Botanicals 2020

Wine is alchemically transformed into vermouth through the addition of botanicals: aromatic and flavorful plants. To make Z Line Vermouth, we steep plants in brandy for several days to extract their scents, and then mix the filtered tincture into the wine. All of the botanicals in this year’s vintage were growing wild on Sam’s farm,…

Wild Fermentation

A cluster of grapes is an all-inclusive wine starter kit – everything you need to make wine is pre-packed in each and every cluster: sugar, acid, yeast. This year, I wanted to make one batch of wine that simply let the grapes do their thing. If you’ve ever seen grapes ripe on a vine, or…

The Crush, August 2020

Vermouth making has become an annual tradition for my friend Sam and me. Once we had harvested the grapes that he and his team spent all year growing, it was my responsibility to turn them into wine, vermouth’s base ingredient. The first step in making wine is wresting the juice from the grapes. Last year,…

Grape Harvest, August 2020

The vines ripened in the final days of August this year, and when the grapes call, I must go. Sam, my friend who grows wine grapes, graciously let me harvest over 100 pounds of chardonnay on the evening before his last night of harvest. I drove to his family’s farm in the delta near Sacramento…

Willful Ignorance

Last week, I wrote about the clear plastic domes ensconcing diners at the upscale restaurant Hashiri in San Francisco. The restaurant’s manager Kenichiro Matsuura described the domes as protective: within the bubbles, diners were sheltered from the weather, from COVID-19 exposure (the Department of Public Health disagreed), and from “disturbances” in the public plaza, he…