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Ashanta Mermejita 2021


50% Marsanne, 50% Viognier. 5th generation Oakland native and 3rd generation winemaker, Chenoa Ashton-Lewis, and cinematographer, Will Basanta, got fully bitten by the winemaking bug in October of 2019 when last-minute they bombed up to Sonoma Mountain from Los Angeles, on the news that Chenoa’s family vineyard still had unsold grapes that were quickly turning to bird fodder. With the help of family and friends, they jumped in, picking and crushing to make an experimental wine. The single barrel was then stored in a tent for 8 months on the family’s organic, 50-year-old vineyard, planted by Chenoa’s grandparents in the early 1970s. In 2020 when quarantine hit, Chenoa and Will once again escaped to Glen Ellen. In the early spring, while wandering the remains of the Pinot Noir vineyard destroyed in the 2017 Nuns Fire, Chenoa and Will found new vines alive and growing horizontally, buried and abandoned in a tall uncut jungle of grass. Inspired, they immediately and painstakingly walked row by row discovering and staking the new vines. To their surprise, by the early summer 160 vines that were once seemingly dead had been reclaimed and were bearing clusters of grapes. Through this magical discovery of fermentation and natural renaissance, they became even more fascinated with the resilience of nature and connected with neighbor Tony Coturri on Sonoma Mountain. For harvest 2020, Chenoa and Will were shepherds to their first commercial vintage at the historic Coturri Winery, introducing their label Ashanta Wines which abides by zero:zero philosophy, traditional winemaking practices and makes a full range of bespoke wines. Mermejita is a fascinating wine. The two grapes are from Dulzura, CA located in the lower Peninsular Range Region in San Diego County, situated at about 1,800 feet elevation. It is surrounded by steep mountains covered in granite boulders and chaparral vegetation. The marble, slates, schist, and quartzite soils come from the cooling of molten magmas within the earth’s crust. The grapes were co-fermented for 7 days and then aged in neutral oak for almost 9 months. This beautiful skin-contact white is full of dried apricots and apples, floral on the nose and palate, with a finish that is earthy and has salinity. See why Chenoa and Will are some of our newest favorite winemakers! 

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