Los Pilares del Futuro

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The Grape Collective Interview with Los Pilares

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Thoughts from the Italian Wine Geek

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Native American sparkler from Los Pilares

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In San Diego, wine’s promise among the palms

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Sparkling Muscat

Our sparkling Muscat is a crazy experiment that turned out crazy good.  Slightly effervescent with small bubbles.  Honey, ginger, and flowers in the nose.  Dry with a refreshingly bitter bite from the skin contact.  Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Grenache Rosé

 

 

 

COMING SOON

 

 

 

BPN – Sparkling Red

On the heels of our Pet-Nat success with LaDona and inspired by wonderful French and Italian red sparklers we decided to craft our own. Ours is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, picked young so as to capture that fresh, tart taste that translates into a good sparkler. Unfortunately, due to limited availability of fruit, our BPN (short for “Black Pet Nat”) is in short supply.

Grenache / Carignane

LOS PILARES SAN DIEGO COUNTY, 50% GRENACHE 50% CARIGNANE

We want to keep processes and ingredients to a minimum, without being dogmatic about it.  Because of the quality of the fruit, our minimalist winemaking approaches the extreme.  No added yeast, acids, enzymes, yeast food, tannins, or anything else.  No oak.  No no sulfur dioxide or any other additives or preservatives.  The complete list of ingredients is fresh grapes.  We do not filter or fine or even rack except to blend.

Drink Local2015-04-03

Why Drink Local I begged Sara and Markus to let me guest blog, because I like their posts and because I have a message for the San Diegans who read them.  Sara and Markus assented.  But don’t worry; they’ll be back and blogging soon. Here’s the message:  drink local. “WTH?” you ask.  (That’s “what the…Read More

Ambient Yeast and “Terroir”

Some thoughts on ambient yeast and “terroir.” One reason why ambient-yeast fermentations tend to give more variety and distinction (aka “terroir”) in wine:  The winemaker who does not sulfite or inoculate needs very healthy fruit to avoid problems (rot, spoilage, etc.).  To get really healthy fruit, he cannot impose his will on the grapes.  He…Read More

Take the scare quotes from wine

Taking The Scare Quotes From “Wine” It was late May and there was still light in the sky when we moved from the kitchen to the dining room.  At the same time we moved from the bubbly (with which we toasted my good friend Theresa’s birthday) to an unusual bottle of red wine.  As soon…Read More

Drink Freely

DRINK FREELY Thanks to increasingly free trade and competition and the market differentiation they have produced and thanks to the great march of wine culture around the world, I can walk into a local wine shop and buy hundreds of different wines from dozens of different countries and four different continents.  That’s my kind of…Read More

Stay Tuned For New Releases2015-03-29

Keep an eye out for our new releases including our Grenache Rose’ and our sparkling red “Black Pet Nat” (BPN).

Machiavelli and San Diego Wine2014-08-12

Machiavelli said, “It is not titles that make men illustrious, but men who make titles illustrious.” I say, “It is not appellations that make wines illustrious, but wines that make appellations illustrious.”  But that phrase will not always be true when spoken.  It takes good wine a long time to make a grape-growing region famous….Read More

A reaction to Jon Bonné on local wine in California2012-07-11

Jon Bonné, the wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, just published “5 more themes for California Wines” to mark Independence Day.http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2012/07/11/5-more-themes-for-california-wine/ Under the heading, “Local wine, for real,” Jon hints at something very interesting: having a local market for small producers contributes to the development of terroir. It resolves the following dilemma: distinctively local…Read More

This is an example page. It’s different from a blog post because it will stay in one place and will show up in your site navigation (in most themes). Most people start with an About page that introduces them to potential site visitors. It might say something like this:

Hi there! I’m a bike messenger by day, aspiring actor by night, and this is my blog. I live in Los Angeles, have a great dog named Jack, and I like piña coladas. (And gettin’ caught in the rain.)

…or something like this:

The XYZ Doohickey Company was founded in 1971, and has been providing quality doohickeys to the public ever since. Located in Gotham City, XYZ employs over 2,000 people and does all kinds of awesome things for the Gotham community.

As a new WordPress user, you should go to your dashboard to delete this page and create new pages for your content. Have fun!

We want to be a part of the rebirth and reinvention of an old wine region — San Diego County.  It’s a group effort, and people like Eric Van Drunen of Vinavanti, Chris Broomell of Vesper Vineyards, Don Armstrong of McCormick Ranch, and Michael and Heather Hunter of Hunter & Mazzetti Vineyard have helped us a lot.

IMG_4482gnarly_vineIMG_7999

Our pre-industrial, minimalist methods are simple and careful.  We get healthy grapes grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides and treat them with respect.  To us that means little or no sulfur, ambient yeast fermentations, no adjustments to the must, no added sugars (even for sparkling wine), no coloring agents, tannins, or acids, and no new oak.

Even within these narrow bounds (or maybe especially within these narrow bounds), we experiment freely.  Fermentations have been various — whole-cluster, whole-berry, carbonic, foot-stomped, crushed, and destemmed.  Sometimes we press early.  Sometimes we extend the maceration period.  We have made several undisgorged pétillants naturels, including an orangey-white one with three days of skin contact.  We even made a rosé that spent a week on the skins.

It seems right to experiment in a region that is currently not known for any type of wine.  We have no orthodoxy in San Diego.

If our dream comes true, one day people will look back at one of our wines and say, “that was the beginning of San Diego’s new winemaking tradition.”

twilight

 

LaDona_WebHP

 

LaDona: Our sparkling Muscat is a crazy experiment that turned out crazy good.  Slightly effervescent with small bubbles.  Honey, ginger, and flowers in the nose.  Dry with a refreshingly bitter bite from the skin contact.  Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BPN_WebHP

 

On the heels of our Pet-Nat success with LaDona and inspired by wonderful French and Italian red sparklers we decided to craft our own. Ours is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, picked young so as to capture that fresh, tart taste that translates into a good sparkler. Unfortunately, due to limited availability of fruit, our BPN (short for “Black Pet Nat”) is in short supply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fiftyfifty_WebHPLOS PILARES SAN DIEGO COUNTY, 50% GRENACHE 50% CARIGNANE

We want to keep processes and ingredients to a minimum, without being dogmatic about it.  Because of the quality of the fruit, our minimalist winemaking approaches the extreme.  No added yeast, acids, enzymes, yeast food, tannins, or anything else.  No oak.  No no sulfur dioxide or any other additives or preservatives.  The complete list of ingredients is fresh grapes.  We do not filter or fine or even rack except to blend.

2014-ladonas-label-frontLaDona is our award winning sparkling Muscat. The fruit hails from San Diego county’s Hunter & Mazzetti Vineyard. We make this sparkle in the petillant naturel or “Pet-Nat” style where the wine is bottled while still fermenting. This produces a refreshing, slightly effervescent wine. Here’s what the San Francisco Chronicle has said about LaDona.

A joyous new offering from SoCal’s resurgent winemaking posse. Muscat has a long San Diego history, and this revives it in bottle-fermented sparkling form. It has a slightly cloudy aspect, like a great saison beer, with lees suspended in the bottle adding just the right weight to florid Muscat, nectarine and watermelon flavors.

Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

 

 

 

2012-label-frontOn occasion we release a 100% Grenache. The range of flavors can be joyfully unpredictable. Here’s what Jeremy Parzen has said about our Grenache:

“The thing that struck me about this wine was its freshness on the nose. And in the mouth, the wine was vibrantly delicious, with notes of ripe dark red fruit and a wonderful lightness in body that made the wine very food friendly and very “drinkable,” as the Italians like to say.”

 

 

 

 

 

2014-GR-label-frontWe have recently started making a Rosé made from the same Grenache vineyards that produces our very popular Grenache / Carignane blend. It’s a little too early to make predictions but we have a feeling this one is going to stand  up quite nicely. Stay tuned for our first release of this exciting young wine in the summer of 2015 in time to quench the thirst from a day out in the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014-BPN-label-front

 

On the heels of our Pet-Nat success with LaDona and inspired by wonderful French and Italian red sparklers we decided to craft our own. Ours is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvingnon, picked young so as to capture that fresh, tart taste that translates into a good sparkler. Due to limitations of fruit, our BPN (short for “Black Pet-Nat”) is in short supply. We plan to bump it up in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013-label-front

 

Our flagship and original crowd pleaser is our 50/50 Grenache, Carignane blend. This blend never fails to provide enjoyable experiences. This wine is a prime example of what can be accomplished with low-intervention, pre-industrial wine making methods. It really shines at the dinner table where it compliments a wide range of foods. Here’s what renown wine critic Alice Feiring had to say:

“When I took the cork out, the color was surprising. This was grenache and carignane. It was transluscent. It had that look of life, of not being worked for extraction. Curious piqued. 

If you can’t read, here’s the fine print: low on tanin. Smoky lamb, cooked plum, strawberry purée. Delicate. Touch of skunk, which is good. Touch of bitter, which is good.  cola. Very slight tannin. I was pretty taken with it. Intrigued with it.”

P1100291

2014 – Los Pilares – LaDona’s Sparkling Muscat

Foot-stomped.  Wild yeast fermentation.

Unfiltered.  Unfined.  Bottle-conditioned.

Slightly effervescent with small bubbles.  Honey, ginger, and flowers in the nose.  Dry with a refreshing bite from three days fermenting on the skins and stems.  No SO2, ever.  Nothing added.  Nothing taken away, not even the yeast.

San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Bonne named LaDona Top 100 wine the year:

A joyous new offering from SoCal’s resurgent winemaking posse. Muscat has a long San Diego history, and this revives it in bottle-fermented sparkling form. It has a slightly cloudy aspect, like a great saison beer, with lees suspended in the bottle adding just the right weight to florid Muscat, nectarine and watermelon flavors.

Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

230 cases.

2013 – Los Pilares – Grenache / Carignane

Wild yeast fermentation.

Unfiltered.  Unfined.  Unoaked.

The 2013 vintage is for real aficionados of natural wine.  It is a chameleon, changing rapidly in the bottle and in the glass. Sometimes it has markedly savory characteristics.  Sometimes the fruit coats your palate from front to back. Long, complex swallow.  Great with food.  Drink it slightly chilled.  It was made in very small quantities with our strict pre-industrial methods — no adjustments to the must, wild yeast fermentation, no added sugars, coloring agents, tannins, or acids.

180 cases.

2013 – Los Pilares – LaDona’s Sparkling Muscat

Our 2013 sparkling Muscat is a crazy experiment that turned out crazy good.  Slightly effervescent with small bubbles.  Honey, ginger, and flowers in the nose.  Dry with a refreshingly bitter bite from the skin contact.  Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We named it after our friend LaDona, because she likes white wine with time on the skins.  Three years ago we started dreaming of this wine.  Muscat is very traditional in San Diego County where it’s usually made into a sweet desert wine.  Naturally we wanted to honor the tradition but do something different with it.  And, it is the most natural sparkling wine you can find or drink.  Fermented in the bottle (bottle conditioned).  No SO2, ever.  Nothing added.  Nothing taken away, not even the yeast.

30 cases.

2012 – Los Pilares – Grenache

Our 2012 Grenache is very different from the Grenache Carignan we made in 2010 and 2011, at the same time more delicate and more funky.  Light color.  Medium-light body.  Fresh fruit on the nose and a hint of sherry. Surprisingly persistent flavor after swallowing.  Drink it slightly chilled.

It was a difficult year in the vineyard where we got the Grenache, and we picked through the whole thing to get only one half ton of lovely grapes.  Native yeast fermentation, part whole-cluster, part destemmed and crushed.  No SO2 additions.  No adjustments.  We pressed to tank.  And here’s the kicker:  it took more than 18 months to finish fermenting, the whole time sitting quietly on the fine lees.  I think that’s where we get the impression of sherry.  Very interesting.

SO2 at 20ppm at bottling.

30 cases.

2011 – Los Pilares – Grenache / Carignane

50% GRENACHE 50% CARIGNANE

THE GRAPES

The local fruit for our second vintage is from the same sources as our first wine.  Our theories about using southern Mediterranean varieties in San Diego, continue to prove themselves in Coleman and Gina’s backyard vineyard experiments in Alpine and now in Los Pilares with grapes from the backcountry.

Like 2010, the 2011 growing year was quite cool for San Diego, but not quite as much as 2010.

THE HARVEST

As far as we could tell, both the Grenache and the Carignan were essentially perfect – ripe but tart, balanced and healthy.  They required very little sorting.

THE WINEMAKING

We want to keep processes and ingredients to a minimum, without being dogmatic about it.  Because of the confidence we gained in 2010 and because of the quality of the fruit, this year our minimalist winemaking approached the extreme.  The details:  100% whole berries.  No stems.  No added yeast, acids, enzymes, yeast food, tannins, or anything else.  No oak.  No no sulfur dioxide or any other additives or preservatives.  The complete list of ingredients is fresh grapes.  We did not filter or fine or even rack except to blend.

Produced and Bottled by Vesper Vineyards, Valley Center, California

2010 – Los Pilares – Grenache/Carignane

The Grenache-Carignan is the natural result of old-fashioned, hands-off winemaking. The characteristics of each variety stand out. This is something one loses with too much ripeness or extraction. The Grenache gives bright, red berry flavors in the front of the palate. The Carignan delivers some pepper and brooding dark fruit at the back of the palate. Decent acidity. Young, untamed tannins. Begs for food of ANY kind, from grilled fish to boeuf bourguignon.

130 cases.

Produced and Bottled by Vesper Vineyards, Valley Center, California

If you’re looking for where to get Los Pilares here’s a few places where you can enjoy a glass or pick up a bottle.

 

Garagiste    http://www.garagiste.com/

The Rose Wine Bar and Bottle Shop    http://www.therosewinepub.com/

Vintage Wines of San Diego   http://shop.vintagewinessd.com/

The Half Orange http://www.thehalforange.com/

The Patio on Goldfinch   http://thepatioongoldfinch.com/

Seaside Market   http://seasidemarket.com/

K&L Wine   http://www.klwines.com/

Union Square Wines    https://www.unionsquarewines.com/

Ruby Wine Merchant   https://www.rubywinesf.com/

Vineyard Gate https://www.vineyardgate.com/

Lou Wine Shop & Tastings http://www.louwineshop.com

Vinavanti   http://www.vinavanti.com

Californios http://www.californiossf.com/

The Hidden Vine http://www.thehiddenvine.com/

Canyon Gourmet http://www.canyongourmet.com

Wine lab http://www.winelab.biz

Bar & Garden http://www.barandgarden.com

Local Mission Eatery http://www.localmissioneatery.com/

Slope Cellars http://www.slopecellars.com

 

We partner with Vinavanti in San Diego to produce our wines. Drop by and taste their great wines in addition to ours at: 1477 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.

 

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