Martha Stoumen - Honeymoon 2018
85% Colombard, 15% Chardonnay
Mendocino County, California, United States
From the producer-
Colombard comes from Ricetti Vineyard in Redwood Valley; planted in 1948; certified organic; dry farmed. Chardonnay comes from Hawkeye Vineyard in Redwood Valley; organic. Ever-so-slightly off-dry due to some favorably botrytized Colombard (once in a decade condition), reminiscent of a Loire Chenin blanc. Vibrant aromas of honeysuckle, a bit of beeswax, and preserved lemon. The palate is inviting with flavors of wildflower honey, candied ginger root, and chamomile. This wine is beautifully textured with integrated acidity.
The star of the 2018 Honeymoon is once more 70 year-old Colombard from dry farmed, head trained vines. Colombard can throw a large crop load and has largely been written off as a blending/filler grape, or has been used traditionally for distillation into cognac, but with old vine age, dry farming, and by allowing a long hang time, Colombard can be as complex as its parent, Chenin blanc. This is our last lot to come in every year at the end of October. 2018 was a cool year and we got some botrytis in the Colombard (yay!), so were left with 2 g/L of residual sugar in the final wine. Both the Colombard and Chardonnay were whole cluster pressed, and went to neutral barrel on their full juice lees to ferment (natively, as with all our wines). They aged for a year in barrel on the juice and yeast lees, were blended, and a minimal dose of SO2 was added. We filtered the Honeymoon this year due to the residual sugar. 12.5% alcohol. At bottling (July 2019): free SO2 4 mg/L, total SO2 29 mg/L. Vegan. 321 cases.
Martha Stoumen Wines was founded upon the desire to recapture a farming and winemaking culture that has all but faded away: a winemaking culture of patience.
For my wines I lease and farm around half of the vineyards myself. The other half are farmed by multi-generation farmers who understand their land, and their family's land, far better than I ever will, and who farm with my same philosophies in mind. Patience in the vineyard means composting rather than adding synthetic fertilizers, allowing predatory insects the ability to outcompete pests rather than spraying insecticides, and doing proper handwork, such as pruning for vine longevity rather than high yields.
In the cellar I use a minimalist winemaking approach. Patience in the cellar means letting the natural yeast and bacteria present on the grape skins perform fermentation, and allowing longer macerations and aging to provide stability rather than using added tannin, acid, or stabilizing agents in my wines. Above all, I strive to make wines that are delicious, joyful, and truly representative of California.
Martha went to work in the vineyard, olive orchard, and winery of a small farm and learning center in Tuscany after studying traditional agricultural systems and Italian during her undergraduate degree. The majority of her farm work took place in the vineyard rather than the winery, so she entered the world of wine production through the lens of a vigneronne rather than a typical modern California winemaker who spends very little to no time in the vineyard. During this time she also worked with farm animals, bees, and vegetables, and to this day views growing grapes and making wine ideally as part of a larger system.
Besides a love of food, and therefore agriculture, Martha was drawn to wine for two reasons: she relishes a tradition in which the master-apprentice relationship is still very much alive and well, and because wine is a product that sets the pace and rhythm of the winemaker’s life, rather than vice-versa. Grape growing and winemaking aligns a vigneronne’s actions with the seasons; she can neither rush the process nor slow it down. After her initial exposure to grape farming and winemaking in Tuscany, Martha began a series of apprenticeships, sandwiched around a Master's at UC Davis. Martha has had the pleasure of apprenticing under Reinhard Löwenstein (Heymann-Löwenstein, Mosel), Jordan Fiorentini (Chalk Hill, California) Chris Brockway (Broc Cellars, California), Clive Dougall (Seresin, Marlborough), Didier Barral (Léon Barral, Faugères, France), and Giusto Occhipinti (COS, Sicily). Many of these teachers have remained a part of her life as she has moved toward her own vision of making responsibly farmed, terroir-driven wines in the land that she holds so dear in her heart, California.