Most of us are aware of the pesticides, fertilizers, and other gross shit that often makes it way into mass-produced crops. Farming techniques are the direct result of this chemical usage. These techniques rely on shortcuts to produce more veggies and fruits with less overhead (i.e. manual labor) that impacts profit margins.
Alternative farming methods, specifically organic production, combat these otherwise McMansions of crops.
Wine production is no different. As Anthony Perliss of Napa Valley's Perliss Vineyards explains, "Organic essentially implies nothing synthetic in your farming. That includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.". Perliss Vineyards is proud to enforce a strict nature-only approach to its wines.
Anthony gave us the lowdown on Perliss's approach to grape farming and what influences their exceptional vino:
What are the fundamental differences between general wine production and organic farming?
Organic farming is a commitment to nature. It's more labor intensive than conventional farming, but the result is a more dynamic vineyard with a richer ecosystem.
Our vineyard is on a slope surrounded by forest; the idea of a natural interplay between these two organic bodies is very important to us. Rather than using synthetic pesticides, we rely on owls, bats, birds, & ladybugs to combat pests. We use organic fertilizers and fungicides as opposed to the synthetic ones. Weed control is done manually instead of using herbicides.
Wine is taken into your body and is a concentrated product - you're consuming hundreds of unwashed grapes in a bottle of wine. It seems like a good idea to ingest what the body can recognize and assimilate. Fermentation is a powerful thing and neutralizes a lot of what comes in from the vineyard. But I have a hard time imagining it neutralizing synthetic materials.
Aaron Pott, Winemaker
What was the catalyst for Perliss Vineyards to adopt organic farming?
It was never a question to do otherwise. We've lived on our property in Calistoga for almost 30 years and we have a deep respect for this landscape.
Our well - the source for our drinking water and irrigating our vines and fruit trees - is in the middle of our vineyard. We prefer not to be drinking Roundup, even if Monsanto says it's safe to do so.
For a wine to truly speak of a place, cultivating the diversity and idiosyncrasy of the vineyard is essential. As part of our mission to represent our little piece of the Valley as purely as possible, we don't add yeast to our grapes for fermentation, nor do we filter our wine before bottling.
What inspires the Perliss brand? Any particular music, film, art?
This sounds obvious, but the landscape itself is the huge inspiration for Perliss. For decades my family has been enamored by this rugged, beautiful place - its manzanita, madrone and oak forest, its wildlife, its fierce winds and extreme temperatures - before we ever thought of planting vines.
That the resulting wine somehow captures what we love about this site is incredible and deeply inspiring. The names & images of our wines, "The Ravens" & "The Serpents" are nods to the creatures that animate this place. Beyond that, as I worked for years in the perfume business, I see parallels between perfume and wine - the idea of precious essences extracted from a landscape somehow informs our project.
What is the ideal song(s) for drinking a bottle of 2013 Perliss The Ravens?
Learn more about Perliss Vineyards on their website and pay them a visit in Calistoga on your next visit to Napa Valley.