Get the Dirt about Stirm Wines from Ryan Stirm

2 Feb

stirmryan1. What was your first vintage year? 2013

2. How many cases do you make per vintage? About 500. Depends on the vintage.

3. Do you have a Tasting Room? No but people can make an appointment.

4. How did you get your start in the winemaking business? I Have a degree in Viticulture and Enology from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I started my wine career at Saucelito Canyon in SLO County and then moved to Tyler Winery in the Sta. Rita Hills.

5. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery? There was not one wine in particular, but the culmination of old and new world rieslings I had tasted just captivated me and forced me to look no other direction.

6. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? I work with Riesling, GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, and soon I will be working with Pinot Noir. Riesling is by far my favorite because it is the most dynamic high energy grape to work with.

stirmgrapes7. What vineyards do you source from? I work with Kick-On Vineyard in the Los Alamos Valley, Rancho Arroyo Perdido in the newly minted Los Olivos District, and Wirz Vineyard the Cienega Valley, in San Benito County.

8. What type of oak treatment do you use? I use large puncheons that are older, but recently switched to mostly stainless steel for 2015. I love the purity and focus of stainless steel.

9. What do you love about your winemaking region? Well since I work with fruit from all over the Central Coast, I can say that I love the ruggedness; the raw aspect of the region as a whole. I love that each particular region highlights something unique that marks a wine.

10. What’s the story behind your name/label? Very creative, haha. I just used my last name. I feel the same as an artist who signs their name on their art. It gives my work a human touch that says I made this. My logo is a cross-section of a grape stem.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery? That riesling had its moment about 100 years ago, haha! Honestly I should have listened more carefully to what others told me about. I was around a wealth of knowledge from master sommeliers to some of the best winemakers on the planet, here and abroad.

12. Most importantly, what’s so great about being small? The best thing about being small is the level of pressure and focus you must have to perform; I think in the end it forces me to stick to my have for the year. That being said, when it comes time to perform, you still need to be adaptive to handle the changes of the vintage.

stirmlogo13. How do you view the future in the wine industry for small-lot winemakers? Well, there are so many different routes to both starting and operating a small lot winery. Typically, there have been two types of people who enter this business: the ones already in the industry looking to start something on a shoestring budget and the people looking for a fulfilling career change. I think we will see many other types of people looking to make small cuvees for their own cellars and private clients, wines not available in the market. And with the rise in age and interest of the millenials (me included), we need to start paying attention to the buying trends these people have. Value driven wines (under $25) crafted from great winemakers in CA will become increasingly popular if we want to compete with the wines from abroad.

14. Have you noticed any changes in the market for small-production wineries? Well, there is already an overwhelming amount of “small” wineries in CA and the U.S. now and it is difficult for consumers to remember who you are so learning to market in alternative ways will be increasingly more important for small production wines. Looking to focus on your target audience.

15. Any other thoughts on the wine business in general? Well, since I am a champion of a varietal that isn’t part of the big three (PN, CH, CS, even red blends) that dominate the industry in the U.S. and markets abroad, I think there is plenty of room to make exciting and compelling varieties that are much less commonplace or known. California’s greatest strength is its diversity; that asset will become increasingly more valuable as our climate changes significantly now and into the near future. I foresee many challenges ahead relating to water issues and CA viticulture; we will have to become a lot less dependent on ground water to truly become sustainable in the long term. Dry-farming was our past, and it will become the norm again purely out of necessity.

For more information about Stirm Wines, please visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK.

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