All along the West Coast, the original inhabitants of North America’s prime wine regions are investing in their nations’ future by putting down roots in vineyards. For Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Wine Spectator spoke to members of four tribes leading the way in the world of wine, to find out how their winery enterprises have evolved over the past decade and to learn how winegrowing supports their individual and tribal identities as stewards of the land.
A common thread among Native American vintners is how they see the potential for both economic and ecological sustainability in winemaking. “When we talk about regenerative farming, it dates back to our indigenous ancestors’ beginnings, which have defined sustainable agriculture and land stewardship,” notes Tara Gomez, credited with being the first Native American winemaker. “That’s why having that connection to the land is so important, and it’s only natural to want to be protectors of the land and water.”
From the Chumash tribe in California’s Santa Barbara County all the way up north to the Osoyoos Band in Canada’s Okanagan Valley, near the border with Washington, here are four indigenous-owned wineries laying claim to their own terroir, to support their people and the planet.
Location: Yolo County, California
Owner: Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
Wines: Rosé, Viognier, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah
In Yolo County, bordering eastern Napa County along the Vaca mountains, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation owns and manages a winery and 36 acres of vineyards in the Capay Valley as part of their larger Séka Hills agricultural business. “The tribe wanted a brand name that connected their Patwin language and the land, so ‘séka’ is Patwin for ‘blue,’ to honor the Blue Hills that are along the west side of the valley,” explains Jim Etters, director of land management for the Yocha Dehe.
Starting off with just 9 acres of vineyard in 2012, Séka Hills now produces around 2,500 cases of their 10 estate-grown wines. The Yocha Dehe Nation—which also owns the area’s Cache Creek Casino Resort— has grown Séka Hills’ portfolio over the past 20 years into one of the largest farming enterprises in Yolo County. The tribe now manages over 25,000 acres of land, using organic and sustainable practices, and grows more than a dozen crops in addition to wine grapes.
“The tribe really wanted to diversify their economic interests, and they also wanted to have control of their homeland and how it was being cared for,” says Etters. “They also wanted to give back to the land and so, in order to do all that, they needed to have complete control. For them to own a pretty good amount of their homeland now, and care for it in the ways they want, that has really been amazing to see.”
Camins 2 Dreams
Location: Sta. Rita Hills, California
Owner: Tara Gomez of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and wife Mireia Taribó
Wines: Syrah, California Rhône-style blends, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño
In California’s Central Coast, Tara Gomez owns the small Camins 2 Dreams winery in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation with her wife, Mireia Taribó….
Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/native-american-terroir-tribes-reclaim-land-with-vines-and-wineries