FRIDAY, MAY 18th
The Bay Area in a Bottle
Great terroir comes in many forms. Truly unique sites make unique wines. ÆRENA Wines is always looking for something that is a little out of the ordinary, singular and special. We found it in the San Francisco Bay.
Some of the rarest grapevines in California can be found in the San Francisco Bay AVA - an area that encompasses a handful of Bay Area Counties and some very historic California wine growing country. At the heart of this uncommon appellation is Oakley, a changing city in Contra Costa County. It’s a suburban town nestled near where the San Francisco Bay meets the Sacramento River Delta. A combination of ancient vines and housing developments, this is a terroir in transition as cultures and generations shift. Nevertheless, vines persist with their OG stewards.
Oakley was originally settled by Spaniards, Portuguese and Italians who found the climate reminiscent of the Mediterranean and planted thousands of acres of vineyards. The land upon which ÆRENA’s Rose is sourced boasts vines both 30-years-young and 135-years-old. The del Barba family, keeper of these vines’ stories, is down to earth and humble. Tom del Barba is a fourth-generation farmer. His family, and many in the area, came from the walled city of Lucca, in Tuscany. These original Bay Area immigrants planted the varieties of their homeland and because of the terroir, the vines are incredibly old. The soils are the sandy banks of the Bay Delta and very little can live in it, including the phylloxera root louse. It makes organic farming really easy. As a result, you find these gnarly old head-pruned bestats, own-rooted, standing like sentinels in a field.
For years, these vineyards supplied the likes of Bonny Doon and Turley and more recently, Morgan Twain Peterson of Bedrock and others of California’s nouveau winemaking class. These vines are 135-year-old Mourvedre and Carignan, locally known as Mataro and “care-again” respectively. The vines are so old that in a good year, Tom gets one bunch per spur. In some years, a spur may not fruit at all. Such are the vagaries of old vine farming.
The del Barba vineyard allows ÆRENA winemaker Aaron Pott to “fulfill all of his Rhone and southern Italian fantasies at the same time.”
These 135-year-old vines make up the 2017 ÆRENA Rose. Yes, 135-year-old rose. There are very few roses from Napa available in the marketplace. As far as we know, ÆRENA is the only rose from the San Francisco Bay AVA.
Jaclyn Stuart Makes Her Mark
ÆRENA Wines celebrates everyday heroes who dare greatly by sharing stories of our favorite customers who love selling our wines as much as we love making them. ÆRENA Wines sits down with Jaclyn Stuart, owner of Vintage Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin, to find out that for her balance is always best and beauty can truly be skin deep.
GET TO KNOW
Jaclyn Stuart is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Wine & Food Pairing and a certified sommelier with accreditations from the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and the French Wine Society.
WHAT LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
This is such a hard question because I admire so many people! Those that are able to balance work and life gracefully, are giving and kind, and can manage to keep kicking butt when faced with adversity always strike me as amazing. I strive to find balance with work and play, so when I meet someone that is genuinely living life to its fullest, I find it so inspiring. If I could pick someone not living, though, it would be Julia Child; no question.
YOU’RE A NEW ADDITION TO A CRAYON BOX. WHAT COLOR ARE YOU AND WHY?
A retro teal blue - I'd call it something like 'Vintage Blue' because my shop is filled with this color. It is a favorite color of mine that reminds me of classic cars, retro furniture, and malt shops of yore.
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
The raven. I love the freedom of flying and how smart/crafty they are. My love for blackbirds is what actually drew me to your sister label Blackbird Vineyards initially, but the amazing wine behind the label made me a diehard fan. So much so, that I have a tattoo of 14 ravens inspired by the Illustration/Paramour/Contrarian label.