Wine Traditions Ltd. was created in 1996, the collaborative project
of Edward Addiss and Barbara Selig. The philosophy of Wine Traditions is
to discover independent winemakers whose passion for their vineyard and
mastery of their winemaking craft combine to create a product that is a beautiful expression of the land from which it comes. They
believe their portfolio demonstrates that wonderful wines can be found
beyond well known appellations and need not be over priced. For them,
wine is meant to be enjoyed with dinner, everyday and at prices that
make it an appropriate component of the meal.
Ed majored in composition at Berklee College of Music and started working part time in wine shops to support his late night composing. Barbara studied
Italian and Art History at Georgetown University. They met in New York
soon after graduating and have been together ever since.
Ed continued in the wine business working for several importer/distributors in New York. Eventually Ed and Barbara had the idea to market New York wines locally; they wanted to promote the wines made where they lived. They traveled to wineries throughout Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes, meeting and talking with producers, but it proved too difficult to get enough wineries to participate. Ed instead went to work for the San Francisco Wine Exchange, a pioneer in the marketing of independent wineries during the early days of the California local food and wine movement.
Ten years later Ed and Barbara were still eager to embark on their own project. Ed found the inspiration for Wine Traditions in an unlikely spot. On a sales call in a package store in the East Village, Ed agreed to buy a collection of “unsellable” old Crus Bourgeois Bordeaux from the owner. The wines were absolutely delicious; they were what Ed had first loved in wine. He began researching independent growers in Bordeaux which led to an exploration of the whole of Southwest France and the beginnings of Wine Traditions.
Ed takes a studied approach to developing his portfolio, marked by intensive research into geology, geography as well as the philosophy and approach of producers. The process is too laborious to allow them to cover more than a small area at a time. He and Barbara make multiple visits to an appellation in order to develop an appreciation for its potentialities before they make selections that they feel are representative of the area’s best qualities.
Ed and Barbara continue their passionate interest in supporting local food products and
encouraging growth in local wine production. Ed serves on the Board of
the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association which promotes the interests of
domestic wineries. They see a working correlation between importing
traditional wines from little known wine regions of France and
engendering a vested culture of local food appreciation here in the US.
By importing these wines they are preserving the culture of local wine
making in France by enabling it to remain a viable economy, and, in a
sense, they are importing that culture, the idea that making wine
locally is culturally valuable and economically valid.
Wine Traditions currently works with 60 independently owned wineries. The wines feature indigenous varietals and are traditionally made, all following sustainable agriculture, many are organic and several follow biodynamic principles as well.
The Artisan Collection
The Artisan Collection is the National importer of a carefully selected portfolio of quality oriented wineries.
L. Navarro has been listed by Jay Miller from The Wine Advocate amongst
a small group of new importers of wines that are "heading off the
beaten track and discovering some wonderful wines that we would
otherwise never see."
taste thousands of wines every year and we strive to find unique wines
made by passionate winemakers. Our winemakers keep yields low to ensure
that only the finest quality wine is bottled under their name. They
believe the most important step of winemaking takes place on the vines.
They seek to enhance the best attributes of the varietals and the land.
Only native yeasts are used and, where possible, the wines are bottled
with only minimum or no fining or filtration.
More than half of the portfolio has received reviews of 90+ points, all the way to 98 points.
Artisan Collection was founded in 2003, today the company sells its
wines in more than 30 States. In order to provide the best quality to
our customers our transport and storage is 100% refrigerated (55F).
Florencio's family has made and sold wine for four generations.
The story of our family owned and operated vineyard and winery began in Seattle. Our winemaker, Sarah Cabot, and business and vineyard manager David Moore, met while working at restaurants in the emerald city. Feeling unsettled in their career choices and driven by a desire to build rather than circulate, they made a change.
Sarah went back to school at Washington’s Northwest Wine Academy to follow her passion for wine production. In 2007, she and David, drawn by their enthusiasm for both Pinot Noir and the white wines being produced in Oregon, made their way south. Sarah worked her first Oregon harvest at Belle Pente under the generous and watchful guidance of mentor Brain O’Donnell. In 2008 they bought their first ton of grapes, made their first wine and haven’t looked back since.
Inspired by the zeal, energy and dedication of Sarah and David, David’s parents Bill and Staci Moore (who themselves had fallen in love with Oregon and its wines), founded Omero Cellars with Sarah and David by their side. Together they found the perfect piece of property in exactly the location they wanted to plant, the heart of the Northern Willamette Valley’s Ribbon Ridge appellation. That piece of land was, incidentally, not officially for sale but through perseverance, persistence and an inability to take “no” for an answer it soon became their home and future location for the Omero Estate vineyard. Six months later the first vines were planted on the property.
David, who lives on the property with his wife Amanda, takes pride in learning about and tending to the land. Through keen observation, an inquisitive mind and an adventurous spirit he has come to identify the microclimates of the 50 acre property and formulated a farming philosophy around them. Through the same attention to detail, Sarah has begun the life-long journey of understanding the fruit from the property as well as the other vineyards we work with. She is constantly adapting to and discovering how best to tend to the fruit in the winery and in doing so learns to best way to communicate with the fruit and the vineyards it come from. Helping it to itself in its most individual and exquisite way; creating wines with balance, elegance and finesse which convey a sense of place and tell a story, our story.
For us it’s about Oregon first and foremost. We aren’t trying to replicate Burgundy; we are aiming to represent Oregon. Our soils are unique, our climate is unique, our fruit is unique and we are unique. It is our most sincere wish to share that individuality through our wines. We also believe in the aging potential of both the white and the red wines of this valley as well as the acid driven food-friendly nature of them and we seek to highlight those aspects in everything we make.
The estate is farmed consciously with the health and natural cycle of the vineyard and its ecosystem in mind with a focus on maintaining the natural bio-diversity of the land through minimal intervention, native cover crops and the integration of livestock. We are proud and honored to make and share Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay from our estate vineyard and from select vineyards throughout the valley.
What Makes a Winery ‘Indie’?
- One set of hands. One person who guides every step from the vineyard to the consumer. In contrast to larger producers, Indie Wineries are a one man/woman show and do not have any disconnect. The wines reflect the personality of the winemaker and have a soul and character that make them unique and beautiful.
- Small production all around 4,500 cases/year
- All are produced naturally, most certified organic, and many biodynamic
- Small estates, many that have a cult following, but that fly under the radar of the big guys getting the press and media attention. They are just making their way into the wholesale market and have an unbeatable quality/price ratio. These are the future stars of the wine world...
Scribe Winery is exquisitely imperfect. This is where the sheen of Wine Country ends and its patchwork, outlaw lore bubbles to the surface. It's where the dust billows over an irregular dirt road, escorted by a long row of palm trees that beckon you back toward the coarse hillsides and corrupt histories and overgrown, feral sweetness to a turn-of-the-century hacienda wiling away its hours in a state of gauzy, dilapidated bohemian grace.
It's where Andrew Mariani, his brother Adam, their uncle Andrew Avellar and Napa-based winemaker Kristof Anderson spend their hours making a neglected property whole again, and almost coincidentally, crafting lush, drinkable wine.
It is over this wine, on an early evening in July, that Andrew explains how and why this venture came to be. He and Adam are entertaining friends and family on the stone patio behind the old hacienda. Strands of Christmas lights limn the deepening blue sky, handmade pizzas bubble and brown in an artisan beehive brick oven, the lilt of conversation dovetails into laughter. There is grilled asparagus and wedges of watermelon and carrot cake for a friend's birthday. Despite the grace of generous hosts, the accommodations are rustically outfitted-no running water, no electricity. Somehow, it makes drinking and eating more rewarding. Trading pretense for practicality, I savor Scribe pinot out of a mason jar and recline on a hay bale. Life is good, and this is the point.
"We want to put wine in the best context-on a table with friends and food," says Andrew.
He and Adam are in their twenties, ridiculously young to be leading a counterrevolution in Sonoma Valley winemaking. They are laid-back, kind, earnest in their endeavors. Both began careers unrelated to wine: Andrew in international trade negotiations, Adam in business and architecture. Something about wine made the rest of it seem less immediate and real. Isn't wine, smiles Andrew, the universal enabler of diplomacy anyway? Both lived abroad at various times, working in Old World, reputable wineries from Greece to South Africa to France, learning as much as they could. Andrew has a minor in eonology and viticulture. But they've never owned a winery, never done the now-familiar matriculation from grape-picker to cellar rat to assistant to the assistant winemaker.
To a certain degree, they're winging it-which makes the journey all the more lovely.
This is not to say Scribe is a passing dalliance or a work of dilettantes. Farming runs in their blood, four generations deep. The Mariani roots stretch northeast to the little farming town of Winters in Yolo County, where their family has built one of the most prosperous walnut and almond producing operations in the nation. Their uncle, and partner Andrew Avellar, founded Carneros Vineyard Management over a decade ago and has served as an inveterate presence in some of the region's best vineyards, while partner Kristof Anderson has crafted wine with sterling pedigrees at artisan wineries in Napa. It's enough wisdom to go around and then some-certainly enough to fill a farmer's almanac and a few thousand cases of good wine.
Still, life feels a bit like an outpost here. The Scribe boys find themselves lords of a derelict castle, artisan winemakers and conscientious homesteaders upon roughly 250 acres. (Although 150 are part of a "forever wild" conservation easement.) The land is a crosshatched quilt of young vineyards and cleared land abutting chaparral, oak-strewn hillsides and bristly terra incognita. The freedom is hypnotic.
Just beyond the patio, inside the hacienda, Andrew nods to a quote by Persian poet Omar Khayyam that ribbons its way around the top of a sweet and spare wood-paneled dining room.
"Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring," beckons the antiquated script. "The Winter Garment of Repentance fling/ The Bird of Time has but a little way/ To fly---and Lo! The Bird is on the Wing."
As simple as that, the essence of Scribe distilled on the walls.
Somewhere along the lines-between the hand that meticulously calligraphed these words and the 28-year-old vintner attempting to do them justice-this place wound up abjectly forsaken.
In 1858, in the backwash of the gold rush, Sonoma's unbridled badlands were being tempered into fields and farms. And it was in the clamor of this changing frontier that overseas champagne heir Emil Dresel came into ownership of a pristine property-part of 400 acres that he and three other German immigrants purchased (among them Jacob Bundschu) with the intent of staking their fortune on grapes rather than gold.
The loamy volcanic soil of the parcel proved providential for cooler European varietals. During his voyage west, Dresel had already stowed cuttings of Sylvaner and Riesling vines; they would be the first of their kind to be planted in America. His brother Julius later proved instrumental in stemming the phylloxera epidemic, as one of the first to graft native and disease-resistant rootstock onto his vines.
Andrew gathers dinner from the garden in preparation for a monthly Scribe soirée where art, food and wine mingle with history.
As the decades passed, the Dresel brand flourished and its wines won global acclaim. That success, however, proved short-lived when Prohibition extinguished the Dresel legacy, the Dresel Wine Co. bond burned to a crisp and the vineyards fell fallow.
It was during this time the Dresels' grandly appointed hacienda began an even grander descent into decay and more debaucherous incarnations.
Just north of the hacienda, a thriving moonshine industry permeated the barbarous tangle of Lovall Valley. Bootleggers were as common as coyotes, their liquor trail glinting its way down from "Rogue Ridge," past the hacienda and on into San Francisco. It only made sense the property should morph into a safe haven for lawlessness, lust and libation. Rumor has it a speakeasy and brothel blossomed by lantern light.
The house and land passed through multiple owners. In 1939, it birthed Nicholas Turkey Farms, a local business that grew into a national brand and commercial powerhouse. A good portion of a century later, when the company packed up and relocated to West Virginia, it left a string of detritus, debris and factory entrails in its wake-dissuading buyers and blighting the property's beauty.
For years the hacienda incited little more than passing wonder. Set back from the road, edges blurred by distance and neglect, it represented that vestigial sort of landmark we see but never really see, the spectral silhouette and spindly palms doubtless flicking across a million pair of indifferent eyes on their way to or from Napa.
"When we first got here in 2007, it was a nasty farm," says Andrew, a forlorn turkey factory entirely sequestered "behind barbed wire fences." He and his uncle had to strip down to endure a full-body sterilization process to even set foot on the property. And yet Andrew perceived a raw loveliness in its dilapidation.
"It was the first-and last-property we looked at," he smiles. "I've always been attracted to things that are a bit broken, a bit derelict, but have some level of spirit or potential, that can be turned into something beautiful."
He proceeds to lead a tour of the hacienda before it gets dark.
As we wander, its atmosphere heaves under the strata of history like a sunken ship. Built in the style of Mission Revivalism, there is a terra-cotta tile roof and warped floorboards and stuccoed walls thick and milky as bars of soap. Set within the solemnity of dark, wood-paneled rooms, stained-glass colonial windowpanes seep amber light like jars spilling honey. A hodgepodge of decor and styles has been hammered and pasted onto the house in the passing decades.
And the ruin is everywhere-in the walls, where the bees burrowed and built hives. In the rafters that a fire charred black. Under the eaves, where hundreds of barn swallows have built colonies from mud and saliva. In the foundation, which actually sits partially upon the original Dresel home-whose brick facade, windows and living rooms hunker beneath the hacienda like musty catacombs. (This is apparently where the alleged speakeasy hid.)
The hacienda is both peculiar and lovable-a warmblooded mongrel of a place, slightly menacing after midnight, with secret rooms and otherworldly ambience. It is an orphaned soul accustomed to fending for itself, with a numinous, wild aura Andrew does not want to change.
There is an inherent magnetism to the property. "People are just drawn to this place," he says. "If you spend a lot of time here, you start to lose track of everything."
But in a matter of weeks, a renovation will begin. The aim is to make it safe and livable again since, as of now, it is neither. Andrew explains that Scribe Winery's goal is not to reform the hacienda into something new, but to leave the shabby "soul" of the place intact and expand upon it.
"We want it to be a merging of old and new,"-in which the Marianis add a layer of their own making.
There will be a tasting room downstairs, rooms for food and drink and music and art, and beyond that, Andrew's not sure what will be appointed where. He does know that the peeling paint and the rust stains and the vintage newspapers pasted on the walls hold far more enchantment than a Tuscan-themed tasting room or a sleek modern wine bar.
We find ourselves out on the hacienda's wide balcony overlooking the vineyards. The sun lowers, lavishly spending itself out across the grape canopy. Clouds of swallows weave in and out of the updrafts. The light around us feels older than the hills. With such strange histories and without humans for so long, the place exudes a preternatural hum that makes us feel privy to something larger.
Something larger is the sentiment underpinning what Andrew, Adam and co. are trying to accomplish at Scribe. They realize they have merely scratched the surface of these 250 acres, that the mysteries of this site-animal, vegetable, mineral and otherwise-remain legion.
As they've restored the land, Andrew explains, "We've uncovered so many old relics," -from Prohibition-era medicine bottles and work tools to vintage china and opium vials, likely from Chinese laborers who lived on the property in the 19th century. Crumbling stone walls-the 150-year-old foundation of an archaic winery-revealed themselves only after acres of hillsides had been cleared of poison oak.
As self-appointed "scribes" of the land, the team at Scribe hopes to give voice to these elements-by expression in the wine, through environmental restoration of the land and a thoughtful evolution that bridges past with future.
"To us, it's the idea of letting the natural inspire the human, instead of the other way around," says Andrew.
To this end, they have razed and cleared "mountains" of debris, including the demolition of 225,000 square feet of turkey sheds. They've ravaged their own skins ripping out poison oak and invasive plants, removing hillside terracing, extricating the bee hives, (which are now part of their own homegrown apiary. )
The land is slowly reciprocating.
Native plants to attract the beneficial bugs thrive in a fledgling insectary. They've planted 60 acres of grapes, more than 50 fruit trees and a robust garden that, by July, is swollen with tomatoes, sunflowers, cosmos, ruffled rows of kale and all manner of vegetables.
Andrew eschews the notion of cultivating a grape monoculture. Instead, Scribe aims to fuel a thriving ecosystem of flora and fauna that segues nicely into their culinary endeavors and wine philosophy.
Food and wine together is, of course, of prime interest to Andrew. Through his agricultural upbringing, experiences abroad, personal connections (he casually speaks of "falling into a group a chefs"-which just happens to include luminaries at Chez Panisse and Bar Tartine) and value systems, he makes a point of eating well and eating as purely as possible. The Slow Food movement naturally informs the Scribe ethos.
While Slow Food is basking in megastardom among foodies today, the adulation often ends as lip service and little more. But Scribe truly tries to live it. For their own culinary purposes, they've kept pigs, ducks, guineau hens and, right now, some chickens that lay so prolifically, "we've eaten about two dozen frittata scrambles" according to Andrew. They pickle their own fruit and peppers every season. They make their own honey. They slaughter their own livestock.
It is not an unusual occurrence for a chef from San Francisco's upper echelon of eateries to spontaneously appear over their bee hive oven on any given night, sizzling and stirring up mouthwatering meals from a brief forage in their garden.
Through it all, interlacing the evening-words, tastes, smells-is the beguiling stamp of Scribe wine. As of now there are four vintages-a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and a 2008 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
For such a young enterprise, these wines brandish maturity, personality, beauty and dimension.
The wines, and the winemaking, are still just embarking on what inevitably will be a graceful and gradual flowering. There are no delusions of grandeur as far as case production-Scribe will likely remain boutique-sized, with yearly numbers not exceeding 4,000.
After reconditioning the long-barren soil, the property has been planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling as well as the uncommon Sylvaner varietal-to honor the grapes that were first planted here. Grown primarily in Germany and Alsace, Sylvaner is a highly acidic varietal whose neutrality is sometimes described as a "blank canvas" for reflecting the nuances of terroir.
"We got the cuttings from one single plant at U.C. Davis. They have only one plant," marvels Andrew.
Because the estate grapes won't yield fruit until next fall, all of these wines derive from acreage Scribe leases on Atlas Peak in Napa, as well as a handful of vineyards within a few miles of the hacienda-all managed under the watchful care of Avellar. Their methods are meticulous and intimate. Grapes aren't just picked by block, they are selected by individual row and over the coarse of days. Working with Kristof Anderson, the winery's official winemaker, Scribe is perfecting artisan winemaking techniques and natural processes-such the incorporation of wild yeasts into their wines.
Ultimately, their intent is predicated upon making wine to rival the best in the world.
But there is refreshing lack of concern over point systems or awards. Adam insists that they don't buy into the elitism of wine culture or "the wine hierarchy."
He wishes people could see past the "sipping and swirling" and the rarified adjectives of wine rituals to understand that the people "who actually make the wines are just farmers."
He and Andrew also know that the best wine is coaxed from pristine terroir, organic and unencumbered by too much influence of humans-part of something much larger and more complex than simply growing grape crops alone. Good wine is a metonym for the land from which it springs-one reason why restoration of the property shares equal footing with the crafting of the product.
"We want people to be able to (experience) the nuanced details (of the wine)," says Andrew.
And enjoyment of the wine is the liquid impulse that has sparked a ceaseless number of parties billowing in and out of the twinkling courtyard. Some parties are planned, some emerge from the woodwork, most are filled with artists and musicians and chefs and filmmakers and interesting sorts who share the Marianis' love of good wine, food and company. Andrew likes to think it's in keeping with the traditions of the hacienda's role as a hedonistic hostess to long-ago and round-the-clock revelries.
Indeed, this is the best way to experience Scribe wine-to attend one of their gatherings, eat their freshly grilled food, sit on their hay bales and watch people and memories materialize like gypsy moths to the light. At a time when tasting room culture too often isolates the experience of wine from its making, Scribe is bridging the divide. Add to that the mystery of lost histories, the magic of new ones, and it makes a hay bale seem like the best seat in Wine Country.
Jenny & Francois Selections
Jenny & François Selections was created in 2000.
In the past few years, they have begun working with fabulous distributors in other states. We feel close in philosophy and goals to movements such as Fair Trade and Slow Foods, as well as environmental movements. Our hope is that Jenny & François Selections helps passionate winemakers, who respect the environment and high standards of quality, to continue what they do by bringing their wines to the United States.
They love to educate about natural wines, and share the same excitement for these wines with passionate wine professionals and individuals across the US just as we do.
Jenny Lefcourt, a native New Yorker, originally landed in Paris to study French film during her PhD at Harvard.
After many visits to Paris wine bars and vineyards throughout France, all paths led to wine instead of academia.
Jenny divides her time between France and the US (mostly Paris & New York).
François Ecot, during his years playing jazz piano and tuning and restoring accordians in his native Paris, not only developed his musical ear, but also his smell and taste for wine.
His childhood visits to Chablis vineyards near his family home in Burgundy sparked his interest early. In 1999, he went back to school for winemaking in Beaune, and spent years apprenticing at vineyards doing everything from plowing with a horse to harvesting. He now even makes wine from a small plot of vines he planted in Burgundy.
His hands-on experience in the vines and cellar are a big part of what makes Jenny & François Selections so unique.
François spends most of his time finding fabulous natural wines on his travels through France and beyond.
Together they make a formidable team.
At Knez Winery, we believe that the deeper and more extensive our knowledge, the better our wine will be. We start with an Anderson Valley location that is epic in its richness—with maritime influences, complex soil, a near perfect amount of sun exposure and heritage clones like Martini, Pommard, David Bruce, Wädenswil and Wente. To this, we add the beauty of science—detailed analytics and painstaking research that help us make the most of our land’s bounty. All our vineyards are organic and our farming practices are sustainable and biodynamic. In our winemaking, we are hands-on in the vineyard and hands-off in the barrel room. Through careful stewardship of our land and attention to detail in every phase of winemaking, we are producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir every bit as complex, expressive and ageworthy as our compatriots in Burgundy, France.
Anthony Filiberti is our winemaker. He lives here at our vineyards, taking time every day to walk the vineyards and study the land and soil. He believes an intimate knowledge of the vineyard, along with persistence and patience, are essential to creating great wine. Anthony’s past experience includes working with Lynn-Penner Ash and Josh Bergstrom in Oregon, followed by a stint at Williams-Selyem, and continues with his ongoing work with Anthill Farms. In his winemaking, Anthony’s goal is to create wine that expresses a sense of place. He is especially drawn to the distinctive characteristics of cooler climate wines and single vineyards. He employs traditional winemaking techniques, and in fact crafts all our wine almost entirely by hand.
Ryan has spent five years diligently working at some of Anderson Valley’s most prestigious vineyards such as Weir, Morning Dew, Hein, Valenti and Broken Leg. Adding to his experience in the vineyard are stints in the cellars of Navarro and Toulouse, the combination of which have helped form his philosophy that vineyard and winery are one entity. Ryan’s expertise, knowledge, philosophy and devotion to organics and biodynamics have been instrumental in stewarding Knez wines into full expressions of their site and vintage.
Emily and Stephan Schindler have invested everything they own in Winemonger, a company that imports, distributes and retails Austrian wines. "When we started, all we knew was that we both loved wine," Schindler says. Everything else, she says, they learned the hard way.
They both met as students at the American Film Institute, but they bonded over the bottles of wine they shared each evening at dinner. Emily, the daughter of a wine-loving Stanford University professor, has been swirling, sniffing and sipping wine as long as she can remember. And Stephan, whose family owns a tiny vineyard in Vienna, loves the wines of his homeland.
When Stephan wanted to introduce his favorite Austrian wines to Emily, however, they were nowhere to be found in Los Angeles. One afternoon in the couple's Hollywood backyard they had a moment of clarity: Emily would stop rewriting other people's mediocre movie scripts and Stephan would extract himself from a job producing "Star Mania," the Austrian version of "American Idol." Instead, they would import Austrian wine and sell it on the Internet.
Purple teeth, red tape!
It took a year to organize the paperwork, which entailed much more than an import license. There were the wholesale license, off-site retail license, label approvals and customs compliance to obtain, and they had to build an Internet site, not to mention learn the logistics of shipping and exporting wine from Austria. Buying trips to Austria were rare treats.
Winemonger's first shipment landed at the port of Oakland in October 2004. Thanks in part to delays at customs and more paperwork snarls, the first Internet sale -- four bottles to a California customer -- wasn't made until June 20, 2005.
"We kept getting little things wrong," Emily says. "And getting wines from California to other states turns out to be as complicated as importing them in the first place."
As they worked through the layers of state and federal bureaucracy, Emily says, "people kept saying, 'You can't do that.' Well, turns out you can." But since they were combining so many different businesses into one entity run by just two people, no one person had the answers they needed, she says.
It's been worth it. "Our vintners have become good friends & the adventure of finding the wines, knowing we've picked great ones, I love that part."
Communal Brands is the most excellent wine importation, distribution and brand development company operating near a train yard in NYC, period.
Important stuff: We love wine and choose them from people we love: to wit, Melissa Saunders née Monti has one foot in Italy, another in New Zealand – hence Communal’s focus on these regions. Truth (typicity) is critical in all things, but especially wine. We do not dismiss juice trends, we simply believe wholeheartedly that wines can evolve to accommodate taste without abandoning tradition, hence our battle cry: Classic Wine for Modern People.
We also have an affinity for innovation. Enter the Communal Cooperative. The natural evolution from our inspirational namesake (the Communal Table), the Coop includes a growing cadre of NY based importers with a shared sensibility. This has made us arithmetically bigger in portfolio and sales force, and exponentially bigger in profile and market footprint. The Communal Coop provides its members large scale efficiency while allowing them to specialize and focus their selections: the whole greater than the sum of its parts (battle cry part II). It has also made our croquet outings that much more competitive.
There’s more to our story, but we will only tell it in person after drinking too much (most days after 8).
Augustus Perucchi went into the vermouth business in Barcelona in 1876. He claims to be the very first Spanish vermouth producer. Vermouth Perucchi is made from best-quality white wine with more than 50 different botanicals that have been macerated, ground, infused, pressed, and filtered, then aged in century-old oak foudres.
These distinctly made vermouths are something that need to be experienced.
The extra dry is moderately dry and features ripe apples and Reisling in the nose. This vermouth possesses no bitter or botanical character we could detect. The wine is pleasant to drink on its own. It plays well with Tanqueray or Hendricks Gin. Old barrels.
The Bianco vermouth exhibits some buttered pastries, cinnamon and cloves and finishes with a twist of citrus. It’s a bit sweet, but not overtly so. Outstanding with notes of jasmine, honeysuckle, ginger and a touch of sassafras. Notes of spice and citrus peel and a lingering flavor reminiscent of biting into a soft, honey ginger cake with just a touch more sweetness than the red Vermouth. Perucchi’s recipe contains over 40 distinct ingredients. Enjoy it all by itself, served chilled or over ice as is done throughout Spain. This may well change your Martini recipe forever.
The red vermouth has great complexity and flavors of Christmas cookie spices, bitters, lemon, cola with lingering clove and spice. Just a hint of sweetness, this is outstanding served chilled or over ice. Love it with a splash of La Casera or Seltzer water and a slice or two of lemon over ice. As we have seen, it is awesome with Cava for a delightful summer cocktail. Alternately, try this in your favorite Manhattan recipe for a new twist on a classic cocktail. This red tastes like a sweet vermouth-Campari hybrid–bittersweet, profoundly earthy, and slightly reminiscent of Dubonnet Rouge, with a tannic finish not unlike chewing on fresh tobacco leaves. Manhattan here I come!
Uncouth Vermouth believes in transparency and commitment to sustainability. All ingredients are either foraged from untouched areas, or purchased from a farm that does not succomb to modification and is preferably non-profit. Farmers, not grocery stores. The middle of the woods, not Prospect Park. Your closest source isn’t always your best source, but if you’re willing to do your homework you can create a delicious, locally-sourced vermouth without a drop of sugar, no additives and/or preservatives. Seasonal ingredients produce seasonal flavors to pair with our isochronal meals. My number one rule of thumb has always been, what grows together, goes together. I will never sacrifice the health of our people or the integrity of my vermouth to sell more “product.” It’s not about “organic” certification, it’s about the spirit of my practices. This is a food, meant to be enjoyed in good conscience because this is what we are worth. I aim to be a hopeful influence and help educate and promote the slow food movement. It is of the utmost importance.
Founder, Uncouth Vermouth
Cochs' (pronounced "coaches") Vermouths have been made using the same recipe since their founding, almost 70 years ago. Over 150 botanicals are used, many of which are native to the winery’s Mediterranean setting. Today, their winemaker is Gemma Martinez.
Although the Vatican has decided to suppress the qualification, for a very long time De Muller had owned the title of pontifical suppliers which was granted by all Popers, from Pius X to John XXIII.
The winery is located in Reus, near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Catalonia. Reus is considered the epicenter of Spanish vermouth and Cochs is historically regarded as one of the top producers in the area. Their wines are made with a base of white wine, infused with 150 botanicals. Highly guarded, the recipe includes cinnamon, orange peel, chamomile, rosemary, ginger, oregano & vanilla. The wine is then fortified with Melazas, a liquor made from molasses, and lightly sweetened.
Their Vermouth Reserva is produced in a manner similar to Sherry and was recently named “Best Vermouth in Catalonia.” The wine is aged for a year in used oak barrels, giving it more body and smoothness than traditional vermouth.
While delicious in a mixed drink, Cochs vermouths are traditionally enjoyed neat, on ice or with soda. Depending on the type of wine, they are customarily served either with an orange slice, lemon twist or olive for garnish.
Hella Bitter Bitters
Hella Bitter is an all-natural craft bitters company committed to being the premium alternative to mass-produced and often artificially flavored competitors. What began in the early 2000s as a hobby with roots in the Bay area, turned serious in 2011 when Hella Bitter was founded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With a modest Kickstarter.com fundraising project, pools of sweat, and a big dream, Hella Bitter went from being a weekend project, to being a serious pursuit of the delicious.
Now that Hella Bitter manufactures in East Harlem’s Hot Bread Kitchen and utilizes co-packing services at Long Island City’s Bad Ass Organic, the Brooklyn project has blossomed into a true NYC company, with commitment to quality in all practices. Our goal is to reach the broad audience of food & cocktail lovers while maintaining the quality of our artisan craftsmanship and delivering bitter deliciousness everywhere.
We offer two flavors: Citrus and Aromatic.
Citrus is the bitters that started it all, and we have refined a recipe that consistently outshines other orange bitters on the market. It is slightly more concentrated, and more noticeably citrusy than other bitters in its class. This is because our small-batch approach enables us to carefully regulate the different flavors and prevent any one from overpowering the others.
Perhaps the rockstar of the bunch, our Aromatic consists of more intriguing ingredients and stronger flavors to make a bitters that can stand up to the biggest bourbon whiskeys, but is still delicate enough to give subtle support to a gin cocktail. It gets its color from the beet juice that we use to help sweeten it.
We want to change the way people think about their beverages. We want people to use our product to make their food and drinks a little bit bitter. Whether that’s a classic cocktail or a tasteful marinade, we think Hella Bitter has the potential to bring much more awareness to the world of bitters, and to help sophisticate the American palette. We’re starting small, and we’re dreaming big.
Hella Bitter is Tobin Ludwig, Eduardo Simeon and Jomaree Pinkard.
"I didn't think that there would be anything better on the glass market, this glass is."
Francois Mauss, president of the Grand Jury European.
The Zalto Denk'Art Glasses were named for Father Hans Denk, the Austrian wine priest who has spent decades in the study and tasting of wines, and who is one of the most valued wine experts in Austria. Father Denk guided the glassmakers in the design of each bowl to elicite the best qualities for the type or style of wine it is meant for.
The extraordinary design of Zalto glassware is then matched with perfectly executed balance and craftsmanship, and places Zalto glassware at that rare point where form meets function in complete harmony.
The complete line of Zalto glassware includes the Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, White Wine, Universal, Sweet Wine and Water glasses.
All of the Zalto glasses are lead free.
The line is produced by the Zalto Glasshutte in the town of Neunagelberg in Lower Austria, where the art of glass blowing goes back to the early 14th century.
The roots of the Zalto family, six generations now in this region, reach back to the famous glass artisans of Venice.
Their pursuit of perfection has continually raised the bar in the level of Austrian crystal work: a quality that has been recognized the world over for decades if not hundreds of years.
At first glance, a Zalto glass seems nearly too delicate to hold, and yet it is actually quite durable due to advanced techniques and design. The glass is one piece from bowl to stem, with the base then attached. This differs from other glasses where the bowl is attached to the top of the stem, creating a weakness at that point. This, in conjunction with another element of the design, means that if the glass tips over it lands on it's strongest point- the curve of the bowl- and rarely breaks.
Every aspect in the design of the Zalto line has been made in the pursuit of creating the finest wine glass available. The curve of the bowl of each glass in the Zalto Denk'Art line are tilted at 24, 48 and 72 degrees, which correspond to the tilt angles of the Earth. As the ancient Romans knew, this triumvirate of angles, when used in vessels for food and drink, not only kept its contents fresher, but also improved the taste.
Further, the width of the bowl at the point of the curve is such that it allows for the greatest amount of surface space desired for the type of wine it is intended. A good swirl can be given at that point, and the shape then funnels the bouquet to the nose.
That the glass is lighter, thinner and more elegant in appearance is more than just an aesthetic ideal. It is that the lip of the glass is so thin that the wine is delivered better to the palate. The glass itself doesn't stand in the way of the taste of the wine. If you can imagine trying to sip a fine wine from a hefty beer mug, you can understand why this is so.
Dishwasher safe. In fact, dishwasher safer. Hand washing the glasses can actually be more risky as pressure from within the glass has a greater chance of causing breakage.
The glasses are resistant to clouding and scratching and in tests have remained crystal clear for over a hundred passes through the dishwasher.
In this way, you can feel free to use your Zalto glassware as your "everyday" glass as well as the glass for your best occasions.
Buchi is a community centered, women owned family business continuing the ancient folk tradition of brewing kombucha, a living, probiotic rich, all-natural beverage. We started brewing kombucha so our families would have a healthy alternative to high fructose corn syrup beverages and caffeine laden energy drinks.
Our story begins in the heart of the world’s oldest mountain chain, where we found each other in the most serendipitous way. After years of home brewing kombucha individually, we met through our children's home school co-op and we soon discovered we each separately brewed an almost identical tasting kombucha. We teamed up and after a year of experimentation and research, with kids at play and baby on back...Buchi was born!
The bold taste won over kombucha aficionados and recovering soda drinkers in droves, and when local restaurants began requesting Buchi it became obvious there was huge demand for our sweet and sour carbonated concoction. By the spring of 2009, gallon jars filled every horizontal surface in Jeannine's kitchen and dining room so we moved to a shared kitchen at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, and under their loving guidance we continued to sell every drop we could produce. In winter of 2009, we found a permanent home in the form of a retired wine distribution warehouse, hidden amongst the thickets of an organic farm. Months later it was transformed into our 6,800+ square foot earth bermed brewery and we became the first commercial kombucha brewery in the southeast!
We created this company because we each envision a return to wholesome, regionally produced foods that nourish our bodies, our community, and our local economy. We sincerely hope our life’s passion will bring health and happiness to you and your loved ones.
Kombucha's origin has been lost in the mists of time, but it likely originated in ancient China and spread to Russia and Japan. Many folk tales indicate the Kombucha brewing process was held in secrecy by women who passed the recipes and techniques down to their daughters.
In one story, the women of a village would brew tea for their families and neighbors. Every day, they would tend the hearth, create loving meals, raise children and harvest food. Being a woman was hard work in this village. But, unlike the men, they were not allowed to drink ale and socialize.
One day, the men left the village for many moons on a wild hunt. While their husbands were gone, the women partied, drank strong ale and danced every night. However, in their excitement, the women left the tea untended, and it fermented.
When the men returned from the hunt, they were very thirsty. But, the women did not have time to brew new tea. So the men grabbed their clay goblets, as they normally did after a long a hunt, filled them with the fermented tea and toasted to their success. The women hoped that their husbands would not notice the strong smell and sharp taste, but of course, they did. However, to the women's surprise, the men loved it, and showered their wives with fur pelts, precious stones and sweet embraces.
Like many myths and stories which make up human history, who knows if it's true? We don't, but we do know Kombucha tastes amazing!
Bobbo's Bloody Mary Mix
When I was in Memphis in the 1970s, hanging out with jazz folks, I met a Mississippi cotton farmer (who doubled on vibraphone) who prided himself on his Bloody Marys. When I first had one, I was hooked. He used certain spices and herbs, and ingredients that I wouldn’t have thought about. Later, when my wife and I owned a catering business in Nashville, clients would often ask us to bring Bloody Mary mix to their brunches,. At first, we would bring a commercial product, but at some point, I thought, why not make our own, and serve that to our clients? Cheaper for us and a better product for our clients.
I thought about my old friend, and started experimenting with some of the ingredients he used, added a few of my own, experimented with portions, tested it on our kitchen and with friends, and eventually found the perfect ingredients and portions for the perfect Bloody Mary mix.
After we sold our business and moved to Paradise (Brevard) NC, a newer old friend suggested that I bottle the red nectar. I call it “Bobbo’s” because it’s a nickname (given to me by my step-daughter) that I particularly like, and because of the fine alliteration: Bobbo’s Bloody Mary Mix.
Each person is different, I know, but may I suggest having a Bobbo’s as a brunch pre-prandial while smelling cooking bacon with friends and listening to the Mills Brothers?
Coturri Winery is situated on Sonoma Mountain, above the tiny hamlet of Glen Ellen, in the region know as the Valley of the Moon. It was founded in 1979 by Harry "Red" Coturri and his sons Tony and Phil. Red learned how to make wine during Prohibition and the great depression from his father Enrico, who immigrated to America from Farneta, Italy in 1901. Today, Tony is custodian of the wine made here and remains true to the traditional methods of his predecessors.
For over thirty-five years we have been stewarding terroir-driven wine on Sonoma Mountain, above the tiny hamlet of Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. Our small estate vineyard is comprised primarily of Martini Monte Rosso Zinfandel clones on phylloxera resistant St. George rootstock. The vineyard is dry farmed and head pruned in the traditional Italian goblet style.
Our grapes are never treated with pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides.
We use Indigenous yeast.
We use neutral oak cooperage.
We do not fine or filter.
We do not use SO2 at any point of the winemaking process.
No additions or manipulations of any kind are made. We believe that our wines are a testament to the longevity potential of wines made naturally.
Bloomer Creek Vineyard
Like a glass of fine wine, a vineyard tells a story. Bloomer Creek Vineyard tells the story of two young people, Kim and Debra, who built something together – who planted a vineyard in fields where raspberries once grew.
Thirty years ago Kim and Debra bought a farmhouse once owned by a man named Ed Auten. The farmhouse had many rooms. Tall ornate windows looked out across corn fields and doors opened to a small orchard surrounded by fat sugar maples. Out back, a small creek - Bloomer Creek - warbled over a shallow shale bed in early spring. Kim came to this farmhouse by way of a love affair – a love affair with vines.
In 1978, as a young student on leave from Cornell University, Kim found himself pruning grapes on a vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake. The hard work, outside all day in frosty temperatures, suited him. In the evening, standing by an outdoor grill with venison roasting and a glass of homemade wine in his hand, Kim realized he had found his life’s passion. This passion would only intensify a year later, following an extended stay in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy. Eat, drink, and be merry - Kim decided to become a vigneron.
After returning to Cornell to complete his studies (including a stint at CSUF in Fresno, CA for viticulture and enology not yet available at Cornell) Kim began to pursue his dream – buying land, planting grapes, and practicing the nuanced poetics needed to tend them. Bloomer Creek Vineyard was established in 1999 from 10 acres with two different vineyard designations – Auten Vineyard and Morehouse Road - planted on the west side of Cayuga Lake. In 2012 a new vineyard was added to Bloomer Creek when Kim and Debra purchased an abandoned vineyard site on the east side of Seneca Lake, one mile from their production cellar in Hector. The vineyard had been abandoned for over 30 years and needed to be cleared of brush, trees, posts and rusted trellis wire. In spring of 2013, four acres of Riesling was planted. “Barrow Vineyard” - Old Norse for high, rocky hill and burial mound – links the past to the future. One lone cedar tree was left in the field amongst the vines as a testament to all who have gone before and to all who will follow.
Debra came to her passion for vines and wine through Kim. As a little girl, in answer to the question – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – Debra had always answered, “ artist” – which is what she became. Now, however, (because of Kim) she realizes that she might have added – “and vigneronne” if she had only known what that meant.
While studying art at Cornell University (BFA) and the University of Washington in Seattle (MFA) Debra narrowly missed following a different path – mountaineering. At the summit of every major peak in the Pacific Northwest, Debra exulted in the intense physicality needed to reach a mountaintop and the rewarding beauty of the ethereal landscape found there. However, pursuing beauty in the quiet north light of her studio prevailed. Now, Debra's former passion for mountaineering has a new form of expression with every grape harvest at Bloomer Creek where, instead of a fading memory of the intense journey, there is a moment of beauty in a glass of wine to savor at the end of the day.
Debra’s career as a professional artist includes over 25 years of representation by DC Moore Gallery in NY. Her exhibition record is extensive with her work included in many private and public collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Smith College Museum of Art. Her most recent exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in VT (8/15-10/15) entitled “Threaded Dances” travels to the Delaware Art Museum in fall 2016.
Katy Koken came to Bloomer Creek as a teenager to work part-time. Her childhood home - a beautiful house in the woods - was infused with the fiddle music of her father and the fine food of her mother. It was here that she came to love watching things grow as she helped tend her mother’s large kitchen garden - a garden that brought delicious food to their table at home as well as to her mother’s cafe in Ithaca.
Now, 10 years later, Katy has become a crucial part of Bloomer Creek Vineyard as assistant vigneron. She received her degree in viticulture and enology from Cornell in 2011 and helps in every aspect of field and cellar work. Like Kim and Debra, Katy sees wine as the direct expression of everything that happens in a vineyard – like the year a Bluebird built a nest in the end post of the Riesling vineyard by the pond – a special vintage!