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The ultimate synthesis of natural winemaking and premier California vineyards, Darling Wine is the the most exciting producer you have never heard of. Tom and Ashley Darling are the couple behind these extraordinary wines. Neither... Read More
The ultimate synthesis of natural winemaking and premier California vineyards, Darling Wine is the the most exciting producer you have never heard of. Tom and Ashley Darling are the couple behind these extraordinary wines. Neither come from a winemaking background making what they've accomplished that much more extraordinary; producing exquisitely balanced wines that so very clearly translate the qualities of the vineyards they source their fruit from.
Tom and Ashley met in college in North Carolina and then moved to Washington, DC. Their interest in wine began while visiting Virginia wineries and when Ashley bought Tom the Windows of the World Guide to Wine by Kevin Zraly. Their first visit in 2015 to Northern California, which was a ten day road trip from San Diego to San Francisco, sealed the deal.
After they returned, Tom took a job at a tasting room in Middleburg, Virginia and Ashley, a Yoga instructor, began to incorporate wine tasting as part of her practice. They married in 2016 and that Fall they took the plunge and moved to Napa to begin their life in wine. Ashley continued to teach Yoga with a side of wine education and Tom worked at wineries in the Valley.
Eventually Tom got a job in sales at one of the best distributors of boutique California & European wineries, Springboard Wine Company. This opened up a lot of doors thus making it possible for them to launch Darling Wines in 2017 with just two barrels of Syrah sourced from McEvoy Ranch in Sonoma. That first wine convinced them that they wanted to work exclusively with cool climate, coastal sights and today they work almost exclusively with grape grown in the Petaluma gap or the West Sonoma Coast.
Generally speaking when we are talking about natural winemakers, it's usually a story about vineyards and appellations off of the beaten path but the Darlings decided to take a different approach. They wanted to work with some of the most well regarded sites on the Sonoma Coast and with help of their connections and natural charm, they were able to get a small amount of coveted fruit. That's what makes this project so exciting. We rarely get to try wine from these spots that are produced in such a naked fashion. No adornment or additions and only neutral oak barrels used for elevage, these are amongst the most transparent expressions of these sites ever produced.
Self-taught with the guidance of like minded artisans, winemaking at Darling is simple and gentle. Whole cluster fermented and foot tread with the reds getting gentle pumpovers. The wines are then basket pressed and then allowed to rest for a day or so before being gravity fed into neutral barrels. Only native yeast is ever used and the wines are not filtered or fine with only the smallest amount of sulphur added before bottling.