For over forty million years, the diatom has been a crucial source of food for marine life and carbon dioxide for all living things on earth. Encased by a microscopic, jewel-like shell extracted from the water, these skeletons of silica fossilize on the ocean floor forming a bed of diatomite. Replete with this chalky white earth, the Sta. Rita Hills appellation serves as an ideal platform to explore and exploit this instrumental medium in our world. These soils, coupled with the severe marine influence from the oceans of their provenance, warrant attentive execution.
2011 marks the seventh harvest of this project and the second year wherein the vineyard designation is expressed through emotional and conceptual means. While this approach may seem abstract, I could not feel more honest and vulnerable in the transmission of sentiment and vineyard character than through these channels. I cannot adequately thank and recognize my dear friends, Takahide and Miyoko Sugimoto, who have played such an instrumental role in the evolution into this Japanese aesthetic that resonates so strongly within me. Not only have they devoted significant time and energy into the nomenclature and stunning kanji artwork, they have exposed an intimate portal into their culture that has liberated me within and through my craft.
Our wines, while still hailing from specific vineyard sites, will no longer be vineyard designated in the traditional sense of labeling. Instead, I have assigned kanji characters to each parcel which relate and communicate a more personal and specific representation of origin. Vineyards selected for the diatom project are sought out for their ability to serve as voices for place. Through the small and specific sites chosen, there will be a journey through solitude, tranquility and the transitory nature of life. The challenge is to subtract all extraneous elements to arrive at the utmost level of simplicity, serenity and refinement. In order to maintain this desired purity, fermentation is carried out at a very cold temperature in neutral vessels to retain the most primary attributes of the fruit. Furthermore, malo-lactic is inhibited to avoid the distraction of that secondary level of evolution. The resultant wine is then aged on its non-disturbed lees for health and protection, and removed just before there is any risk of autolysis which could impart nondesirable yeast-like characteristics into the wine.