SANTA CRUZ, California
Megan Bell is one of our favorite homegrown winemakers. “Complicated things don’t really interest me,” Megan muses “I want wine to be thought of as something that’s very not complicated - that’s something that affected me a lot at the beginning.” Her company stems out from this crazy idea that wonderful things don’t have to be so damn tedious! She sources fruit from less evangelized regions of California and their scrappy mom ‘n pop vineyards. The wines are delicious, totally unfussy and super clean.
CLARKSBURG CHENIN BLANC
The original Margins wine. The fruit comes from a 20 acre plot at Wilson Vineyard that’s been earmarked as an organic pilot project with hopes that 2020’s season will see that dream realized. Whole cluster pressed to steel for fermentation, aged in neutral barrel for 5.5 months.
SKIN FERMENTED CHENIN BLANC
“It’s hard to do skin fermented whites,” Megan muses “I just keep learning more and more how to do it.” Destemmed fruit is skin fermented and macerated in steel for a total of 25 days and aged in neutral barrel for just under six months.
CONTRA COSTA MUSCAT
“I wasn’t like dying to make Muscat” she says but it gave her an opportunity do something “slightly outside of the box.” The lot is split in two with one half destemmed and skin fermented for two days and the other half was whole cluster pressed.
SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS ROSÉ
Megan makes her rosé wines just like her whites. Whole cluster pressed into steel for fermentation and aged in neutral barrel, the rosé is a brilliant regional reflection.
SANTA CLARA VALLEY ROSÉ MOURVEDRE
Sattler Vineyard is a dinky little backyard situation where grapes really have to struggle to ripen so this pretty creature is picked lean with a wicked charming happy-go-lucky character!
SANTA CLARA VALLEY COUNOISE
Another opportunity to champion the unloved! Sattler Vineyard was having a hard time finding a home for their bumper crop of Counoise and though Megan was a little reticent she loves the wine so much she’s gonna scoop up as much as she can next time round. “It’s the closest thing I’ve made to a chillable red!” Lightly hued, brightly flavored and perfect for springtime.
SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIR
Makjavich vineyard Megan co farms in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 1300 ft elevation and surrounded by redwood trees.
Comprised of 65% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petite Sirah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, Rugged Heart is a new wine for Megan, a blend of everything she helps grow at Makjavich vineyard.
NEUTRAL OAK HOTEL
This is the first iteration of what Megan anticipates being a blend oriented, vintage specific wine. In this very first edition, Megan is doing what good winemakers do best: optimizing the sub optimal. Her Cab Franc didn’t produce what she was hoping for so she got granular with blending trials and ended up with this mad hat assembly of 72% Cabernet Franc, 7% Mourvèdre, 7% Counosie, 7% Chenin blanc and 7% Muscat from four different appellations.
SANTA CLARA MOURVEDRE
Pure, aromatic Californian Mourvedre from a small 2.7 acre, alluvial vineyard.
ARROYO SECO SANGIOVESE
This is the third vintage for Megan at the Mesa del Sol vineyard in the hot Arroyo Secco AVA. Planted into rocky soils in 1999, the vineyard surrounds the picturesque Arroyo Secco Retreat House.
CARMEL VALLEY CHENIN BLANC
Massa vineyard, formerly Durney, is a new vineyard for her but it’s the first planted in the Carmel Valley. Organic since the 80’s, this vineyard was instrumental in establishing the AVA. The winemaking is simple: the grapes are whole cluster pressed and aged in an even balance of neutral oak and steel.
Paicines Ranch, pronounced ‘Py-seen-ez’ is a truly special kind of farm exploring every frontier of modern, ecological agriculture. The vineyard was planted in 2017 with the help of Kelly Mulville, a legendary figure in viticulture who designed an innovative high trellis system for year-round sheep grazing. “It’s just gonna be the most awesome vineyard,” Megan says, pointing out that the progressive viticultural techniques are paired with a wild assortment of interesting varieties: Negrette, Assyrtiko, Freisa and more.
SAN BENITO NEBBIOLO
Spend any amount of time talking to Megan and it becomes clear how much accessibility is central to her work. Though the business isn’t large, Megan’s wines reflect this idea in style and in price. Faced with a famously rugged variety like Nebbiolo, Megan goes for a gentler approach. Unlike the long macerations and storied potency of classic Italian Nebbiolo, Megan is pressing after just a few days for a more fruity, easy going wine.