There are many ways to label wines, corporate, native, biodynamic, organic, single vineyard, family, old world, new world, etc. But some wines defy explanations. These are the wines that march to the beat of their own drums. If all you ever experience of these wines is their taste in the glass you will certainly enjoy them. However, these wines are so much more, these are wines of people, connection, and life.
Onward Wines, with winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster at the helm, definitely defy explanation. Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly use words like delicious, balanced, and well-structured. But after listening to Faith talk about her passion and philosophy for wine in an hour virtual tasting, I came away believing she would want you to know so much more. For Faith, winemaking and Onward Wines is “rooted in sustainability, integrity, and personal connection.”
Onward is a boutique winery but as far as Faith is concerned the vineyards and the people who cultivate the grapes are the story of the wines. Onward wines are as rooted in the earth as they are in her relationships with the growers and vineyard owners. In a world where so many wineries emphasis their fruit as “estate grown,” Faith emphasizes the growers as well as the vineyards. Onward wines are single-vineyard, terroir driven wines. Terroir is often defined as location, soil, climate, weather, sun exposure, wind, etc. However, to this list Faith adds the growers hands as the most definitive aspect of terroir. Faith believes the growers are paramount the end result of her wines.
In her own words:
I am a true believer in personal connection and there is a story behind each vineyard site and how it came to be part of my portfolio. In these stories you will learn more about the people behind these vineyards. I liken my connection to these vineyards to that of one’s favorite shirt or coffee mug or chair. Like a well worn fabric or a slightly chipped mug that may have initially caught my eye for its beauty, but over the years it has won my heart because it just feels right. When it comes to vineyards this happens too, and it is a combination of my connection with the vines themselves and my connection with those that tend them. ~ Faith Armstrong Foster, Winemaker, Onward Wines
Faith seeks out unique vineyards, run by amazing people to establish lifelong relationships, resulting in high quality, unique wines. Another great philosophy of Faith’s is she will not produce wine she cannot afford to purchase herself. Therefore, her wines are not only crafted with care, they are priced to be affordable. I think you will find as you read my notes, these wines are truly unique, expressive, and certainly worth a direct purchase. Not only will you feel good about supporting a conscientious winemaker and small business woman, but also conscientious farmers, while sipping on a great glass of wine.
2016 Onward Wines Cap Inn Ranch Pét-Nat of Malvasia Bianca Suisun Valley USA ($24): 100% Malvasia Bianca; hazy gold in the glass; persistent fine perlage, medium aromas that open with pronounced yeastiness, blowing off to fruit notes of Bartlett pear, delicate white flowers, stone fruit, a trailing hint of lychee, buttered toast, and fresh citrus; soft mousse-like mouth-feel with lots of zestiness; high acidity and a long crisp finish.
2015 Onward Wines Cap Inn Ranch Malvasia Bianca Suisun Valley USA ($20): 100% Malvasia Bianca; hazy gold in the glass; vibrant medium+ aromas of fresh picked white flowers, ripe pears, citrus zest, white stone fruit, honey, lemon curd, and a hint of lychee; lively on the palate with a crisp zest and lots of citrus and stone fruit notes, a waxy texture likely from lees aging, high acidity give this wine a liveliness and a long, slightly effervescent finish.
2016 Onward Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir Redwood Valley USA ($28): 100% Pinot Noir; pale salmon in the glass; medium unique aromas of wild strawberries, orange blossom honey, dried herbs, soft notes of fennel and ginger; creamy on the palate like an orange dreamsicle; medium+ acidity, refreshing and delicious, a true summer porch sipper.
2013 Onward Wines Hawkeye Ranch Redwood Valley Pinot Noir Redwood Valley USA ($38): 100% Pinot Noir; pale ruby in the glass; medium- aromas of bright cherries, strawberries, black raspberries, black currant leaves, dried black tea, dried rose petals, mushrooms, and forest floor; light and floral on the palate with a nice balance of earth and juicy fruit, fully integrated tannins and medium- acidity, light in body with a soft finish.
2014 Onward Wines Casa Roja Carignane Contra Costa County USA ($30): 100% Carignane sourced from 120 year old own rooted vines; medium vibrant ruby in the glass; medium aromas of red and black fresh berries, dried violets, dried savory herbs of thyme and lavender, black currant leaves, forest floor, sweet baking spice, soft notes of fresh tobacco leaves, and vanilla; crushed velvet mouth-feel, smooth and savory on the palate with integrated tannins balanced with medium acidity, great structured wine, medium body with a long finish.
To purchase Onward Wines please go direct to their web site.
My style is about letting the vines speak. They are the art, I am the canvas, my job is to give them a chance to share their beauty in each and every vintage. My decisions are driven from the vineyard and the vintage, my cellar practices are to uphold the truths I find in the vineyard. ~ Faith Armstrong Foster, Winemaker, Onward Wines