La Clarine Farm
- Sierra Foothills, California, United States
La Clarine Farm makes wines that are alive in the glass… I love their minimalist approach in the vineyard and the cellar, and I’ve loved all their wines, whether mourvèdre, rosé or the 2011 Piedi Grandi, a blend of nebbiolo, mourvèdre and syrah that is precise, savory, juicy and just plain delicious.”
—Eric Asimov, NY Times
…the wines are defiant and different, and are helping to rewrite the story of the Sierras.”
–Jon Bonné, The New California Wine
Hank Beckmeyer and his wife, Caroline Hoel, met in the 80s while he was on tour in Europe with his band Half Japanese. Hank left the band and the tour to remain with Caroline in Europe, and over the years they would take trips to the south of France, drink a bunch of Bandol at Domaine Tempier, and discuss how much they loved what these smaller producers were doing. They eventually decided to make wine themselves, and California seemed like the right place to do it.
In 2001, the two settled in Somerset (El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills) at a site 2600 feet up in the foothills and planted a few acres of vines - mostly Tempranillo but also Syrah, Tannat, Grenache, Negroamaro, Cabernet Sauvignon, and some unknown varieties that emerged from seeds in the compost heap. The vineyard was first farmed biodynamically (certified for a few years), but eventually evolved into the farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka’s ‘do nothing’ methods. As the name implies, the vineyard grows wild with weeds, insects, birds, and all sorts of life teeming among the vines.
From this vineyard a single wine is made in extremely low quantities and for the rest of their wines, Hank and Caro purchase fruit from like-minded, organic farmers in the foothills.
Hank and Caroline use natural methods for making their wines and have been doing so long before it became trendy in California. Generally, this means native yeasts, neutral vessels, and nothing added except a small amount (if any) of SO2 at bottling. Their goal is to make wines that are alive and enjoyable to drink during all stages of their lives while at the same time expressing the vineyards. Just taste a vertical lineup of Sumu Kaw Syrah or Cedarville Mourvedre and see for yourself!