Wine Mic Monday: December 22, 2014

By Jan Holtermann


The Name: Alma Fría \al-mah free-ah\: the soul of a family; the cold of a geography.

The Journey: For three generations and up until 2010, the Holtermann family had the privilege of importing and representing many notable and leading wineries from all over the world. In working alongside each of the different wineries, we were intimately exposed to the work culture, the philosophy, the winemaking style and the vision each had of their place in the global wine map. Our import selections spanned from very rare finds to million case wines. The personal relationships developed with the entrepreneurs, the enologists, the marketers and the viticulturists leading these organizations provided a unique perspective through which we were able to gain deep insights into the allure, challenges and intricacies of winegrowing. In this craft, success can be defined in many ways but, almost inevitably, behind the most inspirational winery cultures, there was a mix of humility, long-term commitment, hard work, understanding of terroir and attention to detail that made them unique.

Since 2011, my wife and I along with our two daughters migrated to Northern California and planted new roots in the remote ridgetops of Annapolis on the West Sonoma Coast. From this beautiful and remote place, we are committed to handcrafting Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of elegance, finesse and complexity. We believe our wines should reflect their place of origin, and be an expression of our family vineyard and other carefully selected cool coastal sites. Through our wines, we strive to express the intersection of place and family – the beautiful cold Pacific climate so perfect for Burgundian varietals, and the soul of a family long-dedicated to the love of wine.

Reflecting on our wine journey, we constantly remind ourselves just how fortunate we are to work with terroirs of such potential and beauty and to do it with the help of talented and great people with whom we beat down together the remote paths and the gravel roads that make up this special region.

Holtermann Vineyard

This is remote farming at its best, viticulture on the fringe. The property is located just north of the town of Annapolis, CA (population 200) and 5 miles inland from the captivating Sea Ranch coastal community. The proximity to the ocean provides moderate temperature fluctuations that lead to balanced fruit development. The soil is composed of a thin layer of sandy loam (Josephine series) of volcanic origin, marine sediment from ancient sea beds and rocky formations.

Doña Margarita Vineyard

The gravelly, uphill drive to the vineyard, the density of the wild forest of redwoods and pines just behind, the proximity to Freestone and Occidental, small towns with such great character, and the overall condition of the vineyard, all represent in more ways than one the combination of beauty and ideal growing conditions of this region. This vineyard is 7 miles from the Pacific Ocean, it is a very cool microclimate where the coastal fog provides very cool nights but sits just below the vineyard during the days allowing for ideal sun exposure. The soil is composed of a thin layer of sandy loam (Goldridge series) of volcanic origin and marine sediment over fractured Sandstone subsoil. We are very grateful to Marimar Torres for trusting us with her fruit for one of our two single vineyard designated wines.

The People: In Carroll Kemp, winemaker, and Greg Adams, viticulturist, we have found true journey companions. Their talent and profound familiarity with the nuances and complexities of winegrowing within the West Sonoma Coast, their entrepreneurial advice, an attention to detail and most importantly, a shared philosophy of a “vineyard first” approach to winegrowing, have created a “working chemistry,” a blend if you will, that has been instrumental in realizing our vision.

The Wines: 2012 is our first vintage in bottle and the range is made up of two single vineyard Pinot Noirs that represent the north and south extremes of the West Sonoma Coast: Holtermann Vineyard and Doña Margarita Vineyard, complemented by two appellation wines, a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay. For the 2014 vintage, we will add a single vineyard Chardonnay from Campbell Ranch in Annapolis.