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Wine Club Selections: An Interview With Ames Morison of Medlock Ames

"When people taste our wines they are instantly transported to our ranch"

Winestyr scours the country to find America's best small wineries and winemakers. We make their wines available in our marketplace and through our wine club, which serves as a great way to support small wineries and gain access to hundreds of hard-to-find wines at unprecedented price points.

As part of our "Wine Club Selections" series, we asked Ames Morison of Medlock Ames about what he's currently working on, his favorite food and wine pairings, his biggest concern right now, and much more. Take a minute to learn more about this impressive new arrival to the Winestyr portfolio.

Welcome to Winestyr, Ames! Tell everyone what you’ve been working on recently.

Lately, I have been focusing my efforts on how we can improve as a company, how we can live our fundamental principles of caring for our land and people.

When did you start your career in the wine industry? Why did you choose the wine industry? What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your career?

I officially began my career in 1997 as a harvest intern at Cakebread Cellars. That was an excellent introduction as it was an amazing vintage and I got an inside view into how a large, well-managed, family winery operates. But my dream to make wine actually started the year before when I was living in New York City, dreaming of reconnecting with the land and following my growing passion for wine. Because I grew up on a farm, I was fascinated by the influence that farming has on wine. The unique confluence of weather, soil, geology, and farming practices can dramatically influence what we taste in the glass. That was the hook for me. The most rewarding aspect of my work is fortunately something that I get to experience often, and that is holding a newly bottled wine in my hand. It is the physical embodiment of everything that happened in the vineyard for a year. It captures a moment in time and represents the hard work and dedication of many people who made that happen. It satisfies on so many levels.

What kind of wines–from the grapes themselves to the wine style–are you all known for? Or, what are you hoping your winery is known for?

We are best known for producing acid-driven, food friendly wines that show a sense of place. When people taste our wines they are instantly transported to our ranch. Through the sense of taste and smell they can experience what it’s like to be here. At least that is how I feel when I drink our wine and it’s what I hope our consumers feel! 

Have there been any large-scale evolutions of the winery in recent years (converting farming, shift in style, shift in grape varieties, etc.)?

Yes! We are in the midst of a big shift in our thinking. We have always been committed to caring for and respecting our land as the land is what supports us. We have always interpreted that as farming organically. But after the major wildfires we have experienced in California over the past several years, our approach to farming has expanded to include not only caring for our own land, but thinking about how we can better care for land beyond our borders and how our farming can lessen and even reverse the effects of climate change. At the same time we are going through a replanting project which gives us the opportunity to improve our vineyards and wines.

What is your chief winemaking philosophy at the winery?

The overarching goal is for the wine to represent where it is grown. We have a unique terroir on our vineyard which lies at the intersection of the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley, in the shadow of Bell Mountain, and we want our wines to represent this.

Do you have a favorite wine, ever, from your winery? What makes it so special?

Our 2014 Syrah. We only made 26 cases. It was the first Syrah we made. It took many years to get a harvest from this tiny block of Syrah, because deer kept sneaking into our vineyard and eating the tender shoots. When we finally got our first fruit from that block, I was so protective of it and babied it every step of the winemaking process. It tasted better than I could ever have imagined. A magical wine.

What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

For warm weather, it’s tough to beat our Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese. I’m partial to Laura Chanel’s chèvre. On a cold winter evening I love our Estate Red with roasted lamb.

If our members saw you out on a Saturday night and you weren’t drinking wine, what would you be drinking?

If I’m not drinking wine, you can find me sipping a Bourbon Manhattan.

What trend in the wine industry has you most excited? What are you most concerned about?

My biggest concern is climate change. Our planet is heating up and that will have a profound impact on wine making. Grapevines respond to the climate they grow in. As the climate changes certain varieties will no longer be possible to grow. Entire regions may no longer be suitable for winemaking. If fact they may not even be inhabitable. This is an issue that is existential for us as a species. But what excites me is that this problem is solvable. Farmers have the ability to manage their soil in a way that can reverse the effects of climate change, and there is a growing movement among grape growers and winemakers to lead this change. It gives me hope when I see winemakers using their platform to talk about this issue.

Is there a way for Winestyr members to visit your winery? If so, let them know!

Yes! They can book an appointment through at medlockames.com. We love to show visitors what we are working on in the winery and vineyard. It’s a special place and visiting in person is the best way to experience Medlock Ames.