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by Ken Zinns

After taking a few wine courses through UC Extension in the early '90s, Bay Area architect Ken Zinns developed a serious interest wine. Ken has been touring and tasting wines for nearly 20 years, and has come to love not only the wines, but also the people behind them. Ken's interest in wine is more than passive, and he's been working at several urban East Bay and San Francisco wineries since 2001, and has been the assistant winemaker for both Eno Wines in Berkeley and Harrington Wine in San Francisco.

Third Annual WINeFare – March 7, 2020

Report on the 3rd annual WINeFare wine tasting, held on Saturday March 7th, 2020 at The Women’s Building in San Francisco, California. The focus of the event is on women in the natural wine movement.

WINeFare – the name stands for Women in Natural Wine – was founded in 2018 by Pamela Busch. Pamela is a longtime wine industry veteran. In 1994 she opened Hayes and Vine, one of San Francisco’s first wine bars, and in 2005 she opened CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen, one of the first natural wine venues in the Bay Area. She’s taught at several wine schools, written about wine, and currently runs The Vinguard website. In conjunction with her work in wine, she has long been an advocate for equity and social justice, and the combination of these interests is the primary focus of WINeFare.

Pamela heads up the steering committee that organized this year’s WINeFare – the other committee members are Haley Bash, Ailis Peplau, and Sherry Zhong. The theme for this year’s event was transparency, or “Drinking Clearly.” Part of this is their Wine Industry Equity Pledge / Code of Conduct – while it’s too long to include here, it can be seen in its entirety on the WINeFare website. Wine-related businesses are encouraged to sign onto the Equity Pledge / Code of Conduct, and so far that growing list includes over 60 businesses.

Proceeds for each of the previous two WINeFare events went toward various organizations, mainly ones helping women and children in need. Tickets were sold out for this year’s WINeFare 2020: Drinking Clearly event, and over $8,000 was raised for the Immigration Center for Women and Children. In addition, the silent auction that was held during the tasting raised nearly $3,000 toward a documentary that Pamela is working on about women who have helped to pioneer and shape the natural wine movement.

General Impressions:

Some Favorites


Champagne Lelarge Pugeot 2013 “Rosé de Saignée”
Domaine de la Chevalerie 2014 Bourgueil “Chevalerie”
Domaine de Sulauze 2017 “Galinette” Coteaux d’Aix en Provence (Floraison)
J. Brix 2019 “Nomine Amoris” Skin-contact Pinot Gris
Margins 2018 Skin-fermented Chenin Blanc
Statera 2016 Belle Pente Vineyard Chardonnay
Judith Beck 2017 “Bambule!” Welschriesling (Sylvester/Rovine)
Two Shepherds 2019 Vermentino
Two Shepherds 2019 Skin-fermented Pinot Gris “Ramato”
Unturned Stone 2018 “Firebird” Vecino Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Yamakiri “Sin Eater” NV Pét-Nat
Zafa 2018 “Word Is Born”


Amplify 2019 “Mixtape Red”
Donkey & Goat 2019 “Twinkle” Mourvèdre
Domaine de Sérol 2017 “Oudan” Côte Roannaise (Floraison)
Domaine de Sérol “2018 Turbullent” Côte Roannaise (Floraison)
Lula 2019 “State Flower” Valdiguié
Martha Stoumen 2017 Venturi Vineyard Carignan
Solminer 2019 Coquelicot Vineyard Carbonic Syrah
Stella Crinita 2019 “Omaggio” Pét-Nat Cabernet Franc
Tessier 2018 Alegría Vineyard Cabernet Franc
Tessier 2016 Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir
Unturned Stone 2015 “Spider Chase” Waterhorse Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon


Bodega y Viñedos Catena 2017 “La Marchigiana” Criolla Chica
Champagne Lelarge Pugeot NV “Bises”
Minimus 2018 Johan Vineyard Blaufränkisch (Craft)
Donkey & Goat 2019 “Isabel’s Cuvée” Gibson Ranch Grenache Rosé
Loop de Loop 2018 Four Winds Pinot Noir (Indie)
J. Brix 2019 “Uncontainable” Hagata Vineyard Rosé of Cinsaut
Calcarius 2018 “Roz” (Jenny & François)
Julie et Toby Bainbridge 2018 “Cuvée Highway 8”
Margins 2019 Rosé
Martha Stoumen 2018 “Honeymoon”
Old Westminster 2018 “Terracotta” Libertas Vineyard Pinot Gris
Solminer 2019 Coquelicot Vineyard Méthode Ancestrale Sparkling Riesling
Statera 2019 Chardonnay Pétillant Naturel
Stella Crinita 2019 “Omaggio” Pét-Nat Viognier
Zafa 2018 “Before Sunrise”

Schedule conflicts prevented me from attending either of the first two WINeFare events, so I was glad to be able to make it to this one. Appropriately, the tasting was held on the weekend of this year’s International Women’s Day. The Women’s Building – a well-known landmark in San Francisco’s Mission District – was a new venue for the event this year, and I thought it was a good choice. It’s easy to reach via public transit – I took BART there – and the space was a comfortable size for the number of producers and importers/distributors (about 30) and attendees (I heard that this was around 200). The bright and airy room never felt too crowded or got too warm.

As mentioned, there were about 30 producers and importers/distributors on hand to pour wines, spread out at 14 large tables. There was also food available for purchase in one corner of the space. A panel discussion was held during the event, entitled “Democratizing Natural Wine: Breaking Down Barriers so All Are Welcome at Our Table,” but I passed on attending that in order to continue with the afternoon’s tasting. The event staff and volunteer helpers ensured that everything ran very smoothly – check-in was quick and easy, there were spit cups provided, and each table had water and dump buckets that were filled or emptied regularly. These seem like basic things, but you definitely appreciate them after attending some events where they aren’t handled as they should be. About the only thing I felt that could have been improved was table signage, which was not the easiest to see. But overall, this was a very well-run event.

One thing that’s an issue at tastings of natural wines is how each event defines them, since there is no recognized industry-wide definition of natural wine. For WINeFare, the event booklet provided this definition: “All wines are made with grapes that are at a minimum organically farmed (no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or any other non-organic inputs), hand harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and do not have any additions, except maybe minimal sulfur at bottling.” That’s a pretty straightforward yet relatively lenient and inclusive definition, which allows some wines that might not be accepted at other natural wine tastings. The event booklet noted how much sulfur each wine had, though in some cases it was unclear as to whether the number referred to total or free SO2, so it was hard to say how useful this was. A large percentage of the wines were 30ppm or less, and there were some with no added sulfur. But even with low or no sulfur additions, very few wines at the WINeFare tasting displayed (to me, anyway) overly-high volatile acidity, brett, or other issues that can sometimes affect natural wines – a testament to the skill of the many winemakers who poured there.

I was able to taste with 24 producers and importers/distributors at WINeFare, missing only a handful of those who poured there. With limited time to taste, I didn’t try every wine at each table, and this was particularly true at the importer/distributor tables. It should be noted that the wines listed in my notes below are by no means the only ones I tasted, but I felt that these were the highlights at each table. Producers ranged from some fairly well-established ones to newer ones that have received well-deserved positive press, to little-known – and some brand-new – wineries. About half of the wines at the event were from California, and there were producers from Oregon, Vermont, and Maryland as well as from France and Argentina. Importers poured wines that included those from France, Italy, Austria, and Georgia.

When I looked at my notes after the tasting, I couldn’t help but notice a few descriptors I’d jotted down for a number of wines – “fresh”, “fun”, and “vibrant” were some of them. This event featured a very well-chosen group of producers, and I think those wine qualities really shone throughout the wines at the tasting. There were quite a few sparkling wines being poured, both Pétillant Naturel (often shortened to Pét-Nat, and also known as ancestral method or méthode ancestrale) and traditional method (as in méthode champenoise). A few of these were interesting grape/apple co-ferments – not quite wine and not quite cider but very distinctive. White wines that underwent some degree of skin contact – ranging from a couple of hours to a couple of months – were also on display. Overall I really enjoyed these – they were not as heavily “phenolic” as some orange wines I’ve had in the past, and showed a nice balance between freshness and skin-contact complexity. I also tasted a couple of blends of both red and white grape varieties, a trend that seems to be on an upswing and can produce some intriguing wines that can be somewhere between a rosé and a light red.

There were little more than a half-dozen producers on hand whose wines I’d tasted before, so this was a great opportunity to learn about many wineries that were new to me. Among my “discoveries” were Champagne Lelarge Pugeot, Domaine de Sérol (from Floraison Selections), Lula, Margins, Statera, Stella Crinita, Unturned Stone, and Zafa. While I’d heard of several of these producers before, this was my first time tasting their wines. Nearly all of the wineries I was already familiar with poured standout wines – Donkey & Goat, J. Brix, Martha Stoumen, Solminer, Tessier, and Two Shepherds. It was tough to pick out wines for my “Favorites” list for this tasting since there were a number of others that were tempting to add, but I had to stop somewhere.

The WINeFare tasting did a great job of showcasing the skill, creativity, and enthusiasm of women in the natural wine movement. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed discovering so many producers and wines that were new to me. I felt the wines were high quality overall, and more consistent across the board than at some other natural wine tastings I’ve attended. The tasting reinforced my feeling that natural wine should no longer be looked at as a niche market. The best natural wines – including many poured at WINeFare – have a deservedly growing place in the overall wine world. WINeFare as an organization certainly goes far beyond just tasting wines that women in natural wine have produced, but this event is a key part of it and I look forward to attending again next year.

Selected Tasting Impressions

Amplify Wines

Marlen Porter and her husband Cameron are both from Santa Barbara County and both share a love of both wine and music. They launched their Amplify label in 2013, and make their wines using local Santa Barbara County vineyard sources. Marlen was behind the table at the event. The 2018 “Duke & Ella,” from 59% Riesling and 41% Viognier showed a nice combination of Viognier’s stone fruit and weight along with Riesling’s citrus and acidity, plus floral undertones from both. The 2019 “Mixtape White,” from 42% Chenin Blanc, 29% Riesling (skin-fermented for 12 days), and 29% Gewürztraminer, was floral and spicy, with bright citrus fruit and good texture. The companion 2019 “Mixtape Red,” was a blend of both red and white varieties, with 37% Tempranillo, 31% Grenache Blanc, 21% Refosco, and 11% Merlot. This also showed floral notes along with fresh red fruit and juicy acidity.

Bodega y Viñedos Catena

This century-old Argentine family winery from the Mendoza region launched a new “La Marchigiana” program of natural wines in 2019 with three bottlings – Chardonnay, Criolla Chica, and Bonarda. These wines are fermented in tinajas – traditional clay vessels similar to amphorae or qvevri. They poured one wine at the event, the 2017 “La Marchigiana” Criolla Chica, from Mendoza, with no added sulfur. Criolla Chica is the same grape variety as País in Chile and Mission in California, and the similar character was evident – light color with upfront red fruit, undertones of earth and herbs, and fairly light body with a lively texture and finish.

Champagne Lelarge Pugeot

Clémence Lelarge represents the eighth generation of winegrowers in her family, a story that started in 1799. Their vineyard, in Champagne’s Premier Cru village of Vrigny, is planted mainly to Pinot Meunier, and many of the vines there are 40-50 years old. The 2012 “Les Meuniers de Clémence,” from 100% Pinot Meunier, featured apple / pear aromas plus yeasty and stony mineral notes, with fresh acidity and a dry finish. The 2013 “Rosé de Saignée,” from 60% Pinot Meunier and 40% Pinot Noir, was made with 32 hours of skin contact – this had subtle red fruit and earth aromas, a very lively mouthfeel and a crisp, dry finish. The NV “Bises” is 100% Chardonnay, made with a dosage from local honey. More intense pear and stone fruit aromas with distinct honey undertones, a bit richer texture than the other wines but retaining a fresh, clean finish.

Craft Wine Company

Craft is the project of Willamette Valley winemakers Laura Cusick and Meredith Bell. They produce wines under several labels – Minimus, Omero, and Origin. Two Minimus wines that Meredith poured at the event stood out to me. The Minimus 2018 Johan Vineyard Kerner showed earthy, savory aromas along with floral and stone fruit notes, and a lively texture. The Minimus 2018 Johan Vineyard Blaufränkisch also had an earthy character with dark berry fruit, spice, and herbs on the nose, balancing medium-full body with good acidity.

Domaine de la Chevalerie

This domaine was founded in 1640 – Stéphanie Caslot, who poured the wines at the tasting, is the fourteenth generation of the family to run it. They farm their 33-hectare vineyard of Cabernet Franc, and produce a number of bottlings from different portions of their vineyard which have different soil conditions – all of the wines are 100% Cabernet Franc. Stéphanie started with the 2017 Bourgueil “Diptyque,” from 25-year old vines – this showed a currant and raspberry fruit profile with earth and herb undertones, vibrant acidity, and firm tannins. The 2014 Bourgueil “Chevalerie,” from 65-year old vines, had floral and stony mineral notes along with currant, savory herbs, touches of earth and pepper, and fine structure.

Donkey & Goat Wines

The idea for Donkey & Goat began when Tracey Brandt and her husband Jared left their jobs in 2001 and traveled to France to learn winemaking from noted vintner Éric Texier. They now make their wines in Berkeley, where they focus mainly on wines from Rhône varieties. The wines were poured at the Amy Atwood Selections table. Their 2019 “Isabel’s Cuvée” Gibson Ranch Grenache Rosé, made from Mendocino County old-vine Grenache Gris, has been a consistent winner – light color, with subtle strawberry and stone fruit scents, showing good acidity and texture. My favorite of the Donkey & Goat wines that I tasted was the 2019 “Twinkle” Mourvèdre from El Dorado County. A lighter red that displayed herbs, fresh red fruits and plum, earth, and flowers on the nose, with juicy acidity and a clean finish.

Floraison Selections

Based in California, Floraison Selections was founded in 2017 by Nadia Dmytriw. Importers and distributors, they represent nearly entirely French producers. This table was my last stop of the tasting, and it was a good one, with several standouts. The Domaine de Sulauze 2017 “Galinette” Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc plus 10% each Clairette, Ugni Blanc, and Vermentino. Bright stone fruit with touches of citrus, flowers, and stony minerals, this had lively acidity combined with good texture and a fresh finish. The Domaine de Sérol 2017 “Oudan” Côte Roannaise is Gamay from 25-year old vines on granite soil, fermented with 60% whole clusters. Bright, tangy, and minerally, this was more intense than many Gamays, with medium weight and plenty of structure. My final wine was the Domaine de Sérol “2018 Turbullent” Côte Roannaise – a sparkling Gamay rosé made by méthode ancestrale. Raspberry and tangerine aromas with a slightly chalky mineral note, this had zippy acidity to balance some noticeable residual sugar – a fun wine to finish the day!

Indie Wineries

Indie Wineries are importers of natural wines from over half a dozen countries, and they represent a number of American producers as well. Elaine Heide is the Oregon territory manager. I tasted a couple of wines from Loop de Loop Wines at the Indie Wineries table – this label was launched in 2012 by winemaker Julia Bailey Gulstine. The Loop de Loop 2018 Four Winds Pinot Noir was a lighter Pinot, with earthy red fruit, a touch of spice, and a lively mouthfeel and finish.

J. Brix Wines

Based in Escondido, in northern San Diego County, this is the label of husband-and-wife team Jody Brix Towe and Emily Towe – yes, Jody’s middle name is really Brix! They source fruit from the Central Coast and increasingly from vineyards in San Diego County. The J. Brix wines were poured at the Amy Atwood Selections table at the tasting. Using fruit specifically farmed for rosé, the 2019 “Uncontainable” Hagata Vineyard Rosé of Cinsaut from San Diego County spent a few hours on the skins prior to pressing – light salmon color with fresh red fruit, earth, herbs, and fine acidity. The 2019 “Nomine Amoris” Skin-contact Pinot Gris from Santa Maria Valley was fermented on the skins for about two weeks. This had a deeper bronze color with savory and spicy aromas plus notes of stone fruit and flowers, finishing with noticeable but fine tannins.

Jenny & François Selections

Natural wine importers based in New York City, Jenny & François Selections was co-founded in 2000 by Jenny Lefcourt, who continues to run the business. I only tasted two wines at this table, and my favorite was the Calcarius 2018 “Roz,” a rosé wine from Puglia made by vintner Valentina Passalacqua. Made from Nero di Troia and Aleatico, this featured both savory and floral aromas plus red fruit and raspberry notes and earthy undertones, with a lively mouthfeel and a chalky quality on the finish.

Julie et Toby Bainbridge

American Julie and her English husband Toby live near Angers, and farm a small vineyard there. They’re known mainly for their wines from the local Grolleau grape variety. I tasted two of those at the event, but my favorite of their wines there was one from Cabernet Franc. The 2018 “Cuvée Highway 8” is 100% Cabernet Franc made by carbonic maceration, and it was bright and juicy, with red fruit, touches of flowers and herbs, and a fresh, lively mouthfeel.


Lula is a brand-new label, and the wines are made in Richmond, California. Owner/winemaker Megan Sekermestrovich was on hand to pour her debut release. With fruit sourced from an organically-farmed Mendocino County vineyard, the 2019 “State Flower” Valdiguié was made with carbonic maceration and bottled with no added sulfur – floral aromas with fresh plummy fruit, herbs, juicy acidity, and light tannins. A nice debut and a fun wine!

Margins Wine

Owner/winemaker Megan Bell launched her label in 2016, after working in wineries and vineyards in California, Oregon, New Zealand and the Loire Valley. She makes her wines at a shared facility in southern Santa Cruz County, and her focus is on “underrepresented regions, vineyards, and varietals.” Megan started off with the 2019 Massa Vineyard Chenin Blanc from Carmel Valley, made in stainless steel – this had bright citrus and green apple fruit and zippy acidity. In contrast, the 2018 Skin-fermented Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg – the fruit spent a full month on the skins – was savory, with pear and spice notes, with a more textured mouthfeel. The 2019 Rosé, from 53% Merlot and 47% Barbera from two Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards, featured red fruit aromas with fine acidity and a fresh finish.

Martha Stoumen Wines

Martha Stoumen released the first wines from her eponymous label in 2017, after working for notable producers in California, Italy, France, Germany, and New Zealand. Much of her fruit comes from Mendocino County, and she manages the farming at several of the vineyards she sources fruit from – all of her wines poured at the tasting were from Mendocino. The 2018 “Honeymoon” is 85% Colombard and 15% Chardonnay, and is aptly named due to the Colombard being botrytized, giving the wine a characteristic honey aroma along with flowers, fresh herbs, and citrus. The 2017 Venturi Vineyard Carignan featured earthy berry fruit, with savory undertones and moderate tannins. For those in search of tannins, the 2017 Nero d’Avola provided plenty, along with aromas of dark fruit and earth, plus lively acidity on the palate.

Old Westminster Winery & Vineyard

Old Westminster is run by three siblings, winemaker Lisa Hinton, grapegrower Drew Baker, and general manager Ashli Johnson. They planted Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Albariño at their vineyard in Maryland, which supplies about 50% of the winery’s fruit. Their first wines were bottled in 2013. The 2018 “Terracotta” Libertas Vineyard Pinot Gris, from Maryland fruit, was my favorite of the wines they poured – fermented on the skins for two months in an amphora, it was aged in the amphora after pressing as well. Savory stone fruit aromas with floral undertones and medium weight on the palate.

Solminer Wine Company

Anna Delaski and her husband David bought a small vineyard just outside of Los Olivos in Santa Ynez Valley about ten years ago, and launched their Solminer wine label not long afterwards. Anna is originally from Austria and the label focuses largely on wines from Austrian grape varieties. Anna was on hand to pour their wines. The 2019 Coquelicot Vineyard Méthode Ancestrale Sparkling Riesling displayed apple, spice, and floral aromas, with fine bubbles and a fresh finish. The 2018 Estate deLanda Vineyard Skin-fermented Grüner Vertliner spent two weeks on the skins, giving it a savory character along with citrus and herb notes. The 2019 Coquelicot Vineyard Carbonic Syrah had surprisingly light color, plenty of bright upfront red fruit, and vibrant acidity – a fun, light red to serve chilled.

Statera Cellars

Statera is the project of friends and co-winemakers Meredith Bell and Luke Wylde, and they focus exclusively on Chardonnay from Willamette Valley and nearby Oregon growing regions. They established their label in 2014, and Meredith poured three Statera wines at the event – all were very good and two were particular favorites. The 2019 Chardonnay Pétillant Naturel had bright stone fruit aromas with floral undertones and a refreshing mouthfeel and finish. The 2016 Belle Pente Vineyard Chardonnay featured pear and stone fruit, herbs, and a stony mineral character on the nose with a moderately rich texture balanced by fine acidity and a clean finish.

Stella Crinita

From the Mendoza region, Stella Crinita is considered one the pioneers of natural wine in Argentina. Their vineyard, at over 3,000-foot elevation, has been Demeter-certified since 2012. The 2019 “Omaggio” Pét-Nat Viognier, which was made with some skin contact, displayed floral notes along with tropical fruit, fine bubbles, and a clean finish. The 2019 “Omaggio” Pét-Nat Cabernet Franc was another bright and lively wine, with red fruit and raspberry aromas plus herbal and floral undertones. A still wine, the 2019 “Amici Miei” is co-fermented Malbec and Syrah, made mostly in concrete. This had plummy fruit with savory and spicy elements, and good structure.

Sylvester/Rovine Selections

Erin Sylvester runs this West Coast branch of New York’s Zev Rovine Selections, importers and distributors focused on natural wines. I only tasted a couple of wines at this table, and my favorite was the Judith Beck 2017 “Bambule!” Welschriesling, from Burganland in Austria – the grape is actually not related to the Riesling variety familiar from Germany and Alsace. The fruit spent ten days on the skins prior to pressing, and the wine was made with no added sulfur. Bright apple and stone fruit aromas plus floral and herbal undertones, with vibrant acidity and a fresh finish.

Tessier Winery

Owner/winemaker Kristie Tacey has a background as a research scientist, and she established the Tessier label with the 2009 vintage. She makes a range of wines, mainly Riesling, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir, and Mourvèdre. Kristie poured me her new 2019 “Soul Love,” from 65% Riesling, 30% Trousseau, and 5% Mourvèdre – one of an increasing number of white/red blends I’ve seen in recent years. Floral aromas plus fresh red fruit and herbs, very pleasant. I tasted two very good Tessier Pinots (including a 2017 from Anderson Valley’s Filigreen Farm) and the 2016 Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains was my favorite of the two. Made with 20% whole clusters, this displayed savory herbal notes with red fruit and spice in support, and fine structure. The 2018 Alegría Vineyard Cabernet Franc from Russian River Valley had characteristic herbal aromas, showing touches of pepper, tea leaf, and flowers along with black cherry fruit, with great texture and a chalky but refined tannic finish.

Two Shepherds

Two Shepherds co-proprietor Karen Daenen and her husband William Allen make their wines in the town of Windsor in Sonoma County. They started out with a focus on Rhône varieties but have branched out to a number of others as well. Karen and assistant winemaker Julia Chrisco were both on hand to pour their wines at the tasting. The 2019 Vermentino, sourced from Windmill Vineyard in Yolo County had bright stone fruit and pear aromas plus pretty floral notes, while the 2019 Skin-fermented Pinot Gris “Ramato” from Sonoma Valley was floral and savory, with great texture. Another standout was the 2018 Carignan, from old vines at Trimble Vineyard in Mendocino County, which featured earthy red fruits, spice, and chalky tannins.

Unturned Stone Productions

Unturned Stone was launched in 2010 by Erin Mitchell and Randy Czech. They make their wine in Windsor, and they focus on vineyard sources in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Their 2018 “Firebird” Vecino Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Potter Valley in Mendocino was left in barrel to develop a protective flor yeast and bottled with no added sulfur – this had savory and earthy pear and citrus aromas, very distinctive. The 2015 “Spider Chase” Waterhorse Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Fort Ross-Seaview appellation on the West Sonoma Coast, showed a brighter, livelier side of this variety, with black cherry and currant fruit, fine acidity, and fine tannins.

Yamakiri Wines

Yamakiri (Japanese for “Mountain Fog”) is the project of Lisa Bauer and Alex Crangle. Based in the town of Yorkville in Mendocino County, they source much of her fruit from Anderson Valley. In addition to their wines, Lisa and Alex produce Sin Eater ciders. Lisa started me off with the Sin Eater NV Pét-Nat, made from Riesling, Albariño, Pinot Noir Blanc, and apples, all from Anderson Valley. Bright, fresh pear and apple aromas with floral notes, quite pleasant. After tasting an interesting cider that was pressed over Pinot Noir pomace, I finished up with 2017 Filigreen Farms Pinot Noir, from a biodynamically-farmed Anderson Valley vineyard and fermented with 30% whole clusters. This was savory and herbal, with black cherry and tea leaf notes, floral undertones, and a moderately tannic finish.

Zafa Wines

Although she grew up in California with a family connection to farming, Zafa owner/winemaker Krista Scruggs makes her wine and cider in Vermont, where she’s also farming a vineyard. The grape varieties she uses are hybrids rarely if ever seen in California. The wines she poured at the event were all sparkling, using the traditional method, and some made from a combination of grapes and apples. The 2018 “Word Is Born” was made from 50% Frontenac Blanc grapes and 50% from five varieties of apples – definitely an apple-like aroma to this, very fresh and clean. Krista brought a preview of her 2019 “Mea Culpa," made from Frontenac Blanc and Frontenac Gris grapes, apples, and maple syrup – like a few other wines during the afternoon tasting, I neglected to write anything about this one in my notebook but marked there that I liked it! The 2018 “Before Sunrise,” from 88% Frontenac Noir and 12% La Crescent grape varieties, was floral, grapey, and quite pleasant.

WINeFare steering committee member: (l to r) Ailis Peplau, Haley Bash, Sherry Zhong, Pamela Busch


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Updated 03.15.20