ONWARD WINES

Onward 2013 Pinot Noir, Hawkeye Ranch, Redwood Valley

This wine draws you in with alluring aromas of red cherry, violets and geranium blossom emanating from the glass. On the palate, the wine is layered with rich flavors of cranberry, huckleberry and rhubarb, with a touch of warm forest floor adding intrigue. The tannins are velvety, and the finish lingers on and on with notes of currant jelly and spice.

 

This wine is inviting and pretty in the gentlest of ways. Like a sincere friend that will always be there for you, she is truly genuine and so very generous.

The cool-climate vineyard site combined with gentle handling at every stage is central to the core expression of this wine, my goal here is aromatic retention and soft texture.

 

These heritage Martini clone vines were planted at Hawkeye Ranch in the 1970s by the Johnsons, the clone selected by the legendary Louis Martini himself, and now quite rare as most of the older vines have been replanted. This clone thrives here, and the crop load and vine vigor are naturally balanced, allowing for an organic farming style that promotes slow, steady fruit maturation. This gives rise to wonderfully delicate, yet highly textured, full-bodied wine.

 

The fruit was de-stemmed and the whole berries transferred to open-top fermentation tanks to cold soak for seven days prior to native fermentation, which allows for delicate extraction and adds complexity. Gentle extraction was ensured by performing punchdowns to mix the must, and maintaining moderate temperatures throughout fermentation. After fermentation, the wine was pressed and sent to barrel, where native malolactic fermentation was encouraged (by stirring and keeping them cozy). The wine aged in ~20% new French oak barrels, with the balance in neutral French oak barrels. To enhance palate weight and mouthfeel, the wine was left in contact with light lees and gently stirred.

 

The wine was aged for 12 months in barrel and then receives an additional 12 months of bottle age before initial release.

Onward 2012 Pinot Noir, Cerise Vineyard, Anderson Valley

The aroma is brimming with mountain cherry and bright raspberry notes, complemented with complex aromas of sweet tobacco leaf, dried candy cap mushroom, rose petal and sandalwood. It shows a layered tannic structure, round soft middle and lengthy finish.

 

This wine has many stories to tell. It is loaded with depth and yet so open and alluring. She is a graceful lady that will continue to evolve for hours in the glass and years in the bottle.

The Cerise Vineyard site is a gift to Pinot Noir lovers; coastal, steep, rocky and rugged, producing extremely low yields and intense clusters.

 

This steep hillside vineyard’s elevation ranges from 650-1000 feet. Its rocky and moderately-low-nutrient soils limit yield and overall vigor, which results in both small berries and clusters. The site is close to the ocean, which provides a morning fog layer and afternoon coastal breezes that moderate the summer heat. Cerise Vineyard is sustainably farmed, using organic and biodynamic principles, and the attention to detail in the vineyard is remarkable. The clones in the Onward blocks are Pommard-5 and Dijon 115.

 

The fruit was de-stemmed and the whole berries of both clones transferred to open-top fermentation tanks for a 10-day cold soak, which allows for delicate extraction and adds complexity. Gentle extraction was ensured also by performing punchdowns to mix the must and by maintaining moderate temperatures throughout fermentation, although allowing more heat than with Hawkeye in order to soften tannins. After fermentation, the wine was pressed and sent to barrel, where native malolactic fermentation was encouraged. The wine aged in ~20% new French oak barrels, with the balance in neutral French oak barrels. The barrels used for this wine are made from a tight-grain oak best suited for longer cellaring programs. The wine was left in contact with light lees in barrel and gently stirred to enhance palate weight and mouthfeel.

 

The wine was aged for 18 months in barrel and then received an additional 18 months of bottle age before initial release.

Onward 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Hawkeye Ranch, Redwood Valley

This Rosé of Pinot noir is loaded with a bounty of fresh strawberry, raspberries and citrus blossom and nicely balanced with savory complexity of dried hibiscus tea and refreshing minerality of wet stone.  

 

This wine has a full round mouthfeel and is balanced with vibrant acidity which allows it to age beautifully and be extremely food friendly.  She is serious on the inside, but she is openly loving with a contagious smile.

The Onward Rosé of Pinot is the result of an intentional rosé program, picked expressly for rosé and whole cluster pressed.

 

This Rosé is 100% Pinot Noir from Redwood Valley in northern Mendocino. The Pinot clusters were gently pressed to retain aromatics and bright acidity, additional complexity was gained by soaking on the skins for 8 hrs before completing the pressing cycle.

 

The juice was then cold settled and the settled juice was fermented at cool temperatures in a stainless steel tank. Upon the completion of native fermentation, mouthfeel was enhanced by encouraging partial malolactic fermentation and performing battonage during élevage in neutral French Oak barrels.

 

Hawkeye Ranch is a family owned heritage vineyard site planted with Martini clone Pinot vines by the Johnsons in early 1970’s and farmed organically and is Fish Friendly Certified.

Onward 2014 Carignane, Casa Roja Vineyard, Contra Costa County

The aromas open with fresh fruits:  sun-drenched brambleberries and plum, moving into spiced fruit compote, warm plum upside-down cake, while hints of rose wood and violets dance about the palate which is velvety, with lush tannins and a vibrant acidity to bring it all together.

 

This wine is full of plush, dark fruit and baking spice. She is complex and layered but greets you the way a beloved grandmother would, with open arms.

I absolutely fell head over heels in love with this heritage field blend site.   It is the oldest vineyard in the area, sustainably and dry farmed and planted in the late 1800s (!).

 

This vineyard lies along the edges of both the San Francisco and Suisun Bays. Walking in the vineyard is like walking on a beach, as it sits on 100% sandy soils, giving rise to smaller, hardy bush vines. The vines have been trained so the fruit is shaded from the wind and sun and the result is an intensity of flavors that opens to black fruits with a soft lushness due to the maturity of the tannins and the intensity of the site. The cool breezes from the bays result in a wonderful retention of acidity that is often lost in warm climates.

 

While this block is predominantly Carignane, it has some Mourvèdre and Malvasia Nero interplanted in it.  The vineyard is leased and farmed by Dan Gonsalves. It is affectionately called Casa Roja, named by the locals years ago.

 

A layer of whole cluster was placed at the bottom of the fermentor, then the remaining fruit was de-stemmed and the whole berries transferred to the open-top fermentation tanks to cold soak prior to native fermentation, which allows for delicate extraction and adds complexity. Gentle extraction was ensured also by performing punchdowns to mix the must, while higher temperatures are encouraged here to soften tannins.  After fermentation, the wine was pressed and sent to neutral French oak barrels, where native malolactic fermentation was encouraged (by keeping them cozy with some stirring).  

Onward 2014 Carignane, Hawkeye Ranch, Redwood Valley

Bright fresh aromas of Lambert cherry, Santa Rosa plum, cranberry and pomegranate are complemented by hibiscus flower aromas and a beautiful minerality.

 

This wine is lively and fresh with a smooth finish, she is comfortable in her own skin and upon meeting her for the first time this feeling rushes through you, and it is as if you have always known her.

This is the cool-climate expression of Carignane, this wine is driven by vibrant red fruit and framed by structured tannins.   

 

The 80-year-old vines are head trained and are huge—more like trees than vines. I can stand beneath the fruiting canopy of many of the vines.  The rootstock is St. George, which is excellent for dry-farmed vines when planted in deep soils such as these, and this vineyard is not only dry farmed, but is certified fish friendly and organic.

 

The vineyard sits at 722 feet in elevation in the Redwood Valley, located in the upper reaches of the Russian River drainage in Mendocino County. The gravelly loam soil provides excellent drainage and the crop load and vine vigor are naturally balanced, allowing for an organic farming style that promotes slow, steady fruit maturation.

 

A layer of whole cluster was placed at the bottom of the fermentor, then the remaining fruit was de-stemmed and the whole berries transferred to the open-top fermentation tanks to cold soak prior to fermentation, which allows for delicate extraction and adds complexity. Careful extraction is key here, as well as a modest amount of air from time to time. The fermentation is carried out at higher temperatures to soften tannins. After fermentation, the wine was pressed and sent to neutral French oak barrels, where malolactic fermentation was encouraged (by keeping them cozy and stirring).  

Onward 2014 Malvasia Bianca, Capp Inn Ranch, Suisun Valley

Delicate aromas of a melon patch on a warm, sunny day intertwined with night-blooming jasmine; layers of citrus, pear, Mirabelle plum and yellow quince flavors; and a refreshing, clean finish, thanks to its vibrant acidity.

 

This wine is delicately floral with layers of fruit and a backbone of minerality. She is elegant, pretty and oh, so approachable!

This is my benchmark example of cool-climate Malvasia Bianca, showcasing the pure expression of this varietal and the Capp Inn Ranch Vineyard site.

 

The Malvasia Bianca grapes were whole-cluster pressed and cold settled, then the clean  juice was racked and fermented at cold temperatures—just as its twin sister, the Pét-Nat, was—but this wine was left to finish dry in stainless steel tank and then aged in stainless steel.  During aging I stirred the lees in tank every two weeks for four months and then let the wine settle.

 

There are three Onward selections that are 100% Malvasia Bianca from Capp Inn Ranch in Suisun Valley and the grapes for all three were picked as one lot on the same day.

 

While the other two Malvasias are about pushing stylistic approaches through winemaking techniques, this is her pure expression of self.

Onward 2015 Pétillant Naturel, Malvasia Bianca, Capp Inn Ranch, Suisun Valley

This Pét-Nat is floral and fruity, but refreshingly bone-dry. The opening aromatics are like sticking your nose in a fermentation vat, with yeasty brioche notes and lively youthful freshness. To follow are notes of night blooming jasmine, citrus blossom, melon rind, warm Kaffir lime scones with preserved lemon…and a refreshing hint of sea air….and did I mention soft tiny delicate bubbles!

 

This wine stays true to the nature of an authentic Pétillant Naturel style wine: I encouraged native yeast fermentation, which finished in the bottle, with no sugar or other juice added.

 

This is a pure expression of sparkling wine and she my friends, is a spirited lady! 


The Pétillant Naturel is Onward’s sparking expression of Malvasia Bianca from Capp Inn Ranch.

 

The wine was moved from tank to bottle by gravity. Everything to do with bottling lady Pét-Nat has to be done by hand because she is still fermenting (meaning full of CO2 gas) and needs to be handled with care.  I bottled the wine with a small amount of lees, allowing the fermentation to complete in bottle and left the wine un-disgorged (with sediment) in bottle. I feel this adds purity and complexity that would be lost if removed.  The bottles were aged while the fermentation finished, then labeled and left finished with a crown cap.  

 

Making this wine is an emotional journey which is truly about passion.  The journey began from my enjoyment of this style of wine from the old world producers and was only strengthened by my love of the expression specific to the Malvasia from Capp Inn Ranch. I make it because I love it so and every year she teaches me something new…often it is a personal lesson about balance and patience. This wine is here to help us celebrate life and its everyday treasures and joys!

 

Available in both 750mL and 1.5L magnums

Onward 2015 Malvasia Bianca, Skin Fermented, Capp Inn Ranch, Suisun Valley

The  broad range of aromas spans magnolia blossoms after a rain shower and fresh melon rind to Valencia orange peel and quince marmalade and warm feijoa crumble, the palate is plush with a soft silky texture.

 

Every time I smell this wine it makes me smile, and whisks me away on a tropical vacation. She is Tahiti in a glass.

The key to this wine is that, while it is a skin-fermented wine, it is not an oxidative style. I feel this is very important. I wanted this wine to be enhanced by the aromatics and tannins in the skins, but not become oxidized or sherry like, so that it would maintain its sense of place and identity as the third sister in the group of Malvasia Biancas from Capp Inn Ranch.

 

The grapes were cold soaked, then allowed to warm up just enough so native fermentation kicked in. Then the fermentation was carried out at cool temperatures, as is typical for white wine. Each day, the wine was punched down as needed and fermentation was carried out for three weeks. During this time I was just listening to the wine and letting it guide the way, meaning I was open to taking it off skins at any point at which it seemed ready…however, it just got prettier and prettier and I keep falling more and more in love. So I carried out its full fermentation on skins until dryness.

 

Then the wine was put to neutral oak barrel for élevage, during which the lees were stirred every two weeks to enhance its mouthfeel, richness and softness.  I developed a preference for the texture of the wine after stirring and therefore, I intentionally brought some of this fine, soft lees to bottle with the finished wine.

Onward 2015 Zinfandel, Knox Vineyard, Redwood Valley

The aromas of red cherry and cranberry jump out of the glass, followed by fresh cranberry sauce with orange and red currant jelly, with a subtle hint of raw pink peppercorn dancing about.

 

This wine is about the vibrant and fresh side of Zinfandel, low alcohol with bright red notes on the palate and a striking garnet color in the glass.  She is exciting, refreshing and adventurous, breaking down barriers and bringing people together, brightening the day of all who meet her.

Making this wine has become a bit of an obsession on a few levels.  This is my take on California Zinfandel, and I want to warn you it might not be what you expect, as it is a variation from the typical expression.  I am so very excited about this wine.  I have to smile when I stick my nose in the glass.

 

Much of what we have come to expect from California Zinfandel is a big bold style that takes considerable ripeness to achieve, yet many of our prized Zinfandel vines such as these are older and struggle to achieve this high level of ripeness. In many cases these vines are being deemed over the hill and are being replanted.  As a winemaker I prefer lower alcohol and more gentle expressions and I also believe in showcasing what a vineyard is really saying. I saw this as an opportunity to make a pretty and delicate expression of Zinfandel.  

 

I picked early and then included 50% whole cluster in my native fermentation to enhance the bright expression.  Manual punch-downs were performed, maintaining delicate extraction and keeping the wine focused to express Zinfandel’s softer, vibrant side.

 

This vineyard sits across the street from Hawkeye Ranch and has been farmed by the Johnson family for 28 years now. The vines are about 65 years old and they are head trained and dry farmed. It is a majestic vineyard surrounded by redwood trees, a classic California heritage site.

Onward 2015 Syrah, Ledgewood Vineyards, Suisun Valley

This wine is dark and lush, with loads of plum and boysenberry, while white pepper notes dance about the palate, there are hints of green olive and violets on the finish.  The tannins are well integrated giving a backbone of structure that frames the fruit and spice nicely.

 

This wine has many layers, it is well structured and robust on the palate, yet generous and inviting on the nose…she is strong but yet her warmth overflows.

Here 33% was left whole cluster, which was placed in the bottom of the open top tank and the de-stemmed fruit was layered on top.  I did a five day cold soak. Gentle extraction was further ensured by doing pigeage (foot treading) daily, by yours truly, during the native fermentation.  The whole clusters add a complexity that I am really excited about. It keeps the focus on the fruit expression and makes the wine soft and approachable while not being overly extracted or intensely ripe in style.  After fermentation was complete the wine was aged in neutral oak and stirred during secondary fermentation (native Malolactic) for several months, enhancing mouthfeel and softening tannins.

 

This Syrah is from Ledgewood Vineyard and is grown by Roger King.  Roger is a firm believer in the art of paying attention in the vineyard so if any problems arise they can be treated locally (on a vine by vine basis) rather than systemically treating an entire vineyard.