|Please join us on Thursday evening, March 9th for a special winemaker tasting with Jason Drew of Drew Family Cellars. Jason and his wife Molly, had a dream to one day make wine from their own vineyards. Trained in viticulture at UC Davis, Jason later went on for a graduate degree abroad, worked with some of the great old school producers in Napa (he was assistant winemaker for Cathy Corison) and eventually with Bryan Babcock in the Santa Rita Hills. In 2004 Jason and Molly purchased an old orchard on the cool, coastal Mendocino Ridge, where they planted syrah, pinot noir, and, oddly enough, the Galician white grape, albariño (they also kept some of the apples with which to make cider).
The Mendocino Ridge viticultural area is due southeast from the town of Mendocino, inland just a bit and walking distance to the Pacific coast. Jason farms beautifully and tends his vineyards without synthetic chemicals. The proximity to the ocean brings fog, wind, and overall cool growing conditions, all of which help the grapes retain their freshness while hanging on the vine long enough to achieve full ripeness but not over-ripeness. Jason’s winemaking is minimalistic: wild yeast fermentation in older oak barrels, some of which is whole-cluster (for fruit and a bit less tannin).
Tonight, we’re tasting Jason’s cider, made from the old apple trees still flourishing on his property; his “Orbaun,” a more democratically priced Rhône blend; and finally his field selection pinot noir and Valenti Ranch syrah. Jason’s syrah typifies his low-key approach to winemaking: during vinification, he employs no additives other than a tiny bit of the white grape viognier, a traditional co-fermentation partner with syrah in the northern Rhône. The result is indeed very northern Rhônish in style: lean and earthy rather than jammy, savory, with mouthwatering acidity. A spicy and structured syrah that you’ll want to decant for an hour, or if you can, hold on to for a few years.
Drew “Sur La Mer” brut cider Mendocino