MAHA, Part II

February 9, 2018

Eric Asimov of the New York Times recently wrote, “…the best way to improve the quality of what you drink is to think of wine as food. Simply applying the same aesthetic, medical, ethical and moral judgments to wine that many people do to food, results in drinking better wine.”

In 2004 we moved onto the property and built our 3000 sf winery. The vineyard infrastructure would require funds and time we couldn’t spare then so the grapes didn’t arrive until years later. Our friend Stephan Asseo shared his concern of nematode populations in walnut orchards. Nematodes are a root louse that were a nuisance in France. We soon learned that Paso’s walnut orchard nematode populations are minimal. Never-the-less, we decided to pull up the trees and let the land lay fallow for several years. In addition to skirting any potential nematode issues, it allowed time for the tree roots to decompose and time for us to rat-hole some vineyard money.

In 2010 we decided to get serious about planting. Grenache was and is the biggest part of our winery portfolio so we knew that would be our first 3 acre planting in 2012. After investing in a tractor, the per acre cost of planting rose considerably so we decided to plant another 10 acres the following year, this time with the advice of Jeff Newton and Kevin Wilkinson from Coastal Vineyard Care. They were looking for some traction in north SLO County and we were looking for some fresh insight. We knew Jeff was farming pretty much all of Santa Barbara County’s top vineyard properties and were thrilled to have his insight.

Soil pits confirmed what our eyes told us, that we had 48 of 60 plantable acres. Soils are limestone covered with deep to shallow clay depending on your location on the property with the exception of one east facing “rogue” slope (potential wine name?). We arrived at the planting arrangement in the map below.

From the moment we set foot on the property, we had made the decision that we would avoid the use of chemicals, first and foremost because we live and work here. We are  organic-living, home-grown-everything folks who cook dinner every night and, like increasingly more Americans, we like to know where our food comes from. The biodynamic world likes to use metaphors. My favorite is that we think of the farm as a human body with all the vital organs residing under ground. How can the result of such farming not result in amazing wine?! We must not forget, however, that the grapes require continued nurturing once they hit the sorting table and until the wine gets to the consumer. This is a concept that seems to be lost on many in the winemaking world. We received our Demeter biodynamic vineyard certification and Stellar organic farm certification in 2015 with the help of biodynamic consultant Phillipe Coderey. 

We now have three wines from our estate in barrel. If you are currently a club or allocation list member, log in to purchase our just released 2016 Garnacha and 2016 Willow Creek Cuvée, both of which contain wine made with our MAHA Estate grapes.  Join the waiting list for future allocations, including our all estate wines so you can taste the difference.  ~JoAnn