Wine of the week: the Space Age 2020 Central Coast Grenache Rosé
Is winemaking rocket science? It is for Josh Phelps, the millennial who created the Space Age brand for his generation of wine drinkers.
Grounded Wine Co.’s label pays tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous words broadcast around the world on July 20, 1969: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Phelps, 35, is behind our wine of the week winner — the Space Age 2020 Central Coast Grenache Rosé, 13%, $15. This breezy rosé is particularly refreshing, buoyed by bright acidity and high-toned fruit. Wild strawberry steals the show, with watermelon and cherry playing back up. It finishes crisp and it’s a steal for the caliber of this rosé.
With a nod to Mother’s Day, The Press Democrat’s blind tasting for this week featured a flight of pink wine and other tasty rosés on the market: Dutton Goldfield, 2020 North Coast, Rosé of Pinot, 13.5%, $30; Browne Family Vineyards, 2019 Columbia Valley Grenache Rosé, 13.3%, $24; Niki’s, 2019 Arroyo Seco, Monterey Pinot Noir Rosé, 13.5%, $35, and Ron’s Chillable Pink, Non-Vintage California Rosé, 7.1%, $13.
As for the Space Age rosé, Phelps said timing is everything.
“When it comes to rosé, it’s all about picking at the right time and then letting the fruit speak for itself,” he said.
The Space Age rosé is made with intention, Phelps said; it’s not a byproduct of a red wine. The grapes are harvested early with the intent of crafting a tangy style.
“The 2020 vintage all comes from Santa Barbara County,” he said. “We make the wine in a classic Provence style, but since it comes from California, the wine has a nice balance between bright acidity and fresh fruit aromas.”
In the past, the wine was 100% grenache, but in 2020 the winemaker incorporated syrah, mourvedre, carignane, grenache blanc and counoise.
“Rosé is one of the most universal food wines,” Phelps said. “I enjoy it year-round and find it to be good with everything.”
Phelps works on the label with his father, Chris Phelps, who also crafts wine for Napa brands Inglenook and Ad Vivum.
“Having grown up in the wine business, I have been lucky to develop relationships with great growers throughout the West Coast,” Phelps said. “Because of those relationships and the stunning fruit from our grower partners, we have the ability to craft great wines.”
After tasting the great Bordeaux in France at age 21, Phelps created a wine brand for his senior project at Chico State. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in business and entrepreneurship and founded Grounded Wine Co. in 2018. The wine industry has kept a close eye on Phelps; he has been included in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, along with Zagat’s 30 under 30 and Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40.
“I have always loved food,” Phelps said. “Similar to food, wine is all about understanding flavors and using great ingredients (grapes). As a winemaker, I really try not to do anything to manipulate the wines I make. My goal is that all of our wines taste fresh and varietally correct.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5310.
Wine, The Press Democrat
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