End of Nowhere
- Sierra Foothills, California, United States
It is exciting to witness the continued growth of great winemakers and vineyards in the mountainous terrains of the Sierra Foothills. While Rhône varieties are at the forefront of this renaissance, one cannot ignore the fact that Zinfandel is an integral part of the story and the grape that originally brought winemakers from the California coast to places like Amador County. Zins from Amador are notorious for being big and robust in style but things have been changing recently, and with the addition of vineyards such as Shake Ridge in 2001, and wineries like Turley setting up shop, Amador has started to find its balance. So you can imagine our excitement at Bowler when we tasted a refreshingly delicious carbonic Zin from a winery called “End of Nowhere” and saw that it was from an old-vine vineyard in Amador County. A bridge between the old and the new, and a great addition to our Sierra Foothills crew.
Owner, winemaker, and farmer Chris Walsh grew up in Amador County. After graduating college, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in architectural lighting design, but eventually fell into the restaurant/wine scene. In 2014, after a few years of working at wine bars like The Tangled Vine and Corkbuzz Wine Studio, Chris moved back to his hometown and purchased a 20-acre site across the dirt road from the house he grew up in. He named it Little John Lane Vineyard after the name of the dirt road, and planted mostly Rhône varieties; he now has about 5 acres under vine. He farms organically and hopes to dry-farm once the vines are established. The soil is extremely volcanic and the vineyard is at the highest elevation in Amador County at 3300 feet.
Meanwhile, having worked for Donkey & Goat, Terre Rouge, Matthew Rorick, and Shake Ridge Vineyard, Chris made great connections in the area and has been able to purchase fruit from well-farmed vineyards while he waits for his young vines to begin producing. The purchased fruit is bottled under the name “End of Nowhere” while the estate wines will be labeled “Little John Lane”.
In the cellar, primary fermentation happens spontaneously with natural yeasts and throughout the process the only additions are small amounts of SO2: total added is 40ppm or less. Chris uses a combination of old barrels, flex tanks, and T-bins for fermentation, and ages everything in neutral French oak. There is no fining or filtering.