A good marriage (of wine and comedy)
Location: Sebastopol, California, USA
Owner & winemaker: Joel Burt and Eric Wareheim
Vineyard area: variable – the grapes are sourced from carefully selected growers in Mendocino, Sonoma, and other parts of California (or Oregon for the Pinot Noir)
Vineyard management: practicing organics or organic-certified, depending on the source vineyard (with an exception for the Chenin vineyard)
Soils: diverse alluvial soils, depending on the vineyard
Main varieties: Carignan, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chenin. Most of the wines are blends of Southern French or Italian varieties
Annual production (approx.): 16,000 cases
Winemaking: spontaneous fermentation, diverse aging and fermentation vessels. No fining, sometimes light filtration before bottling.
- Las Jaras is a labor of friendship between a long-time California winemaker Joel Burt and comedian Eric Wareheim (of Master of None, Tim & Eric or Reality fame)
- “Sweet Berry Wine”, the first wine they ever made, was born out of a desire to share wine with Eric’s comedy fans; it features John C. Reilly, one of Eric’s comedic counterparts, on the label, and has been part of the range ever since
- The winery was officially born a year after, with the 2016 vintage
- The guys have been actively working on turning their growers into chemical-free farming, and now virtually all the vineyards are practicing or certified organic
- The winery name (“The Arrows” in Spanish) comes from one of the lottery cards that Joel’s Mexican coworkers would leave behind at his old table grape farm job
- Besides the love for wine, the guys also share an enormous love for food, especially pizza; Eric even co-authored a cookbook of his own.
Two guys meet in a garage and… well, in this case, this isn’t the beginning of an internet mogul company, but of a natural wine brand called Las Jaras. It all started in the late aughts with a garage wine made by Joel, a trained winemaker then working for various big wineries in California. “I’d never had a wine like this before – it was a sparkling Carignan similar to the one we’re making now. So fresh and energetic, so different from the corporate Champagnes or hefty California wines I knew back then. It really moved me,” Eric, a cult comedian and “top food blogger”, recalls the first meeting with his friend’s produce. After this epiphany, Joel also set Eric on a path to Italian and French regions; the original exploration of classical wines and styles soon deviated towards more natural and low intervention wines and eventually led to Las Jaras, “a mix of those two approaches” as Eric puts it.
The very first wine ever made was a 2015 Sweet Berry Wine, a now-classic bold red with a portrait of Eric’s comedy partner John C. Reilly on its label. What started as a trick to lure comedy fans into low-intervention winemaking leaped into a regular winery with the next vintage, as the guys bought a bunch of Carignan grapes and made a couple of different cuvées. Fueled by Eric’s love for a lighter style of wines and European classics, the duo has since explored multiple grapes and styles, from a darker style Rosato made with Italian grapes to an elegant, poised Chenin or a highly drinkable light carbonic pizza red, aptly named Glou Glou. “It’s very much a personal voyage,” Eric nods, “our tastes change every year, so there still is some experimentation coming on, inspired by what we like to drink at the moment. Take our Oregon Pinot Noir, that wine is partly due to our friends Andy from St.Reginald Parish or Joe Swick: we tasted their wine and told them “shit, man, this is great, can we buy your grapes too?’,” Eric laughs at the West Coast wine community dynamics. “But the goal is always the same, putting beautiful wine out there.”
How difficult is it to harmonize changing tastes of two quite different people, you ask? “I’ve learned through comedy that the idea of a big ego just doesn’t work for success. So I really enjoy these creative partnerships I have, be it with Tim [Heidecker, Eric’s other half in the Tim and Eric comedy duo] or Aziz [Ansari, of the Netflix show Master of None], these are people who are better at doing something than I am and I feel like my role is to empower them and push them to go further. And it’s the same with Joel–I want him to make what he’s passionate about. Luckily, just like Tim and I are one brain in comedy, Joel and I are one brain when it comes to winemaking philosophy and practices. I trust him so much,” Wareheim explains in his interview with the Pipette Magazine, recalling how happy he is that Joel resisted his urge to go overly “funky” in the winemaking style.
Joel and Eric indeed work on the “cleaner side of natural”, as they put it, with a very simple philosophy in the cellar: pick it when it’s just right, use different kinds of vessels (there’s some concrete oak experiment going on), not much oak, and then “don’t fuck with it”. Some of the wines (like the new Waves cans) are lightly filtered and received a small dose of sulfur, but that’s about it; on the other end, their wildly popular Superbloom cuvée is actually a zero-zero co-ferment of red and white grapes, inspired by Eric’s visit to Alice Bouvot’s Octavin. An important shift allowing for this kind of work happened in the grape sourcing: with every vintage, Joel and Eric have shifted towards more and more organic grapes, actively incentivizing growers to go fully organic. “All of our fruit sources have been organic since the 2018 vintage except for the Chenin Blanc that messed up with one herbicide spray. The vineyard just changed hands, so we will hopefully get it right with the new grower for the 2022 season,” Joel explains.
It’s precisely this kind of commitment to quality and immediate energy appeal of their wines that sets Las Jaras apart from the dreadful “wine from a celebrity” drawer. “Oh, we did get these reactions in the beginning, of course–and I don’t really blame people for thinking this way, I’d probably be turned off by that too. I guess not everybody knew how seriously I take food and wine,” Eric shrugs, content with the fact that due to their dedication, they managed to genuinely make their “peers, winemaker friends or restaurant managers happy” in the end.
We can attest to the dedication: it’s highly moving and entertaining at the same time to see a 6’7” guy almost levitate with joy over an expertly prepared fish and top-notch olive oil or a soulful German Riesling that we had the luck to share with him on different places on Earth. Or to see his winemaking partner prepare a serious sourdough Detroit-style pizza like Joel did for us in one Instagram live; there’s definitely a lot of skill and joie de vivre involved in the Las Jaras enterprise. “These are the best moments in your life,” Eric confirms: “being with your friends or your lover, drinking a bottle of wine, laughing, and talking. Sometimes you’re talking about the wine, sometimes about life, but wine is always a part of it.”
Sparkling Carignan — Back to the top
“This is the second vintage of our sparkling wine made using this method. We wanted to explore making a full pressure wine with sufficiently ripe grapes that would not require long aging, multi-vintage blending, or dosage. We are unsure what to call this method of winemaking. It is kind of like a cross between the traditional method (picked early, dual fermentation, high pressure, often sweetened) and a pétillant naturel (picked ripe, single fermentation, low pressure, sometimes finishes sweet.) You can think of our method as a high pressure, naturally balanced wine without sugar added.”
Vineyard: 100% old vine Carignan from McNabb Ranch Vineyard situated between Hopland and Ukiah in Mendocino County. These grapes are the same ones used to make the base wine for our 2017 still Rosé. We split the sparkling portion off at mid-ferment.
Winemaking: The hand-picked grapes were whole cluster pressed to a tall skinny stainless steel tank. After racking the clear juice at 150 NTU, we kept the juice cold in tank and circulated it on the lees weekly for six weeks using the “stabulation” technique. When the wine started to tick, we set the cooling on the tank to 68°F and let the wine ferment naturally. When the wine reached about 3 brix we chilled the tank to arrest fermentation. We let the tank sit cold for several weeks to clarify and cold stabilize. When it was time to bottle, we racked the wine, added a small amount of organic yeast extract (food for the yeast) and a yeast culture that was built up from an isolate on a slant. The wine was stored sur latte (on its side) for six months and sur pointe (upside down) for two months before it was disgorged. We simply topped the bottles and did not add any sugar or sulfur.
Rosé — Back to the top
Joel and Eric on this wine: “General thoughts on Rosé… Rosé should be fresh and vibrant, delicious and gulpable. You can’t just simply pick grapes earlier for rosé, because the wine will be out of balance. The grapes need to achieve appropriate ripeness for a great rosé. We handpick the grapes early in the morning and get them to the winery as early as possible.”
Grapes: 69% Zinfandel, 28% Carignan, 3% Petite Sirah
Vineyards: All of the vineyards we source for this wine are head-trained old vines that are dry-farmed.
83% Gary Venturi Vineyard: Carignan, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah, organic;
15% Hillside Vineyards: Zinfandel, certified organic;
2% Ricetti Vineyards: old vine Carignan, certified organic
Making of: The Carignan for this wine was whole-cluster-pressed as soon as the fruit was received at the winery. This method of juice extraction gives a savory and mineral-laden wine with a fine texture. The Zinfandel was destemmed as soon as it got to the winery, after which, it was added to the press as whole bunches, in order to get great red fruit character and avoid extracting too much bitterness. 10ppm sulfur added and after 24 hours of settling the wines, the wine was racked for native primary fermentation. Once these lots had fermented to dryness, they were combined into one tank for storage on their lees until bottling at cool temperatures to discourage malo-lactic fermentation, but it went through anyway. Close to the bottling date, the wine was lightly filtered and a small amount of sulfur was added (total SO2 24ppm).
Personality: Yes, this is a pink party wine—but it’s a classy pink party wine. Big red fruit and hibiscus, packed with acid and minerality and a bone-dry finish. This is a rosé you want to bring home to meet your parents. It deserves to be drunk alongside imported tinned fish, artisanal baguettes, and plenty of salted butter. If this rosé could talk, it would have a lilting French accent and quote Godard.
Chloe Carignan — Back to the top
“General thoughts on Carignan: Carignan is such an intriguing variety for us. At its best it is juicy, brambly and spicy. At its worst it is tannic, sour, and tastes like cabbage. It can also be quite difficult to grow. They are generally vigorous old vines that stand 7-8 feet tall. The vine is extremely prone to powdery mildew infection, so it needs meticulous canopy management to avoid disaster. Site selection is important for this variety to perform. It needs to be on benchland, with properly draining sandy loam soils and a hot climate. The light soils help regulate the vine’s vigor and the heat helps respire acid, which can be absolutely searing on this variety.
Vineyards: 100% Carignan sourced from Gary Venturi’s vineyard in the Calpella area of Mendocino County near Ukiah on the benchlands to the west of the valley. Gary and his dog, Kelsey, tend the vines. They were planted in the mid-1960’s. The vineyard is dry farmed and sustainable. The soils are Yokayo series sandy loam. When dry it is like walking on the moon. The vineyard is super clean due to Gary’s fastidious suckering and canopy management. I think it’s also due to being on the right soil for Carignan. It only needs 1-2 sulfur dustings per season.
Winemaking: We hand-picked the vineyard at 23 brix. Gary has a few vines of Golden Chasellas growing on the property so we asked to have them added to the pick. When the grapes arrived at the winery, we tipped half of the bins into the open top fermentor as whole clusters and we destemmed the rest. We added no SO2 and kept the tank jacket set a 72ºF. We were very gentle when handling this variety because it can be really tannic especially with such concentrated fruit. We used only light punchdowns, just wetting the cap. We did one punchdown per day until the native fermentation kicked off and then increased the punchdowns to two per day. After the mid-point of fermentation, we backed off to one or no punchdowns. Once the tank was dry, we drained it overnight and pressed the skins and intact clusters in the morning using a tank press. We aged the free drain and the press separately in 228 liter Burgundian barrels; none of them were new. We aged the wine in a cool room where they underwent native malo-lactic fermentation. We racked the barrels about a month before bottling and then back to clean barrels. We racked again a few days before bottling and the wine was limpid. This is our method of creating wines that are clean without being filtered. We bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Glou Glou Red — Back to the top
Joel and Eric on this wine: “Pizza, burgers, wine: the Las Jaras holy trinity presents Glou Glou, the perfect wine for circle foods. Most of the grapes underwent carbonic maceration, the classic fermentation method of the Beaujolais, which means that fermentation happened inside of berries themselves, causing them to explode in happy, boozy ecstasy. That’s how you’ll feel when you drink this wine—it dances in your mouth.”
Grapes: the 2020 blend is 50% Carignan, 35% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 6% Pinot Noir
Vineyards: Mostly dry-farmed old vines in the center of Mendocino County, all organic or are transitioning. 81% of the grapes come from Gary Venturi’s vineyard in Calpella, where they are farmed in Yokayo sandy loam soils – a bit of an estate vineyard for Las Jaras, as they dictate the farming and get all grapes produced there. Larry Venturi (10% of the fruit) and Testa (3%) vineyards are neighbors, and the 6% of Pinot comes from Mendocino Ridge to add a nice lift to the
Winemaking: Most of the 36 lots were fermented with carbonic maceration, a gentle process that helps to keep early-harvest wines from becoming too tannic. After 7-15 days, depending on the lot, the juice was pressed in tanks, received 10ppm sulfur, and continued fermentation with native yeasts. Half of the lots were aged in barrels and half in stainless steel tanks. Light filtration and sulfur addition prior to bottling.
Personality: So much finesse and fruit deliciousness that you’ll suddenly realize that you’ve finished the whole bottle. Glou Glou has enough acid to stand up to your favorite tomato sauce, as well as intense berry notes that perfectly complement the char of a burger or perfectly cooked pizza crust. Serve this slightly chilled, and you will be the hero of your next backyard barbecue.
Carbonic Oregon Pinot Noir — Back to the top
Joel and Eric on this wine: “In early 2018, we scoured the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts to find a cool organic pinot noir vineyard to make a beautiful wine with a Burgundian expression. Having not come up with anything too exciting in California, we called up our buddy Grant Coulter, who farms and makes beautiful wines in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. He had two vineyard sites for us to choose from, one in Chehelem Mountains AVA and one in Ribbon Ridge AVA. We chose the La Belle Promenade vineyard from Chehelem Mountains, mainly because the resulting wine would have a lower pH and the vineyard is an incredible site with great farming.”
Vineyard: La Belle Promenade Vineyard, a south-west facing slope on Chehelem Mountain, Willamette Valley, OR, 820 feet above sea level. New, organic, dry-farmed vineyard with a high density of plantation. The soils are the volcanic Jory and Nekia series. This wine is made from two blocks: 1/3 is clone 115 and the other 2/3 from the Orchestra Block, planted with a random mix of clones.
Winemaking: The grapes were harvested, and then transported in Las Jaras’ vented macro bins back to Sonoma County on a semi-truck with a reefer unit set to 40F, in order to arrive at the Sebastopol winery in the best possible condition. There was no rot, and not a single leaf or desiccated berry in the bins.
The grapes from the Orchestra Bock were destemmed and dumped into the tank. The grapes from the clone 115 block were destemmed with 20% of the bins to remain as whole clusters. The wines fermented naturally at cool temperatures with very gentle cap movements, 14 days in total until dry. The free-run wines were transferred to new and used large format barrels. The press wines were aged separately and added to Las Jaras Glou Glou wine (see below). The wine continued to age on its lees until one month before bottling when it was racked clean and returned to barrel. Before bottling, we again racked the wine clean and we were able to bottle without fining or filtration.
Personality: nose of cocoa, raspberry, dark cherry, and nutmeg with earthy hints of tar. The palate is darkly rich and layered with licorice, bitter cherry, plum, and earth, both dense and elegant with a finish that lasts into eternity. Those who had the patience to wait will really be rewarded after a couple of years…
Cézanne Chenin Blanc — Back to the top
Joel and Eric on this wine: “This wine is named after Joel’s wild 5-year-old daughter Cézanne. This is definitely a wine with a personality, vexing in its depth of minerality but gives you so much pleasure as you hang onto the savory note that shakes you to your core through the finish. We are so excited that the savory white wines that Eric and Joel have lusted over for years can now be part of the Las Jaras portfolio.”
Vineyard: The grapes for this wine come from the Norgard Vineyard in Talmage which was planted in 1980 and is set up with a quadrilateral cordon system that was popular in those days. The vineyard is conventionally farmed.
Winemaking: It seems that the most critical things to make a chenin blanc in the style that we are after is to avoid oxidation and oxidised aromas, have it complete fermentation, and have plenty of acid. Everybody says they pick the grapes at the perfect time, but to us that means picking as soon as they fruit has a hint of ripe flavor, which in this case was about 18.5 brix. We also wanted to to keep the wine reduced enough so it does not create the “forward” aromas of wet wool or linalool. So we whole cluster pressed the grapes as soon as they got into the winery and put the wine directly into two concrete eggs and a new demi-muid for fermentation. The new wood helps add a roundness to the wine to support the mineral frame. We refrained from adding anything except a small amount of sulfur in the months near the bottling date. We did not fine or filter this wine.
This wine will continue to age very well for the next several years if kept at a consistent cool temperature. The cork we chose allows the wine to age without “breathing.” This wine would be well served dishes like fish tacos, oysters, salads, and grilled foods. Dishes that have bright flavors and fresh textures are a perfect partner.
Personality: Comice pear and wet stones, then layer upon layer of dried white peach, apricot, white cherry, along with toasted almond and clove. Long, gorgeous finish filled with mineral, saline, and acid touches that make you salivate for more. A textural adventure for treasure hunters: roundness, minerals, and acidity, it’s all there.
Super Bloom — Back to the top
Joel and Eric on this wine: “We call this a “California Table Wine,” but don’t be fooled by the humble name. Superbloom is a complex, utterly unique wine that expresses the specialness of Love Ranch vineyard in the Sierra Foothills through a co-ferment of red and white Rhône varieties. It is named after the wildflowers that erupt in the desert after a wetter-than-normal rainy season. They’re a sign that winter is over and warmer, happier days are ahead. Even when spring has not yet sprung in a lot of the country, you can sip on Superbloom and dream of warm California nights.”
Grapes: the 2020 blend is 16% Roussane, 14% Mourvèdre, 16% Grenache Noir, 10% Grenache Blanc, 27% Marsanne, 7% Picpoul Blanc, 10% Carignan
Vineyard: The first six varieties from the above list come from Love Ranch vineyard in Madera County, near Coarsegold, a certified-organic vineyard situated near the southern gate of Yosemite on rolling hills at about 2,000 feet above sea level. The climate is very hot there; it can get up to 90oF by 10 a.m. The soils are free-draining granitic schist. This combination of factors means the grapes ripen quickly, and fruit from Love Ranch is often the first into the winery each year. Because the Mourvèdre and Grenache Noir had low yields, we decided to add Carignan from Aspesi Ranch, an old-vine vineyard near Fresno that is farmed organically by Oscar Ramos, who also farms Love Ranch.
Production: 1500 Cases
Winemaking: Carbonic co-ferment made in several tanks, each treated differently, to cold carbonic macerations 5-14 days long. After press, the juice from each lot fermented separately in stainless steel, with both the primary and malo-lactic fermentation happening spontaneously. Blended post-fermentation, no additions to this wine.
Personality: Is it dark pink? Or light red? Call it a nighttime rosé, if you’d like. You know that moment right after sunset, before the stars are out in full—what poets call the “violet hour”? That’s the moment to open this wine. The red grapes give this wine a spicy nose and plenty of texture, while the white grapes add beautiful watermelon and rhubarb notes, plus a clean, mineral finish.
Sweet Berry Red — Back to the top
We are so excited to share the 2018 Sweet Berry Wine with you! This was a long, cool vintage, which resulted in a nuanced, refined wine that will age wonderfully. It’s perfect for long, autumn evenings with friends—grab a warm blanket, start a fire, and watch as the flames illuminate the beautiful, deep ruby wine inside your glass. As the days grow shorter and colder, you’ll find even more occasions to pop open a bottle: holiday dinners, après-ski at the lodge, New Years Eve. This wine is loaded with spice and bright, berry fruit, making it wonderfully versatile with food. We hope it’s a wine you’ll keep coming back to for years to come – for your health!
Varieties: 54% Carignan, 28% Zinfandel , 12% Charbono, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Valdiguie Old Vines, Mendocino County
Vineyards: The grapes for this blend are grown on old vines and sourced from vineyards in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Most of the Carignan, Zinfandel and Charbono grapes come from Gary Venturi’s vineyard in Calpella, where they are dry farmed using sustainable farming techniques and grown in Yokayo sandy loam soils. Nine percent of the Carignan comes from the organic Riccetti vineyard in Redwood Valley. We also source some fruit from Green Valley in Solano County: Valdiguie from Quail Run vineyard and a bit of Carignan from Parenti Vineyard, both organically grown. The Cabernet grapes are sustainably farmed on Sonoma Mountain at Berger’s Oak Shade Ranch in Goulding on volcanic gravelly loam soils.
Winemaking: All of our fruit for this blend was hand-picked and each one of the varieties goes through its own separate, slightly different winemaking process in order to bring out the desired expression of the fruit. We further break the Carignan and Zinfandel into several different fermentation methods. Our Carignan, Zinfandel, and Cabernet were hand-sorted at the crusher. There was no sulfur added, no cold soaks and only native fermentation in open-top fermenters. Punch downs happened frequently in the beginning and decreased over time. Some of the Carignan lots were 20% and others were 50% whole cluster, while other lots were destemmed entirely. We typically drained and pressed just before dryness and aged in neutral French oak – a combination of 600L demi muids, 500L Puncheons and 228L Burgundy barrels. The Cabernet and Zinfandel were each 100% destemmed, drained and pressed at dryness. The Cabernet was aged in a combination of new and used French 225L Bordeaux barrels. The Zinfandel was aged in neutral French oak 600L demi muids. Carbonic Maceration was used for the Charbono. Whole clusters were placed in open-tanks with dry ice. The temperature was set at 65°F and 20 gallons of fermenting rosé was added to generate CO2. The tank was sealed and untouched for 10 days. On pressing day, we dug out the tank and added the whole clusters to a horizontal bladder press and gently crushed the grapes to avoid picking up too much structure from the skins. The juice was then fermented in a stainless steel tank and transferred at dryness to age in neutral French 228L Burgundy barrels. We racked and blended the wine into 4 blocks in February following harvest. We did this to allow the more structured lots mate with the leaner lots. This really allowed us to achieve more cohesion in the blend. One month before bottling we racked and blended all of the lots then returned the wine to barrels until one week before bottling when the wine was racked clean to tank. We bottled without fining or filtration.
Rosato — Back to the top
Joel & Eric on this wine: “We are obsessed with all things Italian: pasta, disco, cars, and wine. So of course we jumped at the opportunity to work with two iconic organically grown Italian varieties, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, in 2019, despite the paradox that both are big grapes while we are all about restraint and nuance in wine. This is why we decided to vinify them as a rosato (the Italian term for rosé). The 2020 blend got a bit more variety due to the challenging year, but the result offers the same amount of piacere (pleasure): a rich, softly textured wine that drinks more like fine white wine than your typical pale pink, feather-light rosé. Perfect for that moment when you transition from the pool to the dinner table for a candlelit, alfresco meal.”
Varieties: 28% Sangiovese, 18% Montepulciano, 24% Dolcetto, 19% Barbera, 11% Negroamaro
Sangiovese: Larry Venturi Vyd, dry-farmed, certified organic
Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Negroamaro: Fox Hill, practicing organic
Barbera: Testa Vyd, certified organic
Winemaking: Each of the vineyard blocks was harvested and vinified separately. The fruit was lightly treaded and pressed shortly thereafter. After settling overnight at ambient temperature, each lot was racked with light lees to a stainless steel tank and kept in the tank until native fermentation started. A small 10ppm dose of sulfur was added and the tanks were racked to their fermentation and aging vessels, which were a mixture of concrete eggs and large format barrels (500-600L). The wines were aged until winter and underwent native malolactic fermentation. After some racking and moving between the vessels, the wine was finally racked and blended in April and bottled with no fining or filtration.
Personality: subtle notes of wet stones, star anise, tangerine, yellow nectarine both in scent and flavor. Silky and round, it has a long finish that gives a slight pucker and leaves you thirsty for another sip. Winemakers’ tip: “This wine is going to be lovely all the way through winter, and if you can resist the temptation to drink it all, it will be lovely when aged for longer than a year.”
Slipper Sippers Nouveau — Back to the top
Dry Farmed Old Vines | Mendocino County
A Nouveau is born! Nouveau is the name given to the first wine of the vintage. The style originated out of Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy where they make wines from Gamay Noir using the technique carbonic maceration. In carbonic maceration, open top tanks that have been inertized with carbon dioxide are filled with whole cluster grapes and then sealed for a number of days. The way the early natural winemaker Jules Chauvet employed the technique in the mid-20th century was to drain the juice that seeped out of the clusters from the tanks daily. He did this because that juice that would be in contact with the stems and skins thus extracting too much tannin and color; making a bigger wine than he intended.
This is essentially how we made this wine. The juice we drained down daily was fermented separately and then blended with carbonic lots of Charbono, Zinfandel, Carignan and Petite Sirah.
The wine has a nose full of blue and red fruit. There are gobs of boysenberry and plum. On the palate it is super juicy with boysenberry jam, pomegranate, and blueberry. It has balanced acidity and there is an appealing mouth coating tannin that keeps it fresh on the palate.
Varieties: Charbono 41% Zinfandel 31% Carignan 18% Petite Sirah 10%
Vineyard: All of the grapes used for this blend are from the Gary Venturi Vineyard which is farmed organically. It is situated in Calpella, just north of Ukiah on an east-facing bench. We have been working with this vineyard since the beginning and are very happy to have taken over the whole property, converting it to organic practices.
Winemaking: To make this wine we employed Jules Chauvet’s “true carbonic” method to avoid picking up smoke that may be present on the skins of the grapes. It turned out to be a great method to make a tasty wine from the vintage and a super light style carbonic wine. A lot of carbonic wines are impacted by the must that comes in contact with stems, but this wine has no greenness or stemmyness.
Waves White — Back to the top
Eric and Joel on this wine: “To the beach, to the pool, to the mountain, or riding a bike, wine usually reserved for bottles can be a roadie, too. The can is a perfect lightweight, single-serving vessel, and our goal is to make a canned wine that is bursting with personality and deliciousness, and hypnotic art by Jen Stark. Old vine French Colombard takes us to that happy place with a light fruitiness. The flavors of this variety on its own seemed to be round and show melon and marshmallow notes, so by adding the Barbera and a touch of Chenin blanc, we were able to give the wine more definition and minerality on the palate.”
Grapes: 60% French Colombard, 25% Barbera, 15% Chenin Blanc
the Colombard comes from the Ricetti Vineyard in Redwood Valley, just north of Ukiah. Vines planted in the 1950s, dry farmed, certified organic.
Barbera is from Testa Vineyard in Redwood Valley, certified organic
Chenin Blanc comes from Norgard Vineyard in Talmage, certified sustainable (soon organic), planted in 1980
Making of: French Colombard and Barbera are both late-ripening varieties, but were picked pretty early here. The Barbera (a red grape) was quite heavily cropped, so it had very high acidity and very little color. Direct-pressed, settled for a day, then racked to tank. When the natural fermentation started, the must was transferred to a number of non-stainless steel vessels: large format oak, concrete eggs, and sandstone amphora, where the wines then rested on their lees for five months. The wines were then racked and blended with the Chenin blanc to bring up the
minerality. The wine was not fined, but the winemakers decided to filter it because “when you are drinking wine out of a
can, you want that last sip to be as good as the first,” Joel says.
Personality: white peach, honeydew melon, and grapefruit, along with hints of wet stone. The palate is lightly sparkling and shows melon and grapefruit, and vibrates with a gentle sparkle and racy acidity. “Drinking this on a hot summer day, we’re even reminded of our favorite childhood soft drink, Squirt, which we’d gulp straight from the can while we played by the pool,” the guys say.
Waves Rosé — Back to the top
Eric and Joel on this wine: “Our ideal rosé for a can was light and zippy with big fruit, and this combination of varieties gives us that with a powerhouse of freshness. The gentle sparkle really makes this a fun wine to enjoy out of the can or in a glass.”
“2020 was a challenging vintage with lots of smoke in the air. Making rosé is a good way to make wines that alleviate smoke taint risk and ensure that our grape growers can make a living. We would normally tread or destem some of the grapes for our rosé to bring up the red fruit character, but with the addition of Petite Sirah, we have so much fruitiness and color that we didn’t need to.”
Grapes: 55% Zinfandel, 33% Petite Sirah, 12% Carignan
Gary Venturi Vineyard, Calpella, dry-farmed, practicing organic (zinfandel, petite sirah, carignan)
Ricetti Vineyard, Redwood Valley, dry-farmed, certified organic, planted in the 1950s (carignan)
Hillside Vineyard, Talmage, dry-farmed, certified organic (zinfandel)
Making of: All varieties were pressed and fermented separately, naturally. When all of the lots were dry, the blend was assembled and stored without sulfur. Unfined but filtered, 10ppm of sulfur added prior to canning.
Personality: pomegranate, red plum, and white cherry along with hints of forest. The palate shows plum and white cherry in abundance, bright acidity and a light sparkle.
Waves Red — Back to the top
Eric and Joel on this wine: “It was a really fun challenge to make a red wine that is perfect for a can. Our goal was to make a feather-weight red that is satisfying and perfect to drink ice cold. A little sparkle makes it super lively on the palate.”
Grapes: 79% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah
Gary Venturi Vineyard, Calpella, Mendocino County. Dry-farmed, organic. The vineyard is primarily old vines, but here the young vines were used in order to have a youthful red.
Making of: letting the guys explain the challenge here: “2020 was a challenging vintage with lots of smoke in the air. In order to make a wine free of smoke taint, we came up with a winemaking process that avoids having the juice in contact with the
skins. We used the classic Jules Chauvet version of the carbonic maceration method where the tank is drained of juice daily. The way most people employ carbonic maceration these days, the juice that comes out of the berries macerates with the wine to give more extraction to the wine. In the method we used for this wine, there is really no juice contact with the skins or the stems and the resulting wine is a pure carbonic maceration. This style creates a very light wine and does not have the green notes you would otherwise have. The success of the method was not only great for the wine, it allowed us to harvest and pay for grapes that our grape growers would have otherwise left to rot on the vine. 10ppm SO2 was added after digging out and pressing the tanks and an additional 10ppm was added three weeks before bottling. Only about 25% of this blend was aged in oak, so there is a nice balance of warm tones and crunchy fruit.”
Personality: black plum, earth, dark cherry, violets. The palate has an unctuous middle full of black plum, cherry, and cocoa powder. There is only the slightest hint of mouth coating tannin and a long dry finish. Enjoy straight outta can or in a glass, whatever tickles your fancy.