Last week I teamed up with Cory Cartwright (a fellow natural wine aficionado who is about to launch his wine import business in Oakland). We drove all the way to the Sierra Foothills, 3 hours northeast of San Francisco, to pay a visit to the owners of La Clarine Farm.
Despite the cloudy weather and the 6 hours of driving, this trip was totally worth it. I met Hank Beckmeyer and his wife Caroline. I also met Ten-ten, a baby goat born on 10/10/10, who belongs to a herd of maybe 40 goats. As well as some partridges. And some cats. And some dogs.
Hank first gave us a short guided tour of their property, including the winery where a dozen barrels are in the process of aging some Viognier, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and some Syrah. This multitude of grape varietals will be used for field blends in an attempt to eclipse the singularity of a particular varietal and thus leave more room to the terroir. In the same line of thought, the vines were planted in small patches, with no trellis, no artificial fertilizers, with natural buffers like trees and bushes around the small 10-acre vineyard.
Then Caroline prepared us a fabulous lunch with at least 7 different cheeses, some freshly-baked bread and a few old La Clarine bottles. Let’s just say this is my kind of lunch. And finally, the main objective of the trip, I spent about an hour asking Hank some questions on camera. Here is a small excerpt:
Great day! Thanks Cory for your company and all that driving. And many thanks to Hank and Caroline.