A Sip Wines "Winelight"
Welcome to Winelights by Sip Wines! (Get it? Instead of limelight… winelight...)
At Sip Wines, wine is personal. We created Sip Wines to celebrate the diverse group of individuals and families who grow our grapes and produce our wines. For these artisans, wine is an expression of the land, their families, and their lives. This is not mass-market wine, produced industrially in enormous quantities and driven primarily by profit margins. Our winery partners immerse themselves in their grapes and their techniques, blending tradition with innovation, and mindful of the impact that their work has on the land. Every wine that you’ll find at Sip Wines has a story, and we think it shows.
Winelights is a series of interviews with our winery partners--the winery owners, winemakers, and consultants who bring the wines to life. We want you to hear their stories directly from them. Pull up a chair and get ready to be impressed!
Rachel Martin & Kurt Deutsch
Oceano is doing so many amazing things with wine, I can’t even say them all in one breath. Oceano is a true small production winery, founded by Rachel Martin (yay women leaders!). Their grapes are farmed and harvested sustainably and their wines have been certified as sustainable, meaning that both their farming and production practices met the standards for certification. Oceano was also certified as vegan in 2019--did you know that many wines are actually not vegan due to animal-derived substances used during the filtering process?
On top of all that, Rachel and her husband, Kurt Deutsch, are making wine in an “emerging region.” I didn’t know what that meant either, but Rachel explained that this distinction is essential to understanding the true personality of their wine. Oceano’s grapes are grown in San Luis Obispo, which was originally included as part of the large Central Coast American Viticultural Area (an AVA is a grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown). Because of its proximity to the ocean, San Luis Obispo actually has a unique weather and temperature pattern that allows optimal maturation of the grapes.
Translation: Oceano’s wine is made from PERFECTLY RIPENED GRAPES. Um, yes please.
Actually, it was this super unique combination of meteorological elements that inspired Oceano. Rachel has an extensive background in wine with a particular focus on “terroir,” which is basically a fancy word to describe the influence that climate, soil, elevation, and other environmental elements have on the life of a grape. The grapes grown in San Luis Obispo live good lives, to say the least.
One thing I’ve learned as I meet these winery owners is the prevalence of artists in the wine industry. I’m also an artist, and it makes perfect sense to me--the process of growing and making wine feels like an intensely artistic process. Rachel certainly fits that profile: she started out in fine art as a photographer, and went back to school to study wine when her stepfather started a vineyard and asked her to join him. And when I say school, I mean legit: Rachel earned a place at the elite Sensory Evaluation program at the University of Bordeaux School of Enology. Yup, that Bordeaux. France Bordeaux. Rachel is legit.
And yet… much of our conversation came back to the challenges she confronted as a woman in wine. At no point during her wine education did she encounter a female professor. Very few of her classmates were female, and most of them were from “blue blood” wine families. Most sommeliers that she worked with were men, and even when she was brought in by her stepfather to run Boxwood Estate Winery, she encountered significant resistance (from her male colleagues) to her ideas and decisions--resistance that miraculously disappeared when her brother joined the winery and she began using him as a “spokesperson” for her leadership.
Fortunately, these experiences only fueled her drive to found her own wine label, and in 2016 Oceano was born. Partnering with winemaker and consultant Marbue Marke, a native of Sierra Leone with a unique and sophisticated philosophy about wine production (more to come on Marbue later!), Rachel’s label is producing cutting-edge Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and getting some serious attention for it.
Well-deserved attention, I might add, but don’t take my word for it. Try some for yourself!