This month we bring you non-traditional rosés from California made with grapes you don’t normally think of when you think of Rosé. Both wineries are located in California, but take their inspiration from France and Germany and work primarily with grapes found in those regions, specifically Riesling and Pinot Gris.
Ryan Stirm grew up in Contra Costa County, CA and attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo to study winemaking. He met his mentor, Justin Willett of Tyler Winery, while rock climbing in remote Santa Barbara County. This chance meeting led to a four year endeavor as the assistant winemaker at both Tyler and Lieu Dit Winery. In between harvests at Tyler, Ryan traveled to work abroad in Margaret River, Western Australia and in Austria (Wachau, Weingut Tegernseerhof) before moving up north to work for the classic Santa Cruz Mountain winery Thomas Fogarty.Stirm Wine Co. is now located in southern Santa Cruz County near Watsonville; central between the key appellations they work with.
Union Sacré wines are made by two friends from different continents. Union Sacré exists at the meeting of worlds. Made by two long time friends, Xavier Arnaudin and Philip Muzzy, who arrived at the Central Coast from opposite ends of the Earth. Xavier is a WSET certified, oenology degree holder from France, Philip is a self-taught designer from Michigan who kind of misses living in a van. Between the two of them, Xavier and Philip have 25+ years experience working in Central Coast wineries. Union Sacré is an homage to Alsace, France and beauty’s odd ability to build unexpected bridges.
Carrie Upson- General Manager
Stirm Wirz Vineyard Old Vine Rosé
About the Winery: Farmed by Pat Wirz, this old-vine, dry-farmed vineyard was first planted in 1902 to Zinfandel, Mission (Rosa del Perù), Mataro, Orange Muscat, Carignan, and the local specialty Cabernet Pfeffer. The Riesling was planted later in 1964. It's located at about 920-1000 feet in the Gabilan Mountains about twenty miles north of the Pinnacles National Monument in the Cienega Valley AVA (San Benito County). Although it lies only twenty five miles east of the cold waters of the Monterey Bay, the coastal influence is dampened by the mountain topography and geology surrounding this site. The San Andreas fault runs through the property highlighting the convergence of two giant tectonic plates. Limestone, in the form of calcite, is the dominant geologic influence here. As these rocks eroded over the eons, they weathered into very deep sandy loam. The sandy, nutrient poor soil forces the roots to grow deep in search of water and minerals. These old vines ripen late and are extremely low-yielding, around 1 ton/acre annually.
About the winemaking: The grapes were picked by hand. At the winery the grapes were given 48 hours of whole cluster maceration to extract tannins, aroma, and flavor compounds in the skins, followed by pressing the grapes. No sulfur was added to allow the juice to oxidize. After a 36 hour cold settle in tank, the clean juice was racked off the solids to another tank for spontaneous fermentation. The wine was sulfured post completion of secondary fermentation with elevage in tank on fine lees. Racked off fine lees a month prior to bottling, and final blend created.
Tasting notes: Varietal Composition: Riesling (95%), Zinfandel (5%). You’ll probably be surprised by this wine because many people have pre-conceived notions of what Riesling tastes like; everyone assumes it will be sweet. It is not. Stirm rosé offers aromas of tart raspberries and orange blossom. Riper fruits come through on the finish, like watermelon, with hints of minerality and high acidity.
Union Sacre L’Inconnue Dry Pinot Gris
About the Winery: Union Sacré is "an homage to the Alsace region of France and beauty’s odd ability to build unexpected bridges. These are not wines of privilege and power, these are wines made from a lifetime of labor for the untelevised tables that unite the very heart of the world." The wines of Union Sacré are focused on elegant, single vineyard, single varietal wines that are table friendly. Noble varietals include: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.
About the winemaking: Skin contact for 20 hours. The juice is quickly separated from the skins, and the juice is fermented for 4 weeks in tank at 50 F. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 6 months on lees in stainless steel.
Tasting notes: L’Inconnue (“The Unknown”) is an occasional release for Union Sacré and is reserved for those rare wines that break with their expected style to dazzling effect. Named after one of the most widely reproduced models of the early 20th century: the death mask of an unknown girl pulled from the Seine. Her tranquil smile inspired a thousand sculptures and paintings. So lasting was her beauty that her likeness is still being used today. It is our hope that the l’Inconnue wines bring some amount of that wonder. Grapefruit, lemon, granny smith, and a touch of orange peels.