I’ve noticed a trend recently of winemakers using a very minimalist approach to their craft. By selecting the best grapes from specific vineyard sites, using wild yeasts, and remaining as non-interventionist as possible, they’re allowing the fruit to express itself in an honest, unique way.
An excellent example of this sort of wine making is what Pax Mahle is doing at Wind Gap Wines. I had a chance to visit his beautiful, newly opened tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, CA last week and tasted through his current portfolio.
The grapes used to make Wind Gap Wines are sourced from vineyards throughout California that are directly influenced by, or planted along, different “wind gaps”. These are essentially valleys cut through the coastal hillsides where winds flow inland, impacting the wine growing regions along their path.
I was really impressed by the uniqueness of the wines in the Wind Gap portfolio. As part of his minimalist wine making approach, Pax uses mostly neutral fermentation vessels (stainless steel, concrete & neutral oak), and keeps his alcohol levels moderate, which allows the fruit to truly shine.
Tasters have the option of trying 4 wines for $12 or 6 wines for $24. Wines are also sold “a la carte” by the glass and carafe to enjoy on site. I opted to try 6, which included a slightly effervescent ’13 Arinto Pierce Ranch, a ’13 Trousseau Gris, a ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , a bright ’12 Grenache from the Sceales Vineyard (some of whose vines are 80 years old), and 2 very different yet equally delicious Syrahs. I also got to sample the ’13 North Coast Rose.
I particularly liked the ’13 Arinto and the ’13 North Coast Rose – both of which are sold in $40 refillable growlers ($28 for the refill) and perfect for summertime. I also loved the slightly spicy ’12 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and the ’08 Russian River Syrah.
Whether you stop by for an hour or to spend a relaxing afternoon, Wind Gap Wines is a “must try” for your next visit to Sebastopol…
6770 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: (707) 824-5600