IN THE PURSUIT OF BALANCE
At first glance, “Ashes and Diamonds” only brushes the surface of what the winery truly represents. The story—or journey rather—begins in the autumn of 2013 when Kashy Khaledi (son of winemaker Darioush Khaledi) was a creative media executive at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, the “ideal job,” or so it seemed. Khaledi recalls a famous quote by Hunter S. Thompson from the 70s: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs...”
In the midst of a lengthy creative stump, Khaledi would often turn to Hulu’s Criterion Collection for a little inspiration. He found a film one evening that shifted the course of his life—the 50s Polish film Ashes and Diamonds. The protagonist, an assassin in post-World War II Poland, found himself at a fork in the road; does he choose to love or kill? He ultimately chooses to carry on as an assassin and was murdered in the end. Khaledi took the discernible hint, chose love, and jumped ship on the fatal music business. Henceforth, he made unapologetic strides towards his dream; a collaborative effort wine project in the Napa Valley paying homage to the storied wines in his region that he enjoys most. Most importantly, the new winery was named for his awakening.
THE DREAM TEAM
The dream started to take shape; Khaledi threw himself into researching the viticulture and enology that shaped California’s wine culture. He has a lifelong love for skateboarding and punk music. For him, “punk is about community, freedom, independence, equality and authenticity more than anything else. It transcends music, it’s not a clique.” It is easy to see how Napa winemaker Steve Matthiasson was attracted to the project, being a former punk himself, which only encouraged the vision Khaledi was after. As the quest for joint ventures continued, Khaledi met Diana Snowden, of Snowden in Napa and Domaine Dujac in Burgundy; he asked if she knew any winemakers willing to collaborate, secretly hoping that she would volunteer herself; she did so with sincerity.
In Khaledi’s mind, winemaking “is a community of progressive thinkers that have the ability to exchange ideas with one another—we all take care of each other.” He takes priority in having dialogue with his neighbors, being inclusive versus exclusive. The Ashes & Diamonds winery exudes the feeling of a living room in contrast to the conventional Napa tasting room, playing a role as a cultural hub for events in food, music, and film.
If it wasn’t evident still of Khaledi’s mindful efforts, he and aforementioned winemakers, Snowden and Matthiasson, have embarked on a journey in the pursuit of balance. Referred to as a “new wave” movement, it’s not actually new; but rather a return to classic Californian, “Old World” style, with a focus on low-intervention Bordeaux varieties. With the revival of a more balanced style of winemaking, the overall selection of wines coming out of the Golden State has also begun to balance out. It is not by chance that the shift of Californian wine back to an honest style reminds us of the way Kashi Khaledi opted for love and passion over deception.
by Brittany Marsh - the Cru - HART & CRU
THE WINES OF ASHES & DIAMONDS
ASHES & DIAMONDS, BLANC №2 NAPA VALLEY 2016 : Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon - 100% barrel fermented/sur lie aging and aged 10 months in Barrel 30% new
ASHES & DIAMONDS, CABERNET FRANC №2 NAPA VALLEY 2015 : Cabernet Franc aged 20 months in 25% new French Oak - Los Carneros, Oak Knoll and Yountville
ASHES & DIAMONDS, CABERNET SAUVIGNON NO 1 RED HEN VINEYARD OAK KNOLL DISTRICT OF NAPA VALLEY 2016 : Red Hen is part of Bart and Daphne Araujo’s Biodynamically farmed sites. 20 months in 35% new French Oak - 850 cases Produced
ASHES & DIAMONDS, GRAND VIN №2 A & D VINEYARD OAK KNOLL DISTRICT OF NAPA VALLEY 2015 : Merlot & Cabernet Franc from Ashes & Diamonds vineyard in Oak Knoll. 220 months in 35% new French Oak - 850 cases Produced - 1400 cases produced
ASHES & DIAMONDS, MOUNTAIN CUVÉE №1 BATES RANCH SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS 2016 : Dry farmed “Bates Ranch” is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from the historic, four-generation-old Bates Ranch near Mount Madonna. Cabernet is grown at 2,100 feet in elevation. 19 Months in 40% New American Oak. - 250 cases Produced.
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