Inherent Vice 2021
Josh sourced the Pinot Gris from the organically farmed Eden Rift Vineyard in the Cienega Valley AVA. Planted directly over the Andreas Fault — a font of geological complexity — Eden Rift is California’s oldest continually producing vineyard (planted in 1849, a year before the state itself was officially named). To produce this wine, Josh fermented the grapes in stainless steel tanks, then aged the wine for two months in barrel and six months in bottle — a shorter-than-usual aging regemin that favors freshness. Next he hand-disgorged the wine (the process of ejecting the sediment from each bottle individually). No part of Josh's process is outsourced or automated, a rarity in the labor intensive world of sparkling wine. Four grams per liter residual sugar (super dry). 12% alcohol.
For Josh Hammerling, sparkling wine is more than an extravagant party favor. It's a front-row seat to California’s most exquisite and rugged terrain — specifically, its coast. It’s also, it turns out, a nearly impossible endeavor within the confines of American capitalism. Sparkling wine — even low-intervention sparkling wine — is highly labor intensive. (There’s a reason, aside from the enormous marketing spends, that champagne is so expensive). Josh overcomes such obstacles with fierce optimism, and the deranged stamina of a long-haul truck driver. Visit him in winter (when other winemakers are catching up on email and dusting off their Netflix accounts) and you'll find him hand-disgorging bottles by the thousand. Josh moved to Berkeley in 2017, precipitating back-to-back internships at Broc Cellars and Donkey & Goat — a crash course in natural winemaking that would kick-start his career. It also opened his eyes to California sparkling wine's untapped potential. A year later he started Blue Ox (which would later become Hammerling Wines). The winery's Berkeley address not only placed him within a community of like-minded urban wine pioneers, it granted him access to abundant sources of organically farmed, coastal vineyards, from Mendocino to Monterey Bay.