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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

07/21/2014 - Wine and Coffee Roots : Aussies in Argentina and an American in Honduras

Slow Living brings you a taste of the world through the eyes of our two adventurous guests.  Australian winemaker, Blair Poynton, and his 2 friends search the world for a vineyard where they can produce wines of their dream.  The search takes them to Argentina where they now craft the stunning Jed Wines.

And Micah Hammac, Minister of Culture from Ritual Roasters, goes back to the origins, traveling to Honduras to work on the farms with their growers, and learn the “essence” of the beans.  His goal is to preserve the terroir of their coffee and always keep true to the roots of their mission – to craft fine coffee using the best ingredients and care in every step.

About Blair Poynton

A winemaker from Margaret River, Western Australia, Blair has crafted wines also in Dry Creek Valleyand the Uco Valley in Argentina since 2005. Before getting into winemaking he managed a boutique wine merchant in Cambridge, England. In 2006 myself and two colleagues, Rob Bates Smith and Tom Egan, founded our own wine brand called Jed. The aim was to produce wines they liked drinking - wines made in the vineyard that were good with food, balanced with medium body. The search for fruit sources took the trio around the world and when they found the high altitude vineyards of Uco Valley, Argentina,  knew they had found something special.

Each year, Jed's winemaking team travel to the Uco Valley in Argentina to produce wines that express the unique characters of this acclaimed region.
Mendoza has an extraordinary 450 years of winemaking history, however, only in the last 10 years has the Uco Valley emerged as one of the world's most exciting wine producing regions.
Situated in the foothills of the Andes at 1200 meters above sea level, the pristine environment in the Uco Valley yields elegant wines with unrivaled purity.


About Argentina

Purity of light, clean air, high elevation and the back drop of the Andes set Argentine wine apart from every other wine producing nation.

At an average elevation of 900m Argentina is home to the highest vineyards in the world. Vines grown at high altitude enjoy unique and ideal growing conditions with considerable temperature variation between day and night. The warm days encourage the development of rich varietal flavours while the cool nights serve to preserve natural acidity, intensifying varietal aromas.

Grapes grown here also benefit from the longest ripening season of any wine region in the world. This means that the grapes can mature gradually which, for the winemaker is ideal, because a gradual ripening means smoother tannins and the development of more flavour compounds. No region in the world can match Mendoza when it comes to the quantity of these handy little compounds per grape.

Blair, left, with Rob Bates Smith and Tom Egan

The clean air and fresh snowmelt from the Andes Mountains in this pristine environment also explains the distinctive clarity and vibrancy of wines grown in Argentina. The dryness of the mountain air results in very low levels of vine disease which means less vineyard spraying, while low rainfall allows vintners to control vigour and stress in their vineyard through irrigation from the pure and plentiful Andes snowmelt.

While Mendoza is famous for producing the worlds’ finest Malbec, mid 19th century immigrants have also blessed Argentina with a wide range of other European red grape varieties. Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz/Syrah can all be found but others such as Bonarda, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Tannat are also showing huge promise internationally.

Modernisation of the wine industry in Argentina has allowed cooler regions like Patagonia and the Uco Valley to now produce with great success, aromatic white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris. The long growing season and cold nights that benefit the Malbec grape so much, allow these white grapes to develop incredibly nuanced and delicate aromatic compounds while again retaining their natural acidities.


Micah Hammac
Minister of Culture at Ritual Coffee Roasters

About Ritual Coffee Roasters
 Ritual has been a pioneer in the delicious shift in coffee consciousness that is emerging in the USA, where it is seen as an art, an expression or terroir, and just a delicate as wine. Since opening their doors  on Valencia Street in 2005 and starting what some call a coffee revolution in San Francisco, their goal has been to craft the very best cup of coffee available anywhere.
About Micah Hammac
Micah Hammac weaves art into all areas of his life … whether it be working to craft the perfect cappuccino, sharing a song, sculpting clay, designing a business logo, or mapping out a garden. There is a common aesthetic thread that has been pulled through his life as he explores Coffee, Creativity and Community.  Sourcing from education in ceramics and graphic design at Graceland University, Permaculture Design Certification, and over 10 years in the coffee industry… Micah currently follows his curiosity as Minister of Culture and Barista at Ritual Coffee Roasters. Micah recently finished up his first self recorded album of original songs, and works creatively out of his home studio in Vallejo, CA under the name TreeBed Design.


Honduras coffee plantation
Nelson Ramirez—nicknamed "Chely" after his mother—which located in the mountains above Honduras’ Lake Yojoa. These Catuai variety coffees grow at around 1550 meters, under heavy fog coming up from the lake. The cooler temperatures, as well as other conditions unique to this mircro-climate, contribute to slow the maturation process of the coffee, yielding a flavor that is unique in its complexity. These coffees are milled at the farm and then dried on raised screens both at the farm and down the mountain at Beneficio San Vicente.

Since taking over the farm in 2010, Nelson has poured his efforts into expanding and improving the processing. An agronomist by profession, he's tried to tackle several issues that have come up, specifically around drying. We talked at length toward the end of last harvest, and out of that consultation, Nelson took the initiative to built several new solar drying tables. These should be more than enough to handle his harvest for the coming year, and probably enough to support his efforts to expand the farm into new sections, planted mostly with Pacas.


Sorting beans

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