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Colcanyon Winery: Circumstantial vintners

Last month I went to “A Taste of the Bu” at the Viceroy in Santa Monica.  Now as most of you know my favorite wines are cabs and one of the stand outs for me on that day was a Cabernet by Colcanyon Winery.  Established in 2001, Colcanyon Estate Wines were one of the first established vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains.  The pictures at the tasting were so picturesque, I decided I had to go see it in person.

As I drove up the 2000 feet of winding road, I couldn’t wait to meet the vintner behind these beautiful wines.   Owner John Freeman greeted me at the entrance and invited me into his beautiful property with a very soft spoken British accent and began to tell me about how he became a circumstantial vintner.

John bought the property with the vineyard attached in 2003.  At that time the vines were maturing but needed at least 2 more years.  So John decided to take a crash course on wines.  Other than being a consumer he had no prior experience.  “ It’s been a steep learning curve.  We had no water here at all for the first 4 years and had to have it delivered in, but one positive thing was that the vines had to send down really deep roots looking for water so they are strong and I think that reflects in our wines.”

Since his “crash course” he has been heavily involved in the wine making process.  He gets his hands dirty and is constantly in the vineyards working with his small staff.  A scientist by training, John learned not to over engineer any process specifically biological processes.  As such he intervenes with the wine at a minimal level no over oaking and allowing the quality of the fruit do the work.

What’s most interesting about these wines are the impact that growing wines at high altitudes, a steep slope, huge swings in temperatures and a heavy coastal influence have on the wines.  John is careful about the vines not getting over exposed, each grape cluster is orientated to have maximum sun exposure throughout the day.  Keeping pesticides to an absolute minimum, we may be seeing an organically certified wine coming from this vineyard next.

John has only been commercially producing since 2010 and produces only 300 cases annually from only 2 acres!    With beautiful classic Bordeaux varietals and a slew of recent blind tasting awards both local and international, I am looking forward to more from this small but commanding winery.

Check out more from Colcanyon and stay tuned for more from LaurelK.com

 

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