By Dave Nershi, CSW
Photos by Adrian Mendoza
Family Roots Run Deep
Darek grew up working in the vineyard and idolized his grandfather, who he affectionately calls a peasant farmer. Pursuing the family trade, he earned his degree in viticulture and enology at Fresno State. Something, though, was missing.
Darek says he was called to make wine as it was done in the Old World, hence his winery’s name. Old World Winery is a Certified Craft Winery and his title is “pastoral winemaker,” which evokes images of a shepherd leading a flock, or in this case grapes through the winemaking process. “It’s all about inviting nature into what I’m doing,” said Trowbridge. “When people see my title, they know something different is going on.”
Keeping It Natural
Natural wines are those that are farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything in the cellar. In line with this, no additives or processing aids are present with the exception of a minimal amount of protective sulfur in the barrel.
The “wild” fermentation process is used utilizing naturally occurring yeast. The wines typically are not fined (a process to clarify the wine) nor filtered.
Using wild fermentation can be an uncertain thing. Commercial yeasts can add known flavors and characteristics. Darek points out that this is a necessity for high volume wineries as they seek to turn over tanks to make the next batch.
Surprisingly, he doesn’t have a destemmer, crusher or wine press – instead pressing is done by foot. “It was not my master plan,” said Trowbridge. “I had a crew that did this, but the customers were so interested they really wanted to do it. The people develop a comradery. There’s a community aspect. It’s something we’ll continue to do.”
Obscure And Rare Grapes
The “1890 Block” is currently sold out, but is a field blend of three red and three white grapes. Darek describes it as somewhere between a rosé and a red. In a field blend, the different grapes aren’t separated, but grow together and go through winemaking that way. Old World also offers a port-style wine, cider and a couple choices of Syrah.
Nature flows from the field to the bottle at Old World Winery. Sustainable farming practices include the use of native cover crops and dry farming.
The winemaking philosophy of Darek Trowbridge is simple. “It’s inviting nature,” he said. “I want to let the wine be what it should be.” The results are superb – naturally.