By Omar Mamoon
I’m not a wine expert by any means, but I know what I like, and I know what tastes good to me. Lately, I’ve been into light-bodied reds—juicy, fruit-forward ones that do well with a little chill. Wines I can enjoy while picnicking in Golden Gate Park and that pair with a wide variety of foods.
The 2020 Hidden Society Sangiovese from Mendocino County does the trick. At 11.5%, it’s relatively low-abv and so quaffable I could drink it all day. Hidden Society is a new wine brand from husband and wife duo Brendon Pineda and Ariana Olivares. Pineda has worked in the wine and spirits industry for the last decade; this is his first wine, and he made it in collaboration with Subject To Change’s Alex Pomerantz. Pomerantz’s Budbreak Project, a Resource Sharing Initiative, is a program that helps aspiring winemakers get their foot in the door. I spoke with Pineda to learn more.
The following has been condensed:
What’s the significance of the name Hidden Society?
Hidden Society represents and supports communities that are forgotten about or “hidden” from our everyday lives. From farmworkers in the vineyards to families living in poverty, we want to make sure these are ongoing conversations and how we are focusing on offering solutions. A portion of our proceeds from this release will go to ANF (American Nicaraguan Fund), a non-profit organization that provides aid in the form of housing, nutrition, and education to families in need in Nicaragua.
How did the Subject to Change collab come about?
Being a fan of the winery, I asked my friend to connect me with Alex of Subject to Change. I discussed with Alex what I wanted to accomplish and why. He mentioned Subject to Change was working on a resource-sharing initiative, eventually known as the Budbreak Project. Alex and I spoke for an hour and a half. By the end of the conversation, I knew the stars had aligned, and it was time to get to work.
Why’d you choose Sangiovese for the first release?
It was the first wine grape I fell in love with. In Italy, a wine produced with Sangiovese offers flavors that can be earthy, herbaceous, and rustic—I wanted to jazz it up. Producing our wine in a carbonic-macerated style allowed us to deliver a fruit-forward wine low in acidity and low in tannin. Big, higher alcohol content wines can be intimidating, and we wanted to produce the opposite.
How would you ideally consume the wine? With what foods?
There is no right or wrong way to drink it. I generally give it a slight chill then observe how it develops in the glass over time. Allowing minimal aeration brings out the fruit, and the wine becomes more structured. Our wine is food-friendly. I love having it with vegan cheeses, veggie tacos, or vegan pizzas.
What’s a marker of success for you for this first release?
Selling the wine before the next vintage! No, seriously, the most important marker of success so far has been the handful of people that have messaged me to tell me how they shared the wine with their mom, brother, or friend who never drinks wine and tells me how much they loved it. Hearing stories of how much fun they had with the wine and the kind of experience they had with their loved ones is huge for us and our mission. That means what we are doing is working.
What do you hope to accomplish long-term with Hidden Society? What’s the ultimate goal?
We want to make the wine world less intimidating and exclusive while influencing a new wave of wine consumers and producers. We want to be more than just another wine brand and show there is room for everyone in this industry. We want to build a community and offer a platform similar to what Subject to Change has done with the Budbreak Project and us.
What can we look forward to in the near future? When is the next release, and how will you produce it? What other wines do you want to make?
We’re focusing on the markets we are in now—California, Florida, and Massachusetts—and making sure they’re fully supported with enough wine to supply their accounts. We understand the importance of consistency with a product for restaurants, wine bars, and bottle shops. Soon, we’re looking to expand across multiple states and one day globally. The next release will be in spring 2022. In the meantime, we are engaging with our customers and gauging interests for what types of wine they want more of. We’re about making wine for the people!
2020 Hidden Society Sangiovese
Vineyard: Chance Creek. Originally planted for Palomino grapes to make Sherry, Chance Creek was purchased by Lou Bock in 1979, after being neglected for over 25 years. Low pH soils and cool nights keep the vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc and Sangiovese bright and fresh. Bock practices organic farming.
Method: After a 10 day carbonic maceration, this organic
wine naturally ferments with no filtration and zero additions
of sulfites. Vegan-friendly.
AVA: Mendocino County