Native Ferments with Marlen Porter, Amplify Wines

Native ferments are getting to be a more popular style of winemaking these days, but they can also be a little controversial. Especially in our household. Anne loves them. Michael enjoys well-made native ferments (although not “natural wines” which is a grab bag of marketing hooey).

Marlen Porter, of Amplify Wines, on native ferments
Marlen Porter

So, when we got a chance to talk to Marlen Porter of Amplify Wines, we asked her about them. Porter and her husband and fellow winemaker, Cameron, named their winery after their love of music.

“We basically make all native wines from organic vineyards,” Porter said. “Sourced from Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria and now San Benito County. And so our idea is, we are inspired by music and want to create wines that are amplified through native fermentation.”

As Porter pointed out, native ferments are wines that have not been inoculated with human-produced yeasts to ferment the grape juice that becomes wine to dryness.

“Native fermentation is used with the yeast and the flora that lives… comes from the vineyard or the winery.” Porter said. “So it’s basically something that starts itself.”

Native ferments make each wine different

Wines made with native ferments by Amplify Wines and Marlen Porter
Amplify Wines

If you see native fermentation on the label of a bottle, Porter said that you can expect a very unique wine.

“Well, with native fermentations, you have a lot more of a unique style, unique representation of that wine because you’re not manipulating it in any way.” Porter said. “You’re not choosing something from a grade of yeast that’s gonna say, I want this to taste like apple. So… it’s coming from the grape. But then, again, natural fermentation is nothing new. They’ve done native ferments in the old world for years, and that’s basically how wine started. It made itself.”

Porter mentioned that native ferments have gotten to be more of a modern style of winemaking, even though it really isn’t.

“People have been making wine like that for hundreds of thousands of years,” she said. “So for us, it gives us an ability to be a little bit more creative with the ferment, a little bit more creative with what we make, because it really depends on the vintage, the weather, the soil and you really get to taste that in native fermentations versus using commercial yeast.”

Okay, wine has only been around for ten-thousand years, but you get the idea. However, cultured yeasts have only been around for the past hundred years or so, so not very long at all.

One other point regarding native ferments, Michael has tried to make to make several. However, two of the three most common yeast strains create vinegar and we clearly have those strains in the air of our garage winery.

One thought on “Native Ferments with Marlen Porter, Amplify Wines”

  1. 21 native from Altadena was the bomb. No additives, dry irrigated 1890 grapes still producing. Looking forward to my 2022 pressing.

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