The Scribe Winery tale begins with a charming young entrepreneur named Andrew Mariani and a storied piece of landhome, most recently, to a turkey farmlocated about three miles east of the Sonoma town square.
A mile-long driveway lined with palm trees leads to a decrepit hacienda built a century ago by two bootlegger brothers from Germany. Acres and acres of brush and cactus surround impeccably trellised grapevines. In the distance are vast expanses of conserved mountainside, where foxes and mountain lions roam beneath California bay laurel, oak and madrone trees.
"It's a wild place," says Mariani, who bought the Scribe estate three years ago. He suspected it would be the perfect spot to make wine using wild yeasts. And despite the peeling paint and broken windows, the hacienda is already the perfect party destination for the 27-year-old Mariani and his friends.
There's no working kitchen, so cooking happens in an outdoor wood oven or on a handful of grills. Guests stay late into the night, often camping out. Mariani says, "I love telling my chef friends, 'OK, we need to throw a party tomorrow. We have the hacienda and no kitchen. That's it. Go to work.' "
Of course, all these parties involve Scribe wine. Mariani and his partners are growing 35 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sylvaner. Mariani allows the wild yeasts that live on the grapes to start the fermentation process, instead of adding commercial yeasts: "There are something like 300 strains of yeast in a fermentation vat as soon as you put the grapes in."
In addition to growing vines, Mariani has planted an acre of organic fruits and vegetables, rotating plants seasonally. He also loves to forage for mushrooms with Free Spirit Farms owner Toby Hastings.
Mariani also harvests wild mussels from an outcropping of rocks off Salt Point. He likes to go with his girlfriend, Fanny Singer, daughter of Chez Panisse's Alice Waters and Stephen Singer, a restaurateur and the winemaker at Sonoma's Baker Lane Vineyards.
"The last time Fanny and I went, we swam out to these huge rocks. There were so many mussels, we could have spent all day and not made a dent," Mariani says. The mussels at the party are incredible, cooked in a Pernod-laced broth.
Mariani's approach to food and wine was clear at a party he gave with chef Chris Kronner. Kronner's menu at Bar Tartine relies on ingredients from local farms and purveyors; he had no trouble utilizing Scribe's produce in dishes like a warm escarole-and-broccoli salad with garlicky dressing.
Mariani's friends love the wine blends he makes for his epic parties; the fun of drinking wine out of a barrel helps alleviate the spookiness of the old hacienda. Says Mariani, "It gets dark, there are bats, you hear noises. This is no fancy faux château in wine country. This is realit's wild."