Q&A with Grower Ria D’Aversa, McEvoy Ranch

Ria D'Aversa

Are you farming sustainably and/or organically and what specific practices are you most proud of?

McEvoy Ranch is certified organic by CCOF and it is something we are very proud of. Our founder, Nan McEvoy, and the ranch team developed the land through regenerative cycling of nutrients and detailed care for each crop planted, and our soil health is strong because of it.

We are all land stewards here at the ranch and care deeply about what goes into our crops and what we take from the land.

How many different grape varieties are planted and why were they chosen?

We have an interesting blend of the classic Petaluma Gap varieties (Pinot and Syrah) plus the Italian varieties (Montepulciano, Refosco, Sagrantino and Vermentino) due to our long-lasting relationship with Italy and our Italian consultant Maurizio Castelli. He helped us develop the ranch and we are happy to have his Tuscan influence throughout our acres. 

How many acres of grapevines are planted at McEvoy Ranch and how does this compare to the acres of olive trees?

We have 30 acres of grapes and 57 acres of olives.

Is it difficult balancing your time and attention on both grapevines and olive trees?

Olives and grapes both require fertilization, irrigation and pest and disease monitoring. However, grapes require sprays at a higher frequency than olives, so we can easily organize our weeks and months to make sure both crops get equal attention. Further, olives are harvested on our ranch much later than grapes, usually starting in early November when all the grapes are already in the wine cellar.

What impact has the wind in the Petaluma Gap had on your farming practices?

The strong afternoon wind is something I really love about working in the Gap. During those high heat days of July and August, our vines can rely on the cooling winds. I think it sets us up well for climate change’s unexpected weather conditions, with varied high and low temperatures. Our vines are hardy because of the wind, but also profit from its cooling.

We’ve heard that you enjoy working with your hands and started your career as a chef making pastry dough.  How did you make the transition to viticulture?

My transition to viticulture and farming isn’t too far off; I studied Botany at the University of Vermont and went to work at the New York Botanical Garden doing research right after college. During 2008 the financial crisis hit and all staff was required to take a sabbatical. Mine took me to Italy where I studied pastry.  I found myself enjoying the wine classes and vineyard visits more than the kitchen and found a job in a vineyard in Piemonte, in northern Italy. That job inspired me to apply for graduate school; my attendance at UC Davis’ Master’s program for viticulture is what brought me out to California.

Does McEvoy sell grapes to any local winemakers or do you use all the fruit for your own wines?  If you do sell to others, which wineries are you working with?

We do both. We make wine for ourselves; Byron Kosuge is our winemaker. We also sell our fruit to other wineries. One of our longest client relationships is with Dutton Goldfield who makes an estate Pinot from our Azaya Vineyard. Our pinot grapes are also sold to Boisset for their DeLoach brand and to Garry Brooks at Brooks Note. We also sell our Syrah to many exciting, smaller wineries including Harrington, Pax Mahle, Darling and Pennrose. 

Any awards for wines made from grapes that you’ve grown that you’d like to make note of?

Our 2016 Montepulciano recently received: GOLD, BEST OF MARIN, 90 Points at the 2019 North Coast Wine Challenge. It’s great to see our wines out there and getting noticed. We think we are doing something really special here and I am happy to share it.

Are there any notable changes planned for your vineyard program?

In the beginning, it was all about finding what works and ripens in our area. Earlier on we had many more varieties. Grenache and Mourvèdre were planted, but we had mildew pressure and the cool nights weren’t conducive to ripening. Our current mix of varieties suits the Gap; the grapes are able to reach the physiological ripeness that pleases our winemaker and winery clients.

You recently had a baby; how difficult is it balancing family & work?  Any parallels in your tending the vineyard and caring for your child?  

How sweet of you to ask! Marigold is 6 months old and I can already tell she loves being outside looking at flowers. A growing baby and a growing season are quite different, but they both require loads of patience, detail and care. 😉

Q&A with Garrett Martin, Adobe Road Winemaker

Garrett - Famighetti Treehouse - April 2019

Which vineyards in the Petaluma Gap do you source fruit from and what made you select these vineyard sites?

I source fruit across the Petaluma Gap. In the south I partner with Griffin’s Lair for Pinot Noir, and the Sangiacomo family for Syrah. In the north Gap I source from the Sangiacomo’s Roberts Road Vineyard for Pinot and up the hill above the fog line I have Cabernet Sauvignon at Lichau Hill Vineyard. I selected each of these vineyards because they bring a unique profile to our single vineyard bottlings. It’s almost like you can take a tour through the Petaluma Gap just by tasting our wines!

As winemaker at Adobe Road, you craft small lots of wine. Are there any special techniques you use to bring out the Gap’s terroir?

2017_PinotNoir_PetGap_Sangiacomo_robertsroad_non varietalI think the terroir of the Gap is always there in the fruit, the fermentation, and hopefully makes it all the way into your glass. Rather than techniques to bring it out, I think of how to best showcase the unique elements of what’s already in the vineyard. That starts with having a great relationship with the farmer who is growing those grapes. With a grower who is quality minded and collaborative, we can make the site-specific, weather dependent, time-sensitive decisions that are required to grow grapes to their full potential for each ranch. From a winemaking perspective I can talk about having a balance between tannins and acid in the Gap, or ripeness versus aromatic potential, but without a grower who is constantly striving to deliver the best grapes the vineyard can produce, my efforts would be wasted.

Do you do all the winemaking for Adobe Road or do you have a team to help? How are winemaking decisions made?

From a hands-on production perspective, Adobe Road is a two man operation. Between me and my incredible Cellar Master, Carlos Rodriguez, we make it happen. Picking and winemaking decisions are all made by weighing multiple factors. Vineyard history, lab analysis, taste, smell, and sight all play into decisions along with logistics, costs, and other business considerations.

Your undergraduate degree was in psychology; what made you choose winemaking as a career?

GMandKB TastingI was working my way through school at a wine-centric restaurant in Petaluma, which was my first exposure to wine. After learning more about wine production I was taken with the journey of fermentation: harvesting raw ingredients and guiding them through a transformation that preserves and enhances. It is science and art; pragmatic and sensual. It is about relationships and our connection to each other. It is about playing in sync with the rhythms of nature. All of that appealed to me, and I began my own journey to figure out how I could learn more and contribute to that community.

What was your first major position in the wine industry and how did it prepare you for your role at Adobe Road?

A wise mentor once told me that every position, every experience, is an important stepping stone in a career. Along those lines, I think all of my experiences large and small have prepared me for where I am today. From my first position cleaning drains and tanks at a small family winery to helping steer a million case brand, they have all helped prepare me to create a successful collection of wines and build a new winery in downtown Petaluma.

What is on your personal highlight reel of being a winemaker? What was achieved and how did you feel?

Highlights come in all sorts of forms, and for all sorts of reasons, so here are just a few: Taking my three kiddos out to vineyards for visits and camp outs before harvest days. Teaching them to appreciate growing and how much work goes into picking grapes is important.


Being part of charitable giving through winery donations has been a huge highlight; supporting local causes and folks in need grounds us in our community and helps us focus.

Highlights also come from the tasting room and office — seeing customers branch out, try new varieties of wine and expand their palates. Working with winery teams that are passionate about what they do is always inspiring.

And earning over a dozen 90+ point scores in the last year and a half from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate is affirmation that our style and model is resonating with critics and our customers.

Adobe Road is breaking ground soon for your new facility; how will this impact winemaking at Adobe Road?

Our new facility will be in the heart of downtown Petaluma, right on the historic riverfront, and we’re starting construction very soon! We’ll combine production, tasting room, and event space together in a way that will work synergistically for Adobe Road and also more broadly for Petaluma. For production, a new facility means upgrades to infrastructure and tools, but at its core, the winemaking will remain the same: incredible attention to each block, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, to express the full potential from each fermentation.

Adobe Road, new Petaluma winery rendering

Garrett Martin Bio

Adobe Road winemaker Garrett Martin will tell you that winemaking is all about the journey of raw ingredients transforming into something greater. His goal is to allow the wine to express its own personality through his artisan skill and winemaking techniques. His creativity, focus, and smart use of the best technology available serve him well while working in relationship with the close-knit community of growers, coopers, and other colleagues.

While at Sonoma State University, Garrett developed a love and passion for wine and viticulture, completing his training in the vineyard, lab and winery at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm. Over the next 10 years, he honed his winemaking skills at a variety of cellars in Sonoma and up and down the Napa Valley. When the opportunity at Adobe Road presented itself in 2015, Garrett jumped at the chance to create world-class wines in his hometown.