Spring is definitely here at AmByth.  We had a beautiful Saturday, April the 21st, and took the opportunity to move the amphoras and barrels outside for a little boost to primary and secondary fermentations.  It was necessary to taste everything (sigh), the report is good.  2012 will not be a disappointing vintage.  Not a huge crop load, so only 18 or 19 different wines made, a few more than ’11 but less than ’10.  The rose in particular is still working away by itself, we of course, refuse to add anything to speed it up or filter it so it can go on the market.  With any luck it might be ready for mid to late summer but if it isn’t then it will be wonderful in Spring 2014.  We leave a little longer skin contact on our Rose, so that allows for good aging as well as good early drinking, a great combination in any wine.

Cheers, and enjoy the Spring, Phillip & Mary

spring amphora

AmByth is Going to Italy, VinoVinoVino 2011-Wine by Nature!

A most exciting opportunity has opened up for AmByth Estate! Phillip was communicating with Giampiero Bea (Paolo Bea winery in Umbria, Italy) about his wines. We tasted a white and a red at our favorite wine bar in San Francisco, called Terroir. The wines were fantastic in the mouth, low-to-zero added sulfites, no additions, different, delicious, they were like nature in a bottle, very obviously something that interested us. We have a great many friends and neighbors, winemakers, and growers in Paso Robles and the wine world in general, but no one that shares our similar passion for the way that we approach what we have chosen to do (farm naturally, make wine naturally-pushing the limits and breaking with conventional wisdom). Sometimes it is a little frustrating for us, wines in the general public are judged along the same thin thread, but our focus is so opposite of this thread! We want to make a wine that is different, that challenges your tastebuds and makes you say, “Wow! What is this? Why is this so different?!”. On the same token, we want to be successful in a monetary way with our farm, but somehow that isn’t the end point of our thinking. We keep being, excuse the pun, “led down the garden path”. It is a most intriguing path and we’re sure that sometime we’ll hit a dead end, but that doesn’t change our emotions, it just means we need to try again and again.

Back to Giampiero Bea…He belongs to a group of winemakers in Italy called ViniVeri, who have the same vision we do. Consider this, taken from their webpage: these winemakers “found themselves tired of participating in wine fairs where the quality of a wine was judged more on the beauty of the stands surrounding it, than on the wine itself.” (To see the whole Manifest of ViniVeri, continue reading here.) This group does not define itself by organic or biodynamic labels, but rather they prefer to unite by the same philosophy and sensible approach to the land: to give back to the earth what we have received from it. After we communicated with Giampiero, he invited us to attend VinoVinoVino-Wine By Nature 2011 in Verona, Italy this April 7-9th. AmByth was specifically invited to pour our wines…WOW! In order to present wines at this event, a winery must be invited to two members of ViniVeri. We are unsure, but we could possibly be the only California winery there (will let you know differently when we return home). (VinoVinoVino is a natural wine and food fair that attracts over 2,000 winelovers and buyers from around the world.)

So what is the big deal about this? For us (Phillip and Mary) it is an exceptional opportunity to expand our thought horizons, push the boundaries even further, discover even more different ways to think of our farm and our product (wines and oils), and to visit some outstanding wineries/winemakers while in Italy. Sometimes one’s own thinking without external output can become stultified or petrified. Phillip says ‘petrified’ deliberately, both as a little ‘stuck-in-place’ and ‘scared!’. To travel a road not travelled by many in our immediate neighborhood is sometimes scary business. (Just to qualify, we’re talking about continuing to make wine with zero-added sulfites, using amphorae stored under ground to age wines, making wines that are so completely different that it causes definite pause, etc.) To be able to dialogue with people who not only have similar thoughts, but who have been doing what they’re doing for quite a bit longer–sometimes generations–is tremendous. Just to put ourselves in the company of the world’s greatest natural winemakers is a treat in itself!

Consider meeting us in Verona this Spring, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate life and new growth! Ciao!