Meet Cameron and his wife. Together, they make up Amplify, where their goal is to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self. A sip of Santa Maria pinot noir sparked Cameron's curiousity about wine. He started as a cellar rat at Tantara where he learned the art of blending. At Dierberg, he expanded his farming knowledge and the natural approach of winemaking. In his first attempts, Cameron passed the Court of Master Sommeliers first three levels in just NINE months, and holds the title Advanced Sommelier. He is currently studying for his Master exam while he crafts exceptional small production wine. This duo has never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club (but we think they are awesome!) They are content to work in their little world, chipping away at a long-held dream. Amplify proves dreams do come true...
Wine: A Timeliss Beverage by Cameron Porter
Wine can be so much more than a beverage if it's allowed to be. It can capture that which is timeless- the essence of a place and the traditions of a people. And it can also evoke those things that are transient- the weather of a given year, the philosophical approach of a farmer, even the mood of the winemaker throughout the aging process. This intersection of the fleeting and the forever is where the art of wine lies, so when we started Amplify, our goal was to capture not only a sense of site, but a sense of self.
It's easy to espouse this philosophy, but the work of achieving it is something else altogether. Every grape variety we work with, and every site we work with, guides our hand in very different ways. Sometimes this means nurturing some delicate element; other times it means destroying a grape's primary nature so that it may express the core of its origins. Take our Viognier. Viognier, by its nature, wants to throw out all of its effusive, peachy, generous, oily goodness to seduce you. While this take on Viognier is pleasant, it doesn't have much to say about where it's from or who made it. We believe Viognier must be punished, thrown in the gutter before it can really look at the stars. Every time we bring it into the winery I can hear Dylan's voice on “Like a Rolling Stone” cackling “How does it feel...” to the socialite now on her own, cast out of the comfort of her high society trappings. Once our Viognier makes it through its plight- foot crushing, no sulfur, skin contact, hot ferments- it comes out the other side better for its hardship, tasting of the soil it was raised in and the hands that crafted it.
This goes against most of the “rules” of how Viognier is supposed to be treated. But the world of wine has a lot of rules. Europe has its appellation system, where one is told what one can grow, how it can be grown, and how it must taste. Viticultural professors have their textbooks on how vines should be trellised and the scientific markers for what ripe fruit is. Sommeliers tell us the classic rules of pairing, and what foods we should be eating with particular wines. There is greatness to be found in these rules, certainly; they are the foundation of tradition, and have helped to establish much of what made us fall in love with wine in the first place. But we are in California. Our creative freedom is boundless; knowing these rules allows us to break them, and break through, to find our own voice.
Thus, our approach, while rooted in a strong overarching philosophy, is not dogmatic. We've never been fans of cliques or been interested in being part of the cool kids club. Rather, we're content to work in our own little world, chipping away at a long-held dream. The art of winemaking- and it is an art- is a long, slow journey. It's not like music or painting, where an abstract idea can be channeled into something concrete immediately, a masterpiece rendered in the moment. The wonder, and the frustration, in wine comes from the patience it requires. And in a lifetime, if you are extremely lucky and start early enough, you still might only get 50 or 60 chances to really ace it. Perhaps because of this, our joy comes not from trying to achieve perfection (and here's a secret- despite 100 point scores being doled out, it ain't attainable). Instead, we find it in the surprises our wines consistently deliver, the new stories they have to tell each year, the questions they raise more than the answers they provide.
Our ultimate hope is that these bottles inspire conversation around a table among friends, family, and lovers- about the wines themselves, certainly, what winemaker wouldn't dream of their art being treated with such respect- but more importantly about their day, their dreams, their struggle. There should be laughter, and flirtation, and excitement, maybe even a little tension. We're born alone, we die alone, and it's those little moments of connection in between that make it all worthwhile; for a bottle of Amplify to be the catalyst for that experience? That is what makes all the effort meaningful.
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