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Wine Trend 1 - Natural Wine
Natural wine is made with as little manipulation of the grapes as possible. Winemakers use organically grown grapes and forego yeast and sulfite additions that are commonly used in wine production. By doing so, natural wines are exposed to wild yeast and bacteria such as brettanomyces, which produce a funky aroma in the wine. This bouquet can range from sweat to horse blanket to baby diaper, but is favored by many curious drinkers. Wine produced before the 1800s might have tasted this way. Try this wine style here:
Scribe Winery, Sonoma
Littorai Winery, Sebastopol
La Clarine Farm, Sierra Nevada Foothills
Wine Trend 2 - Petillant- Naturel
The winemaker’s answer to climate change? -- petillant-naturel. An ancestral technique in vinification, pet-nat (as it’s called by a devoted fan base) is produced by stopping the fermentation process before the yeast is finished converting sugar to alcohol and carbonation, and capping the wine. The wine then undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle resulting in a lightly-carbonated, low-alcohol, slightly sweet wine. Because of the uncontrollable factors in the bottle-conditioning, flavor and CO2 can vary. Seasoned drinkers adore this unpredictability. Try this wine style here:
Donkey and Goat, Berkeley
Cruse Wine Co., Petaluma
Broc, Russian River Valley
Wine Trend 3 - Rosé
Besmirched by a surge of pink boxed wine, Americans perceived rose as low-rent wine until a few years ago. Thankfully, there is no longer a stigma attached to the style of light-bodied, skin-contact red wine that comprises rose. It is affordable, drinkable, and elegant, and we are elated that it’s en vogue. Try this wine style here:
Dragonette Cellars, Happy Canyon Rose, Santa Barbara
Lioco, Indica Rose, Mendocino County
Paper Plane Rose, Russian River Valley
Wine Trend 4 - Sherry
When you hear the word Sherry you may think of that five-year-old bottle of cooking wine gathering dust in the back of your pantry. That supermarket swill is not the traditional Sherry that is again erupting in popularity today. This fortified wine is produced in the Andalusian province of Spain. While there are some Sherry-style fortified wines being produced in California these are the best bars and restaurants where you can try the real deal. Try this wine style here:
At Duende, the authentic Spanish bar and restaurant, choose from three different Sherry flights organized by dry, oxidative, and sweet styles. Ready to commit to a full pour? Hit up their extensive by-the-glass menu.
nopa, San Francisco:
Near San Francisco’s Alamo Square, nopa is bustling with devoted regulars dining on their California-Mediterranean fare. Among other small-production, artisanal beverages, the restaurant offers a dozen or so unique Sherry and Madeira wines.
Smoke.Oil.Salt., Los Angeles:
This Catalan-themed restaurant in West Hollywood is meticulous in its dedication to Sherry. One of the most extensive lists in the West, it’s one to revisit again and again, especially after the Sunday paella spread.
Wine Trend 5 - Sustainable Wine
Savvy drinkers know that cheap, mass-produced wine often requires boatloads of pesticides to produce and contains additives that preserve the wine and improve its texture and flavor. At a sustainable winery you’ll find winemakers committed to promoting holistic environmental and responsible social practices, who who may use grapes that are organic or biodynamically grown (but not always). Try this wine style here:
Tablas Creek, Paso Robles
Tablas Creek, off Hwy 46 in SLO County, grows grapes on a 120-acre certified organic estate. The winery practices dry-cropping, minimizing irrigation, and welcomes beneficial farm animals as part of their biodynamic techniques. These table wine blends are the perfect place to start your natural wine journey.
Halter Ranch, Paso Robles
On the West Side of Paso Robles, Halter Ranch has 280-acres of sustainable vineyards growing 19 grape varieties. They are third party SIP certified (sustainability in practice), and due to adequate area rainfall use minimal irrigation. Try the Cotes des Paso Blanc, when it’s not sold-out.
Bokisch Vineyards, Lodi
Not only does Bokisch offer something a little different with their Spanish varietals but they are third party certified by Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing Practices. Tempranillo is Bokisch’s flagship red and a great introduction to Rioja.
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