The Natural Wine Revolution



Now in its sixth year, RAW WINE London showcases the best in low-intervention winemaking, with growers and vignerons from around the world leading the tastings

Importing the Old World to the New
Jason Charles of Vinca Minor will pour four of his organic Californian wines at RAW WINE London. Working with five growers across Santa Cruz, Sonoma Valley, and Mendocino, he describes why this New World terroir is ideal for the cultivation of Old World varietals:

“The elevation and proximity to the ocean creates super conditions for classic Bordeaux varietals in California. We use Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, which when grown here are bright with high levels of acidity—that was the attraction of that appellation for us.”

The lush mountain terrain in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains is ideal for producing high-toned Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Furthermore, Charles thinks that Californian wineries not currently working organically could potentially be losing business: “People are asking more questions. They want to know where their fruit and vegetables come from—they want to know if they are organic. In the same way, they are asking more questions about wine. A lot of the farmers here have been organic for years, they just haven’t really shouted about it until now.”

People want to know where their fruit and vegetables come from and are asking more questions about wine

Just two hours north of San Francisco is Mendocino, where two Vinca Minor vineyards are located. A long history of agriculture that includes third, fourth, and even fifth-generation farming families as residents, the region is characterized by coastal winds that cool the sloped vineyards. Seventy-year-old Carignan and Syrah vines are dry-harvested organically here. Known for its bright red fruit and high acidity, Carignan grapes are typically used in the southern Rhône to enhance blends. In California, they create a wine with a powerful and intricate nose, with aromas of rose petal, violets, cassis, and tobacco leaf. 

Jason Charles of Vinca Minor enjoys a varied life between the laid-back Californian coast and the spectacular mountains.

High-altitude California dreaming
Having welcomed many French winemakers in the 1930s and 40s, Santa Cruz is an equally storied region. Overlooking the majestic Santa Cruz Mountains, protected from harsh coastal winds and close to the Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, California, estates here often benefit from their own microclimate, and produce approachable fine wines. 

We’ve been lucky to find this under-the-radar region

Currently, vine cultivation in the Santa Cruz mountains is lower than in Mendocino, but its proximity to moneyed Silicon Valley and cosmopolitan San Francisco, combined with a truly stunning setting, means that the smattering of properties in or near the area is highly prized.

“For us, working naturally and minimally was right up our alley,” says Charles. “We’ve been lucky to find this under-the-radar region that felt like a place we could go into and make the wines that we really wanted to. It can be hard to buy property in the area now as it’s so in demand, but if you are able to it’s an absolutely beautiful place to live.”