VISIT THIS PRODUCER'S WEBSITE
Country of Origin: USA
Location: Northern California
People: Martha Stoumen, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Martha Stoumen has chosen to work with sun-loving grapes: either those historic to California viticulture, or those that flourish and maintain elegance in California's warmth, such as Sicilian and Spanish varieties. She utilizes natural, traditional winemaking practices learned while apprenticing in Italy and Southern France. Most importantly, to truly respect her Californian roots, she farms their vineyards in such a way maintains healthy ecosystems.
Martha leases and farms around half of the vineyards. The other half are farmed by multi-generation farmers who understand their land, and their family's land, and who farm with the same philosophies in mind. Patience in the vineyard means composting rather than adding synthetic fertilizers, allowing predatory insects the ability to out-compete pests rather than spraying insecticides, and doing proper handwork, such as pruning for vine longevity rather than high yields.
Minimalist winemaking techniques are used in the cellar. Patience in the cellar means letting the natural yeast and bacteria present on the grape skins perform fermentation, and allowing longer macerations and aging to provide stability rather than using added tannin, acid, or stabilizing agents in the wines.
Martha went to work in the vineyard, olive orchard, and winery of a small farm and learning center in Tuscany after studying traditional agricultural systems and Italian during her undergraduate degree. The majority of her farm work took place in the vineyard rather than the winery, so she entered the world of wine production through the lens of a vigneronne rather than a typical modern California winemaker who spends very little to no time in the vineyard. During this time, she also worked with farm animals, bees, and vegetables, and to this day views growing grapes and making wine ideally as part of a larger system. After her initial exposure to grape farming and winemaking in Tuscany, Martha has had the pleasure of apprenticing under Reinhard Löwenstein (Heymann-Löwenstein, Mosel), Jordan Fiorentini (Chalk Hill, California) Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars, California), Clive Dougall (Seresin, Marlborough), Didier Barral (Léon Barral, Faugères, France), and Giusto Occhipinti (COS, Sicily). Many of these teachers have remained apart of her life as she has moved toward her own vision of making responsibly farmed, terroir-driven wines in the land that she holds so dear in her heart, California.
I'll Drink to That! #330: Martha Stoumen