Oregon House, North Yuba, California, USA
Over the past 30 years, Gideon Beinstock has been involved in almost every aspect of the wine industry: sales, writing, purchasing, educating, and a decade-plus long stint as winemaker for Renaissance. Since 1995, along with his wife Saron, Gideon has been making site specific natural wines in Yuba County in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. They make true natural wines that are thoughtful, intellectual and wildly unique.
Their home vineyards are densely planted with 2500 vines per acre. The soil here is so poor that the vines struggle to stay alive in dry years and produce incredibly low yields, sometimes less than two tonnes per ace. The vineyards are farmed without chemicals and fertilization is provided by grazing livestock animals (sheep, geese, and chickens), supplemented with additional organic compost.
Their “Home Vineyard” is north-east facing, at 1600 ft altitude. Overall, the top soil is alluvial clay-loam on volcanic ash, fractured granite, and quartz sub layers; but each section of the vineyard has its own particular combination/ratio of the various components, and a slightly different microclimate and exposure. Each lot is picked over many times and ripeness is determined in the field by touch and taste – not in a lab. Picking a single vineyard can be stretched out to 5 or 6 weeks because of uneven ripening. As a result, each vineyard yields many different ferments that are later blended together.
Most purchased fruit is certified organic coming from either the Bechthold Field Vineyard or from Markus Bokish in Lodi. The Cinsault comes from own- rooted vines planted in 1885 and yield only 2 tonnes per acre – extremely low by Lodi standards.
Winemaking is painfully simple. Hand-picked grapes are crushed by foot immediately after being harvested and fermented on native yeast in old open-top oak vats. For blends the grape varietals are all co-fermented to produce more harmonious wines. The wines are then pressed into old French barrel and aged on lees for as long as they feel necessary before being bottled, unfined and unfiltered, by gravity, by hand. A small dose of So2 is added at bottling for stability.
Production is generally around 100 cases or less per wine and wines are left to rest for 6 months or more before release once they are bottled.
2014 Carte Blanche
Albarino 50%, Verdelho 50%.100% foot-stomped whole cluster.12.8% Alc. Total sulfites added: 20ppm. 142 cases produced
2014 Blue Cheer
Century-old Vines. Carignan 50%, Cinsault 50%. 100% foot-stomped whole cluster. Total sulfites added: 25ppm. 13% Alc. 173 cases producer
2012 Pinot Noir “Home Vineyard”
100% foot-stomped whole cluster. 13.2% Alc. Total sulfites added: 20ppm at bottling. 132 cases produced.
- Kenaston Wine Market
- The Winehouse
- Banville and Jones