Marietta Cellars, Geyserville, CA
I grew up watching my dad do magic. Never with cards or sleight of hand, instead, he would transform cardboard wine boxes into suits of armor for my brothers and I, or make up stories on the spot about rusted out cars in the river and turn them into broken down steeds of long gone errant knights. All of us kids would listen to him, fascinated, he had a way of casually turning the everyday, the routine, into something special. 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 wine pallet around an empty space to lie hidden or getting wrapped up in a sleeping bag before hiding in a freezer with the door propped open…
That is how I learned to make wine. Watching my dad cook ribs that were sweet but spicy and blending together a fruity Zinfandel and a hefty Petite Sirah so that it would go better with dinner. Everything was transformed to become something better. Creativity and possibility reigned supreme.
I started here at Marietta a week after graduating from UC Davis with in depth scientific and technical training. Plonked down in the middle of the cellar, I was uncertain and tentative but my dad gave me lots of room and I repurposed machinery, built out the winery, and showed up day after day just trying to make a contribution by following my gut. Somewhere along the way I too learned how to make wine by magic.
The science is still important: there are times when yeast needs to be fed, oxygen’s interaction with the wine is still crucial, temperature ranges will make or break a fermentation… but, the real magic happens in quiet moments. After a ridiculously long day of harvesting when everyone is gone, walking the cellar between tanks full of bubbling, fermenting wine with the overhead lights off, doing one last temperature check on each tank with the palm of the hand. Thinking about the tons of grape skins, the trainloads of sugar, the massive accumulation of man-hours represented in each tank… turning dark and rich… the possibility in that cellar is palpable.
We are still performing magic here at Marietta. This second-generation winery continues to transform hard work, a blessed climate, special pieces of land, and belief into beautiful liquid expressions of family and place.