2020 Two Shepherds Pinot Gris Ramato
Region: Russian River Valley < Sonoma < California
Grapes: Pinot Gris
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Dry-farmed, organic farming (practicing); grapes are partially de-stemmed and left 5 days on the skins in a small open top container to start fermentation with native yeast, then pressed to neutral (old) barrels to finish fermentation and age for 7 months; left on heavy lees for 5 months; bottled unfined/unfiltered with 25ppm added SO2; 12.2% ABV; 550 cases made
Winemaker: William Allen + Karen Daenen
NEW VINTAGE ALERT! William Allen and Karen Daenen are the Two Shepherds. He's a software salesman by day, and she runs consumer research for Jackson Family
Wines. He was making wine in his garage and blogging about it for years before going pro with Two Shepherds, his three-human, 3 donkey, 2 goat, 2 cat, 2 dog & 4 chicken micro-winery. He works with purchased grapes, careful about organic, and models his wines on the Rhône and other French styles he loves, making tiny lots of old world, low-intervention bottlings from cool climate sites. While they work together to make the wine, Karen considers herself Chief Shepherdess, a title she rightly owns after birthing the farm's new mini donkey, Luna. And these guys love their animals, naming each cuveé after one of the furry crew.
Karen says: "Dolce and Sofia, our affable miniature Sicilian donkeys inspired this wine. The 5 days of skin contact impart a copper hue, reminiscent of Italian Ramato (meaning 'copper' and referring to the skin-macerated Pinot Grigio style unique to Italy's Friuli region). A wine as unique as our Dolce. Hee Haw!"
We say: Hell yes! Somewhere between an orange wine and a rosé, this wine defies labeling but drinks way too easily. Easy, fresh and fun, with all the summer feels: salt spray, papaya, a pop of tart hibiscus. Beach wine!
P.S. If you follow wine critic reviews, this one has gathered a few. The 2019 was featured in the NY Times by Eric Asimov in 'The Polarizing Power of Orange Wine' and in Bloomberg by wine writer Elin McCoy as 'The Best 50 Wines under $50, 2019'