A visit with Jeff Martin of La Frenz is a whirlwind tour into the passion of farming and winemaking. Within minutes of arrival I was whisked across the road to his new Freedom 75 vineyard, sniffing handfuls of dirt. His enthusiasm for biodiversity is contagious. “Look at these beautiful plants: pink, white, yellow purple, high, low. In this way we mimic the natural cycle for health and fertility.” He explained how he first reshaped the land to optimize air flow and soil moisture, then grazed cattle for a year to establish bacteria in the soil, and put in both overhead sprinklers to water the cover crop and drip to focus on the vines. Rye grass was planted to anchor the soil and increase organic matter, but by year two indigenous plants of all varieties had now made their appearance. 98% of the new vines have reached the fruiting wire in the first year and look amazingly strong and healthy . “They can feel the love,” quips Jeff. He will graze a cow or two, some sheep and move his mobile chicken pen through the vineyard – all to support a complex biodiversity within the soil to yield the highest quality wines. A process already reflected in the awards garnered by their winery. La Frenz consistently wins Platinum, Double Gold and Gold for their wines.
Semillon 2012 $22.00
One of my favorites (always hard to pick from the stellar line-up) was this newly released Semillon. Gorgeous summer wine with crisp fruit wrapped around a complex core. Hints of grapefruit and gooseberry and great mouth feel from the barrel fermented portion. Buy several, some to drink now (you won’t be able to resist) and some to cellar up to five years to see the tremendous aging potential of this variety.
~ Terry Meyer-Stone