“Grenache is an unlikely hero of a grape,” says Jancis Robinson. And yet, it is the most planted wine grape in Southern France, (and the second most widely-planted wine grape in the world), is the primary ingredient in the popular Rhône grape trio GSM, and has garnered recent recognition for its contribution in the powerful red wines coming out of the mountainous region of Priorat in Spain. Indeed, it seems that in all cases, Grenache is considered a grape worth blending, playing a supporting role amongst a league of more forceful wines. So, to play on Robinson’s analogy, poor Grenache has both the perceived purpose and popularity as Aquaman among the Justice League.
This need not be the case. Depending on where its grown, how the vineyards are maintained, and the choices made during winemaking, Grenache can actually be quite sneaky-cool. A dedicated Grenache can stand on its own, with the strength and independence of, say, Catwoman.
So I asked Adobe Roads winemaker Garrett Martin what method he uses to create sparkling wine and his answer was just too good not to share verbatim:
“This is a good story! My production space is right next to Lagunitas brewery. The folks over there are fantastic and good friends. When I got the creative inspiration to make a sparkling rosé I walked next door and chatted with them about the process – I mean, they make beverages sparkle every day! With some of their advice, I began running small scale experiments adding CO2 to kegs of rosé and eventually bottling in swing-top bottles. We had enough positive feedback that we took it from that ‘proof of concept’ phase to full production. I bottled the full-package bottling with another friend who has a sparkling wine bottling line. The short answer is that I use the Charmat method, but I like the full story more!”
Next I have to ask him about the time he put the sparkling rosé into a keg-tapping system designed for beer’s low-level carbonation. “Boom! Rosé mess everywhere…”
Besides the fact that it has a cool name, Bavarian Lion Vineyard in the Knight’s Valley AVA (also a pretty awesome name) of Sonoma County is one of the most ideal spots for growing the heat-loving Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Here, in the crevice of the Vacas Mountain, the vineyard is unaffected by maritime influences from the Pacific Ocean. The warm climate combined with the less-fertile volcanic soils that make up the terroir means that the vines produce smaller berries rich with concentrated flavors — not unlike those found in France’s Bordeaux region, where Cab was first crowned king.
Adobe Road crafts a wine that expresses the true nature of these grapes — austere in its youth, but with a deep-rooted maturity that means wine lovers can enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon today and for many years to come.
“There isn’t always a need for speed in my life,” says Kevin Buckler, professional race car driver and owner and founder of Adobe Road Wines. Often when we hear about professional athletes starting a winery business, we assume that their involvement is fairly hands-off, providing the financial backing and maybe some creative influences. Not so with Buckler, who since opening Adobe Road in 2002 has insisted on having “uncompromising access and control” to every wine produced. As such, he, along with his team, stomp the vineyard grounds, taste test every barrel, and collectively decide when perfection has been met. Yes, a slow, steady, meticulous process that slows the racer down. The result is that Adobe Roads crafts quite hearty, structural wines that act as a steady journey, lasting the length of a meal and well into the night beyond.
What do fast cars and fine wines have in common? If you’re Kevin Buckler — owner and founder of The Racers Group (TRG), TRG-Aston Martin Racing and Adobe Road Winery — then everything. A passionate professional race car driver, Buckler created TRG in 1992, and has gone on to win multiple awards including an overall win and 4 class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the title of 2002 Porsche World Cup Champion. But Buckler couldn’t leave his passion for wine in the dust — in 2002 he and his wife, Debra, opened Adobe Road Winery which has also gone on to score big points with big-named critics.
Like custom building the perfect race car, Buckler knows that crafting the perfect wines requires all the the right parts. This means, above all else, access to good grapes. “We work hard to make sure each bottle of Adobe Road wine showcases the best attributes of each individual vineyard,” says Buckler, “We choose the best parts of Sonoma and Napa Valley.” So far I must agree, because to me nothing says perfectly balanced Chardonnay than a handful of grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.