August has got to be the craziest month of the year for me. I say that about May, too. And December…But really, a lot happens in August – my kids go back to school which brings on a million school-related activities, both the boards I’m on come back in session after a summer sabbatical, it’s one of the busiest travel months of the year at Farmhouse, and, if not enough, the grape harvest looms on the horizon. Usually for pinot noir still wines we would be harvesting already, but an unusually cool stretch this August has slowed things down giving the fruit a little bit more hang time and, hopefully, a little bit more flavor profile (and me a moment of much-needed breathing room to finally finish my August blog!). Our world here in the Russian River Valley revolves around the seasons of the vineyard and currently, harvest dominates our thoughts. With that in mind, I thought it’s appropriate to talk a little about our winery, Lost & Found.
Lost & Found came to be 8 years ago right about now. It was almost harvest time and our then wine director, Geoff Kruth, and lead Sommelier, Megan Glaab, hatched a plan. Catherine and I had been growing pinot since 1996 when we replanted the family vineyard selling the fruit as a vineyard designate to a local winery. Geoff and Megan were not fans of the traditional big California style of wine that was being made with our fruit and there was always a little contention about whether that wine should be on our list. So, their idea, let’s take 1 ton of fruit, roughly 2 barrels worth, and see what Megan could do with it – a Burgundian style pinot noir, no new oak, low in alcohol, high in acid – a truly food-friendly wine. At the time, Megan and her husband, Ryan, had launched their own label called Ryme and were having great startup success. They, of course, have gone on to become the poster child for the “new” style of winemaking that now dominates so much of western Sonoma County.
So, we reluctantly agreed to give it a try, thinking at best it would be a good party wine and a fun story. One ton was harvested, 2 neutral barrels were purchased, and a project was born! Our original name was “Two Barrels” in homage of our humble beginnings but we learned another winery had registered that name years prior. Even though they had never used it, they were unwilling to give it up. So, we went back to the drawing board and we came up with something unorthodox, Lost & Found.
“Lost and what the heck????” And if you’ve seen the label it would appear we have no idea what we’re doing (which I’m not denying that we don’t!). But there is a method to our madness, a story within a story, a wine created by restaurant people to be served tableside within restaurants.
The name Lost & Found ties back to our family story. Our great-grandfather, Dominic Giovanetti, who immigrated to America in the late 1800s with a big dream for a big life (I talked a lot about him in my April blog). Through his hard work came success – a ranch, vineyards, a family, a villa with an imported Italian tile roof where Catherine lives today. He had one son, Dom (Dominic Jr.), and together they shared a dream – always having made family wine they planned together to take it to the next step, a commercial winery. Sadly, that dream died as did the old man’s spirit when in 1945 Dom, just 21 years old, was killed in combat at the battle of Luzon. There would be no winery.
Fast forward to 2010 and here we are making a tiny amount of wine from the family vineyard. Struggling for a name, Catherine has an epiphany, a dream once lost has been found again. We are picking up where Dominic left off taking it full circle. Hence the name Lost & Found. We all agreed it was a much better name than Two Barrel! The label has no words, just a glove, an umbrella, and a question mark – the international wayfinding signage for “Lost and Found”. You have seen it if you have ever been to an airport or train station, especially abroad. I see it everywhere because I look for it. Knowing the restaurant sommelier community so well, our concept was to get our wine on good wine lists and let the Somms do their work.
We chose a curious label because we hoped this little bit of whimsy would invite Somms to tell our story and it worked.
We released our modest inaugural vintage in the Spring of 2012 and within just a few months, Jon Bonne of the San Francisco Chronicle selected our wine as one of the top 100 wines of the year – this clearly was so much more than a good party wine! Today we make over 2000 cases. We have multiple Pinot Noirs, a Syrah, a very good Chardonnay (I usually hate chardonnay) and a red field blend that I’m in love with, Carignan/Cinsault/Mourvèdre. Our partner Geoff runs the day to day operations and clearly knows what he’s doing. I invite you to check out our wines and maybe even join our wine club.