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Prima Materia’s Wine Style

We love: good acidity, organic practices, unique grapes, balance, texture and tannin, modest alcohol, and a sense of tradition. Our wine style was shaped by an earlier career spent cooking in professional kitchens where, just like wine, we wanted deep and layered flavors. Wine is an extension of food for us, like charcuterie or cheesemaking, and by making only a few barrels of each wine, we can really focus on each wine's inner nature.

Our Winemaking Philosophy

Our wine philosophy is also our vineyard philosophy. Be gentle, encourage independence, treat the vines with wine in mind while respecting their individual nature, and intervene as little as possible. Less technology is often better, and vigilance is better than oak or additives. Natural acidity and tannin is your friend, minimal sulfur lets the wine protect itself, too much sun is bad and steals character, and raisins aren’t for wine. We are fortunate that we are farmers first, and highlighting our volcanic vineyard at 1,500' of elevation is part of our philosophy.

Prima Materia’s lighter red wines

Our Dolcetto and Grenache are radically different from each other. Inspired by Gamay, our Dolcetto has pretty and meaty qualities, all plum and pepper, is cofermented with white grapes, and can stand up to charcuterie, light but hearty. The Grenache however, is pure strawberry and cherry bliss, sunshine in a bottle, Apollonian in the extreme. Sangiovese is a true passion though, bettering Pinot, delicious young, incredibly layered and textured in middle age, and savory in the extreme with notes of pine and earthy saline minerality after a few years in the bottle – pure Dionysian revelry. We employ a little stem and whole-cluster winemaking here as well.

Prima Materia Grenache

Prima Materia's mid-weight red wines

Our Zinfandel is an attempt to capture what Zin field blends might have been like in 1900.

Negro Amaro is the opposite, unknown in California twenty years ago, here bottled young for striking aromatics of fig, olive, and black cherry making it the ultimate BBQ wine. Barbera, another grilled-food winner, is treated very differently to keep the focus on its acidity, pomegranate and purple fruit, along with longer aging. Many of our wines are made from multiple vineyard blocks, different clones, training, and rootstocks for complexity. The Barbera is actually three different types for example, all made separately.

Prima Materia’s bold red wines

The big reds are where our altitude and volcanic soils really shine. We grow some of the only Sagrantino and Refosco in California, and while both are pretty serious, the Sagrantino is a face-ripping beast with big fruit plus roasted herbs, huge tannin and lilting floral tones. Our Nebbiolo pays homage to the wines of Barbaresco, full of beauty disciplined by tannin, and I push that fermentation as far and long as it can possibly go in the old Piemontese tradition, and even train our vines in the same way. Our biggest and baddest red is Aglianico, the ancient Italian grape that can shame gravelly Bordeaux and mountain-side Cabernet, needing at least three years in barrels and ageable for decades in the bottle with Old-World minerality and that sense of history we so love. I move those grapes exclusively by hand and employ very long fermentations. With grapes like these it is best to embrace the beast within.

Prima Materia Negroamaro
Prima Materia Aglianico