It’s time for a wine update!
If you’ve been following vineyard updates, you know that last fall Coastal Roots Farm harvested our first grapes (with the help of many volunteers!). In keeping with the Jewish practice of orlah, we waited three years to harvest fruit to let the vines establish roots, and to get to know them as more than fruit producers. After the inaugural harvests we brought our Viognier, Sangiovese, and Syrah grapes to Solterra Winery where our winemaker friends pressed and fermented the grapes.
Before we give you a sneak peek at how the wine is doing now, here’s an overview of the preparation our team put into bringing the grapes from vine to wine:
• Designed the vineyard and decided what grape varieties to grow
• Tested, tilled, mulched, and amended the soil
• Built trellises, selected and ordered vines
• Planted the vines
• Installed irrigation
• Shaped the young vines to climb the trellis
• Pruned the vines
• Applied organic spray to ward off disease in our foggy coastal climate
• Positioned new shoots
• Thinned leaves and shoots
• Continued to spray to keep mildew at bay
• Watched the fruits ripen on the vines for three years without picking
• Installed bird netting
• Sharpened pruners, acquired harvest lugs and bins
• Watched fruits ripen and tested the sugar content multiple times every week
• Celebrated Tu B’Av in the vineyard
• Harvested all three grape varieties—Viognier, Sangiovese, and Syrah—and trucked them down the hill to Solterra
• Chose the yeast strain for the wine
• Began the fermentation and wine making process
…Which brings us to today!
Since pressing and fermentation, our wines have been aging at Solterra. This week we visited the winery to taste the progress. This inaugural year is full of experimentation and expectation, and because these were the first grapes to come off the vine, we weren’t sure how the wine would turn out. But after tasting, we’re so excited to share Coastal Roots Farm’s inaugural wine with our community, improve the process, and produce bottles for years to come.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the varietals:
Viognier: The Viognier—green grapes—produced a delicate white wine. Winemaker Peder Norby noted a floral aroma and honeysuckle on the nose. The wine has been stored in stainless steel and will be moved to oak barrels for several more months of aging. Approximately 200 bottles expected.
Sangiovese: The Sangiovese is a light-bodied rosé with a beautiful, soft coral color. It’s less complex than the viognier and very drinkable. Approximately 400 bottles expected.
Syrah: The Syrah is a deep, rich color with a good nose. The Syrah grapes were the last to be harvested, and at 3-4 months old it’s still a very new wine. (“Most wines this young don’t have a such a good nose,” said Peder.) Approximately 200 bottles expected.
How do these new wines stack up against other wines? Peder Norby has been involved in the Coastal Roots Farm vineyard since the beginning and is overseeing the winemaking process. “When we planted the vineyard a little over four years ago—when we were laying out the rows and making the selections of varieties and roots stalks—we were thinking of the day when we would harvest and actually make wine. And we were wondering, Will the wine be good?” he said. “Now we’re at the day where we’re tasting the wine…and it’s just beautiful for its age.”
Food Forest Coordinator LyOr Rabinowiz has cared for the vines for over the last year-and-a-half.
“Five months in now, it’s a really amazing wine—great body, flavor, and smell. It’s amazing to taste the fruit of your labor and to taste what the earth is giving in our particular region,” he said.
Vineyard Coordinator Katherine Favor added,
“We spend so much time in the vineyard and at this point the vines have personalities for us. We care so much for them, so it’s really special to taste this, something that they’ve given back to us.”
Of course, we’re still learning about the process and getting to know our young vines. The vineyard’s initial yields were lower than expected, and the vines are still very new. Grape yields will increase as the vineyard ages over the coming years. (Grapevines can produce for fifty years or more!) As Peder said, “This vineyard will serve the community for decades.”
One exciting result? Coastal Roots Farm’s wine is both grown and made in Encinitas, making it the first commercially produced wine (grown and produced) throughout Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar.
As we sipped and tasted the wine, Peder said,
“Now [I’m] imagining all the joy and the warm relations that are going to happen over this wine.”
LyOr agreed: “This is definitely going to bring people together.”
In early summer, we will bottle the Viognier and Sangiovese. We’ll wait a few more months before bottling the Syrah, as it needs more time to age. Though this first year’s wine supply is limited, we hope to make wine available for tasting at upcoming events. And of course, we’ll produce bottles for years to come. Stay tuned!
P.S. We are hugely grateful to all our vineyard volunteers who have worked in the vineyard for years to ensure our vines grows healthy and established. We wouldn’t have wine without you—cheers!