“It’s sort of like watching one of those TV series. You know, like the Sopranos or the Walking Dead. You watch it, you like it, but every season, somebody’s gonna die.”
The analogy made me laugh out loud. That was Todd Bostock, also known as the Allaround Wineworker at Dos Cabezas Wineworks addressing a Saturday afternoon lunch crowd about the topic of farming in Southern Arizona. It’s hot. It’s dry. And sometimes, if you’re one of the lucky survivors, those are the perfect conditions to do something exquisite.
We made the 3 hour trek south to the Tasting room in order to pick up our allotment and to try something that Todd was excited about. A few years ago,he and his wife, Kelly traveled to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where they had an encounter with a Macedonian wine expert who, after looking at the photos of their Sonoita and Kansas Settlement vineyards, said, “you should plant a vranec.” Apparently, in the Republic of Macedonia, vranec is the most important variety of grape.
Then, in a moment of fate, Todd & Kelly received an email from a fellow winemaker letting them know that the University of California at Davis had Vranec. They bought all of the 16 certified cuttings and immediately started to graft them to the vines in their Cimarron Vineyard in Kansas Settlement. 2015 yielded their first Vranec harvest and Todd and Kelly are hopeful that the grape will endure in the high-desert Southwest.
There appear to be several benefits to this variety of grapes. First, it buds later than other varieties which might help it avoid the late spring freeze of Southern Arizona. The grape also has a thick skin, which Todd described as almost like a sausage casing.That might be useful in Southern Arizona when monsoon season hits or the occasional hail storm spits ice balls at the fruit. From a winemaker perspective, the intense color and the remaining acidity are a bonus.
The first fruit of their labor produced a tiny taste of grape juice – translate that to wine. This was hand harvested, fermented in two 5 gallon buckets and hand pressed through cheesecloth. Then it was aged again in a 4 gallon glass carboy and yes, we got to be part of the party to drink those 4 gallons. Todd put it in a keg on tap and paired it with barbecue (which was advised by the Balkan wine marketing people).
On hand was Jason Miko, the honorary Macedonian consulate to Arizona to welcome the group. I do not believe there was a drop remaining.
Todd & Kelly Bostock have been named among The San Francisco Chronicle’s “10 Winemakers to Watch for 2015”