It is an amazing time: we have survived two years in the plague, made wine for two years in a parking lot, and bottled 3 vintages of Los Angeles wines. We have just moved into a new winery, and have nearly completed our fourth harvest in the city--
and soon, you will be able to visit us.
It is nearly the first of December. We are in a new winery, one that we created from nothing with our friend Raj, 6 days before harvesting fruit. It is a glorious year and we are making very good wines.
We begin bottling the 2022 wines today.
I am so excited about this collaboration: it marks the real flowering of a relationship begun 15 years ago.
Tolenas is a young, small, winery absolutely flourishing in Suisun Valley, under the direction of Lisa Tenbrink-Howard, daughter of Steve and Linda Tenbrink. Lisa learned to make wine working with me and Steve, in their family winery as I made Scholium and he made small amounts of wine from his own fruit.
In the beginning, all of the wines flowed from fruit grown by Steve, some from vineyards I had worked with since 2003. Soon Lisa and her husband Cliff purchased land in Suisun and began growing their own fruit.
Both of these wines hail from their own home ranch, planted to Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The wines were made at Tenbrink under Lisa's direction, using techniques that she had learned from me during the years that I worked with her and her family.
Both wines are serious, deep, dark, and rich. Because of their origin in Suisun, and the farming heritage Lisa inherited from Steve, the wines are reminiscent of the great Babylon wines I made from 2004 to 2017-- and are radically different from the lithe, light, red wines I am making from desert fruit in Los Angeles. It is so wonderful to return to Suisun and resume a collaboration with the Tenbrinks-- now involving a second generation of the the family.
A note on the names: when we tasted the wines in preparation for bottling, they somehow both seemed highly literary to me. They were definitely wines of place, but in naming them, the vineyards were not in the front of my mind. For one of the wines, a mythological creature dominated; for the other, the musical sense of a favorite poem.
We are so honored and excited to offer this oil again this year.
The Tenbrinks planted olives in the field opposite the winery before they built the winery in 2007. They planted 105 trees, from 12 different cultivars. They had in mind the polyculture of their families in Italy, where the terroir of grape growing always also encouraged the cultivation of olives. I have marveled in the past at the oils of Quintarelli, Cornelissen, Paolo Bea, Occhipinti and Clos Mogador in Priorat. This is the dream of a winemaker in a Mediterranean climate: to be able to offer an oil from an orchard of the same quality as his vineyards that he works with.
Demand for the oils in 2021 was so overwhelming that we have decided to pre-sell a certain portion of the expected oil. The crop looks wonderful this year-- it will be the best harvest yet. We were absolutely delighted with the inadvertent tactic of making different picks last year: it revealed all kinds of interesting subtleties in oils from different cultivars, picked days or even weeks apart. My favorite oil was the freshest, from the first pick; but 3 and 4 were also amazing because of their density and exotic aromas.
Our third vintage. So exciting, and so much new:
This year, we harvested fruit from seven old-vine vineyards in Southern California, all of them planted on their own roots before 1918. We discovered one new vineyard of crucial importance, and gained access to three more grape sources from vineyards we had known about before but had not been able to work with. The result of this is five new wines this year!
The drought was hard on all of our vineyards and yields were down everywhere. We made only a quarter as much Lone Wolf in 2021 compared to 2022, and about half as much Maglite. On the other hand, there are three really good things to report: as much as the pandemic presented difficulties to all of us, there was not the same ever-present sense of uncertainty and dread as there was in 2020. You can feel this in the wines: they are much lighter and more joyous this year. No joke. And there was no weeks-long heatwave. We made wine in beautiful warm weather, not in opppressive 100-degree heat. And lastly, we were joined by many more colleagues this year and the tribe of serious Los Angeles winemakers is growing.
2021 Los Angeles River Wine Company Disco Essence
As often as possible, we host you. We pour wines. Rarely ours alone. How can we welcome you without the presence of our friends?
Barrel Tasting at the Winery
Saturday September 24 at 5 PM
A litte party
Saturday May 7 at 5 PM
The Return of the Scythians
Saturday April 2 at 7:00 PM
The Los Angeles wines of the 2021 harvest
The Napa Tasting-- Sunday April 23 3 PM
This release presents the first Northern California wines that we have made since the onset of the pandemic.
We made only Los Angeles wines in 2020, and in 2021, still reeling from the catastrophic reset of the pandemic, we made only a tiny amount of Scholium wine, and made all of it in Los Angeles. Among our traditional Scholium wines, made only one: The Sylphs. We added two new wines made from fruit sourced from our friend Raj in Cambria; and we have one very special 2019 red from the Tenbrinks' Petite Sirah, made in Suisun in conjunction with their daughter, Lisa Tenbrink Howard.
These the wines that we made in Napa in 2018 and 2019 while we were consumed with founding the Los Angeles River Wine Company. I did not give the wines the attention that they deserved in 2018 and 2019, and during the pandemic year of 2020, I alternated between forgetting about them and being afraid of them.
I finally tasted the wines in April of 2021 and they are absolutely brilliant, the best two vintages of wine we have ever made. How strange and unexpected.
Please note that there is a 20% discount on all orders of 12 bottles or more-- mix and match or whole cases.
We have just begun bottling Magnums again after a hiatus of several years. We have 25 bottles from the 2021 harvest newly available.
It is so exciting to offer these wines. Our second vintage. A plague vintage. With 115 degree days in the vineyard, on the crushpad, enveloping the fermentations. We worked with such joy and innocence, almost without equipment, but with so much loving collaboration from a community of friends.
When it was not clear that we could complete harvest, I turned to our legion of supporters and asked them to take a chance and purchase and pay for wine, before some of it had even been harvested. They flocked to us and bought enough wine to allow us to complete everything, and now the fruit is all harvested, the wine has all fermented, and the wines are ready to bottle.
We made 12 wines this year. We are releasing one bottle of each wine to these supporters. One hundred bottles for one hundred allies. We have only enough of all twelve wines to offer twelve more 12-bottle packages. First come.
We are now offering the remaining bottles, one by one.
We have accomplished the daring and difficult Futurist aim of forcing bubbles into still wine. Blowout is all about speed, anticipation, audacity: it is a Sparkling Wine bottled and initially released only months after harvest and fermentation. There was no patience in the making-- or consumption-- of Blowout.
And then-- the labels stopped sticking to the bottles. We could not figure out a solution; in the face of so much more to do, we gave up. And let the unlabeled wine age.
Now, in 2021, we have tasted the wine again and it is delicious. I designed new labels, ones that stuck this time. We now release the wine again.