The Farm Winery
We are four friends from California & Argentina who first met at “The Farm” almost 30 years ago. Back then, Santiago and Mercedes made their first pilgrimage to Napa with Jim and Azmina to stay at a bed and breakfast and do some wine tasting. Lo and behold, the next morning, there was no Santiago to be found and searching and waiting for an hour, he emerges from the green foliage of the vines! Yes! He was smitten! He had the bug! He had no enology training, had no clue what it entailed, but he knew that this was it for him – we can still hear his words, “Someday I am going to make wine!”
Thereafter, Santiago and Mercedes returned to their corporate world in Argentina, Jim and Az to theirs in San Diego. Our friendship flourished and we managed trips back and forth and our families grew – seven kids between us……
Santiago and Mercedes then proceeded to make a bold move – sink whatever they had into making old-vine Malbec in Mendoza. The rest speaks for itself – today Santiago Achaval is a renowned winemaker, famous for his winemaking and his introduction of “cult” Malbec from the quiet region of Mendoza. He continues to extend his wine work and knowledge in Italy, Spain and Chile!
So when Jim and Az became empty nesters, they returned to their wedding night B&B near Paso Robles, California, from the early 1980’s. It was where Jim had said, “This is God’s country” and revisiting this area once again, the brainchild was born – a call to Santiago and Mercedes, screams of absolute joy and adventure about making the best possible wine here in Paso Robles, and the deal was sealed.
Here we are, eight seasons into wine-making and loving every single moment! Working together, we four, our families and their friends and our friends, the long harvest hours, the camaraderie, the shared work, the laughter, the work picnics in the truck, the wetness of the winery, the heat of the vineyards……. we feel blessed!
The Adelaida District in westside Paso Robles is magical. The winding roads, the massive oak trees that dot the golden landscape, the free roaming cows….. Families of deer and wild turkeys grazing and the sight of California quail crossing the road, the swooping owls and red-tailed hawks that circle the wide skies – the woodpeckers busily drumming at the oak trees and the giant tarantulas meandering along the walkway…… It is absolutely a stunning area! The night sky makes one ponder for the stars shine like diamonds and the quiet of the night is only interrupted with coyote howls or the emergence of wild pigs ……This is the far Westside of Paso Robles. Vineyards dotting the higher elevations, where the ocean fog kisses the tops of the vines or the sheer force of the harsh sun that bears down on vines so firmly rooted in the limestone that are often subjected to the whims of unpredictable weather and scarcity of water. This, then, is what puts Westside Paso on the wine map – explosions of flavors concentrated in the fruit so exceptional to make wonderful wines!
Mother Nature provides for what we cannot create in the vineyards and the exceptional community of Westside Paso Robles winemakers and wine growers beckon us to give our very best to make wines we are proud of and it is with gracious thanks and exciting possibilities, that we have forged ahead!
Our goal is to make small amounts of fine red wines with the very best fruit from Westside Paso Robles (Adelaida and Willow Creek Districts).
We will always remain a small winery working with ultra-low yields of special fruit. We believe that the work done in the vineyards is critical. Year round, we walk the vineyards, feeling the slant of the sun, the feel of limestone soil, the durability of the vines.
This terroir, limestone and microclimates, combined with custom farming, where each vine is individually tended to produce but a few clusters so that our wine will get the fullest flavor of the berries.
We are a hands-on team in the vineyards, consistently custom farming the vines throughout the season. The first shoots, the fruit set, the canopy management, the pruning and dropping of fruit, attention to detail on the few clusters we leave on the vines – we want to capture the packed flavors of fruit that Mother Nature has yielded with our careful tending.
Your first sip of our wines is the reflection of the very senses in which we are enraptured. We want to share with you this heady scent of deep purple berries and hot limestone minerality that work the magic of sun and rain and fog and unpredictable wildness of Westside Paso.
We seek to make wines that best express the character of Westside Paso Robles. We admire and respect what has been done here before. We wish to bring a nuance – the same intensity along with greater elegance.
That is, wines that “don’t punch you in the face.” By that, we mean, wines you can more easily discover and explore their complexity. Wines that talk to the drinker from a position of humbleness grounded in their knowledge of themselves. We believe in wines that speak forcefully without screaming.
We are building on a bedrock of limestone (basically an accumulator of time). Limestone is time and weather made into soil, and giving birth to life again in our time.
The vast diurnal temperature swings of Westside Paso’s Adelaida District allow us to maintain in the grape, and therefore in the wines, a natural freshness and acidity. In Paso, we bypass the eternal dilemma of California winemaking which is the loss of acidity and the need to add it back into the wine. Paso’s wild temperature variations are what make possible the marriage of power and agility in a wine.
The vine, once liberated from half its normal fruit load, finds within itself the resources and ability to express its sense of place (terroir). The wines acquire character and interest. Even a neophyte to Paso will taste and say there’s something special here.
The limestone, the temperature swings, the low yields are the main tools. Once these are applied to the beautiful Westside Paso vineyards, the only thing remaining is sweating the small stuff: careful everyday tending of the canopy, achieving balance in the water and nutritional needs of the plant, paying attention to the solar exposure of the fruit, and recognizing that each year is different, and needs a fresh approach, or at least new variant of the proven techniques.
Wine is 90% vineyard, 8% mistake avoidance in the winery, and 2% inspiration by the winemaking team. What we describe above is therefore 98% of the wine. What is mistake avoidance? Once you have quality grapes, we believe less is more.
We do not cold soak because we have expressive grapes. We do not correct acidities because the vineyard gives great acidities. We do not need extended skin contact after fermentation to polymerize our tannin structure because our canopy management and leafing of the bunches creates fine-grained and mature tannins on the vine. We do not need to limit our fermentation temperatures because the low yields of our vines provide a lot of “stuffing” in the grapes to be delivered that we like to transmit into the wines.
We do not buy grapes. We consider buying of grapes as a passive position – a receiving attitude. Instead, we partner with growers that share a vision of wine and who show a curiosity to find the limits of their own vineyards – to push the envelope of vine expression. These growers farm to jointly planned strategies.
Our blends ask us for an early integration. Blending is like a Lego set, where the instinct (or craving) to assemble is irresistible. Blending components when they are conceived as such in the vineyard transmit to the winemaker a need for completion. We feel almost an urgency to blend, because both in palate and in nose, while tasting each of the components, the place where the other fits is obvious.
LPF is our exploration of the Adelaida District in Westside Paso. We love Cabernet Sauvignon. And in our urge to find the best, we explore great vineyards. We believe the vineyard blocks of LPF make for a fantastic varietal Cabernet Sauvignon.
You needn’t be a Keynesian economist to appreciate the Liquidity Preference Function (LPF) – to save or to consume. We leave it to you to determine whether your rate of interest for LPF is: savor now or cellar for later?
This wine is characterized by tightly knit fruit texture, medium-sized tannin structure, and a “sexiness” of juicy appeal that has the focus of a blue laser in your nose and palate. Dark and red fruits interlaced with some minerality that gives it a sense of place. Superb length in mouth with echoes of blue colors (my personal metaphor, sorry!) both in the nose and in the back of your mouth once the glass is empty.
Our Cabernet yield was tiny – barely one-half of a ton per acre. 135 cases made. 13.5% alcohol.
“A fruit forward nose of blackberry, blue plum, violet and camphor. The palate is focused on lush fruit with a solid acid structure and notes of delicate florals. Drink 2015 – 2024.”
92 points; purely domestic wine report April 2015
“100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Old Bailey, one of Paso Robles‘ oldest Cabernet vineyards planted in 1964. With yields of 0.6 tons/acre, this vineyard produces highly concentrated earthy grapes of black currant and cassis. With 27 months in oak, concentrated earthy flavors, and firm round tannins, this Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent offering that should be enjoyed over the next ten years or longer.”
92 points; International Wine Review January 21, 2015
Touchy-Feely is about sensations. Touchy-Feely is graceful and dances with joy. It’s a wine lighter than air; it elevates. At the same time, it’s a wine that has an extraordinary length both in palate and in the nose. As all good memories, Touchy-Feely endures.
Touchy-Feely is entirely Rhône. Its Grenache side gives it femininity, elegance. Its minor Rhône brother adds a tad of weight, just enough to keep it grounded, of body & structure.
Touchy-Feely is a different Rhône, our take of dancing in summer. Its colors are almost claret. It’s a wine that works at an angle, in a different realm, a different dimension. It’s a wine which requires choices. It does not allow indifference. It is non-commercial and follows no beaten path. It is what some vineyards achieve when they dare to be themselves.
Touchy-Feely shows in first term, our love affair with the Grenache from Terra Bella Vineyard. As years go by, we’re finding increased levels of minerality, while keeping intact both the feminine side of dancing red fruits and the fine-grain tannin that gives it backbone. The 81% Grenache is balanced with Syrah, also from Terra Bella. Syrah provides a bit more depth of color, some spicy notes, and a wildness that keeps this wine clearly away from the more civilized wines that are made with Bordeaux varieties instead of Rhône varieties.
“This is really beautiful and refined with strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors. Medium body, delicate tannins and a fresh finish. Long and flavorful.”
92 points; James Sucking October 2015
“The nose is fragrant violet pastille, black rasberry and briar. Subtle notes of grapefruit skin and cherry. The palate has a lush fruit entry complemented by firm acidity and supple red fruit/spice in the core. Well put together. Drink 2015 – 2020.”
92 points; purely domestic wine report April 2015
90 points; Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine March 2015
The Big Game
“Big Games” are about long-standing rivals on the same playing field where the outcome is bigger than the individual participants. In wine, the rivalry of Rhône and Bordeaux regions is timeless. Our wine, The Big Game, is where Bordeaux meets Rhône and everyone wins. The stars are Cabernet Sauvignon & Petit Verdot on one side and Syrah on the other.
Ultimately, the character of the wine is closer to the complexity and size of Bordeaux than Rhône, but the spirit of the wine is a tie. The Big Game is layered, complex, and mouth-filling. There is something in there for everybody. The red fruits, the black fruits, the freshness, the earthiness. It’s a classic.
The dominant note in this blend is from the Syrah. That edge of wildness, of spice and pepper of a Côte-Rôtie! Very complex aromas leading into tightly knit textures of fruit and tannin. Cab gives it backbone and darker fruit notes. A keeper!
The Big Game is all about the merging and melding and melting of different angles and points of view. I look forward to the awakening of the Petit Verdot which for now is very subtle. I have no doubt that you will find joy in the change of this wine along the years.
“The 2011 Big Game is a delicious blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Syrah and 17% Petit Verdot. It offers ripe and concentrated blackberry and cassis fruit with a rich and luscious mouth feel. Aged 27 months in new and used oak, it is perfectly balanced with beautifully integrated sweet oak, soft round tannins and a long finish. The grapes are from two outstanding vineyards: Terra Bella at 1800 ft, one of the highest Westside Paso Syrah vineyards, planted in 2001, and Adelaida Springs Ranch, planted in 2002. Only 265 cases made.”
93+ points; International Wine Review January 2015
“The nose is nicely focused and fresh, beautifully layered black fruit, graphite and menthol. The palate is firm and well focused with deeply flavored black fruit, lavender and camphor. Drink 2016 – 2023.”
92 points; purely domestic wine report April 2015