STIRM WINE CO
Ryan Stirm is a true Riesling fanatic. His arguments for why Riesling works so well in California are hard to refute after tasting his wines. He started his winemaking career in the US, teaming up with the now legendary Justin Willett from Tyler and Lieu Dit. After four years, he ended up working in the Wachau, Austria where he fell further in love with Riesling as well as Grüner Veltliner.
His winemaking philosophy is quite simple. They whole cluster press everything, allow for short periods of skin contact, avoid SO2 until fermentation has completed, let indigenous yeast do their jobs, and fine/filter as minimally as possible. The ultimate goal is to let the vineyards shine through.
As of 2016, he has finally accomplished his goal of farming his own tiny vineyard: a 2-acre plot of Pinot Noir high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Moving forward, it’s his goal to farm more and see the wine through from ground to bottle.
2017 KICK-ON RIESLING
Kick-On vineyard is located 16km east of the ocean in Los Alamos Valley, just north of Santa-Barbara. As this is an offshoot of the transverse range, the valley runs west-east which means oceanic breezes cool the vineyard daily. Ryan’s vineyard block is planted mostly on windblown sand with just a pinch of clay and chirt cobbles. Strong winds cause the vines to close their stomas which results in incredibly delayed ripening. The grapes were macerated as whole clusters for two days before being pressed off into stainless steel. After three days of cold settling the juice was racked into tank for wild fermentation. No Sulphur was added until after malolactic conversion. The wine was bottled without fining, nor filtration.
(218 Cases Produced) 792992
2018 METHODE ANCESTRALE
This vineyard is planted on a warm site in Santa Ynez. Despite the heat, the Albariño vines fared really well. They were harvested early to preserve acidity and avoid overly ripe flavours. Whole-clusters were pressed into stainless steel for a hot and fast fermentation. A small amount of juice was frozen and reserved as liqueur de tirage. The wine was bottled in the spring with a small amount of the frozen juice for secondary fermentation in bottle. The resulting wine has about three atmospheres of pressure. No Sulphur was added, and it was not disgorged.
2017 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIR
In 2016 Ryan took over farming a tiny vineyard near the mountain town of Glenwood, east of Santa Cruz. Planted in 1997, this organic two-acre plot is on a 30% grade. It is neither tilled nor irrigated. Soils here are mostly sandy loam, decomposed from lompico sandstone. This truly is a vineyard in the forest – it’s surrounded by redwoods, oak, and bay trees. After a growing season defined by cool night, the grapes were harvested in early September. Whole clusters were fermented in 1960s open-top redwood fermenter for two weeks before being pressed off into neutral oak puncheon. After 18 months, the wine was racked and bottled.
(155 Cases Produced) 802093
2017 WIRZ RIESLING
Own-rooted, head trained, dry farmed Riesling vines planted in the 60s are what make this wine so special. These are the second oldest Riesling vines in North American. Sitting at 1000 feet above sea level, Wirz Vineyard is in the obscure Cienega Valley on the San Andreas Fault Line. Whole clusters were crushed, and the juice macerated with the skins for two days. Spontaneous fermentation was carried out in stainless steel and the wine spent the next several months on the fine lees. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
(250 Cases Produced) 792995
COMPANION WINE CO. RIESLING CAN
Despite the unassuming packaging, this is a serious wine. The grapes come from the organically farmed Zabala vineyard in Arroyo Seco (Monterey). They were harvested in two passes for optimal ripeness. The strong cool winds here kept the grapes relatively free from botrytis. The grapes were whole-cluster crushed and the juice sat with the skins for a full day. Spontaneous fermentation occurred at low temperatures in stainless steel. The wine was then lightly sulphured, and the temperature was dropped to prevent malolactic conversion. The wine is lightly filtered but not fined and canned with CO2 left over from fermentation. 11% ABV, pH 2.9, RS 3g, SO2 35ppm.
2017 WIRZ ZINFANDEL
These vines were planted in 1902. They are own rooted, organically farmed, and thrive without irrigation. Sitting at 1000 feet above sea level, Wirz Vineyard is in the obscure Cienega Valley on the San Andreas Fault Line. A late September heat spike (47ºC) caused the grapes to jump from 10 to 30 Brix in two days. After destemming, the wine was fermented in old open top redwood tank. It wild fermented up to 16.8% ABV despite having incredibly low YAN levels. After aging for 18 months in neutral oak, 18% Riesling was blended in to lower the acidity and alcohol level to 15.8%. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
(178 Cases Produced) 815906
COMPANION WINE CO. MALVASIA CAN
This year, Ryan teamed up with Scott Schultz from Jolie-Laide. This organically farmed vineyard is located at the southern end of the Vaca Mountains. Soils here are predominantly volcanic. The grapes were crushed and permitted to sit on the skins for just shy of a day before being pressed off into stainless steel for fermentation. It was canned with minimal filtration, no fining, and very little Sulphur.