I recently came across a blog post about an organic, unfiltered, specialty wine pressed, fermented and bottled right here in Salt Lake City. “…fermented naturally, i.e. no yeast, no nutrient, no sulfur, no acid, no water, no nada. Aged in old, neutral oak…” and Evan’s story immediately got my fingers typing a message to this wine wizard – I was dying to try his wines.
Evan responded immediately, and invited me to visit his winery for some vin tasting!
The Ruth Lewandowski winery was located right off the freeway in a small but quaint row of brick warehouses. When we walked in, we were greeted by a beautiful counter/bar made of reclaimed wood, a wall painted in a brilliant blue, and a warm welcome by Evan.
After a bit of chitchat, he walked us into the warehouse area where cases of wine were stacked in white boxes with the Ruth Lewandowski label. He explained that he was about to ship his first crate to a specialty wine importer in NYC!
Then he introduced us to his father, who was visiting from Seattle to help him with the operation. His dad had a great sense of humor – apparently he was providing tons of free labor, and never in his life imagined that his son would end up going down the path of wine-making.
Then he pointed us to his wine press, which was squeaky clean and beautiful!!
We went back to the front office and Evan pulled out a few wine glasses and bottles from his wine cooler. The first one he had us try was Mahlon. I have the worst memory when it comes to the technical details of wine construction, so I’ll leave you to read the blog I posted earlier or the Ruth Lewandowski website for the details on the vineyard, grape variety and fermentation process.
All I can remember is the crisp yet buttery, aromatic, delightful flavor and texture of the wine. The color reminded me of my mom’s yellow diamond under a magnifying glass. It’s a white wine but not at all sweet like a chardonnay or gewurztraminer and not really like a pinot gris. It wasn’t so acidic nor was it tannin. The wine was so balanced in its flavor, I thought it was a testament to Evan’s efforts in highlighting the essence of grapes.
I told him I loved his labels, and apparently, he drew them by hand and had his sister-in-law put them together to fit a label. A-MAY-ZING. !!!!!!!!!!!!.
The second wine he had us taste was Chillion.
I LOVED that Chillion was served to us in a scientific triangular flask!!! When he poured the wine, I was delighted by the vibrant orange color. Have you ever had orange-colored wine?? This was my first time. In my head I couldn’t even imagine what it would taste like. My brain was about to explode with excitement!!
Evan explained a bit about what happens during fermentation. He said there’s two different kinds of fermentation. I once again can’t recall the details but mostly that yeast eats sugar and produces some type of chemical process (sorry Even, you may have to explain this to me again lol), and how amounts and types of bacteria make a huge difference in how the batches turn out, but mostly how he lets fermentation take place as naturally, and intended as nature would have it happen, as possible.
Anyway, the wine was closer to white in color and flavor but tannin like a red in texture. WHOA. I once again wish I could have written down all my thoughts at the time but I knew, this was instantly my favorite wine of all time. Hermes should include a bottle of this wine with ever Birkin, silk scarf or bracelet sold.
The whole experience was just so unbelievably exciting. Just chatting with Evan and his dad. I mean HOW CRAZY COOL is it that he’s traveled the world, apprenticed with wine producers in France (and tons of other places) and that he is clearly talented enough to produce wine of this caliber in a warehouse in Utah??
His dad told us about visiting Evan in Northern France and staying with the family who owned barrels of wine that were hundreds of years old and told him stories of hiding the good stuff from the Nazis in the 1940’s and tasting wine that they spit in the ground saying was no good but tasted amazing to him lol.
I think my favorite part (ok, there’s been like 5 favorite parts so far but) was Evan’s love for the quirky and rare varieties of wine, and his enthusiasm for enhancing the properties of the grape, whether it were it’s sugar content, acidity, tannin or color. However the grape came out of the ground, that’s what he wanted to translate, as purely as possible, to a medium called wine.
Being Japanese, and this, being the philosophy of food in my culture – to merely assist in enhancing and illuminating the flavors of the raw and natural ingredient – I absolutely and immediately understood the beauty of his work. He’s not trying to create a mass-produced, every-bottle-tastes-exactly-the-same, cookie-cutter wine. Every batch is about appreciating what the earth produced. Organic fruits and veggies grow differently, with imperfections. Creating something original based on the available resources is, art.
I ended up purchasing half a dozen bottles.
I nearly lost sleep worrying about preserving the properties of Evan’s art, so I ended up buying a small wine cooler. I also converted my rarely used desk into a bar in my living room (haha), which turned out to be a great idea since I was able to fit all my band gear neatly under the desk and was also able to free up space in my bedroom, yay!
I am SO incredibly excited for Evan and his future. This is clearly an endeavor headed for success!!!!
Contact him here for an appointment at his winery!!!
Ruth Lewandowski Wines