Indigenous-Owned Wines to Try During Native American Heritage MonthPhoto courtesy of Camins 2 Dreams Drink Lists wine
This year, we saw many winemakers adopting and embracing natural winemaking. As someone studying wine academically, I’m constantly seeking sources for information on the stories behind our winemaking and wine-sharing practices in North America, so I’ve been interested in researching where these winemaking concepts originated.
All the buzzwords surrounding natural wine might seem new and exciting to European Americans and Canadians, but these are winemaking methods that many countries (that have been making wine longer than us) already historically practice. Furthermore, sustainable agricultural practices existed in this country long before Europeans brought wine here.
Avant Partir representative Amanda Kimbrough was the first to educate me about natural winemaking practices adopted from Indigenous agricultural principles, particularly noting the widespread lack of credit given to Native Americans and First Nations people. In my quest for understanding these principles, Telesomm founder Vanessa Raymond suggested I read Julia Watson’s Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism. This is a manual for understanding the Indigenous philosophies behind sustainable practices with in-depth examples from all over the world.
The argument of Lo-TEK is that we need to embrace “Indigenous innovation” for humans and nature to work “in symbiosis.” If wine is going to survive as a community essential in North America, it’s important that we understand how and why to implement sustainable, ethical and adaptable winemaking practices—and it’s even more imperative that we credit Indigenous people for their foundational agricultural philosophies.
This November, I’ve done a deep dive into learning about three Indigenous wineries and their winemaking practices. We should be celebrating Native American Heritage Month by learning about these wineries and supporting the wines they create.
Camins 2 Dreams
Camins 2 Dreams was founded by wife-and-wife team Mireia Taribó and Tara Gomez. Both began their relationships with wine at young ages and knew they wanted to study wine later in life. Taribó has two bachelor’s degrees—one in chemistry and one in enology—and a Master’s of enology, viticulture and marketing of wine; Gomez also has her bachelor’s in enology.
Gomez has pioneered many wine projects over the years. In the early 2000s, she started her first label, Kalawashaq’ Wine Cellars, which she named after the village where her Chumash ancestors are from. She put this project on hold while she traveled the world, eventually working with Taribó in the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain.
In the early 2010s, Gomez became the winemaker for Kitá Wines, a boutique winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. This winery sourced grapes from Camp Four, a 1,400-acre vineyard owned by Gomez’s Chumash Tribe. In 2017, Gomez and Taribó decided to start their own label together, and “Camins 2 Dreams was born out of their shared love for wine, winemaking and each other.”
Camins 2 Dreams’ philosophy includes a few vital principles: hand-crafted wines, terroir-driven styles, natural yeast fermentation and minimal intervention. Their grapes are sourced locally from vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills, and their goal is to showcase the unique “typicity of each site where the grapes come from.” The terroir of this special appellation brings a natural marine character to their cool-climate wines, and they specialize in Syrah and Grüner Veltliner.
Nk’Mip Cellars is the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America. Located in the hottest and driest part of Canada, they produce terroir-driven reds, Chardonnay, Riesling and icewine. When it comes to their winemaking philosophies, Nk’Mip Cellars keeps Indigenous values and history at the core of their practices:
“Our Team represents a timeless culture. On behalf of over 500 Osoyoos Band members, we welcome the opportunity to represent our love of land in a way that preserves the authenticity of the past while offering simple pleasures to the present.”
Nk’Mip believes its climate’s long summer days, cool nights and little rainfall makes it “one of the world’s superior grape-growing regions.” Their goal is to share wines that not only lure people into the taste but also inspire intrigue into the land itself. One of their most popular wines is their aromatic Syrah blend, Talon, named for the mythical Thunderbird and bursting with blueberry and pepper flavors.
Owned by the Cedar Band of Paiute Indians, Twisted Cedar Wines makes sustainability its numbe-one priority. Responsible agriculture is a foundational concept to the Cedar Band of Paiutes. The winemakers believe in a holistic approach to sustainability that addresses environmental and social elements in winemaking, and all of their wines are certified by the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing.
Twisted Cedar produces wines from many international varieties—Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel to name a few—which aren’t too difficult to get your hands on. Their recognizable label of winding branches can be found in wine stores all over, even if you’re not near the region. These wines are incredibly affordable and available for online shipping as well, so there’s no excuse not to branch out and taste for yourself.