Artisan wines modeled on a Spanish heritage

Because just seven or eight grape varieties dominate California wine production (for example, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris account for 69% of all white wine grapes), one might not notice a growing trend toward non-traditional grape varieties. However, more and more growers and winemakers are either rediscovering varieties that once played a role in California’s past (e.g. Petite Sirah or Mourvèdre)  or are experimenting with grapes (e.g. Nebbiolo, Aglianico) that have rarely travelled beyond their home regions. Ferdinand Wines is one such winery setting out on this path. Founder Evan Frazier got his start in winemaking when he spent the 2006 harvest in the village of Maury, in Southwest France, where he did everything from picking and processing grapes to working in the cellar. With the Spanish border just a few kilometers away, the local grapes were Grenache and Carignan - aka Garnacha and Mazuelo. The experience left him with not only a desire to become a professional winemaker but also an appreciation for Spanish wines and grape varieties. Back in the United States, Frazier landed a job with the Konsgaard Winery, maker of high-end Napa Valley Chardonnay. But, in 2010, when he was offered a ton of Albariño from the Vista Luna Vineyard in Lodi, he jumped at the chance to work with the aromatic grape of Galicia. Today he is the General Manager at Konsgaard, but he is able to use his employer’s facilities to also make his own wines based on Spanish varieties. Ferdinand currently makes just three wines: the Tempranillo and Albariño offered by Hotei Wines as well as a Grenache/Carignan blend. With production at less than 1,400 cases, Ferdinand Wines is more artisan winemaker than “boutique” winery. The grapes come from growers in Lodi and the Sierra Foothills that specialize in under-the-radar grape varieties. The wines are crafted by hand, in small lots, fermented on native yeasts and with low sulphur additions. While grape varieties like Albariño and Tempranillo are but tiny drops in the bucket of California vineyards, winemakers like Evan Frazier show us that California can give us so much more than the ubiquitous Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Wine Maker

Evan Frazier





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Wines from this Winery

2019 Ferdinand

Evan Frazier’s latest endeavor at bringing Iberia to California is Poco Tinto, a 100% Graciano made so light and fresh as to be perfectly chug-gable. As he puts it, “The concept was to make a light, fresh, early bottled red that can be served chilled if the weather or mood is right. I felt like labeling the wine ‘Poco Tinto’ rather than just varietally as Graciano because, in a certain way, it’s a wine of style rather than variety.” Like the Ferdinand Albariño, the fruit was sourced from the Vista Luna Vineyard in Lodi’s Borden Ranch sub appellation. Winemaking involved early picking for natural acidity and 100% whole cluster carbonic maceration and the result is a wine with fresh aromas of red fruits, roses and a crunchy palate. 

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¥3,960 (incl. tax)
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2019 Ferdinand Albarino

Ferdinand Albariño features lime zest, pear, lemongrass and floral notes — all enhanced by mouthwatering mineral freshness. It has the aromatics and salinity of a Galician wine but also a rounded mouthfeel and balance coming from barrel fermentation and eight month’s aging on the lees. The fruit is sourced from the Vista Luna Vineyard in the Borden Ranch AVA, a part of the greater Lodi AVA that runs up into the Sierra Foothills. The vineyard is known for its cobbled, rocky soil and cooling breezes. This crisp wine pairs well with all manner of seafood — mussels, seafood risotto, fish tacos, sashimi – and makes a great match with fiery Thai salads. 

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¥3,960 (incl. tax)
2020 Ferdinand Garnacha Blanca

If you like white wines that are aromatic, fresh and crunchy, try Ferdinand’s latest version of a Spanish varietal. Garnacha Blanca - aka Grenache Blanc - is well-established in Northern Spain and Southern France. Often used to add texture in the local white blends, it also makes a fine varietal wine, prized for aromas of citrus, peach and lemon; chalky minerality and a creamy texture. Having fallen in love with Garnacha back when he made wine in the borderlands between France and Spain, Evan Frazier had long been eyeing the rows of Garnacha growing in the same block that provides his Albariño. In 2018 he was finally offered the grapes he’d coveted for almost a decade. He picks the grapes early to emphasize freshness and maintain bright acidity but also puts the wine through malolactic fermentation and 12-months aging in neutral oak to soften the texture and broaden the flavor profile. As Evan puts it, “This 100% Grenache Blanc goes down easy. The wine has just a touch of ripe fruit while remaining lightly floral with a citrusy grip and perfect texture.” Try it with fish tacos, calamari, prawns, Japanese or other Asian dishes. 

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¥3,960 (incl. tax)
2016 Ferdinand Tempranillo

A red grape variety that lies at the heart of the wines of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and the Douro Valley, Tempranillo wines are often dark, moderately tannic and deep flavored. Evan Frazier's California Tempranillo is a savory wine with suggestions of smoke and leather. Sourced from Shake Ridge Vineyards in Amador County, it expresses the mineral stoniness that one finds in wines grown in the Sierra Foothills. At an altitude of 535 m, this rocky vineyard is made up of ancient, red volcanic soils full of chunks of quartz. The climate of hot summer days and cool nights are similar to conditions in Ribera del Duero, producer of some of Spain’s greatest Tempranillo wines. The earthiness and savory dark fruit suggest dishes of roast beef, pork or chicken as well as anything with mushrooms.

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¥5,500 (incl. tax)