Sashi Moorman has a knack for turning out impressive cool-climate Syrahs and laser-focused Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The winemaking talent behind Stolpman Vineyards, Sandhi and Domaine de la Côte (which he runs with sommelier Rajat Parr), and his own Piedrasassi label, he’s like a spiritual conduit for Santa Barbara County terroir. Three years ago, in a side business he launched with his wife, Melissa Sorongon, he expanded his repertoire to bread.
It started as a harvest tradition of baking must bread with grapes taken straight from the fermentation tank. “It would come out of the oven kind of purple in color, with this crunchy, walnut-like character from the toasted grape seeds,” says Moorman. “It was just delicious. People would come over for harvest dinners and flip out over the bread, saying, ‘you guys should do this on some sort of scale.'”
- Ever Wonder What Napa Wines Tasted Like in the 1930s?
- Highlights from Natural Wine Fair Weekend
- A Dry Wine Revolution in France's Roussillon
The Piedrasassi bakery now resides in the same understated industrial park—called the Lompoc Wine Ghetto—where Moorman makes his wines. It’s a fully integrated operation (they’re growing their own grains and milling their own flour) complete with a wood-fired brick oven. But for all the care spent working with wholesome, artisanal ingredients, their first loaves somehow lacked the character of the harvest bread that had inspired the project in the first place. “We were using commercial yeast,” he says, “and that was the problem. It helped the bread to proof faster, but it really killed the flavor.” They switched to a sourdough starter – a homegrown wild yeast leaven rich in all kinds of microflora – and suddenly the bread was more interesting. “It was like going from something that tasted a little soulless to something that was beautiful," says Moorman, "you could taste the grain more."