Antica Terra only makes wines that do the label justice. Not the most original marketing banter I’ve heard, but try this on: Antica Terra didn’t feel the 2005 crop from the Antica Terra Vineyard was up to snuff, so they, um, DIDN’T MAKE ANY WINE!!! The lesson here is, don’t call their bluff, these people mean business.
Now 2005 is a highly regarded vintage in the Willamette Valley, so why didn’t they make any wine? The answer is because the Antica Terra vineyard used to be a giant boulder, and in order to realize the potential of the wines, they had to go in and break up all that rock several feet deep. This made things a little awkward while the vineyard pulled itself back together, but the end result is a wine that is deliciously distinctive.
Antica Terra has been around for about a decade, but the 2006 release is the first release of the new and improved Antica Terra.
The winemaking team is led by Maggie Harrison, who made a name for herself as the winemaker at California’s Sine Qua Non winery from 1995 to 2005. What’s ironic is that while at Sine Qua Non, Maggie was already making Oregon Pinot Noir using fruit shipped down from Shea Vineyards.
My host today is Assistant Winemaker Chad Stock. Chad graduated from Fresno State and spent some time working for Rudd before coming to Antica Terra. The wines are killer, and once we all decide this, we turn our conversation to the wine industry in general.
Being a relatively recent graduate from Fresno State, I ask Chad about his transition from student to winemaker, and he says that while the wine science you learn in school is important, the only way to learn the craft is by doing it.
Chad sees production methods going back in time (in a good way) rather than forward. He illustrates this point by telling the story of Rudd, who used to have concrete fermentation tanks in the 60’s and 70’s, then they got rid of them, only to recently reacquire some new cement fermentation tanks. The most technologically advanced tool to be found in Antica Terra is a forklift, and this is just how he likes it.
In terms of the industry landscape, Chad is concerned about how homogonous wines are becoming. He feels that the “market is dictating the way wines are made”, and not the other way around, resulting in a “loss of distinction sacrificed for approachability”. The wines of Antica Terra certainly don’t lack distinction, and they are all the better for it.