If a person wants to find out about wines and wineries from Sonoma and the Napa Valley, he or she needn’t look far: websites and books on these areas abound, and to purchase many of these wines, especially from those of larger, more popular producers, one only need go as far as the nearest grocery store.
But what about wines and wineries from some of the lesser-known, smaller, or farther-afield wine areas?
Look no further than Backcountry Wines.
Started and entirely maintained by Deborah Passin, the site is devoted to the wines and wineries of the less well-known appellations, places like the Santa Cruz Mountains, Sierra Foothills, Anderson Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Edna Valley.
The subject matter has long been of interest to Deborah Passin, who many years ago decided to turn her wine hobby into a profession.
Leaving her job and her apartment, she found herself in New Zealand, then an up-and-coming wine region, and immersed herself in her new passion, taking part first in the grape harvest, then working in the winery itself.
After returning to the States and working for a few years for a wine importer, she was then offered a job selling French oak barrels to wineries in California and Oregon.
It was while working this job that her passion really began to coalesce and take shape: visiting over 100 wineries during this time, she realized that the places she loved most were those wineries located on the outskirts of Napa and Sonoma, the places few people were visiting or getting to hear about.
It was in these more rustic wine regions where she found herself drawn in by a wide cast of characters, meeting with grower/producers who were so passionate about what they were doing, so invested in the product they were making because it was their life’s work, places who were pioneering sustainable practices because they and their families were the ones spending time in the vineyards, places which were producing wines that truly reflected the unique geographical characteristics of the areas from whence they came.
Some current favorites of Deborah’s:
One of my favorite stories and wineries is Big Basin Vineyards. I love Syrah and he makes some beautiful ones.
One of my favorite new finds is an Alsatian producer named Domane Allimant-Laugner. Their sparkling Rose is incredible for the price, as is their Pinot Blanc. The wines are only available in California for now (or France).
I’m also a big fan of Mary Elke’s Pinot Noirs. She’s a grower in the Anderson Valley. Some of the best values in that region. http://backcountrywines.com/anderson-valley/mary-elke-a-farmers-story-of-apples-and-wine
Subscribe to Backcountry Wines to keep up-to-date with Deborah’s latest discoveries, or hire her to bring the backcountry to you with in-home wine tastings.