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Amphora Elegance: Elle Minor crafts Sauvignon Blanc with Ancient Inspiration

Published on May 20, 2024

3 clay amphorae

Have you ever experienced a moment where everything falls into place, and you’re suddenly struck by a wave of inspiration? For Sean and me, that moment occurred during a trip to Sicily. Surrounded by ancient ruins and stunning landscapes, we were inspired to create a white wine that captures the essence of this awe-inspiring place.

Sicily is a wild mix of rugged coastlines, vineyards rolling for miles, and ancient ruins that whisper tales of centuries past. The stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, offer a unique blend of history and natural beauty that captivates the soul. We couldn’t get enough of it. One place that really stuck with us was Country House Villadorata in Noto, Sicily. Surrounded by olive groves, citrus trees, and vineyards, it epitomized luxury and magnificence—an experience we hope to inspire when you sip one of our wines. 

While we were there, we took a day trip to COS winery in Vittoria. We met some members of their winemaking team who taught us about Sicily’s unique clay and volcanic soil. And their underground cavern filled with amphorae? Absolutely unforgettable. We knew right then we had to bring a piece of that Sicilian style back home.

Every twist and turn in the Sicilian towns we visited felt like a trip through time, right down to our last dinner in Marzamemi. The local flavor undeniably echoed all our adventures in Sicily, from the tableware to the flower vases.  We were sipping wine in Piazza Regina Margherita when it hit us – let’s make our Sauvignon Blanc using amphorae.

Upon returning with renewed inspiration and joy for winemaking, we began the process alongside Elle, our daughter and assistant winemaker. She purposefully and carefully selected the finest Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Sonoma, California. Her poignant selection of Denmark Vineyard, a family-owned winery practicing regenerative farming, was characteristic of Elle’s style, embracing nature’s guidance. Under the radiant California sun, each grape was meticulously hand-picked at its optimal ripeness, ensuring a burst of flavor in every cluster.

Then came the fun part: fermenting and aging our wine in amphorae, locally made from the clay of the Mokelumne Gap and the Sacramento Delta.  Amphorae allow for a more neutral aging vessel, embracing the pure expression of the fruit. The egg shape creates a natural vortex during fermentation that keeps the lees in constant movement; that, paired with stable temperature control, helps to craft wines that are naturally harmonious and full-bodied. As a result, you don’t need additional intervention. We used a combination of Amphorae and stainless steel for fermentation, putting 100% of the wine through malolactic fermentation. This process softened the wine, resulting in incredible elegance on the palate, perfectly complementing Elle’s first vintage as our assistant winemaker.

Our Invited Series Sauvignon Blanc is like a love letter to Sicily. One sip, and you’re transported to those sun-soaked days and cool nights, surrounded by history and innovation. It’s proof that inspiration can strike when you least expect it. So, next time you crack open a bottle of our Sauvignon Blanc, let yourself dream a little. Who knows where it might take you.

illustration of 3 amphorae
sean and amphorae
elle boxing wine sauvignon blanc