I have been traveling to Santa Barbara County for years in search of wines and people with soul and character. I came across Ernst Storm and his eponymous label, Storm, a few years ago. What struck me was how real his wines were, and how intimate his process seemed to be. Winemaking can sometimes be pretentious, but the rural landscapes of Santa Ynez during the harvest and Ernst’s passion for the land and the grape drew me in.
Santa Barbara County as a wine producing area has boomed in the last ten years, and Storm is certainly part of a growing number of small producers who are trying to capture a specific time and place in their wines. Wines with personality of vintage and site is the ultimate goal. Storm started with a mere three barrels and has grown to about 1200 cases. After seeing the winery begin to grow, I wanted to document the simple, old-world style of winemaking that Ernst was using.
In spending time with Ernst during harvest it was apparent that he prescribed to a sort of minimalistic approach with most if not all work being done by him. He told me that it was important to get to know your wines inside-out. To be able to look back at previous vintages and to look ahead.
“All winemaking decisions are made with respect to the grape, it becomes intuitive after working with the same fruit year after year. It is merely my job to be the purveyor of the vineyards I work with. I am constantly trying to figure out how to make the wines to best represent where they come from.”