Amplify Wines, Mixtape Red 2020, Santa Barbara County. The 2020 Mixtape Red is 35% Merlot, 29% Grenache Blanc, 18% Refosco, 15% Sangiovese, and 3% Tempranillo, all organically farmed. As usual, the Grenache Blanc and Refosco are pressed directly with only a couple hours skin contact, while the other varieties are fermented to dryness on their skins. This year, all of the red fermentations saw a portion of stem inclusion, typically about 1/3, which really lifted the wine’s freshness and spice notes. Stylistically, this is in the same vein as previous years- a lighter, chillable red that possesses a lot of aromatic and textural depth despite its relatively limpid color. The higher portion of Merlot in this year’s blend has provided a touch more backbone, while the inclusion of Sangiovese adds more liveliness and succulent red fruit notes. This wine has shown the ability to age for a couple years in bottle, but it’s so good now, we don’t have the patience to wait. Like its white counterpart, this will match just about any food on your table, and we’ll be sipping it all year long.
Both Santa Barbara area born and raised, Marlen and Cameron Porter met at a house party in 2005, where they bonded over a mutual love of wine and Prince. With almost 30 combined years of wine experience under their belts in nearly every facet of the industry, the couple decided to dive deeper into their growing love of natural wine with a musical approach.
Mar’s wine journey began working in a little mom and pop bistro in Santa Barbara. She was promptly inspired to switch her major from Psychology to Wine Business and got her first winery job later the same year. In 2006, she went to work for Iris Rideau who, at the time, was the only African American woman who owned a winery. Mar attributes a great deal of her industry acumen to Iris, and in five years, she worked her way up from tasting room associate to winery General Manager.
After a while, both Mar and Cam felt the need to forge their own path and focus more on a natural approach, and thus, in 2013, Amplify was formed on a mere 50 cases of carignane and 50 cases of viognier. While also maintaining another full-time winery job, Mar gave birth to their son Miles in 2015 and finally left to work full time on Amplify. By 2018, their annual production had grown to 2,000 cases and about 8 cuvées.
In the couple’s own words, “Amplify is a natural extension of this marriage between our two greatest passions. As winemakers, we seek to amplify the voice of site and enhance the most singular characteristics of a given vineyard, marrying a sense of place with a sense of style. We believe in: native yeast fermentations; neutral vessels for fermentation and aging; no additions of any kind except for minimum effective sulfur dioxide; and farming that seeks to establish a healthy ecosystem, enhancing and supporting the natural characteristics of a given place. We embrace the happy accident, letting intuition guide our hand, with our creative spirit and palates as our primary tools.”
In addition to Amplify, Mar, a first-generation Mexican American, has also firmly established herself in the pursuit of equity in the natural wine world with Vinguard, an organization committed to combatting misogyny in the wine industry based in San Francisco, and more recently with Cameron as founding board members of Natural Action Wine Club.