Under the Wire
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Country of Origin: USA
Location: Sonoma, California
People: Chris Cottrell & Morgan Twain-Peterson, Owners & Winemakers
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
SFGate: In California, Bubbles Find Their Place
The Wall Street Journal: California Sparkling Wine Sneaks Up on Champagne
The Daily Beast: Champagne Goes Rogue
Under the Wire is a project grown from a mutual friendship and love for wines with bubbles. Chris Cottrell and Morgan Twain-Peterson, of Bedrock Wine Co., are making California vintage, vineyard and variety specific sparkling wines: a true California sparkling rarity. Inspired in part by the grower Champagne movement, they aim to prove that California can produce unique, delicious and terroir-driven sparkling wine. All the wines are made in the classic Champagne method with low dosage additions and extended time en tirage.
Bedrock Vineyard - Sonoma Valley AVA: “One thing about old, head-trained vineyards: If they could survive two world wars and Prohibition without being turned into prunes or houses, it means they’re really good sites" -Diane Kenworthy, Vineyard Manager at Bedrock Vineyard.
Originally planted in 1854 by General William “Tecumseh” Sherman and General “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker, Bedrock has grown grapes for over 150 years. In all likelihood, at some point in Bedrock's long history, sparkling wine was made from the vineyard's grapes. Out of the 24 old vine varieties grown at Bedrock Vineyard today, Under the Wire uses the Zinfandel. It is a grape that is not only decidedly Californian but also surprisingly well built for sparkling wine. Bedrock Vineyard’s ancient Zinfandel tends towards both great flavor development at low sugars and strong natural acidity, both of which are fundamental to great sparkling wine. The vines are head trained, grown in rock studded red Tuscan loam soils, and farmed sustainably.
Brosseau Vineyard - Chalone AVA: "Organic isn’t an end-all. It’s a framework to make the site as genuine as possible, so that when people taste the wine they say, ‘That’s the Brosseau vineyard.’ -Bill Brosseau
If excellence is to be found in extremity than Brosseau Vineyard portends great things. Perched high above the Salinas Valley in the shadow of the Pinnacles National Park, the Brosseau Vineyard lies in the remote Chalone AVA. Despite the lack of neighbors, Brosseau grows some of the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the state. Owned and founded by Jan and Jon Brosseau and organically farmed by their son Bill, the vineyard epitomizes the saying ‘beautiful vineyard, beautiful wine.’ The vineyard is planted on a super sexy mix of limestone and granite in perpetual decomposition, as if the Côte d'Or married Beaujolais. A labor of love since 1980 the property has been developed into an amazing ranch; one at which it is best to stay the night before picks to catch a killer sunrise as grapes are harvested under lights.
Alder Springs Vineyard - Mendocino County: "That’s what I love about California: Nobody decides for you – you decide what you want to do.” -Stuart Bewley
In terms of sheer wildness few vineyards in the world compare to Alder Springs. Closer to Humboldt County than any vineyard in Mendocino, Stuart Bewley, following his own divining rod decided to plant in a wilderness no one had ever thought could grow grapes. Despite the constant issues of wild pigs, bears pushing over rows, and discovering that irrigation has been utilized by another cash-crop, Alder Springs has become one of the greatest vineyards in California. Spreading over 140 acres, with 85 separate blocks and a dizzying array of rootstock and variety/clone combinations the vineyard is a true reflection of the maniacal drive behind the owner. He embraces the process of learning and improving everything about his vineyard, whether it be the vines themselves or his impact on the surrounding ecosystem. All the while, he continuously/tirelessly works to produce something unique and delicious.
Hirsch Vineyard - Fort Ross-Seaview AVA: "We gave up trying to master it. We just sort of settled in and got comfortable with the uncertainty and the complexity." - David Hirsch
A vineyard that needs no introduction. Planted three miles from the Pacific Ocean on the extreme Sonoma Coast, David Hirsch’s opus is a jewel in the crown of California. Originally planted in 1980, almost every great Pinot maker in California has at one time worked with this California Grand Cru. Calling Hirsch ‘one vineyard’ sells the property short. With many individual blocks, each on its own unique soil, David is constantly trying to hone a deeper understanding of a vineyard he has farmed for over 30 years. Throw in the extreme weather conditions, the many microclimates, and the constant rumbles and shifts from the San Andreas fault a mile away and you have found a vineyard literally on the cutting edge.