I’m beyond excited to offer you the vermouth that my beloved and wise friend; winery and vineyard co-collaborator; and the one and only Kelley’s magic carpet ride co-pilot, Stephanie Sprinkle produced using my Pinot noir 2020 as the base wine. Our third collaborator is Lynsee Sardell, owner and distiller of Big Wild Spirits as well as a fine artist. I’ve learned through Lynsee’s work that distillation is a high art that requires as much skill, training, and discernment of nuance as producing wines does. Lynsee made the most beautiful brandy from my Maresh Vineyard Pinot 2020, and the vermouth wouldn’t be what it is without her. I’m in awe of both of these women.
Every time I open a bottle, I finish it, no matter how much I resolve to put on the brakes. It is by far the most delicious and nourishing vermouth I have ever tasted, and I drink Vergano (Americano more than the Chinato) just about every weekend. It's best chilled and keeps up to a week if refrigerated. But good luck taking that long to finish the bottle!
Stephanie prepared with her hands over 35 plants that she locally sourced ethically from the wild/farmed organically. This is an Oregon vermouth. She put an enormous amount of love and labour into this beauty. Only the hearts section of Lynsee’s distillation was used to soak the plants and to fortify the base wine.
Stephanie’s words for the vermouth that she so lovingly made: “This wine tips its hat to the ancient connection of humans and plants– the true beginnings of vermouth and all botanical wines that came before and since. While we can't make any curative or medicinal claims, we can confirm the inclusion of 35 plants that each carry their own vital force, among the vitality of the wine itself. The ancients knew. Our bodies still know. In this regard, at minimum, we can think of this wine as a tasty aperitif before a meal to get the digestive juices flowing, and/or as a digestif post-meal to help break it all down. (A key component of our physical connection and response to the plants is their bitter flavor compounds, which stimulate digestive functioning via bitter receptors that are located not only on our tongue, but also in our stomach, lungs, heart and various other places throughout our body. For those who shy away from the idea of bitter, know that a key goal in the recipe creation was DELICIOUSNESS, which our taste tests confirmed with vermouth and non-vermouth fans alike.)
Beyond the physical attributes of the plants, like all of Kelley's wines, this is a wine of time and place, with crystal-like transmission. It's a wine born of fire. In a year of personal and systemic hard truths, tragedy and grief. The vines felt it all, as did many of the other plants which were growing in fields, forests and riverbanks of Oregon. Already, some of these plants, as successionary species, have answered their call to restore the burnt forest floors; in fact, some actually wait as seeds in the soil for fire to spark their germination. The plants remind us that in death is healing, restoration, transformation and new life. In this way, this wine was born from death and passed through several re-births: from grapes to wine, wine to brandy, fresh plants to liquid extracts, and the final birth of the merging of them all. Surely there's some medicine in that for each of us in a vintage like 2020!