Believe it or not, we thought of the Fringe concept 5 years ago and have been developing it in the winery ever since. It is our fun, wildly creative outlet. Despite our confidence in the vision and the wines we’re producing, it has often felt like a longshot to finally bring Fringe wines to your mouths. Fringe bucks the European tradition of winemaking in favor of American inspiration and the search to find what is still undiscovered. We don’t ignore the incredibly long history of winemaking, we just know that there’s still a lot to come and we stand on the forefront.
Truth be told, a lot of our trade is learning and anticipating which wines will make the most people happy consistently and making those wines year after year to the best of our ability – oaky chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, blah blah blah. It’s a bit formulaic. If we change wines up too much vintage to vintage it’s confusing to our loyal fans, so usually winemakers develop a style and then maintain consistency. Sometimes that feels restrictive. However, we’ve found there’s still a little room to experiment each year in the winery . . . and we fill that room up like a hoarder on trash pick-up day. Enter Fringe.
For example, maybe we get a little extra Carignane in during harvest and start to think “what if?” What if we let this Carignane go carbonic for fermentation? What if we fermented this Riesling on the skins for a month? What if we put something wacky on the label like a mermaid or a kitty? Our Fringe wines are the “what if?” wines. These are wines that got us learning more about the possibilities and potential of these grape varietals than before we started asking “what if?” They don’t all make the cut in the end but the journey is epic, and we have picked the “best of” for Fringe.
We want to be honest, it’s not like unusual wines have never been made before. We’ve been enjoying skin fermented white wines, aka “orange wines” from other wineries for years, but most wine consumers still aren’t familiar with these underdogs of the wine world. We’ve been experimenting with carbonic wine fermentation, blending unusual varietals together, and playing around with the science of wine. Still, it’s a hard decision to make an odd ball wine that no one’s exactly asking for, or that requires more explanation than the usual, even if we think it’s delicious. Accountants don’t like the risk. Marketers don’t like the uncertainty . . . you get the idea.
Ultimately, here we are 5 years later, excited to finally share Fringe wines with you. We hope you like them so we can keep asking “what if?” each year. You can look forward to unexpected, renegade-style wines under the Fringe labels made by me and the other members of our winemaking team as inspiration strikes.