Meet the Winemaker Mike Lucia from ROOTDOWN Wine Cellars
This week we have a very special Why Not Wednesday in store. Mike Lucia Winemaker of Rootdown Wine Cellars will be pouring. Rootdown focuses on varietal wines from single vineyards that lead with earth and texture, rather than only fruit. Stylistically, the wines are low alcohol, high acid, and made from relatively obscure grapes from California. The fruit is sourced from organic vineyards in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Amador Counties, and the winemaking style remains very decidedly hands-off, allowing the grapes and specific sites to speak for themselves. Winemaker Mike Lucia is constantly having fun “making decisions that he shouldn’t make,” and always playing with “What if?”
Mike Lucia is no newcomer to the Sonoma wine scene. He has been laying tracks in the world of wine since he first landed in Healdsburg as a teenager back in ‘92 and started rubbing shoulders with local winemakers during after-school restaurant gigs. Before long, Mike worked harvest with DeLoach in the Russian River Valley, an experience which led to jobs at many other well-respected wineries. In 2007 he accepted a position at Goldeneye Winery before even graduating from the Enology program at Fresno State.
Sometime in the late ‘90s, Mike fell in love with the wines of Burgundy and sought to find a similarly nuanced, terroir-driven experience at home. He knew there was potential as he tasted wines around Anderson Valley and thought to himself, “These wines taste like everything I’m looking at outside the window.” After three fruitful years in Anderson Valley with Goldeneye, Mike took on the role of Associate Winemaker at Copain Wines — a move that brought him back to his Russian River roots while still allowing him to source the fruit he loved from Mendocino. Inspired and empowered by his mad skills, Mike started a side project in 2014 to produce the kind of wines he loved to drink and always wanted to make — and so Rootdown was born.
In 2016, Mike left Copain to focus his attention entirely on Rootdown — a brand name which refers to the influence of the soil on wine, particularly in organic winemaking. Mike has always been more interested in what the vine’s roots are drinking rather than how the sun is interacting directly with the fruit. Rootdown focuses on varietal wines from single vineyards that lead with earth and texture, rather than only fruit. Stylistically, these wines are also low alcohol, high acid, and made from relatively obscure grapes from California: Trousseau, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Pinot Blanc. Mike sources his fruit from organic vineyards in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Amador Counties. His style remains very decidedly hands-off, allowing the grapes and specific sites to speak for themselves. He ferments the wines with native yeasts, no new oak, and sulfur only in amounts equal to what is found naturally on the vine.
2017 Root Down “St Amant Vineyard”, Lodi CA – Trousseau Rosé :: $24 Sale $21
The rosé of Trousseau opens with alpine strawberry, sage, and subtly spicy aromas, leading to triangle-textured natural green apple acidity, delicate tea tannin, and earth across the palate — very true to the red version of this grape.
2017 Root Down “Riven Ridge”, Russian River CA – Pinot Blanc :: $29 Sale $25
Reminiscent of a grapefruit, this wines texture has a tartness mashed up with semi-sweet pulp. Though this wine is bone dry, you have this feeling of spun sugar battling minerals with kaffir lime, green pear and lemon curd challenging the senses.
2017 Root Down “Redwood Glen”, Russian River CA – Grenache Blanc :: $29 Sale $25
Organic. 100% Grenache Blanc. The vineyard, Redwood Glenn, sits on fine silty loam and is located on the border between Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley just outside of Healdsburg. After picking the fruit, Mike foot-treads it and lets it sit for 6 hours on the skins. The fruit is then pressed, settled, and racked to neutral oak for fermentation. A quarter of the way through, the wine is racked back to stainless steel to get homogenous, then back to oak to finish fermentation. Post fermentation the wine stays in oak for another 4 months before going to steel until bottling. This aids in keeping the wine in a state of reduction.
2016 Root Down “Dry Bone Ranch”, Amador County CA – Mourvédre :: $35 Sale $31
Sourced from Dry Bone Ranch Vineyard in Amador which sits at an elevation of 2700 ft. Soil- Josephin series which consists of deep, well drained soils that formed in colluvium and residuum weathered from altered sedimentary and extrusive igneous rocks. Harvested the same day as the Mourvedre rosé from 2 bins of what Mike determined as the riper, softer fruit. Destemmed but kept as whole berries. The idea behind this wine is to be fresh, full of energy and not extracted. To achieve this, there were no pumpovers or punchdowns. Instead, he simply wet the cap by pitcher and let the ferment ride out naturally. Because this is a spontaneous fermentation, (and in order to keep the native yeasts healthy) he fully drained the tank halfway through fermentation, gave it a bunch of oxygen and pumped it back into the ferment to finish. Keeping the style in mind, he pressed early and let it finish off in tank and then aged it in neutral barrels for only 7 months.
We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl and #Neverabadbottle so we can CHEERS!
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