Once & Future 2017 Mataro, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County
Item Number: 13304
Sub Region: Central Coast
Appellation/AVA: Contra Costa County
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Oakley Road Vineyard
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 14.9
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Soil Type: Sand
The soils at Oakley Road are so sandy that early growers in this region were disparaged as “sandlappers.” Little did they know that the delta sands, with their phylloxera inhibiting properties, would be the key to the survival of some amazing 100-plus-year-old, own-rooted, unirrigated vines. The microclimate of Oakley allows grapes to ripen early. It is not so much that it is hot during the growing months—the average temperature is about 74 degrees with the nights in the 50s and the days in the 90s during the month of July and August—but that the sandy soils warm earlier in the year than most other areas in California, and vine growth starts sooner. As the season progresses, the grapes continue to ripen consistently in spite of the cooling maritime winds from the Carquinez straits, due to the reflected sun from the Antioch sandy soils.
The resulting wines can be, in a word, graceful. The combination of own roots, old vines, deep sandy soils, and cooling afternoon breezes seems to encourage gentle, suave wines. Some winemakers like to make big, powerful, dark wines from these grapes; Joel believes the wines are much more enjoyable, interesting, complex, and finer when picked earlier.
These Oakley Road vines may not be around much longer. This part of Contra Costa is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial backwater for a long time. High tension electrical lines, a PG&E power plant, and motels that rent by the hour stand in contrast to an inordinate number of churches and an increasing reality of fast food restaurants that populate a disjointed human landscape. There is increasing urbanization as roads are widened and BART pushes east. Many of these vineyards are for sale with inflated land prices, having been designated as commercial land—the result being land costs that are more compatible with strip malls than farming. For now, the vines remain in the ground, producing viticultural treasure. And for now, Joel continues to make lovely wine.
Mourvedre, the famous grape of Bandol, is known by the name Mataro in California. The Mataro grape has been planted in California since the 1870s, mostly as an adjunct in blends that were Zinfandel dominated. Though scarce, Mataro is an exceptional standalone grape in a few places. One of those is Oakley. The climate conditions are perfect for slow ripening grapes like Mataro. The smoky, soft cherry, plum flavors are well developed and full, with the acid perfectly balanced and the tannins soft and round.
Vintage Notes: "I am very pleased with these  wines. 2017 was a solid year for Once & Future. It, of course, was the year of the great conflagration in Sonoma. But that occurred well after all my grapes were harvested. The wines have received very good scores from the press that have reviewed the wines thus far." - Joel Peterson
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, May 2019
"Joel Peterson is one of the seminal figures in American wine, and yet he remains incredibly down to earth, with a level of youthful passion and excitement that is great to see. The 2017s are strong across the board, even if some of the wines show the effects of the heat spikes that conditioned the growing season."