2018 Walson Holland Santa Barbara Mélange Rouge
The 2018 Mélange Rouge is a wine marked by intense perfumed aromatics and a seamlessly integrated palate. Supple tannins and mouth-watering acidity lead to a round finish. This wine was aged for 22 months on the lees in French oak barrels (35% new) and was bottled unfined / unfiltered.
The unique blend of this wine is made up of 54% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 9% Graciano, 6% Petite Sirah, and 6% Viognier. Only 400 cases were produced.
“I grew up in the rural Appalachian mountains of Georgia in a dry county…needless to say my introduction to wine didn’t happen until a little later in life. I moved to Lake Tahoe after I graduated college for a winter of snowboarding that turned into 10 years! It was in Tahoe where I started working in food and beverage, after years of bartending I began to self study all things wine and became a Certified Sommelier. During the process of learning about the winemaking process I felt a pull in that direction. I was very fortunate to land my first production job with Kosta Browne in Sebastopol, after a few weeks of being in the cellar I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. From there I went to Central Otago, New Zealand and had another amazing experience at Amisfield producing beautiful Pinot Noir. While in New Zealand I was on the hunt for the next gig back in the US. In my search I saw a posting for production assistant at Sine Qua Non in Ojai. Once again doors opened and I was thrilled to join the team at Sine Qua Non. During my time there I met my current partner Jonas Svensson. Jonas had been making a little wine with friends from his small 1 acre vineyard in Ojai and was interested in taking that project to the next level. After partnering we decided to expand the project and source grapes from some of what we think are the best vineyards on the central coast. Walson Holland was born and now we are in our 4th production year, and just releasing our 2018 / 2019 wines.”
Farming and Winemaking
“Walson Farms vineyard in Ojai is attached to a 5 acre organic farm and is managed in the same way. While we have not certified the vineyard organic, the surrounding vegetable / fruit farm is certified. The majority of the vineyards we source grapes from are farmed using biodynamics and all vineyards are at least using sustainable farming practices. While I can’t say matter of factly that these practices lead to a superior wine, I can say that I almost always prefer the wines made from grapes that are grown using the biodynamic and organic approach. In the cellar it’s all attention to detail, no shortcuts and being flexible in my approach. I’m an intermediary from vineyard to bottle letting the vineyard and fruit dictate how they are treated in the winery. Generally, because of the high level of farming and the quality of fruit I am bringing in, my job is to keep things clean, organized and have an eye for detail at every step. If all of these things are achieved then I am confident that a delicious wine has gone from vineyard to bottle.”
“From my perspective producing wine on a small scale allows for more attention in the vineyard, in the winery during production, in the cellar during aging and culminating with bottling. However, just because someone is making a small production of something doesn’t mean it’s going to be better nor does it mean it’s less work. For me there is no excuse not to produce wine on a high level given the limited amount I am making. But this requires a lot of dedication, not taking any shortcuts and seeing things through to the finish. I love the fact that I know each and every barrel I produce, how they have evolved and what that means for the final product. I know that this isn’t possible on a large scale, having this intimate relationship with the wines allows me to produce what I feel is the best product I can.”
Rapid Fire Questions
- What word or phrase do you overuse? – Wow
- When and where are you happiest? – Right now I would say waking my 8 year old daughter up in the mornings. Opening the door while she is sleeping, getting that 10 seconds of quiet before waking her up with a hug.
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be? – Invisibility
- What life achievement are you the most proud of? – Starting this business from the ground up
- Why wine? – It’s romantic, it’s fun, it’s physical, it’s art… my job changes with the season. I love thinking about my wine sitting on a dinner table while people enjoy a great conversation.
- What winemaker(s) do you most admire? – All of the one’s who have mentored me whether they have known it or not.
- Best wine you’ve ever tasted? – Most memorable to date – 1987 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet
- What is your spirit animal? – Squirrel
- What do you drink when you’re not drinking wine? – Beer / Negroni’s
- Soundtrack to your life: – Merle / Waylon / Willie and the boys.