F-Wine Growing Philosophy

While the whole industry struggles to agree on one natural wine definition, for us, it is very straightforward: our wines are the result of working within and together with nature. Our philosophy of winegrowing is rooted in making wines that reflect their place in the world, wines that are made in the vineyard.

 

Robert Clay Vineyards winegrowing is quality driven. When it comes to wines that reflect the genius of an individual site, there are no substitutes for the very essential collaboration between man, earth, and vine. It has to be a gentle and intuitive partnership. To honor it, in the vineyard, we go above and beyond to do what is best for the vine and the land using the most organic and sustainable practices possible. It is with tremendous patience and courage that we care for each and every vine: everything is done by hand, and our fingerprints are on every cluster of grapes. It's our passion for the vine, attention to detail, and minimal intervention throughout the entire process that provides for the highest quality fruit each vintage. 

We believe in sensitive, responsive, and thoughtful techniques that respect biodiversity: respect the local flora and fauna, make great use of the amazing clone diversity, work with 11 varietals, and explore playfully with micro vinifications. Trusting nature's wisdom, we dedicate a lot of time to observing and working with the vines to provide us with the best fruits. Robert Clay is dedicated to making wines of personality and individual character.

 

 

We aim to get the very best fruit from our vineyards by continually seeking to understand the difference between all of these unique places in our region – how they react to the seasons, and how the combination of soil and climate and farming approach is reflected in unique grape flavors.

This requires patience, allowing these vineyards to achieve physiological ripeness and only harvesting when the fruit is most expressive. It also means a gentle, restrained hand in the physical winemaking process, minimizing human intervention and wine movement, so that we capture every single block's integrity. 

We believe that all additives are not appropriate to the highest terroir expression. While some producers look to technology as the route to great wines, we focus on hands-on farming and working closely within nature.

 

 

Farming

Dan truly believes that quality and proximity are important, and he likes being present throughout the growing season to feel the rhythm of it. Ensuring a healthy balance with the natural landscape enables Dan to create the best environment for plant growth. 

In Texas, the growing season begins as early as February, when buds start to break, and extends into the still-sweltering days of fall. The longer that grapes ripen, the more sugars and flavor concentration they develop, which means more robust wines—and a higher percentage of alcohol. For the past years, Dan has been focusing on mastering canopy management and irrigation techniques to lower sugar and alcohol levels, and balance them out with natural acidity. Nourishing our land means to connect between healthy soils and healthy people. Choosing the right picking date has become paramount to achieving balanced, vibrant, yet complex wines with character and tons of personality.

 

We aim to print the terroir, land, and vintage into the bottle, so you can enjoy our part of the world and its history, by drinking our wines wherever you are. 

 

 

Into the cellar

Surrounded by thirty acres of rolling hills, Robert Clay is perched on a sun-kissed ridge top in the Texas Hill AVA.

With the right care and dedication, natural winemaking is for us, not just a trend, but the original and most aulothentic form of winegrowing. Its what all winemakers did before they mined sulfur and purified bags of tartaric acid & animal by-products & toxic chemicals & a thousand other additives in the vineyards and winery. 

We believe that man must intervene, but we must play our part to elevate and preserve nature. Our intervention is to be there to ensure that the natural flow of nature leads to the balance and quality we enjoy in our wines. And we do so, with an absolute minimum of manipulation: our grapes are grown organically, then simply set forth along the unforced path of fermentation into wine, with nothing added and nothing taken away.

Also, we advocate for time and patience. For us, extended aging is fundamental to create wines that are balanced, stable, and can be bottled without fining or filtering. We use real cork because it's the only wine closure that is renewable, and that allows for the right amount of oxygen exposure for wine to properly bottle age.