Joey Gummere manages every detail possible at Transcendence in order to make great wines.
On his fourth design of a winery, Gummere has a cooler to cold-soak grapes and a lab in a primary building that also houses his tasting room on F Street in the Lompoc, California, Wine Ghetto. He has a separate barrel building that stays at a constant 54 degrees.
The result is delicate and elegant wine loaded with flavors that define the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills. At Transcendence, a minimum 10 percent of direct sales are donated to nonprofit organizations. Gummere not only makes great wines. He also gives to great causes.
Through Transcendence, Joey and Sara Gummere give back.
“Transcendence started as a 100-percent nonprofit,” Joey Gummere said. “I wanted to make great wines, the best coming out of the area. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work. My wife has lived all over the world and always wanted to run a nonprofit. Transcendence started to assist her best friend who had a brain tumor. We donated the proceeds from the first vintage to her family. We wanted to take great, fine wine and donate to a great cause.”
As a winemaker in Santa Barbara County for 17 years, Gummere has developed a clear vision of how to craft outstanding wines. There is minimal intervention in all Transcendence wines. None of the chardonnay goes through secondary malolactic fermentation. Only neutral oak barrels that are usually six years old are used in the barrel room.
While we tasted his outstanding lineup in Lompoc on a recent Saturday, Gummere expressed a passion to make wine in the best environment possible, yet stay hands off when it comes to manipulating the actual wine in the bottle.
“Everything is temperature controlled at the winery,” said Gummere, who cold soaks 3,000 pounds of fruit at 38 degrees before fermentation to break down the grape skins and thus offer a more extracted starting point for the winemaking process.
“All the water is filtered. What I’m really trying to capture in every one of my wines is the expression of the fruit in the vineyards and the vintage. I don’t want to make additions to the wines, they are made out in the vineyard.”
What to buy
• Transcendence, Zotovich Vineyard Chardonnay, 2012 ($34): There was no secondary malolactic fermentation, but because the wine was aged on its lees for six months there is a full mouthfeel. Pears, pineapple and a crisp acidity combine for this wine that was aged in stainless steel. The acidity ties everything together nicely.
Gummere used Champaign yeast on his chardonnays because he said it is “very neutral and keeps the wine as it is.”
• Transcendence, Rancho Santa Rosa Chardonnay, 2012 ($34): Just down the road from Zotovich Vineyard, this chardonnay was fermented in stainless steal, then placed in six-year-old, neutral French oak barrels for 12 months. Still vibrant with a fresh acidity, the pear and pineapple notes are unmistakable. There’s a hint of oak that makes for a beautiful, elegant mouthfeel.
• Transcendence, “F Street” Pinot Noir, 2012 ($36): A pinot noir blend from Zotovich and La Encantada Vineyards, this wine has an aromatic nose of raspberries, spice and cigar wrapper. It yields to a silky mouthfeel and finishes with a hint of leather. There are bright red fruits of ripe strawberry and raspberry and a long finish.
• Transcendence, Lafond Pinot Noir, 2012 ($45): The oldest pinot noir block in the Santa Rita Hills from a one-acre block planted with the Martin Ray clone in1969 has produced a stunningly complex wine.
“It’s not as flashy as a Dijon clone,” Gummere said. “But it has great texture.”
The small yields have great concentration and are aged 12 months in neutral oak. There’s a funky palate of forest floor, mushroom, thyme, sage and bacon fat. Only 45 cases were made.
• Transcendence, Vogelzang Vineyard, Happy Canyon, Rosé, 2012 ($19): This is a 100-percent grenache masterpiece. Dark pink in color, this wine spent 24 hours on its skins, and is loaded with strawberry and citrus flavors. There are peaches on the nose and a hint of orange peel on the finish. Seventy-five cases were released two months, ago, and I bought the last two bottles.
But, visit www.transcendwines.com for a chance to order the next vintage or to make any purchases from the existing portfolio.
Rosé is perfect for summer. Low alcohol and crisp acidity make it a friendly pairing with light foods, salads and hot days on the patio. It’s super affordable, too. Yet, it gives Gummere plenty of work to do in the winery.
“Rosé is the most technical, difficult wine to make,” he said. “Everything is critical in timing. It’s unforgiving like a Champagne. It will show any off aroma or texture. You’ve got to nail fermentation, and temperature control is important.”
• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for Shaw Media. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.