La Follette's Strange Fruits
|La Follette in Sangiacomo Vineyard|
We like our winemakers to be unique, but not odd. We like their wines to be intense and expressive of something, but not so different that we can't easily compare them to other wines within our points of reference. We even like to talk concepts like "natural" and terroir, as long as the ramifications of such are reasonably easy to sell -- at least for those of us in the restaurant or retail trade.
Greg La Follette has never been one to make things easy for us, despite the notoriety of being the first real winemaker at Flowers, during this extreme Sonoma Coast estate’s formative stage in the late nineties. When La Follette ventured off on his own, founding Tandem Winery in 2001, it was almost as if he wanted us to forget the glory years at Flowers, and even earlier milestones, such as the years when he led Hartford Court into the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Big Leagues.
- DuNah – in the fog and windswept Sebastopol Hills, at the southernmost end of the Russian River Valley AVA
- Sangiacomo’s Roberts Road – (not to be confused with the Sangiacomo family’s Carneros plantings), falling in the Sonoma Coast AVA on the eastern edge of Petaluma Gap, at the base of Sonoma Mountain
- Van der Kamp – a 1,400 ft. elevation Sonoma Mountain planting (highest in the AVA) dating back to the early sixties
- Lorenzo – an historic 36 year old Chardonnay vineyard on the floodplain south of Santa Rosa in the Russian River Valley AVA
- Hawk’s Roost – another late ripening Russian River Valley site located on the Santa Rosa floodplain
- Manchester Ridge – a newer site (planted 2002-2004) on a remote, dizzyingly high 2,800 ft. peak in Mendocino Ridge, and one that has only solidified La Follette’s reputation for edgy, iconoclastic winegrowing.
RC: Back up a little and tell me what makes your fermentors unusual?
GL: We use halved stainless steel milk tanks, which range from one ton to six tons. As they get bigger, they get longer and broader, insuring that the cap stays within the human strength-range of punchdown ability, including a 114 pound teenage boy. A very important consideration in my sons’ training as young men who have the wherewithal to work hard and know what it all means.
|Rick DuNah in DuNah Vineyard|