Wirz Riesling 2018
With his Wirz Vineyard bottling, Ryan has become one of California Riesling’s leading pioneers. In doing so he has freed himself of the near-universal notion that greatness in Riesling must hinge on acidity. He outly rejects this view, as if acidity were a kind of conformity. Instead his approach involves leaning into ripeness and letting the grape skins provide structure in the form of astringency. The result is textural, confident and soulful. Wirz Vineyard is a living piece of California history — ancient head-trained vines perched in the foothills of the Gabilan Mountains. As for cellar work, Ryan takes all the techniques associated with high-quality Riesling production and does the opposite, allowing skin contact, oxidation, malolactic fermentation and minuscule sulfur additions to take things in an inspired new direction.
Based in a barebones warehouse in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ryan is one of a handful of young producers contributing to the region’s rebirth as a vibrant natural wine destination. And thanks to his work with Wirz Vineyard, Ryan has also become one of California wine’s leading eco-pioneers, specializing in soulful expressions of Riesling and Zinfandel. With its assortment of ancient, head-trained vines perched in the foothills of the Gabilan Mountains, Wirz Vineyard is a living piece of California history. But from an environmental standpoint, Wirz has been a symbol of sustainable farming for over 50 years, dry-farmed (sans irrigation) since the 1960s. In a state that’s battled drought and water shortages for decades, this approach is an example of radical conservation, showing that thoughtful stewardship of heritage vineyards will have a vital role to play in ensuring a greener wine future.