It’s natural, at the start of a New Year, to ask ourselves: “What does it mean to be alive?” We breathe, we eat, we give thanks through our day for the blessings we’ve received. Does that make us alive? Or is it something more?
In my life, the times when I feel most alive are when I struggle; when I strive against the obstacles, the nay-sayers, the obstinate will of those who would deny the possibility of more. This is when every breath is full of oxygen, when every flower is imbued with a kaleidoscope of color and the wind is the breath of god.
Andrew Stone loving his work
Look at this photo: this is a man who is filled with life. Even if you don’t know him and, before a few weeks ago, I didn’t know him either. But I don’t have to know him to see his joy. I don’t have to know him to see that this is someone who has found his place in the world, his home and that life is more to him than the passage of time.
Meet Andrew Stone: one half of the team that is bringing life to a vineyard 1700′ above the ocean; high above the northern tip of the Sonoran desert in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. A place filled with its own ancient magic that, to some, may seem ethereal. But watch the sun begin to set over the hills, feel the last rays touch your face, the earth, the grapes on the hillside, and tell me that you don’t hear the land whispering its own primordial song.
I asked Terry (wife/partner/better-half to Andrew):
the vista at Anarchist Mountain
“Why? Why do this? Why give up your great jobs with great incomes and great security – to take on the life of winemakers?”
And though we were speaking on the phone I assure you that I saw most plainly when Terry smiled quietly before her response.
“When we came to this place, when we looked out on this vista, we knew that this was our place. This is our home and the lifestyle of being a part of this land makes it all worthwhile.”
I knew she was being completely honest. I knew because I’ve felt the same feeling. I tried to steer the conversation around to the actual business side of winemaking and asked Terry what their inspirations were for the Burgundian-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that I tried. But Terry is humble, to the point of even deferring that they were truly wine-makers.
“We’re still trying to figure that out Kristof: are we really winemakers or are we grape-growers? There is so much inspiration to choose from but, of course, my brother (Jak Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyards) has been significant for both of us. It was being there with him, right at the beginning of his adventure into the woolly world of wine, that got us hooked.”
But – there must be a style that you’re striving for… certainly with your Pinot Noir, which is one of the most unique I’ve tried.
“Yes, there is a style…. the style the land wants to express. And that’s what we’re trying to better understand.”
Andrew and Terry Stone
Humbling words coming from a couple who have staked their future on these grapes and so I had to know: What would be the biggest goal for Anarchist Vineyards in 2015?
“You mean besides survival?”
And we both laughed ruefully at that, for we both knew what it is to take that leap into the unknown and gamble not only with our own future, but the future of our family on a new venture. “It’s a roller-coaster-” Darren Hardy of Success Magazine likes to say, “-and if you don’t like roller-coasters then you’ld better not get into business for yourself.”
“We’ve both kept our full-time jobs to help support our work at the vineyard, but it means long days and very little rest on weekends, holidays… we’ve always got something to do! Which we love! But we’ve got to get the word out there – get people trying the wine so we can get feedback and do better next year, and better the year after that.”
And then came one of the hardest parts of being a journalist; I had to tell the truth. I’m not including a review of the Anarchist Vineyards Chardonnay: the acid was untamed/out of balance and though the wine showed excellence in mineral concentration, the structure was overwhelmed by these full++ lemon zest acids. And I said as much to Terry who, to my surprise, concurred.
“It was a difficult vintage for us. I’m not making excuses, but it was tough, and we’ll do better next year. That being said we have noted that, with time, it is softening; making it a wine that will come into its own over time “
And listening to her, I found myself nodding in agreement. It is part of the process and a necessary one. You and I know that we all learn better from our stumbles in life than we do from our triumphs. Lucky for you, the consumer, Anarchist Mountain Vineyard has both.
2012 “Wildfire” Pinot Noir
Okanagan Falls, Osoyoos
harvested at 2.3 tons/acre
70 cases produced
89 points, Very Good Value
*BENEFITS FROM DECANTING OR 1-2 RUNS THROUGH THE AERATOR*
… inviting aromas of ripening red raspberries, wild lavender and thyme, punctuated by a light seasalt minerality. Refreshing medium+ raspberry acid acts much like great examples from its cousin Gamay Noir in that it conveys a candied fruit quality. Tannin is fine and incredibly light – far less then I would expect – and again, acts much like a good Gamay. This being the case, and the wine having very good balance, structure concentration, I would use this the same way when pairing with food. Think of this as a “mid-afternoon” Pinot Noir; perfect with a grilled mortadella e provolone panini at the park or out on the deck with a plate of charcuterie (coldcuts), local cheese and warm bread. Unfined and unfiltered means that this wine is made with Old World skill and, though under Stelvin enclosure (screw-top), will benefit from a few years of age… it helps, in my opinion, to soften the eager acid and let the wine find it’s balance.
livin’ the life at Anarchist
Many thanks to Andrew and Terry Stone of Anarchist Mountain Vineyard for the very generous sample bottles. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on: