Sometimes ethereal things come from the most unexpected places. Goose liver, sturgeon eggs, MTV's Dan Cortese, and some of the most sought-after wines made in a nondescript warehouse facility off the 101 outside of Petaluma, CA.
"Wine ghetto" is a term I've heard more and more over the past year or so. It generally comes up when someone is describing a small enclave of buildings or facilities that look more like an autobody shop or a Dunder Mifflin relay warehouse and less like this. But what do you call a warehouse that is cranking out some of the toughest-to-find cult wines in the country? What do you call the building inhabited by the Winemaker of the Year?
Dirty & Rowdy's "About Page" haiku sums it up best...
"Untinkered with wines
so many soils and miles
Every great winemaker has a calling card - a wine for which he is best known. For Cruse it is his sparkling "Ultramarine" - a unicorn wine if there ever was one. While this Champagne method wine from the famous Charles Heintz vineyard in Occidental is the hardest to find, it's not like there's an ocean of his other gorgeous wines. Cruse produced a mere 6 barrels of his unfiltered 2015 Tannat. And yes you read that right - 100% Tannat from the Alder Springs vineyard in Mendocino.
Hardy and the D&R crew are Mourvèdre guys. Never heard of it? Mourvèdre is actually an esteemed grape mostly grown in southern France and parts of Spain, which is it known as Monastrell. Dirty & Rowdy makes an amazing entry-level 100% Mourvèdre blended from a number of vineyards and his unicorn wines are the single-vineyard wines he produces in tiny batches. For example, his Skinner Stoney Creek bottling is from El Dorado - the highest elevation AVA in all of the US. Less than 3.5 barrels were made. D&R also make an unfiltered white blend that changes every year in its makeup but is always some crazy Frankenstein collection of grapes. The 2014 tasted just like a Chicago hot dog. In a good way. We shit you not.
The warehouse off the 101 is perfectly ironic as the vessel from which these wines emerge. Singular, unique wines with character and primal expressions of growing seasons and vineyard terroir, fermented, aged, and bottled in a purely unremarkable building among other unremarkable buildings. The only way to see how un-warehousy these wines are is to try them for yourself.
Check out our Petaluma Warehouse Collection.Photo credits: Dirtyandrowdy.com & SF Chronicle