Winebusiness.com - Homepage for the Wine Industry

Folded Hills Opens Homestead, Celebrates Cleaner Wines

Posted on November 07, 2019

Santa Barbara, Calif.—For many, the Busch family name is synonymous with Budweiser beer. But, for Andy Busch, son of August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr., who built and grew the Anheuser-Busch Companies into the largest brewery in the world by 1957, he intends for his personal family legacy to be associated with fine, organically grown Rhône-style wines.

Busch, along with his wife Kim and their children, moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Santa Barbara, California in the mid-aughts, to set their own course in life. “Growing up in St. Louis, I worked at Grant’s Farm and oversaw the care of hundreds of animals…and thousands of guests. I’ve always considered myself more of a rancher and farmer than a suit and tie type,” says Andy Busch.

The Busches set their sights on 600 acres of coastal land (just 4 miles as the crow flies from the Pacific) between Nojoqui Falls Park and the Gaviota Pass in the Santa Barbara County appellation. For travelers visiting Santa Barbara from the Southland it is the first winery one now comes across traveling along highway 101. The estate is farmed entirely organically and dedicated solely to Grenache, Syrah and various white Rhône grape varieties, of which there are a total of 15 acres planted. The estate is nearly self-sustaining and is a nod to the old world “quinta” model, with grapes, row crops, orchards of stone fruit trees and farm animals all a part of a diverse agricultural ecosystem. The ranch is farmed entirely organically, utilizing a biodynamic calendar, and among the flora, reside a menagerie of ranch animals, including Sicilian donkeys, llamas, small Kune Kune pigs, chickens, peacocks, a rescue mini Jersey cow named Peaches and even Clydesdales.

Winemaker Angela Osborne, of Tribute to Grace, favors a minimalist approach, saying, “What we capture during the pick expresses the site; we want to harness the beauty at the right time of picking and then do as little as possible to detract from that. I foot tread everything. I’ll do a pump over to encourage native yeast fermentation, and then it’s punch-downs by hand.” When the wines are ready to be raised, following native yeast fermentation, Osborne barrels them down, racking them only once under a new moon before bottling. “Under the new moon,” Osborne continues, “the lees are pushed down towards the bottom of the barrel due to atmospheric pressure, which makes for a cleaner racking.”

“Locals encouraged us to plant Pinot when we first moved here because, well, that’s what you grow in this part of Santa Barbara. But, after doing soil tests and speaking to great farmers like Ruben Solarzano {Coastal Vineyard Care Associates}, we planted what we discovered would do best at our site, which is Rhône varieties,” says Kim Busch.

Adjacent to the Folded Hills Ranch is the Busch’s Farmstead, a rustic barn that houses an organic produce store selling Folded Hills produce. There is a small petting zoo out back behind the Farmstead. Across the way, the newly opened Homestead, originally built in 1898 by a homesteader, serves as the core Folded Hills tasting room and winery. It is from this location, and an additional tasting room in the nearby coastal village of Montecito, that they pour their estate wines.

Cleaner wines are important to the Busches, who define them in the following ways: Folded Hills grapes are all organically grown following the biodynamic calendar; there is no residual sugar in the wines; there are no commercial additives, even though the FDA allows for 76 additives in wine production; minimal sulfur is added after fermentation to stabilize the wine; the wines are consciously crafted to be low in alcohol; only native yeasts are used; only organic and sustainable practices are allowed on the estate; the vines are irrigated with crystal clear underground artesian well water from nearby Nojoqui Falls, and all the fruit is hand-harvested.

“It’s vital to us that our customers enjoy cleaner, thoughtfully made wines with no additives. We care about what we feed ourselves and our family, and we naturally pass this care along to our customers,” says Kim Busch. “Andy’s father used to say ‘making friends is our business,’ and Andy and I are enjoying watching our circle of friends grow because of Folded Hills.”

Website: foldedhills.com

Copyright© 1994-2019 by Wine Communications Group. All Rights Reserved. Copyright protection extends to all written material, graphics, backgrounds and layouts. None of this material may be reproduced for any reason without written permission of the Publisher. Wine Business Insider, Wine Business Monthly, Grower & Cellar News and Wine Market News are all trademarks of Wine Communications Group and will be protected to the fullest extent of the law.