Darek Trowbridge is my favorite American winemaker. Period. Located in the Russian River Valley, in Sonoma, Darek founded Old World Winery on the principle that exceptional wines are made better when created with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Darek brings 20+ years of hands-on experience in the art and science of vineyard management, grape production, and natural winemaking. His passion is inviting nature into his winemaking.
The processes that Darek employs are simple and direct and eliminate the need for any man-made chemicals. His approach involves effort and shepherding but not manipulation. I think that "shepherding" is the best word to describe Darek's work. Without chemicals or highly-manipulative techniques, a wine can take a lot of negative turns on its journey to becoming a solid wine. Oftentimes, there can be flaws that plague a wine in its development, like mouse and over-the-top volatile acidity (VA), which is the smell of nail polish remover you may have experienced before with a natural wine. I believe that the greatest wines are often made when a winemaker is patient and allows these flaws to work themselves out. A youthful wine with high volatile acidity is usually not pleasant to drink, but when high volatile acidity presents itself, leaving the wine to age allows the VA to soften and incorporate into the wine, giving it lift and an added complexity that elevates the wine to a better end result than it would've achieved if it had never had any VA at all. This is why I love Darek's wines so much. He often lets wine stay in barrel for 5+ years to work through any present flaws and then may bottle the wine and hold it back for an equal amount of time before ever selling the first bottle.
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