Had the opportunity to speak with Drew Nenow, winemaker for Nenow Family Wines this week. He is in partnership with his sister and brother in law on this venture. The family impetus started many years ago and includes his father who was a wine hobbyist and later did a private label as well as his Aunt and Uncle. Drew graduated with a degree in enology and immediately started working at several wineries. Today he is the head winemaker at ONX Wines in Paso Robles. His approach is refreshing and authentic to his vision of showcasing how southern Rhone varietals with single vineyard designations express their uniqueness.
Their goal is modest and focused on being small and having organic growth. They are seeking out single vineyards that can bring to light the essential characteristics of Rhone varietals. Drew looks to stay in the Paso Robles, Santa Maria and even Santa Barbara County areas to find his grapes. Today they are producing between 600-700 cases and went live in April, 2020 with their release and website. The goal is to have 75 to 80% of their sales through the Wine Club. Here I heard something unique and refreshing, the first 250 members will be locked in to the initial pricing! Definitely something worthy of consideration. Starting the company during the midst of a pandemic is no easy matter, but they are on their way with approximately 50% of sales with Club Members.
Nenow Family Wines, 2017 Righetti Grenache. From Edna Valley, just outside San Luis Obispo, this wine benefitted from the region’s warm summer days and cooling overnight fog. This produced a beautiful translucent light red hue on the eyes and medium viscosity. On the nose, aromas of sweet cherries and a smoky essence were the first fragrances acknowledged. On the palate, dark cherries, strawberries burst into an almost fireworks display in the mouth. Clove and vanilla gave this Grenache the knockout punch on the finish. With a hint of black licorice and lots of red & black fruit, the finish was long lasting. The wines goes for $45. The meal accompanying this wine was a simple seared BBQ burger with Point Reyes Blue Cheese and purple onion. Bucatini noodles with garlic, mushrooms, broccoli and parmesan cheese. Also a side of fresh garden salad with blue cheese crumbles.
Wine labels are a whole science unto themselves and I was drawn to this label. It seems like a classic label but must have some meaning. When talking with Drew, the story behind the curtain was revealed. The sister he went into this venture with is his half-sister, Tracie. While they grew up in a blended family, it was a beautiful environment to grow up in and one in which Drew and Tracie’s relationship flourished. The label design, which Drew called a daunting task, revealed itself in a most serendipitous way. Tracie had a cell phone cover depicting Kintsugi, a century’s old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the cracks with gold. , creating a wholly new, beautiful work of art. Drew and Tracie inspired by the parallelism of their family and the ancient Kintsugi tradition. Thus the label was born. So not only a wonderful wine label story, this wine already has made my “Best Wines of 2020” in scoring!
The second wine is Nenow Family Wines, 2017 Eleven. The number 11 comes into everyone’s life at some point. The number 11 is an indicator that one is seeking balance. It can be in your work/home life, raising children/career and even in making an exceptionally drinkable wine! Drew Nenow, has taken this principle and proceeded to make a wine “in balance” comprised of 80% Grenache, 18% Syrah and 2% of Viognier. This wine took the “spices” from the Grenache and added the complexities of the Syrah. Most notably was the dark berries and herbs de Provence especially on nose and palate. The finish was a great dialectic between the Grenache and the jammy flavors of the Syrah. The question of 2% Viognier is for the chemical reaction of the varietal to provide in his words a “high tone with floral notes and increase the brilliance” on the eyes. You can see that in the wine glass. This was paired with a marinated mesquite chicken, pan roasted potatoes with olive oil, garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Also a fresh garden side salad.
The next time I try his wines, I am looking forward to trying his two 100% Syrah’s, one from Santa Barbara County and one from Paso Robles. That would be a great side by side comparison of these two single vineyard designated wines.
I believe Nenow Family Wines are on to something real and genuine. Drew, today is only 29 years old, who knows what his ultimate wines will taste like starting at such a high level.