaimer: Much of this history is stolen from the website of my son Morgan’s Bedrock Wine Company, which makes the spectacular Heirloom Blend from the same vineyard. It isn’t plagiarization if it’s your own genetic material, right?]
Situated on the Agua Caliente Bench, Bedrock is one of the premier vineyard plots in Sonoma Valley. When Eugene Hilgard, the most important viticulture professor of his time, was asked in 1890 if any place in California could grow grapes to rival the great clarets of Europe, he unhesitatingly singled out this vineyard, whose history is also rife with some of the most notable figures of the nineteenth century.Founded in 1854 by Generals “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker (just back from the Mexican-American War) and William Tecumseh Sherman (a San Francisco banker at the time!), the spot has grown grapes for more than 150 years. Following the first phylloxera epidemic in the mid-1880s, it was replanted in 1888 by Senator George Hearst, a mining magnate and father of publisher William Randolph Hearst; in the early 1900s, Hearst’s widow Phoebe sold it to the California Wine Association, which made wine from it until Prohibition. In 1934, the vineyard was jointly purchased by the Domenici and Parducci families, who ran the Valley of the Moon winery; when that relationship became acrimonious, the vineyard was split, with the Parducci's taking the winery and smaller land parcel and the Domenici's taking 152 acres that became as Madrone Ranch. 
 
In 2005, the Domenici's sold the property to the Deininger / Peterson family. We renamed it Bedrock with a nod to its soil: Tuscan Red Hill series, washed down from the adjacent Mayacamas Mountains to form the alluvial fan on which the vineyard is planted. Because the place had been cultivated harshly for 100 years, we broke up the pan with a mechanical spader and revitalized the soils with compost and cover crops of vetch, bell beans, and rye grass; the cobbly, well-drained loam, combined with long warm summer days and cool evening air flowing through the Bennett Valley Gap alongside Sonoma Mountain (a climatic profile similar to that of Joe Swan’s domain, the Forestville area of the Russian River Valley) is superb for growing Zinfandel, a tradition we’ve maintained with old-school, head-pruned viticulture. 
Once and Future Zinfandel is crafted from the 128-year-old vines planted by George Hearst. The wines have an aromatic raciness and fine tannin structure that renders them elegant and long-lived.
 
Tasting Notes - 2014 Bedrock Vineyards, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel - $42
Dark Garnet in color.  Tightly wound aromas of raspberry, cherry and dusty minerals are highlighted by trace elements of vanilla and toast.  Bright, red berry flavors and hint of orange zest are supported by a fine tannic finish in this spicy, fresh, not heavy, Zinfandel of the Agua Caliente Benchlands
 
 
 
Palisades Vineyard, Napa Valley, Petite Sirah
There’s a good reason that, until the 1960s, Petite sirah was the most widely planted grape variety in Napa Valley. As is shown by the few remaining examples, grown in the right places it does very well there, making lovely, evocative wine even darker and spicier than Zinfandel, that other “California grape” from Europe. If Napa had only had the guts to stick with Petite through the renaissance that transformed California wine, it would have been a more distinctive and interesting choice (not to mention better value) upon which to hang one’s regional hat than today’s dictatorial monarch, Cabernet Sauvignon.
 
The best evidence is tucked into a narrow riparian canyon just east of the town of Calistoga, at the foot of the magnificent Palisades cliffs. This is Petite sirah heaven: The cobbly loam soil of the alluvial fan is perfect for the variety, and hot summers, cool westerly morning breezes, extended sunlight and adequate winter rainfall bless the fruit with exceptional concentration and depth. Viticulture here dates back to 1878, when James Horn, a settler from Scotland, first planted grapes; in 1908, Domenico and Gilda Barberis, recent arrivals from Italy, planted more vines along Horn’s Creek. Seven years later, they established “Bonded Winery Number 118” at on the site. 
 
Sadly, despite a capacity of more than 20,000 gallons, the winery didn’t survive Prohibition, closing down in 1932. The vineyard, however, survived. Continuing to farm it until 1992, Domenico and Gilda’s son Frank planted petite on St. George rootstock in 1968 and again in the mid-70s. In the 90s the property was bought by Felicia Woytak and her husband Steven Rasmussen, who thankfully had the soul and character (not unlike petite itself) to ignore the prevailing commercial formula, choosing to respect and preserve the site’s heritage. Committed to organic horticulture, they’ve retained Jim Munk to manage the place’s traditional dry farming and head-trained viticulture. 
The Barberis would no doubt be pleased; I am overjoyed.
 
Tasting Notes - 2014  Palisades Vineyard, Napa Valley, Petite sirah $55
Deep, opaque, and blue blackish in color.  Perfume like scents of Sandalwood, clove, cinnamon, black pepper and smoke lead to a bright, full, though not ponderous, mouthfeel with surprisingly refined fine tannins and a long complex finish.  This is Napa Petite sirah singing a beautiful, lyrical, high pitched song.
 
 
 
 
 

Replies

1165
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Reply by EMark, Apr 12, 2016.

The PS was more than I could resist.

Another CC hit.  I guess I'm not going to be ordering anything from Sandlands, next week.

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1468
Reply by outthere, Apr 12, 2016.

I don't think Sandlands will be releasing anytime soon. Olivia just gave birth to their second child. 

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3259
Reply by dmcker, Apr 13, 2016.

Good one, OT. Thanks for posting. Haven't read all the way through since in the middle of my work day, but already bringing back all sorts of memories of the three jokers in the first photo above Kierkegaard's no-brainer, as well as taste memories that are making me drool...

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Reply by GregT, Apr 13, 2016.

Cool post OT. I'm looking forward to trying some of those.


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