On "Local Wine" - Or, Limitations? No Limits

"Local wine." Two apparently simple words; but like just about everything in the wine world, the definition and the implication are subject to individual interpretation. Try to apply parameters, and you're fairly sure to cause a kerfuffle.

There was the Central Coast wine bar with a hard-and-fast rule: "only local wine." The owner tasted our wines and loved them; and then told us they couldn't make the list, as they're made in San Diego County, where we live (though all our fruit came from the same Central Coast vineyard sources as the other wines being poured). Fair enough, I suppose. In that case, "local wine" obviously means it in the strictest sense of the phrase: locally grown fruit, locally turned into wine.

But, would the perception change if that shop owner knew a bit more? Does it matter that, rather than paying a trucking company to pick up our fruit and drive it to us (standard procedure), we leave our San Diego County home in the middle of the night to arrive at the Central Coast vineyards in time to supervise the sunrise picks; we wrap the bins of fruit in bedsheets and bungee cords; drive them 200 miles south in a pickup truck, praying for easy traffic and cool weather; then process everything ourselves – with hands and feet, from crush to cork? The "local" wines on that shop's list included a number of labels producing many thousands of cases at custom-crush facilities with on-staff winemakers and contracts that prevent you from even touching "your" own wine. Is that more true to the idea of home terroir than wines handmade with deep love and intention, grown in the region but produced a few counties away?

I know what my heart tells me. Listening to your heart, though, has to include a willingness to change your mind about your idea of home; to ponder, parse the nuances. It's easier to be dogmatic, isn't it?

Going Local

Ah, well. Back to "local wine," in that super-strict sense. When we first fell in love with winemaking, it happened in the Central Coast. We didn't have much in the way of San Diego County connections once we began making our own wine here. We poked around, but weren't successful in identifying others who were interested in making wine in a similar fashion. This year, we've met some nearby people doing some innovative and exciting things (Michael Christian of Los Pilares and Chris Broomell & Alysha Stehly of Vesper Vineyards). We're thankful to them for seeking to raise the level of winemaking in San Diego, and for encouraging us to investigate further.

2012 Carignan on 30+ year-old-vines ... can't wait to bring this to the cellar

As a direct result of meeting these folks and tasting their interesting and lovely wines, we were introduced to an old-vine Carignan vineyard in Valley Center that immediately grabbed us with the intangible sense of place we look for in a site. We're very happy to be making a wine from this vineyard in 2012, and look forward to representing San Diego – the place we've made our home – alongside Santa Barbara – the place where the wines and vines captured our hearts. You see, it's all local, really.

We look forward to sharing the new wines, and their stories, with you. Toward Harvest!