Yorkville Cellars: Wine with Perspective
Read reviews of Yorkville Wines here: http://bit.ly/b9K1Nt
Yorkville Cellars is tucked away along the winding turns of California route 128. Out in the open air, it’s just as easy to escape into the countryside as it is into a glass of their wine. In Mendocino County, there isn’t the bustle, with lines of cars backing-up for miles or winery after winery stacked up right on top of each other. Life has a more realistic pace here, one that grants the time to slow down and appreciate little things. It means admiring how mother-nature can cure the ills of grapevines more effectively than chemicals or realizing that following in French footsteps when it comes to wine is a wise philosophy. These adages, which go by the wayside in the rush of activity at many wineries, are much more alive in Yorkville.
Edward Wallo and his wife Deborah spent many years traveling in France before they started Yorkville Cellars. They took note of how the French approached making wine and their focus on blending rather than single varietal bottles. These ways of thinking helped shape the Wallo’s approach to bringing their own wine into the world. Back in the late 80’s, when Californian wine consisted almost exclusively of Cabernet and Chardonnay, the Wallos made the unusual choice to plant Bordeaux varietals. The plan was to model themselves after the French and make two wines – one red blend and one white blend. However, when considered against the prospect of needing to sustain the winery, Edward and Deborah finally decided to produce each varietal on its own. It is a good thing they did, too, because the results have been many great bottles of wine along with the distinction of being the only winery on earth which grows all eight of the original Bordeaux varietals.
A major reason for Yorkville’s great wine has been their commitment to organic farming. As Edward points out, grapes were grown without chemicals for thousands of years; it is only recently that herbicides have become available. At Yorkville, they prefer to stick with the old-fashion methods. It means more hard work, like mowing, hoeing, and pulling a lot of weeds, but the Wallos wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus, they get help each spring from Parsley and his fellow two-foot-tall Southdown Babydoll Sheep. They’ll spend part of the season roaming the vineyards, snacking on unwanted weeds and even a few of the vines’ spring shoots, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping the grapes free from chemicals. Yorkville Cellars has been certified organic for over 25 years, and Edward Wallo wishes more wineries would opt for certification. Many point to the extra cost of doing so, but since certification is under $1,000 dollars, it seems the convenience of using chemicals to kill unwanted weeds is more realistic explanation for wineries’ farming methods than the issue of money.
Yorkville’s commitment to respecting mother-nature is quite refreshing to see, and the fact than they are still able to make some great wines should call into question why more wineries don’t commit to organic methods of farming. Perhaps the rush of customers or the hectic days make the notion of becoming organic seem far more daunting than it is. Of course, the Napa Valley can’t offer the same pace of life as Mendocino County, but should that really be a reason not to work towards becoming organic? Maybe the Wallo’s are simply forward thinkers. The choices they made in the 80’s of which grapes to plant and the types of wine they wanted to produce are certainly examples of being ahead of the times. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world of wine can catch up with their perspective. It’s a brighter future if they do.