Martha Stoumen - Venturi Vineyard Zinfandel 2018
Mendocino County, California, United States
From the producer-
Venturi Vineyard is in Mendocino County; dry farmed; organic. This wine has a compelling aroma of tamarind-chili candy, white pepper, wet stone, and charcuterie. All enticing you to take a sip where you will find flavors of spiced plum, black tea, and sun baked jam.
This is the first year we made a Venturi Vineyard Zinfandel, and we are very happy with how it turned out. The Zin is from the same rocky spine (former Russian River bed) as the old vine Carignan block. It is fermented in the same way as the Venturi Vineyard Carignan as well. The Zinfandel, however, is young vine (on average less than 15 year old) and a mix of clones. This parcel has been planted to grapes for over 100 years however, so the young vine nature of this block is less apparent than young vines on previously unplanted soils. Venturi Vineyard is on predominantly Pinole gravelly loam soils. Containing a mixture of sandstone, shale and quartz, these deep, well-drained soils were formed from alluvial flows, depositing fist-sized stones along the way. We ferment this Zinfandel 100% whole cluster. A small portion of whole clusters are foot tread and placed in the bottom of the tank, then un-tread clusters are put on top. We foot-tread or perform body punchdowns for about a week until things are soft enough to gently pumpover. Because grapes are broken up slowly over time, sugars are also released slowly rather than all at once, resulting in a slower fermentation. We do one delestage ~⅔ through fermentation, and allow for a 28-day maceration before pressing. The wine ages in neutral barrels for 12 months on lees, is racked, and bottled. The minimal SO2 found in this wine is due to spot sulfuring specific barrels in the lot during the year of aging. 12.7% alcohol. At bottling (July 2019): free SO2 0 mg/L, total SO2 0 mg/L. Vegan. 462 cases.
Martha Stoumen Wines was founded upon the desire to recapture a farming and winemaking culture that has all but faded away: a winemaking culture of patience.
For my wines I lease and farm around half of the vineyards myself. The other half are farmed by multi-generation farmers who understand their land, and their family's land, far better than I ever will, and who farm with my same philosophies in mind. Patience in the vineyard means composting rather than adding synthetic fertilizers, allowing predatory insects the ability to outcompete pests rather than spraying insecticides, and doing proper handwork, such as pruning for vine longevity rather than high yields.
In the cellar I use a minimalist winemaking approach. Patience in the cellar means letting the natural yeast and bacteria present on the grape skins perform fermentation, and allowing longer macerations and aging to provide stability rather than using added tannin, acid, or stabilizing agents in my wines. Above all, I strive to make wines that are delicious, joyful, and truly representative of California.
Martha went to work in the vineyard, olive orchard, and winery of a small farm and learning center in Tuscany after studying traditional agricultural systems and Italian during her undergraduate degree. The majority of her farm work took place in the vineyard rather than the winery, so she entered the world of wine production through the lens of a vigneronne rather than a typical modern California winemaker who spends very little to no time in the vineyard. During this time she also worked with farm animals, bees, and vegetables, and to this day views growing grapes and making wine ideally as part of a larger system.
Besides a love of food, and therefore agriculture, Martha was drawn to wine for two reasons: she relishes a tradition in which the master-apprentice relationship is still very much alive and well, and because wine is a product that sets the pace and rhythm of the winemaker’s life, rather than vice-versa. Grape growing and winemaking aligns a vigneronne’s actions with the seasons; she can neither rush the process nor slow it down. After her initial exposure to grape farming and winemaking in Tuscany, Martha began a series of apprenticeships, sandwiched around a Master's at UC Davis. Martha has had the pleasure of apprenticing under Reinhard Löwenstein (Heymann-Löwenstein, Mosel), Jordan Fiorentini (Chalk Hill, California) Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars, California), Clive Dougall (Seresin, Marlborough), Didier Barral (Léon Barral, Faugères, France), and Giusto Occhipinti (COS, Sicily). Many of these teachers have remained a part of her life as she has moved toward her own vision of making responsibly farmed, terroir-driven wines in the land that she holds so dear in her heart, California.