I grew up watching my dad do magic. Not with cards or sleight of hand, instead, he would transform cardboard wine boxes into suits of armor for my brothers and me or tell impromptu tales about how the abandoned cars in the river were the lost steeds of long-ago crusaders. All of us kids would listen to him, fascinated. My dad had a casual way of turning the everyday into something special. Family meals were simple but sourced from the garden and eaten outside at sunset. There were multiple hour sessions of hide and seek in the winery that involved crazy ingenuity: building a refuge out of wine pallets or wrapping up in a sleeping bag to hide in a freezer with the door propped open… The vineyard and cellar were our playground.
That is how I learned to make wine—watching my dad cook ribs that were sweet but spicy and then blend together a fruity Zinfandel and a hefty Petite Sirah so that it would go better with dinner. He transformed everything to become something better. Creativity and possibility reigned supreme.
When I started my real work at Marietta, my dad gave me space to practice the balance of science and technique with ease and intuition. Somewhere along the way, I too learned how to make wine by magic. The work became play. Calculation merged with creativity and methodology gave way to marvel.
At Marietta, we place a lot of emphasis on our instincts. In all facets of our business, when faced with a decision, we don’t just look at the trajectory of the industry; we look within. Our instincts tell us that good equipment is good equipment – it doesn’t have to be new. And our instincts tell us that in many cases, the best tools are our hands. It feels right to make the best wine possible and to sell it at a fair price. Our instincts tell us that being honest, being consistent, working hard, and thinking outside the box is more important than anything else in business.Our cellar crew intuitively knows what we do and why we do it. They jump from harvest to barrel work, to bottling, to landscaping without blinking. We are hands-on and busy year-round. During lunchtime, the crew can be found without fail playing cards in the winter and basketball or soccer in the summer. There is a community garden onsite where much time is spent after work producing beautiful fruit and vegetables. The majority of the crew has worked with us for over ten years.
We farm over 400 acres of our own vines. We acquired them through some strange combination of chasing overheard stories, hunting and fishing, and buying grapes from outstanding farmers across two counties, constantly keeping an eye out for potential. After years of work and play, we owned gnarly, historic, semi-productive vineyards that needed care and attention. We have been happily investing time and energy dreaming about what they might become.Our Vineyard Manager, Ben Kaisi, is a 20-year veteran of the construction industry, which is why, aside from perfectly tended grapes, we have immaculately built pump houses. Our Vineyard Foreman, Soccoro Casillas, has farmed our vineyards for over 20 years with the same crews. And most importantly, our vineyard workers work all year in any condition and show incredible stamina, cheer, and pride in their work.Our crew does most work by hand. It improves our attention to detail and allows us to keep everyone busy all year. We strive for sustainability in all we do: we minimize our water usage; remove weeds by physical means at every opportunity; and focus on compost, soil structure, and overall property health with every decision.
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