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Darek Trowbridge owns Old World Winery in Fulton, California, in the Sonoma wine region.
On a recent trip to the area, Carolyn and I visited a number of wineries. We didn't get to Old World Winery until the end of the day. We were beat, our palates were fatigued, but were intrigued by Trowbridge's relatively small operation and his buoyant attitude and community-centered way of doing business.
To build enthusiasm for wine-making (and, of course, to market this wine to the locals) Trowbridge invites people to his farm to do wine stomping. With their feet. The Old World way.
"We had this guy and his wife pull up in a BMW," Trowbridge, told us, "and I could tell they were cautious. They saw the people up to their knees in grapes and they weren't sure they wanted any part of it. Then they tried it and got totally into it! We love when that happens"
In addition to reviving some largely abandoned techniques for making wine, Trowbridge is also trying to keep alive some obscure varieties of Italian and other grapes which, if he wasn't making the effort, would probably disappear from the face of the Earth. "I have what I think is the last remaining block of Arbouriou grapes. It was planted in 1890. It's a Basque variety," he told us. I tried some, and it was fine, a little expensive because it's so rare, but worth keeping in the gene pool. As the Old World Winery site explains "In the 1970's the wine consumer started to strongly choose varietal wine (made from single varieties). This brought more value to varieties such as Zinfandel and Cabernet so growers pulled out their more obscure varieties, like Abouriou, in favor of the higher value grapes."
Says Trowbridge, "I feel like a museum curator as I uphold the planting history and tradition of my family and also my own curiosity of this nearly extinct heirloom variety. The wine contains layers of spice and complexity that is uncommon, and it's is a joy to see what Abouriou can do in any season."
After Trowbridge took us out to see his heritage pigs, he mentioned a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc he was selling for 5 bucks a bottle. We tried some. Carolyn said, "You should get a case of this."
I could not but obey.
For 5 bucks/bottle, plus 5 bucks/bottle shipping, this is a good wine deal. The sauvignon blanc juice has had some longer-than-usual contact with the grape skins, so it has a slightly orange cast. The flavor is light, but balanced, not sweet but not bone-dry either. It's good for sipping or for drinking with food.
I'm not saying this wine is going to win a lot of awards, but it's a very good white table wine, and it's a huge advantage to have it brought to your door for ten bucks/bottle.
I served some of this Sauvignon Blanc to a wine snob friend and he liked it; I didn't tell him the price for fear he'd decide he didn't like it after all. But it's a good wine Trowbridge makes, and I think you'll like it. We just ordered another case to see us through to the end of summer.
If you want to order a case of his Sauvignon Blanc, call him at (707) 490-6696.
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