Gravity wine more than just grapesPublished 9:34am Thursday, June 28, 2012
It was Oliver who first greeted me when I arrived at Gravity. Curled in the shade of the distinctive blue-and-white building that houses the winery, the big golden retriever wagged his tail as he watched me approach.
Gravity’s owner, Rockie Rick, was in the middle of bottling a batch of wine when I got there. I was looking forward to meeting him and curious to discover what Gravity was all about, as I hadn’t yet had the chance to experience the winery since it opened in October.
Rockie got his start in horticulture growing up on his parents’ fruit farm. In 1997, he planted his first grape vines. Fifteen years later, he owns what used to be the family farm — an estate of more than 70 acres now cultivated with 10 premium grape varieties. While most of their grapes are sold to other local wineries, a small percentage are harvested and aged in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks on the property.
The Gravity philosophy is about more than just grapes. Rockie and his wife and co-owner, Allison, work hard to ensure a positive customer experience — from the service, to the quality of the wine, to an aesthetic environment. The farm-winery is perched atop a hill that overlooks shady woodlands, a scenic pond and sweeping acres of fragrant grape vines.
“Gravity affects every single thing on Earth,” Allison said. “In the same way, we feel that every part of our business should affect the customer.”
Their goal — to create a simple, relaxing atmosphere where people can kick back and enjoy friends and family — is apparent in everything they do.
Gravity — as in, Newton’s theory of — was also one of the original methods of winemaking. A gravity-flow system requires careful handling at every stage of the winemaking process and avoids the use of pumps and other machinery to move the wine. Traditionally, gravity-flow wineries are built onto hillsides, letting nature do most of the work. While Gravity itself does not currently make use of such a system, Rockie admits it’s something they’ve considered doing in the future. Still, his favorite wine — a dry and peppery Cabernet Franc — pays homage to Isaac Newton and is called simply “The Theory.”
Another favorite of Gravity’s patrons is Ollie’s White. Oliver — the retriever who greeted me upon arrival — is more than just the welcome wagon; he has his own bestselling vintage. Smiling, Allison explains that Vignoles like Ollie’s White are typically very sweet, full-bodied and full of character, a description that fits Oliver perfectly.
Rockie and Allison have plans for Gravity. They look forward to debuting their upcoming vine club, where members will be able own their own vines to plant and cultivate in Gravity’s vineyard. A year-long membership will include a plaque bearing members’ names and invitations to exclusive events throughout the year.
The Ricks also have tentative plans for developing a hard cider, as they maintain a small apple orchard on a portion of their property.
In the meantime, though, Gravity already has a great deal to offer. Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. is “Gravity Hour,” an evening of good wine, a pulled-pork dinner and live, local music. With everything Gravity’s got going on, it’s the perfect place to usher in a summer weekend.
Gravity is located at 10220 Lauer Rd., Baroda. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; call for winter hours. It can be reached at (269) 471-9463. Visit gravitywine.com.