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Last Summer Grenache

Last Summer Grenache 2015

So Jennifer Bartz is a new name to pretty much everyone, plus this is Grenache so there’s that…..those that have been wine club members for a while understand my appreciation for the varietal, especially on California’s Central Coast.

A few things.  First, I thought the name was a good one.  Largely it makes me consider what we were doing as a family at this time last year, a crawling baby around the park and beach isn’t necessarily as much as it sounds.  Additionally, the bottle made me consider that summer’s suppose to be warm and the one thing that I am always reminded of living in the Bay Area, on this side of the hill in the east bay, near the Bay and the city of SF, it’s foggy and cold until 2pm or so when it finally burns off.  Growing up in San Diego, the utter lack of warm sun along with decent beaches, is something to deal with.  Of course, it’s also exasperating that so many in the Bay Area don’t realize how much worse their beaches are.  After all, this isn’t sand:

So about this wine.  Yes, it’s Grenache and this fits quite a few stereotypes happening on the Central Coast.  There’s perhaps a few good reasons for it, but the Central Coast has long been home to a larger number of female winemakers than has the state as a whole.  Let’s be clear, the lack of women in winemaking jobs is a major issue that the industry needs to deal with, the utter lack of minorities is another major issue.  Frankly, having too many people with the same background doesn’t lead to the diversity of choices and flavor profiles from winemaking choices that many of us might like. To put the whole thing in perspective, about 10% of winemakers in California are female.  But, Santa Barbara, depending on whom you ask, is somewhere between 20-30%. Still too low of course, but it’s a start.

Some of this is changing of course.  UC Davis is the preeminent educational institution for winemakers.  Basically, it’s the entire Ivy League plus the University of California system added together on a single campus in terms of influence, or more. Tracking the number of female winemakers graduating from the program is one thing that we can do quite easily.  In the late 90’s, about a third of Davis grads were women.  Today it’s roughly half. There’s a lower division class where it’s two thirds-which roughly matches college underclassman in general these days-itself another item of concern for those of us with boys at home.

I think finding and educating new female winemakers is important in large part because of the Central Coast’s example.  In Santa Barbara they aren’t doing anything differently in terms of hiring, there’s no special programs to train female winemakers.  But, there’s a history of female winemakers in charge of important and newsworthy projects.  That becomes a recruiting tool of sorts and it’s a draw for other younger female winemakers that are interested in having a complete set of mentors, an important part of making wine.

Jenifer’s experience is another great point in the simplicity of bringing in more people, gives us better wine.  Each label has an image of something she’s seen while traveling.  She’s young and has lived an interesting life already. I doubt there’s many people walking around California these days that boast a degree in Cellular Biology, but whom taught meditation and have spent significant time learning the practice in India. 

Oh and for this vintage she made all of 5 barrels of wine.  That’s of course, not to damn much.  It’s also a nice reminder that finding this stuff before major critics does actually help.  Spectator is going to feature her in September, along with a 91 point score on this-making it quickly impossible to come by. Lastly, monthly wine club members will see a bottle of this Last Summer Grenache soon!

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