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Scribe Winery’s Andrew Mariani Talks Dirt, Drunks & DIY

Mariani getting grilled by Ms. Hip Tastes
Mariani getting grilled by Ms. Hip Tastes

Here lies the latest edition of The Swill, wherein certified sommelier and Hip Tastes book author, Courtney Cochran, brings you the latest gossip and findings from the wide world of wine.

[Photo: Ashley Teplin]

My curiosity was piqued after a recent Bar Tartine event where chef Chris Kronner prepared farm-raised guinea hens with their feet still attached to a gaggle of the region’s hot food-and-wine set. The hens were from Scribe Winery's farm. So I headed north to Carneros to talk all things vinous, farming and food with budding Bay Area wine celeb Andrew Mariani, Scribe Winery's owner aka the guy Food & Wine flatteringly called the marionette behind “Sonoma’s Wildest Wine Party.” In between sips of his crisp Carneros Chard -- it's good, but needs food to shine; his Syrah is my personal fave -- and a raucous ride in his newly acquired vintage Scout, I got to the meat of what drives the Scribe Winery project he started in 2004. All this before an evening trip to San Francisco to drop off kegs of custom-blended red at Bar Tartine.

I hear your wine parties are rather colorful. I like drunk people.

Hilarious. So you've got quite the reputation among the eco set. Just how green do you go? I like dirt?I farm sustainably, and I look at the farm as a whole entity. We have insectaries that help counteract vineyard pests, organic flower and vegetable gardens, farm animals. This pig (gesturing to a happy porker nearby)?we’re going to eat it next week.

I've heard about the crumbling 100-year-old Mission revival Hacienda on the premises here and now I've seen it. Apparently it has a Blair Witch-like secret room upstairs and spooky Prohibition-era bootlegging tunnels below, right? Do you have plans to renovate it? We’ll probably get it done within a year. There’s a lot to do here, and we do most of it ourselves. DIY creates our aesthetic here.

What makes Scribe Winery different? Wine has gotten too far away from context. We’re bringing that back into the picture here, through a whole farm perspective, events, Slow Food collaborations, artists-in-residence programs. We're working on a short film with a resident artist that's focused on the life and death of swallows on the property, for example.

Do you have a wine club? We do; it’s small and we’re closing it soon because we want it to remain intimate. [Writer's note: Sign up soon if interested! This is what gets you into those parties.]

Word on the street is Scribe's working on a glamorous on-site wine production facility to replace the crush warehouse you currently use around the corner. How's the on-site winery build-out going? It’s going to be great, but I can’t talk about it much right now. I can say it’s going to be built on top of the old turkey farming facilities here on the property and it will be ready to go for the 2012 harvest.

We'll be waiting! Do you have a favorite San Francisco hangout? Bar Jules [in Hayes Valley] is great.