A way of life Q&A with Kim Busch, Folded Hills By Hana-Lee Sedgwick
n the northern side of Gaviota Peak in the Santa Ynez Valley is Folded Hills, a stunning winery, farm and ranch owned by Andy and Kim Busch (of the Anheuser-Busch family), dedicated to growing organic produce and Rhône grapes. I sat down with Kim to hear why Folded Hills is not just an artisanal wine brand, it’s a place where wine, food, family and a desire to preserve the land are truly a way of life. When was Folded Hills founded? We purchased the Folded Hills Ranch in 2004, but technically Folded Hills was founded in the early 1900s. We are just stewards of this special land.
So was the idea to focus on growing organic produce and raising animals on the ranch, then wine 24
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seemed like a natural extension, or was planting a vineyard part of the original plan? Andy and I have always been involved with animals and growing organic fruits and vegetables. We came at this project from a desire to keep the land agricultural, organic, sustainable and working for generations. As we were researching to purchase the contiguous Nojoqui Ranch, in 2011, we discovered there had been a pre-Prohibition vineyard on the property and that the family made wine in the basement of the original farmhouse. This discovery inspired us to grow grapes and make wine again on this beautiful land. How would you describe the process of planting a vineyard and starting a wine brand having had no prior wine experience?
The best and worst thing that happened is that we had no idea what we were getting into! Because we came at the project from a land perspective, it was important to listen to the land when it came time to plant. We tested the land, the soil, the climate for months to determine which grapes would grow best. The land said Rhône varieties, so knowing nothing about Rhône grapes we planted syrah, grenache, grenache blanc, clairette blanche and marsanne. Having no prior experience we knew we had to bring in and consult with the best. Pete Stolpman has been invaluable. He introduced us to the incredible grower, Ruben Solorzano, as well as winemaker, Angela Osborne. There is a wonderful camaraderie and support within the industry in the Central Coast. When did you know Angela would be the perfect fit for Folded Hills? Angela makes more than 9 different single varietals of grenache for her own label, A Tribute to Grace. As we were going in to the meeting with Angela, Andy told me, “Be
cool. Don’t offer her anything, we need to interview more winemakers.” Within 15 minutes I begged her to make wine for Folded Hills. Angela has this deeply spiritual and gentle grace about her. She believes in letting the grapes speak for themselves — with her handsoff approach you really taste the land and the spirit in the wines. She is so good at what she does. How many different wines are you making for Folded Hills? We currently have about 12 different wines, though many are small batch, wine club member-only wines. We are committed to the Rhônes because of the terroir, but these grapes lend themselves to incredible blends. Our August red and August white are different blends every year, we will be adding a GSM blend next year and we are super excited to release our very first sparkling Lilly rosé of grenache this fall! That’s exciting! Can’t wait to try it. Speaking of Lilly, are all the wines named after family? W W W. F O O D – H O M E . C O M