2020 Gearhead 'Slobs'
Region: Contra Costa + Mendocino < California
Grapes: Pinot Gris, Carignan
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming;, with the Carignan coming from CCOF-certified Love Ranch; each varietal fermented separately, carbonically, no treading or adding of Co2, for 14 days then blended and bottled, unfined/unfiltered, with nothing added (zero-zero); 12.4% ABV; 44 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 because he doesn't own any vineyards, searches high and low for organic fruit to purchase. But he always finds the good stuff.
When Craig told us about his new wine named Slobs, we were thinking, well, slobs - not an attractive visual for a wine. But turns out the name comes from a recent fishing trip. So his friend Conner, the owner of Dudley Market in Venice, CA is a big-time fisherman, whom Craig got to know each other through wine -- he buys the Gearhead juice, and somehow that turned into an invite for a fishing trip. Craig brought his buddies Nole and Booker (also a winemaker, his label is Everything is OK) neither of which who were big fisherman. But Craig worked on a sport fishing boat out of San Diego for 5 years, so he was a pro. Craig explains, "We were going fishing for large 200lb + bluefin tuna, AKA cows or slobs in the fishing world. So, for 3 days all that came out of everyone's mouth as excitement mounted was that we all wanted to tackle a SLOB. I had brought 2 sample bottles of this juice from the tank, which oe enjoyed out on the ocean, and after returning home and decompressing a bit it came to me name the wine should be SLOBS. As an homage to my buddies who inspired the name, I asked my label person Emily to put everyone's name on the back."