Special Pass & Provisions Dinner Showcases Female Winemakers

When it comes to wine, there is hardly a shortage of wonderful selections coming out of the West Coast, but there is a shortage of wines produced by female grape growers and winemakers. A 2015 survey from Santa Clara University revealed that just 10-percent of lead winemakers at California’s 3,400-plus wineries are female. As part of their effort to support quality vino and showcase women vintners, chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan are hosting some special wine dinners at The Pass (the fine dining side of The Pass & Provisions at 807 Taft). Tickets are $150 per person, plus tax and gratuity and can be purchased by calling (713) 628-9020. Select option 2 to speak to the host. Tickets are non-refundable, but are transferable. View the menu online.

The Thursday, April 13 dinner is imminent and will feature wines from by wife-and-husband team Margaret Bradley-Foley and Jim Foley, who own Petrichor Vineyards,  as well as Megan and Ryan Glaab. The Glaabs make the wines for Petrichor and their own vineyard, Ryme Cellars.

We wanted to know a little more about the women behind the wines and interviewed them for insight into what they produce and what to expect from their vintages.

Margaret Bradley-Foley and husband Jim Foley will be representing Petrichor Wines at the dinner on Thursday.Photo courtesy of Margaret Bradley-Foley

Margaret Bradley-Foley, Organic Grower and Producer, Petrichor Wines

What she grows: Grenache and Syrah on the northernmost boundary of the Fountaingrove District AVA in Sonoma County. The grapes are grown on Sonoma Volcanics, a geological formation that resulted from the eruption of Mount Saint Helena over three million years ago. The vineyard is split into two blocks with the Grenanche and Syrah ripening at different times.

Defining wine characteristics: As 100-percent estate wines (meaning that wine is produced on the same property where the grapes are grown), the end result reflects the terroir of the land. It’s notably influenced by the aforementioned Sonoma Volcanics in addition to elevation that allows for “maritime influences.” The wines are produced using native fermentation and neutral oak with lower alcohol and higher acidity. The structured end result is made for cellaring.

Your wines have been described as “esoteric and interesting.” What does that mean to you? “Displaying vibrant color and aromatics, sturdy tannins and natural acidity, there is a decided energy in Petrichor wines that we have always referred to as ‘plugged in’.  When someone describes our wines as esoteric or interesting, I’d like to think that perhaps we are achieving our goal of creating wines that are truly of our unique place and of the vintage.”

What is it about making wine that keeps you interested? “Given the art and science involved in growing grapes and making wine, one will never know everything there is to know. There are so many variables. When you think about the extraordinary number of grape varieties and the vast number of growing regions (with new vineyards popping up in the most unexpected of places) and combine that with vintage variation and the winemaker’s approach, it is absolutely mind boggling. Each vintage is an adventure and it’s a love affair for us.”

Learn more about Petrichor Wines at their web site.

Petrichor wines that will be served at The Pass: 

  • Rose of Grenache and Syrah, Sonoma, CA, 2016
  • Grenache, Sonoma, CA, 2014
  • Grenache/Syrah, “Les Trois,” 2014 
Megan Glaab, winemaker for Petrichor Wines and Ryme Cellars, will be available at the dinner on Thursday, April 13. Photo courtesy of Megan Glaab.

Megan Glaab, Winemaker, Ryme Cellars and Petrichor Wines

Defining characteristics: “I feel like if I am doing my job correctly that I am telling a story of the time, the place and the variety. The wines should show vintage variation, pay tribute to the land from which it came and have distinctive varietal characteristics. Stylistically, we strive for wines of balance, moderate alcohols and good natural acidity.”

In what ways could someone taste your wine and recognize them as yours? “Generally speaking, our wines are predominately from unique varieties that are not widely found in California. They tend to be wines of restraint, with savory tones and an underlying subtle fruit core.”

Are there any signature elements that seem to follow through from year to year, bottle to bottle? “For all of our wines, we seek to embrace the rebellious spirit and wide open possibilities that California represents. I like to be charmed and also surprised by wine. Our wines are about progress but also show the love of the pristine and classic wines of Europe. Ryme wines are designed to shine with food. They are delicious on their own but their place is at the table with great food.”

What is it like to work directly with two different vineyards? Do you find that working with one inspires ideas for the other? Is it hard to balance efforts between the two or does each demand different perspectives? “Every vineyard is distinct. Aspect, soil-type, microclimate, variety, root stock—the list goes on.  A technique applied at one site might not work for another. Some vineyards are more demanding than others. We treat each vineyard individually and make decisions accordingly. It is the same as working with people. On paper, one person may appear similar to another, but each has their own personality and history, therefore are very different to work with.”

Your wines have been described as “esoteric and interesting” – what does that definition mean to you? “I will take the ‘esoteric and interesting’ label with pride. In order for a wine to be truly stimulating, it needs to challenge expectations or pique curiosities. Clearly, the more you learn about wine, the more it pulls you in. Primarily though it is an agent of pleasure. It should be enriching and nourishing. Esotericism is no excuse for lack of pleasure.”

What is it about making wine that keeps you interested? “I think of wine as an essential part of the table, as much as food, family and friends. I love how wine brings people together and elevates a meal. I wouldn’t say that it holds me captive as much as I find it a fundamental part of my life.”

Learn more about Ryme Cellars.

Ryme wines that will be served at the dinner on Thursday

  • Fiano, Lago Vineyard, 2015
  • Vermentino, “His,” Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros, CA, 2015
  • Vermentino, “Hers,” Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros, CA, 2016
  • Aglianico, Luna Matta Vineyard, Sonoma, CA, 2013

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