Q+A with Andrew Mariani

We talk to the winemaker about creating leagues of loyal fans.

Since opening in 2009, the owners and vintners Andrew (left) and Adam Mariani—and their stylish, photo-ready wine feasts—have been featured in GQ, Paper and countless design magazines and blogs. But what’s caught the eye of California producers isn’t the buzz, it’s that Scribe is part of a growing revolution of young winemakers who are sharing their wine in intimate settings (no giant tasting rooms, please) and pulling off one of the hardest feats in wine: Creating leagues of loyal fans.

You’ve said before how some producers share wine is often out of context with how a lot of people want to experience it. 

In my opinion, the best way to experience wine is sitting down with somebody and eating, drinking and talking. That’s why wine is so amazing—it brings people to the table, and is one of the few ways people relate to the natural world. Man, that sounds super cheese ball, but it’s the truth, and really what it’s all about. We’re actually just doing what we’d want if we walked up to a winery. And that means sitting and connecting and having fun with people at a simple table under an oak tree, with a few bottles of wine, a little plate of food and some music. I mean, we’re so lucky to live and work on this amazing farm. We just try to have a good time, make good decisions and make quality stuff. I think if you’re doing that, people are going to want to be a part of it.

Your relaxed hillside tastings are so popular. What made you decide to buck the tasting room trend? 

We actually weren’t reactionary at all. We were inspired by those unique experiences we’ve had on more rustic wineries in California and Europe. You walk up to these little wineries, hang with the winemaker, nothing formal, and really feel connected to the place. Coming from a California farming background, we thought maybe we can just strip all the BS away, and not have anything fancy and just be a farm and be honest and authentic about what we’re doing here and share that. The reality of farming—the work, the land—is what my brother and I always thought was so cool, so we stay true to that.

Yeah, and farms usually don’t have grand tasting rooms. 

It’s cool if you want to go to a tasting room bar—I love going to bars. It’s just not for us here. Some do it so amazingly well, but yeah in general we think it’s hard to appreciate wine’s real story in that kind of setting. If you take away the faux chateau, the fancy brochure and big tasting rooms and whatever romance that’s trying to sell, you’re left with the real, honest story: How this wine came to be. For me, and a lot of folks, that’s the real romance of wine.

Have people tried to bite your style or recreate what you guys are doing? 

We definitely have people from other, larger wineries come here and ask questions, which we love. First, it’s such a big compliment because we’re hardly the first winery trying to stay true to being a farm first. Second, if more and more California wineries are offering cool, unique experiences, we think it’s great. There’s a good conversation happening right now in California about winemaking style and how wine is shared with people. I think how it’s shared is shifting, and we feel lucky and so honored to even be a part of that conversation. —Mike Dawson

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