2020 Gearhead Princess CC Orange Pet’Nat
Region: Love Ranch Vineyard < Madera < California (Counoise)
Lolonis Vineyard < Mendocino < California (Chardonnay)
Grapes: Chardonnay, Counoise
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Counoise from Love Ranch: CCOF-certified organic farming, dry-farmed vineyards on thin soils of granitic schist; Chardonnay from CCOF-certified organic, dry-farmed Lolonis Vineyard in Mendocino; co-fermented carbonically, no treading or adding of Co2; 14 days of skin contact before fermentation process, bottled un-disgorged with nothing added (zero-zero); 12% ABV; 65 cases
Winemaker: Craig West
Our buddy Noel of Purity turned us on to his buddy, Craig West, who makes wine at Noel’s Richmond facility for his upstart natural wine label, Gearhead. Craig was a fisherman and a baker for Acme Bread, but when he met Noel and started helping him with production, he decided that this was his calling and pivoted to wine. Now he makes tiny lots of wine from organic farming, all foot tread, many with carbonic maceration, and all sans sulfur.
Craig is scrappy like most of the new natty crew in California, and searches high and low for organic fruit to purchase. For this wine, he struck gold with CCOF-certified organic Counoise from the Love Ranch Vineyard not far from Yosemite, and Chardonnay from CCOF-certified Lolonis Vineyard in Mendocino. Craig explains how this wine came about: "The Chardonnay came in at 25 brix (high for bubbles), so I got lucky that the CCOF-certified Love Ranch contacted me as the Creek fire was starting and they were seeing smoke in the Vineyard. They were going to let their stuff hang but I made the call to have the Counoise picked right away at 17 brix (low) and decided to co-ferment them and knock the alcohol down on the Chard for bubbles. The Counoise came in more of a white grape then red as it was picked early -14 days of skin contact all whole cluster."
Craig has become a master of pet'nats with his Princess series. We love them all, but this unctuous orange wine might be a favorite. It tastes like a fizzy version of your favorite aromatic orange wine, with tropical fruit, grapefruit and citrus. There's something sort of nostalgic about it, like orange Fanta mixed with Kern's peach nectar. But Craig only made 65 cases total and we got 4, so like with all of his Princess wines, they'll go fast!