Onward Wines Farmstrong Field Red 2015 | Discover Winemaker Faith!
The Onward Wines Farmstrong Field Red 2015 fills the glass with aromas of dark fruit, pencil shavings, grilled bread. Hints of freshly ground white pepper, complement flavors of black plums, preserves, and cranberry. By winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster.
This Onward Wines blend comes from three of my growers and they are all sustainably dry farmed sites. The 80+ years old Carignane from Hawkeye Ranch and 65+ year old Zinfandel from Knox Vineyard in Redwood Valley (53%) in addition to 120+ years old Carignane from Casa Roja Vineyard in Contra Costa (28%), Syrah from Ledgewood Vineyard in Suisun Valley (19%).
The Onward Farmstrong Story
We were sitting at Minimo, a new wine bar 20 minutes from Chez Panisse, when we first tasted Faith Armstrong Foster’s 2015 Farmstrong Field Red — a juicy and plush blend of ancient vine Carignane, Zinfandel and Syrah drawn from three grower sites all meticulously dry-farmed in Northern California. The wine’s juicy red strawberry, blackberry, rose petal, and garrigue notes were so vibrant and energetic, we could envision it coming from the greatest crus of the Southern Rhône.
So impressed by the Onward Wines Farmstrong Field Red 2015, we did the unthinkable and brought a bottle to Alice Waters’ Berkeley hotspot. We paid the $35 corkage, and polished if off along with a grass-fed beef loin smothered in herb-butter. We adore this wine and consider it our greatest old-vine red blend find so far this year. At $25.99 per bottle, first hit “Buy,” then read about how this partially whole-cluster-fermented, neutral-oak-aged red — from a former Frank Family winemaker — drove us to snub the wine list at Chez Panisse.
The Red Blends from Faith
These days, California red blends are made with the same passion as the blockbuster Bordeaux and Rhône blends of France’s eponymous regions. But in California, winemakers aren’t under the same strict appellation laws that govern the rules of European blends. And some California producers even treat their red blends like French royalty.
Crafting them to a First Growth winemaking script, even if that bottle comes in an under-$30 package — like Faith’s stunning 2015 Farmstrong Field Red. Coming from Faith it maybe be no surprise when you consider that she spent three years making wine at Frank Family Vineyards. Faith delivered Parker 90- to 95+point stunners before striking out on her own in 2009.
Worth the price of admission for the aromatics alone, this blockbuster red is masterfully blended from four exceptional sites. Hawkeye Ranch in Mendocino County is home to 80-year-old heritage clones. The head-trained Carignane bush-vines are planted on St. George rootstock. The minuscule yields produce tiny, compact berries bursting with complex flavors and natural vibrant acids. Across the street is Knox Vineyard. Knox boasts 65-year-old head-trained, dry-farmed Zinfandel vines while supplying balanced red-berry flavors.
Onward Wines Winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster
Born on a tiny island in British Columbia, Canada, traveling to school in a little boat called the Onward, Faith could hardly have seen her future as a winemaker, even with a crystal ball.
After graduation, Faith began working for Frank Family Vineyards, where she was soon promoted to Assistant Winemaker. Her husband, Sean Foster, is also a winemaker. The demands of a growing family (four children), contributed to the decision to go into business for herself.
Faith launched her own brand in 2009. Seeking a name for her wine provided the opportunity to pay homage to her unusual childhood. Faith chose the little boat in which she went to school every day as the name. Onward equally referenced her natural approach to winemaking, honoring the history and authenticity of the grape and the vineyard site. The name and the label represent the essential philosophy of Faith’s winemaking. Passion. Care. Connection. Respect for the environment and the grape’s essence…it’s heart. This is Onward Wines and Faith is at the helm.