Ama: Our Newest Offspring

I traveled a lot this past year. As you know from this spring’s newsletter, I had discovered the holy grail—our 2009 wines —and I was out spreading the gospel across our Great Nation. As any missionary can tell you, spreading the Good Word comes at a cost. Mine came in pounds, about 15 of them settled around and over my belt. Pity me not, however, they were hard fought at 4 hour wine dinners, wine sodden festivals, late night industry “tastings,” and the like. And they have been subsequently shed as a result of a cleanse—I know, how very Californian of me.

All this travel and indulgence created a deep longing in me for my home. My family. My base. My ground. My ama. Ama? Do I mean my grandmother? My Italian love? Ama Kohei, the former Mongolian Sumo wrestler? No, I miss the land. Our land. In the Kashaya Pomo language, ama means our place, our land. Ama is the knoll in the picture above that Nick and I very fortunately stumbled across in 1996. By U.S. law, it immediately became our land protected by property rights at the base of our Constitution. In reality, over the years it is slowly becoming part of us and we a part of its recent history. Long before Nick and I planted the knoll, the Kashaya Pomo people lived along the Pacific Coast and thrived on this piece of land. To Native American peoples, land is neither a possession nor a right. We take from the land only what we need and respect the bounty it provides that supports us. It is a relationship built on an understanding that we are only a small part of our greater ecosystem. As such, we should consider not only our impact on the world around us today but also in the seven generations to come. This makes for good stewardship—as well as good marketing if you buy Seventh Generation recycled content consumer products—and also good winemaking.

As you have heard from us many times before—and will hear again in Nick’s article on page 2—respect for our land and a desire for our land to speak in our wines drives everything we do in the vineyard and the winery.  In 2009, we felt that the blocks of Pinot noir planted in 2001 and 2002 had matured and the cuveé made from them had a singular voice and identity that deserved a name. As you may be aware, naming can be very difficult. It seems everything has already been taken and trademarked. How else do you end up with a wine that the vast majority of people think is a small dog (our Pomarium is called Pomeranian by at least 85% of our customers!) Alas, ama is such a common name found in many languages that we were able to use it to name our newest Pinot noir. So, I would like to introduce you to the Peay Vineyards Ama Estate Pinot noir. The 2009 expression is open and heady with a rich, deep cherry core. It is one of the unique voices of Pinot noir from our land and we are proud to share it with you.

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