Caroline Hoel and Hank Beckmeyer began life in the Sierra Foothills in 2001. A herd of a few Goats that at one point produced Goat Cheese commercially is now nearing 40, the home vineyard situated at an altitude of 2,600 feet produces Tempranillo, Syrah, Tannat, Grenache, Negroamaro, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Annually it yields a “home vineyard” blend.
Grapes for the rest of La Clarine’s harvests are farmed at vineyards throughout the region in soils that range from volcanic to brown loam sitting atop yellow slate known as the Jospehine and Mariposa complex. The diversity of grapes that make it to the cellar are one part an expression of Hank’s inquisitive spirit, and another an exercise in harmonizing farming philosophy:
Fukuoka’s book, “The One Straw Revolution”, seemed to me to start at the point I was at and expanded rapidly beyond. What would happen if the farmer played more of the role of caretaker than active participant? What if much of what we were doing to our land and plants was really not necessary, done more for our own human benefit (ego) than for the benefit of the plant? What if we stepped back and just watched?
All of the wines are made minimally; no chemicals, fertilizers, or tillage in the vineyard, and no added yeasts or enzymes with sparse use of sulfur dioxide in the cellar. Fermentations occur naturally, and wines are aged in neutral containers.
Each glass of La Clarine offers a meditation, balancing theory, technique, daring, experience and creativity. The resulting voice in the ongoing discourse of what it means to make wine is as pleasing as what we find in the bottle.