D’Anbino Cellars in Paso Robles, California, is unveiling a new limited quantity label, Prizm Winery, and at the same time providing a series of online videos documenting the unconventional techniques used to create 150 cases of this premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Although many wineries tend not to share their techniques, Prizm aims to use the videos to educate its enthusiasts about the remarkable steps taken to create a very special wine. The videos begin at the time of harvest and will continue through the bottling the September bottling. Included are interviews with vineyard manager Kathy D'Andrea and acclaimed winemaker Philippe Armenier.
Armenier is considered one of the leading, reputable, figures on Biodynamic practices worldwide. Originally from France, Armenier spent years making wine at his renowned family winery, Domaine de Marcoux, in Chateauneuf du Pape. In 2001, he moved to the United States to focus on Biodynamic consulting and has since worked with numerous prestigious wineries up and down the California coast, including Prizm’s parent company D’Anbino Cellars, which has been growing grapes in the area since 1995. D’Anbino decided it was time to take advantage not only of his knowledge of the vineyard, but of his reputable, but arguably unorthodox winemaking skills. Thus the new Prizm label was created.
In the videos, Armenier describes his centuries old method of wild fermentation with the natural yeasts present on the vineyard. Typical fermentation in California relies on inoculating the juice, then introducing commercial yeast. This ensures a more reliable fermentation, but eliminates some of the character achieved by using the yeast indigenous to the vineyard and winery. On the vineyard, microorganisms rather than traditional fertilizers are introduced into the soil to promote healthy vines. Armenier explains: “We want to allow a very living organic soil to absorb, attract, and transform these living cosmic forces. The roots will take [the food] through the soil. The [resulting] quality of the sap is much more elegant, fine, sugared and flavorful than in conventional vines.”
Armenier ferments and gently extracts the wine during a 26-day maceration period. He continues his unique methods by aging the Cabernet with only a small fraction of its time in oak barrels, different from most California Cabernets, which spend almost their whole life in oak before they are bottled. Armenier's goal is to create an elegant wine that showcases the vineyard's fruit as naturally and as truthfully as possible without outside influences.
Vineyard manager D'Andrea describes the concepts behind the farming techniques used to create harmony and balance in the vineyard without the use of pesticides. She explains, “We have no control over many things while we presume to think we have control. The grapes are coming out much more rich and full and all these things are the result of letting nature do what it is already designed to do. Catching onto it– that’s the important thing...letting that individuality that happens in your particular vineyard, happen.”
The videos are not posted in a public forum like YouTube, but are instead hosted privately on the winery's website. In order to access the videos, and to be able to purchase the very limited amount of wine that will be available for sale, users may receive an invitation from a friend already registered, or one may simply request an invitation by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.