Winemakers come in all shapes and sizes, and this month we have found two producers with unique backgrounds who found their true calling in the world of wine.
Charles and Molly Meeker bought their first vineyard at the end of West Dry Creek Road in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley in 1977. In 1984, Charlie and Molly established their winery — The Meeker Vineyard — with Charlie as the winemaker. They saw great success in their early years, with some of their zinfandels winning awards and a place on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. During the same time, Charles was splitting his time between Dry Creek Valley and Los Angeles, working his way up the ranks in the motion picture industry, and he eventually became the President of MGM. After selling their vineyards in the late 90s and leaving Los Angeles in 1999, the early 2000s were a time of substantial expansion, with the winery growing from a few thousand cases per year to well over 10,000 cases. The Meeker family takes pride in an unconventional attitude towards wine. As Molly would love to tell you with a smile: “We take nothing seriously but the wine itself.”
Our other winemaker, Bibiana Gonzàlez Rave, was born and raised in Colombia. She had little exposure to wine culture, but by the age of 14, she knew she would become a winemaker. In Colombia, she studied chemical engineering and business. She later moved to France to study viticulture and oenology. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Bordeaux, graduating with honors. Bibiana had the opportunity to work with some of the best wineries in France, including Château Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion in Bordeaux, Domainer Stephane Ogier and Domaine Clusel-Roch in Côte-Rôtie. Before starting her own labels, in California she worked at La Crema, Peay Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Qupé and Lynmar Estate. “Growing up in Colombia shaped who I am. My training in France defined the winemaker I became and California gives me the land and the opportunity to make exceptional wines.”-Bibiana González Rave. She currently has 4 different labels; Cattleya (named after the national flower of Columbia), Alma de Cattleya, Shared Notes (with her husband, Jeff Pisoni), and Wines by Bibiana.
Meeker Warp and Weft Rosé: Today the winery is located three blocks from the Healdsburg Square in downtown Healdsburg. Meeker's focus is on producing honest wines with a hybrid philosophy blending old world winemaking principles (naturally stable, age-worthy, unfined and unfiltered reds, dry, and high acid/low pH) with new world fruit, cutting-edge technique, in-house research, and the rich heritage of northern Sonoma County. Meeker is truly a family operation; Charlie (CEO) and Molly (President) still run the business with their son Lucas.
At Meeker, we've made rose the same way since the early 90s: dry, bright roses that make them perfect with food. Warp and Weft is a 50-50 blend of Zinfandel and Carignane from Larry Venturi's organically-farmed old vines in Mendocino County. We fermented the Carignane and Zin juice separately and used the same combination of techniques to help maximize a wine's fruit expression before aging them separately and blending them together in equal proportions prior to bottling. The main technique we used on this wine is a slow-moderate fermentation on a strain of yeast that has particularly high enzymatic activity, which unlocks more of the bright, citrus/tropical phenolics by breaking them free of longer, non-volatile polysaccharides they're attached too. While we generally ferment cold and slow, we find that a fermentation temperature in the low 70s during peak fermentation rate (1-2 days) helps set bigger and richer fruit character on wines fermented with this yeast. We shoot for big acidity numbers on wines like this to build a complex, stony palate with racy liveliness behind the bright nose. "Warp and Weft" are the vertical and horizontal threads woven together in a loom to make fabric. In the case of this beautiful rosé, it's the weaving of these two grapes into a crisp, summer refresher with aromas of Pink Lady apples, orange blossom and cran-raspberry on the nose and a focused palate highlighted by cran-apple, gooseberry, and kumquat.
Alma de Cattleya Rosé of Pinot Noir: Bibiana’s philosophy on crafting extraordinary wines is apparent in Alma de Cattleya. Her commitment to the highest quality is evident in every sip, and she knows that a fantastic wine can be had at an accessible price. The goal of Alma wines is to represent the purity of the varietals of their specific viticultural area. Rave has long-term contracts with grape growers and with her viticulture background knows exactly what she wants from them and their vineyards, which she visits twice a week. For her rosé, she looks for Pinot Noir that other winemakers would use to make sparkling wine, ripe but high-acid.
About the winemaking: The fruit for our Rosé of Pinot Noir comes from the cool hillsides of the Sonoma Coast. This wine is compromised of a selection of clones 115, Pommard, and 777. Grapes are handpicked at night and delivered to the winery at very low temperatures. This wine is a combination of saignée juice and hand-sorted Pinot Noir clusters that are pressed and carefully transferred to neutral barrels or stainless steel tanks to start very cold fermentation. The result is a crisp, savory rosé with intense and complex aromatics.
Tasting notes: Bright, crisp, and mouthwatering. Notes of crushed strawberry, rose petal, and citrus burst with each swirl in the glass.