Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
 
July 30, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

The Farm Winery

I will freely admit that we love Paso Robles and the wines that are being produced there. It’s been called such romantic terms as “The Next Napa” and “Like visiting Napa in the 70’s” which I’m not sure I agree with simply because there is a real discernable start up culture which is apparent in the Paso Robles wine industry.

That start up culture has led Paso Robles to be a go to spot of sorts for us at Uncorked Ventures, with some of our favorite wineries being found there from Alta Colina, Denner, Herman Story, Kinero and many, many others.

Ok, since we said this was going to be about Stanford, here we go: You might be wondering about the winery name, it’s a take, or a take off on the nickname for Stanford (campus is simply referred to as the farm) and The Farm Winery is owned and operated by two Stanford MBA graduates.

The Farm Winery is a partnership between two couples, one from South America and one from California, that’s a setup that we can appreciate having family of our own in South America as well.  Jim and Azmina Madsen took the pilgrimage to Napa Valley (anyone who lives in the Bay Area for any length of time, does the same) with friends from their Stanford MBA program, Santiago and Mercedes Achaval.  If that Achaval name sounds familiar it should, it was during this trip to Napa Valley that Santiago decided to become a winemaker and eventually a winery carrying his name, Achaval-Ferrer would grow to become perhaps the most famous winery in South America.

Eventually fate and friendship brought the friends back together with the Madsen’s buying a piece of property in Paso Robles with the intention of starting a new winery.  Given their friendship, I am willing to guess that their list of possible winemakers would be a short one.  Located on the west side of Paso Robles, this is one of the more unique wine growing regions in the world for the complexity and levity it can add to wines.  While it’s the quality of wines that makes us want to share these wines with our customers, but additionally, we thought that The Farm Winery was important for the simple reason that winemaker here, is among the most famous in the world.  Achaval spends his days making wine in South America, so harvest and most of the hands on winemaking work takes place in the opposite season (harvest is in April instead of October allowing a winemaker to be hands on in both places).  To us, that was an important point and a setup that we’re likely to see long into the future.

For the past few decades we’ve been firmly into the realm of the superstar consulting winemaker.  Many wine drinkers recognize the name Michele Rolland, but don’t realize how busy the man truly is.  A few years ago we realized he consulting on close to 30 wines in Napa alone, while making wine for his namesake winery in France during the same time periods.

Having famous winemakers from the Southern Hemisphere come to America isn’t new, but having them come while keeping the wineries which made them famous is.  Frankly, it’s a better setup for a long term commitment than jet setting and not being able to be actively involved in some of the first decisions that have to be made during harvest and beyond.

Lastly, it is important to mention that The Farm Winery is crafting a range of wines that include the usual Westside Paso Robles standout Rhone varietals, but also a selection of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

We have a great deal of respect for Steve Heimoff from Wine Enthusiast, so we’ll simply allow him to sell the quality of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvingon:

“I’ve been saying for years that it was only a matter of time before this happened. No disrespect to Napa, but it never made much sense to me that one region, and one only, could excel at a particular varietal, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon. The temperature in the cooler parts of Paso Robles–notably those affected by the Templeton Gap, which sucks in maritime air from the Cambria coast–is ideal for ripening the grapes. Not all areas are exposed to the westerly breezes; the topography of these hills is complicated. But on the hottest days, when it’s well above 100 in Paso Robles town and to the east, it’s dependably cooler throughout the hills, and the higher the elevation, the more the temperature drops”

Lastly, we have a set of tasting notes available for the Touchy Feely Grenach/Syrah blend that we shipped a couple of months back:

Tasting Notes "Touchy-Feely" Rhone Varietal Red 2009: The Touch-Feely is a Rhone blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah. It boasts very ripe aromas of huckleberry and plum with an earth/stem component. Full and lush on the palate, it is nicely structured and flavorful with lot of ripe plum fruit with hint of loam and cocoa powder. Aged in new French oak for 24 months, it is still young with firm ripe tannins, lots of alcohol with light bitterness (15% alc) and a persistent finish. A delicious wine that could use an additional 12 months of bottle aging.

Mark Aselstine
 
July 29, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

We’re All Stanford Business Students These Days

When it comes to business schools across America, Stanford is undoubtedly near the top.  When it comes to the wine industry though, you don’t run into many Stanford MBA’s.

Well, it seems that might be changing.

Over the past two month’s we’ve run into two outstanding new wineries, both owned by Stanford graduates.  Most of the connection comes from Santiago Achaval who fell in love with the wine industry during his business school years, only to go on to feature incredibly prominently in the wine industry in South America.

As it turns out, if you’ve had a wine from Mendoz Argentina, it likely carried his name.

Now, he’s teamed with two separate business school colleagues to craft a Paso Robles project called the Farm Winery (extra points if you already see the Stanford connection) as well as a winery sourcing grapes from South America, but selling the wines directly from Napa Valley itself: Hand of God Wines.

Over the next three days we’re going to feature these three projects and the wines that they’re creating.  In the new international wine industry that we’re living in, these are important wines and important relationships.