Margins Sangiovese Mesa del Sol Vineyard Arroyo Seco 2020
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Press 4 Red • March 2023 Direct Press Selection
Megan Bell of Margins Wine is not just a great winemaker, but a person with many thoughtful insights on how to create more equity in the wine industry. Her path to winemaking was not typical. She knew she wanted to work outdoors so she enrolled in the UC Davis winemaking program at the age of 18, with no wine background. She had been working in outdoor education but figured she wasn't going be to able to make a living teaching kids about nature. Eventually she not only found her way to working outdoors but to making some of our favorite 'new California' wines. She is meticulous about her vineyards, farms many herself, and pays her workers 30% more than they would likely be earning elsewhere.
She told me her Sangiovese from 2020 was "the hardest, hardest wine I've ever made and the worst picked I've ever had." She went through the fire lines to pick these grapes, and in the smoky conditions with a small crew, what normally would take two hours took ten. After all that, she had to wash the ash off the grapes back in Santa Cruz. The results were far better than expected. There is some smoke but I find it works well with Sangiovese's earthy, musty nature and adds a nice dimension to the wine without it tasting like a campfire. Black cherry, sage, fine texture, and a nice balance of fruit and tannin. Smoke taint is only going to be more prevalent in the future, and maintaining fruit contracts with grape farmers is important for their livelihoods. It will take winemakers like Megan who can make quick, creative calls in the cellar to turn nature's chaos into something delicious. Jonathan Kemp