Wonderwerk - Above & Below (2019)

Wonderwerk - Above & Below (2019)

33% Carignan, 33% Mataro, 33% Zinfandel.

Portuguese and Italian immigrants settled Contra Costa County in the late 1800s, drawn to the offshore whaling industry and the prolific salmon fishery of the Sacramento River. Vineyards were planted to field blends of Carignan, Mataro, and Zinfandel and harvested together for the production of a single cuvée with simple, low-intervention winemaking. This wine has been made by many generations before us and it’s an honor to continue to share this story. We strive to intervene as little as possible and present the same wine experience. As Above, so Below.

The fruit was hand-harvested on 9/9/19. Zinfandel was de-stemmed and co-fermented with whole cluster Carignan and Mataro in a 2 ton open-top fermenter. The fruit was gently foot-treaded to liberate juice and macerated at cellar temperature. A vigorous native fermentation developed within three days. Fermentation was managed with a generous initial pump-over, followed by 1-2 daily punch downs. The wine was pressed to neutral French oak barrique after an 11 day maceration and aged in barrel for 13 months. We bottled the 2018 vintage of Above & Below after 10 months in barrel and felt that the wine was asking for a longer elevage - 14 months.

Wonderwerk is Andrew Lardy and Issamu Kamide, two high school friends from Virginia that made their way to California and started a wine label that they hope will morph into “The Wonderwerk House of Fermentation”. Andrew was originally working on a graduate degree in neuropsychology when he realized the science and experiments he was working on were too far removed and less tangible than he’d like – too clinical if you will. He’s always had a passion for culinary exploration and wine and would often find himself bootlegging cider or moonlighting as a bartender in college. Making wine felt like that perfect mix of science and art he was after so he up and moved to California and enrolled in the Fresno State Enology program. After Fresno State, he cut his teeth working in several different wineries on California’s Central Coast – around the same time that Issamu came back from a stint in Brazil to go back to school in Virginia for brand management which led him to LA to work in CPG food & bev.

While in LA, Issamu would regularly visit Andrew in San Luis Obispo and they’d go through all the wines Andrew had been drinking and making. “I started to familiarize myself with the world of wine, eventually studying through to WSET 3. But we both knew eventually we’d have to stop working on other people’s ideas because we had so many of our own,” Issamu says.  After a fateful day when the guys attended “Despacio”, a roving, high-end discotheque pioneered by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and the Soulwax brothers, they emerged from a disco daydream to ask themselves “how could we make a wine that tastes like that?” And thus was born Wonderwerk’s first wine, Discovino Donna Rosé.

The grapes come from different vineyards around California, selected by Issamu and Andrew based on their respectful cultivation: “We seek responsibly farmed fruit that provides us with unique character in the winery. Sometimes we go looking for a particular profile or varietal, sometimes the site finds us. Most of our vineyards use organic practices and are pursuing certification, sustainable farming is a minimum requirement,” they assert. In the cellar, Wonderwerk is about inclusivity and the freedom to explore new directions in fermentation – “bringing our desire to twist, turn, and tweak flavors and ideas into something enjoyable for everyone”, Issamu describes the philosophy behind their co-fermented wines and piquette, all made without fining or filtration, with just a bit of sulfur at bottling.

The name “Wonderwerk” actually reflects on this experimental, avant-garde spirit as well – it originates from a cave in South Africa that is believed to have the earliest sign of human cooking – a million-year-old hearth – where humans manipulated nature for enjoyment as much as sustenance. The guys both currently still work full-time, fermentation-related gigs while running Wonderwerk: Andrew is the Head Distiller at the Spirit Guild Distillery in downtown Los Angeles, immersed in botanicals and aromatics day and night, and Issamu does marketing and product innovation for a major kombucha brand.

Wonderwerk stands out also for their colorful, eye-catching labels: “We wouldn’t be anywhere without our friends Anton Goddard and Lana Shahmoradian who design all of our branding and label artwork, as well as the slew of other friends who lend their creative energy to making some of our more absurd and visual ideas come true,” Issamu acknowledges. “It’s true that you “drink with your eyes first” and so we’ve always wanted to create wines that jump out at you, grab your attention and make you go “what is this all about…?” Well, New York, thanks to this hot addition in the Jenny & Francois book, you can now wonder about Wonderwerk’s work as well!

Plum, Cherry, Oak

Braised Pork Shoulder, Lamb in Cherry sauce, Gamey Meats

About the Winemaker

Wonderwerk is Andrew Lardy and Issamu Kamide, two high school friends from Virginia that made their way to California and started a wine label that they hope will morph into “The Wonderwerk House of Fermentation”. Andrew was originally working on a graduate degree in neuropsychology when he realized the science and experiments he was working on were too far removed and less tangible than he’d like – too clinical if you will. He’s always had a passion for culinary exploration and wine and would often find himself bootlegging cider or moonlighting as a bartender in college. Making wine felt like that perfect mix of science and art he was after so he up and moved to California and enrolled in the Fresno State Enology program. After Fresno State, he cut his teeth working in several different wineries on California’s Central Coast – around the same time that Issamu came back from a stint in Brazil to go back to school in Virginia for brand management which led him to LA to work in CPG food & bev.

While in LA, Issamu would regularly visit Andrew in San Luis Obispo and they’d go through all the wines Andrew had been drinking and making. “I started to familiarize myself with the world of wine, eventually studying through to WSET 3. But we both knew eventually we’d have to stop working on other people’s ideas because we had so many of our own,” Issamu says.  After a fateful day when the guys attended “Despacio”, a roving, high-end discotheque pioneered by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and the Soulwax brothers, they emerged from a disco daydream to ask themselves “how could we make a wine that tastes like that?” And thus was born Wonderwerk’s first wine, Discovino Donna Rosé.

The grapes come from different vineyards around California, selected by Issamu and Andrew based on their respectful cultivation: “We seek responsibly farmed fruit that provides us with unique character in the winery. Sometimes we go looking for a particular profile or varietal, sometimes the site finds us. Most of our vineyards use organic practices and are pursuing certification, sustainable farming is a minimum requirement,” they assert. In the cellar, Wonderwerk is about inclusivity and the freedom to explore new directions in fermentation – “bringing our desire to twist, turn, and tweak flavors and ideas into something enjoyable for everyone”, Issamu describes the philosophy behind their co-fermented wines and piquette, all made without fining or filtration, with just a bit of sulfur at bottling.

The name “Wonderwerk” actually reflects on this experimental, avant-garde spirit as well – it originates from a cave in South Africa that is believed to have the earliest sign of human cooking – a million-year-old hearth – where humans manipulated nature for enjoyment as much as sustenance. The guys both currently still work full-time, fermentation-related gigs while running Wonderwerk: Andrew is the Head Distiller at the Spirit Guild Distillery in downtown Los Angeles, immersed in botanicals and aromatics day and night, and Issamu does marketing and product innovation for a major kombucha brand.

Wonderwerk stands out also for their colorful, eye-catching labels: “We wouldn’t be anywhere without our friends Anton Goddard and Lana Shahmoradian who design all of our branding and label artwork, as well as the slew of other friends who lend their creative energy to making some of our more absurd and visual ideas come true,” Issamu acknowledges. “It’s true that you “drink with your eyes first” and so we’ve always wanted to create wines that jump out at you, grab your attention and make you go “what is this all about…?” Well, New York, thanks to this hot addition in the Jenny & Francois book, you can now wonder about Wonderwerk’s work as well!

Tasting Notes

Plum, Cherry, Oak

Pairings

Braised Pork Shoulder, Lamb in Cherry sauce, Gamey Meats