We hosted our first wine society event last week with our featured winemaker Bruce Freeman. When introducing himself to our guests, Bruce described himself as being the “owner, winemaker, dishwasher…everything!” for Clos des Amis, a winery located right here in Ventura County. Bruce and his partner, Gretel, really are involved with every single aspect of their winery. They even design their own labels, which include Gretel’s illustrations of Ventura County’s unique flora and fauna. This dedication keeps the pair very busy. “Retirement? What’s that?” Bruce asked the crowd at one point. “I don’t know what a weekend is anymore either.”
Everybody in the room could practically feel Bruce’s passion for his craft radiating off of every word he spoke. Bruce “has wine in his veins,” and he attributes his love for viticulture to his familial background. His mother is French, and he fell in love with wine after traveling to France with his family as a child. In fact, the name “Clos des Amis” is French for “circle of friends.” This name pays homage to the winery’s roots. Bruce started making wines in his backyard over 25 years ago, with only his friends and family involved.
The guests were free to ask Bruce questions as they tasted his delicious wines. We learned that Bruce does not make standard wines that you could buy anywhere. His wines are different from anything that you can buy elsewhere because they represent the specific and diverse geology of Ventura County. His winery uses sustainable sources of water and energy, with solar power and water sourced directly from the Santa Clara River. He describes his process as non-interventionist, meaning that he does not add much of anything to his wines. “All you really need is grapes and yeast, that’s where it all starts.”
The guests loved tasting Bruce’s wine, with one exclaiming that she and her partner “keep saying that each one we taste is our favorite one!” Bruce offered an in-depth explanation of how every wine was created, allowing the guests to really get a feel for how unique his process is. For instance, when talking about his Chardonnay, Bruce explained that it is a white wine made like a red wine. The process allows for skin contact, with the grapes being picked on the younger side, causing their acidity to cut through a foreign mouth feel. The guests loved this wine and many echos of “excellent!” could be heard throughout the room.
The guests had a great time, Bruce kept everybody laughing in between pours of wine and in-depth explanations of his work. Bruce himself loves the concept of wine society, and noted that “it is important to talk to winemakers and do these kinds of things so that you know more about the wine that you are drinking.”
Our first wine society was an incredible chance for our community to come together and learn more about a local winery. We shared some laughs, pours, and conversation and had a great time! We hope that you will join us for our next wine society right here at The Cave!