All the special releases we have planned for this year are meant to be a celebration of our network of friends both old and new who have played instrumental roles in helping us to get to where we are today. Our longstanding partnership with Matt Garcia and his team at Homage Brewing has been especially rewarding. We’ve now worked with Homage on three collaboration beers - Gratitude, Fortitude, and Cinco - that were released at various milestones for our LA shop. For this, our 20th anniversary, we have something really special to share with you.
After years of research, planning and experimentation, Matt is finally launching a natural wine label called “Lennon Moon Wines” that shares so much of the creativity and low-intervention methodology behind what’s made Homage Brewing so special. We partnered with Matt on a special bottling of one of their first releases, “Les Vingt,” which releases this Friday June 9th at Homage’s Chinatown brewery and tasting room. Homage is throwing several parties all week long to celebrate their 7th anniversary, and we are honored to be a part of the celebration. If you’re local to LA, come by anytime after 5pm to taste “Les Vingt” or bring a bottle or two home. DJ’s will be spinning live music on the La Scalas and we highly recommend sampling some food from their menu - the masa fried chicken and the scallop crude are both a must. You’ll also be able to pick up a bottle of “Les Vingt” via our NY & LA flagship stores starting on Saturday, June 10th - quantities are limited so we suggest coming by early if you’re looking to secure one.
It’s been a minute since our last chat with Matt so we sat down with him to talk about what’s been going on at Homage, how the new Chinatown location has opened doors for him and for the brewery, and the journey towards making his own wine.
Now that you’re a few years into your Chinatown location - talk to us a bit about how it’s come along and what you love about it.
It's been an incredible journey so far. What I love most about our new location is the opportunity to learn from new experiences every day. What I mean by that is: the trends and flows of food, fashion, art, music move faster in a big city like LA versus our hometown of Pomona. We’re always trying to break down walls for how people view beer and breweries through our approach, and this Chinatown location is our attempt to accomplish that by creating a place for gathering and enjoyment of beer, wine, food and music all under one roof.
My love of wine and beer all stems from the art of fermentation. It's complex in many ways, it can be predictable with care and guidance and it can also be unpredictable in spontaneous environments. I find it so intriguing. I'm constantly learning the biology of certain yeast behaviors by trials and results based on temperature, exposure to certain elements, time and other variables. Fermentation can take something that's beautiful on its own and create a whole new experience through taste on the human palate with time and patience. It sparks new life, new flavors and new textures.
Having a food program in Chinatown has allowed us to expand on using a culinary experience as a way to complement our beverages. Nothing's better than textures, salty, sweet and tangy flavors for our taste buds then washing it all down with a crispy bubbly beverage or a juicy and refreshing wines. It's been really fun utilizing those flavor components to pair with our products. Lennon Moon Wines is our first foray into winemaking and we’re thankful to have a taproom and food program that we can present it with.
We’ve always thought that there was so much crossover between the natural wine world and some of the wild, low-intervention beers that we love. It’s exciting to see Homage forge ahead into something brand new with this wine.
I love that you bring up the crossover. Yeah, looking back to over a decade ago when I started to develop the idea of Homage and what it would be, I had always looked at Belgian style Lambics / Saisons as the wine of beer. I saw beer that had fruit in it, that aged in oak /wine barrels, that had touches of acidity just like wine, and a structure in weight and body just like sparkling wine. All of these similarities directed my attention to experiment with different fruit fermentations - and grapes were one of those fruits that I was always intrigued with. I loved learning about all the different varietals of grapes from different regions in the world and how they lend so many different flavors in a single beverage. How terroir, soil, and care all affects the outcome of your product. It's really fascinating.
We started Lennon Moon Wines about 3 years ago by trialing small batch wines while practicing different methods of fermentation. We began by using grapes for our saisons using methods that we learned from natural wine making: how long we were leaving wine juice on skins, what temperature we felt suited an ideal environment for fermentation, things like that. It was very much a passion project that we knew would eventually surface when ready, but we took our time to gather as much knowledge about grape fermentations before we felt ready to release it.
Can you talk a bit about the approach for this specific wine that we are debuting this weekend? How would you drink it or pair it?
Yes! Our sparkling wine is a blend of Zinfandel that we harvested right here in Pomona at the Cal Poly vineyards, Carignan from central California and Falanghina also from central California. Our approach was to make something between a sparkling wine and a piquette - so we took all three of the wines we made from the grapes and blended with piquette made from the skins of all three grapes. Essentially, we took the skins, soaked them in water which sparked a small fermentation. Then we took that piquette which was somewhere around 4% ABV and co-fermented it with the Zin, Falanghina and Carignan wine. Our intention was to have fun and make a very approachable sparkling wine that could easily be enjoyed during the hot days of our Cali summers. Right by the pool, at the beach or at a summer dinner party, really anywhere you feel is best! It's really really good. Bright watermelon flavors jump out at me with notes of strawberry and subtle rhubarb. It finishes bubbly with a nice touch of minerality.