Age—like fine wine. And why not keep it natural while we’re at it.
There’s something to be said about the process of aging and an even deeper discussion to be had surrounding the “grey area” within this beautifully inevitable experience. Society’s youth-centric fascination with unattainable beauty and wellness standards has thrown us all into a rage and, unfortunately, has succeeded in brainwashing generations into thinking aging is something we should nip, tuck, fill, and freeze in order to remain fancied, favored, and desired.
However, for someone like me who has built a 12-year career in the beauty industry, I can personally attest to the hypocritical standards that are placed on society every day. If a woman, man, or non-binary person with some degree of professional success boasts about the use of filler or botox, they risk being ridiculed as a betrayer to nature. In the same breath, however, they will be derided for opting to ease more honestly into the inevitable—and completely normal—gray hair or fine lines around the eyes.
It seems as though everyone I know has become a wellness enthusiast, borderline extremist. Like forreal. As someone who also incorporates herbal healing into my work, I know green juices are amazing and keep the body healthy and that turmeric and ginger shots are incredible for boosting immunity and removing toxins from the body and skin. I’m here for it all. However, I don’t believe in doing anything extreme—balance is key for sustained health and wellness throughout the years. It’s okay to mix it up and have a lovely glass of wine occasionally…red wine to be exact.
Although wine sometimes gets a bad rap in the wellness world, research has shown that moderately drinking red wine in particular can be good for you. (What’s good? Antioxidants.) Wine can majorly benefit the brain, via your gut. When red wine moves through the gut, it leaves compounds that secure neurons and keep them from getting corrupted or killed off, which makes diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s less likely to develop. In addition, an eight-year study conducted with 300,000 people showed that those who enjoyed an occasional drink—seven or fewer per week—were 25 to 30 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. You see, that mind-body connection is real. With the command for self-care and environmental consciousness that has influenced society today, and rightfully so, folks want to indulge with wellness in mind, and they can, with options like Good Boy Wine.
Good Boy Wine is an all-natural wine company that prides itself on sustainability and general eco-friendly practices. Natural wine means that there is nothing added or taken away, and that starts at the vine, so farmers cannot use any chemicals. During the winemaking process, winemakers cannot use excessive sulfites or other additives to regulate flavor. This not only creates a more sustainable product, but the wine also tastes superior. The human body isn’t built to process large amounts of sulfites and preservatives, so folks who consume such components experience adverse effects including blotchy or inflamed skin, and headaches. Since natural wine isn’t inoculated, it’s still a living thing, so you’re getting a lot of good bacteria while you indulge—where’s my glass?
In this interview, co-founder Eric Bach shares a bit more about the genesis of Good Boy Wine, including why they got started and where this journey is taking them. Mother Nature has it in for all of us—she doesn’t play favorites. With age comes grace, wisdom, no filter, and no fucks to give. It’s beautiful, complex, and everything in between. Once we welcome transparency around aging, our perspectives change and the culture shifts even further. If we can honestly look to the joy and delight of it all, that’s when the grey area becomes more vivid, and to that I say, cheers!
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Because we drink a lot of it (laughs). One morning, after a big night, we made some fried chicken at a dive bar—we just started talking about natural wine. We’ve always had an interest, and it just continuously grew over the last few years. We did a little bit of research and found out that Los Angeles used to be the wine capital of the United States, yet there are so few winemakers based in Los Angeles. So over a beer and fried chicken we were like, fuck it, we can do it. We didn’t really have any understanding of what it would take, practically, but I think Dave and I are the type of people that when we get excited, we share that excitement, and we kind of feed off of each other, so something is bound to happen.
When did you start?
We started about a year ago, from that meeting in the dive bar. Since then, we have been trying to figure out the process. We started ordering books on Amazon and reached out to our favorite natural winemakers in Southern California within a couple of hundred-mile radii. We sent this blanket kind of email that we were these budding winemakers with zero experience, and most people did not get back to us. We had only one winemaker reach out in San Diego. They just wrote back, “Fuck yeah, make wine.” We felt like we would get along with them. They eventually took us under their wings. We would get on bi-weekly calls with them and walk through the science and plan. They let us harvest our grapes alongside them in San Diego. They were a big part of how we were able to take this desire to make wine and bring it to fruition.
Natural wine compared to conventional wine. Explain.
Natural wine is a pretty broad wine grouping. The terminology often gets misused. Unlike something being certified organic, there is not really a certification for something being natural. Natural wine, or any type of wine, is where nothing is added or taken away from the process. A lot of it is reflected in pouvoir—being the overall conditions that the wine is grown in. Everything from the soil to the sun to the amount of water it gets and minerality. So because there is less intervention, you’re able to get wine that is more reflective of the region, which I really enjoy. Depending on the process that you use, natural wine tends to have more of a lighter body. It tends to be a bit poppier, funkier and has brighter flavors.
A lot of wines are using a process called carbonic maceration, which is basically putting clusters of grapes in an aerobic environment. That’s when fermentation starts happening inside of the skin, and that creates the poppy, bright flavor. Some people compare it to a Jolly Rancher. I often compare it to those gummies that you get in Japan—they’re grape-flavored but the most fantasy grape version.
Can you go through the process of how you make your wine?
First, we find our vineyard where we will be sourcing the grapes from. We then start working and measuring out metrics leading up to the harvest. Generally, a couple of weeks out, you are measuring it every few days, and then the last week is every day because you’re looking for your pH and Brix, which is going to determine the outcome of your wine. Once the numbers look like they’re ready to pick, we literally rent a U-Haul and invite a bunch of friends down to do a harvest.
We cruise on down and do a big harvest—somewhere between one and two tons of grapes. We bring them back to Los Angeles, to Glassell Park. We then hand-carry all the grapes down to Dave’s [Eric’s business partner’s] basement. It’s not that romantic, but they used to make wine down there in the 40s, which is really cool. From there, we do that carbonic maceration process where we put a bunch of clusters of grapes into a tank and pump that tank full of CO2, creating that aerobic environment. That goes on anywhere from one to two weeks. We then take it out and do the crush—literally foot stomping the grapes in these giant bins. After that, we have to go down twice a day for about two weeks to push down the caps. Once fermentation starts coming, all of the seeds and skin start to rise to the top. You want to make sure that you are mixing all that in. Then we press.
We press all of the juice out of those grapes and put them into separate tanks, and that is where the majority of the fermentation happens. Depending on the type of wine we want to make and what the numbers are looking like, we then wait a few months and bottle.
What type of wines do you make?
This year we did a Cabernet and a Syrah. This coming year we will probably do something lighter, like a Grenache. We’ll also do an orange wine, a skin-contact white-something, like Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc.
Which one is your favorite that you have made?
I think I like the Syrah best, however, we are starting to play with blending the two. I think a blend between the Syrah and Cab is nice. I’m looking forward to making some lighter wines this coming season.
Why ‘Good Boy Wine’? What does it mean?
There is not some crazy, elaborate story about it. A couple of things; Dave has a little dog named Rocket, and he was around for the whole process. We’re always saying “good boy” because he is a helpful assist on the vineyard. Also, right when we were picking, Dave found out that he was having a boy, his first child. We also just liked the sound of it together. Sounds very positive.
What’s next for Good Boy?
We’re actually putting together an Indiegogo right now so that we can raise a little bit of capital, so we can actually make wine that is accessible. Something that can be bought and sold in markets around LA. This last year was our first test, and now we’re just stoked on the year ahead.
Intro by Shani Hillian
Interview by Nai Vasha
Photos by Lance Skundrich