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In 2012 Bergamot Alley owners and a small group of winemakers got together to talk about farming. They had noticed that roughly 93% of Northern California Vineyard acreage was planted to only eight grape varieties- the remaining seven percent home to hundreds of lesser known varieties. Noting the dominance of the ”Big Eight”* this small posse of friends set out to help highlight that seven percent of acreage, the varieties that are grown there, the folks who make wine from these varieties, and all the supporting efforts from winemakers and farmers made to shift these acreage percentages. The Seven % Solution event was presented the following year, featuring seventeen wineries and their “Seven % Solutions.”

Seven % Solution headlines winemakers who champion these grapes, tend terroir, and produce wine that is slowly but surely shifting the perception of California wines toward varietal balance. The notoriety and focus of California winemaking has been transforming these past few years, as these lesser known varieties are edged into wine conversations, featured in bottle shops and restaurants across the Nation, and brought to light through books and media. We are proud to support these individuals, winemakers and farmers alike, and to help bring these solutions to a new cadre of wine connoisseur.

*The eight grapes making up the 93% of acreage are: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and French Colombard (a bulk varietal that nobody claims to use.)

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It’s not just about making wine from a weird grape. Or growing an obscure varietal. In fact we don’t particularly like the words obscure or weird. The majority of the grapes we feature have a home region in the Old World where they are quite commonplace- they simply seem oddball to us here in the US. These sister vines in the Old World have usually found ideal climate, terroir, and folks with generations of fine tuned winemaking practices to bring out the personality of each variety. A handful of winemakers in the US, including the California ‘Seven %,’ are making strides to do the same.

We admit that not all grapes are planted in their ideal terroir, and not all juice is varietally correct. But when these things do align- grapes grow well, show well, and the winemaker brings out the varietal personality- then we have a wine we like to talk about. This how and where and why of good juice, and all the business practices surrounding it, are the story we tell at Seven % Solution. If you visit Bergamot Alley you will find that ALL OF OUR WINES are selected for their varietal balance, from small, independent wineries sprinkled across Europe. We look for wines that come from organic and biodynamic farming practices. We look for wines that presents indicators of climate and terroir. We love good juice, and love that Seven % Solution holds the same standards as our wine shop and glass list.

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We feel pretty lucky to work with some of the leading labels in the Seven % evolution. We support the path that California is taking to become a haven for lesser known varieties. We support the farmers that take care as to where these varieties grow. We recognize and cheer on all the people in neighboring regions and states who are making these changes happen too. And we applaud you, the connoisseurs, and the effort it takes to find, learn about, and fancy these wines. It’s not easy being a wine geek- it’s even harder being a wine snob.

When Seven % Solution launched in 2013 with one event at Bergamot Alley, it sold out in a few short days. With a small team of winemakers we gathered, plotted and planned a San Francisco debut for the following year. The Wine Geeks followed. We are now celebrating year four (2016) of this homegrown event, getting slightly bigger every year, but never oversized. We’ve presented one tasting in San Francisco and one in Healdsburg every year since, and in 2017 we moved the event to a single venue: Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg.

We welcome industry guests for a private tasting too, to help connect the winemakers to merchants, shop owners, restaurants and sommeliers. We offer food for sale at the tastings, a comprehensive guide-book for all the wineries and their wines, as well as beer and live music to refresh the palate.

2016: Thank you to all the winemakers, growers and volunteers that made the 2016 Seven % Solution tasting absolutely amazing. We were tickled to boast 55 grape varieties this year and offer a big huzzah to all of you who play such an active part in the farming and sourcing of your fruit. If you are a winery interested in participating in the 2018 Seven % Solution please email us directly and we’ll take it from there. Cheers!


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Sarah WardellTHE STORY