by Diana Bocco
When asked about his winemaking adventures, Andy Abramson will tell you they were mostly accidental. “I don’t have a winery, I don’t grow grapes, I don’t own a bottling line,” says Abramson. “There’s no winery staff and my barrels are borrowed.” Instead, Abramson makes wine in the Santa Ynez Valley at the winery of a long time friend and professional winemaker.
How that happened and how it started is a fun story with a few twists.
Abramson has a fun deal with the team at Margerum Wine Company, led by his longtime friend Doug Margerum – where he gets to make his own wines in the brand spanking new looking facility in Buellton, CA. “I get to be ‘King for a Day’ and work with the team,” says Abramson. “There, I get to work with the same barrels, the same ‘juice’ and along with he and his team make wines that are starting to get attention.”
The wines are getting plenty of attention, in fact. Some have won blind tasting competitions against the biggest names in the Rhone Valley. And it all started with a basic mistake.
“The first wine I actually blended was from the 2009 vintage and it was an accidental wine,” Abramson explains. “The original wine I made was to be assembled later in August as a result of a concoction that I created on a Be A Winemaker for a Day event Doug ran at his old facility back in 2010.”
Unfortunately, Abramson’s barrels of wine were accidentally mixed into a commercial blend used in a wine for a very high end supermarket chain – which meant Abramson had to go back to the winery to work on a different wine. “The only juice that was left was for a high end Syrahs, so while the original wine was a blend of five different grapes, and those barrels were now all gone, we had to work up a totally different blend,” Abramson explains. “And that’s really how this all got started.”
Abramson and Margerum spent an afternoon tasting different things until they found the perfect combination to create the first Comunicano Wine Company Wine blend: the 2009 Double AA Cuvee, made up of 98% Syrah and 2% Grenache.
The wine was a hit from the start. Three bottles found their way to France in March of 2011, where the wine was tasted at Paris’ Willi’s WIne Bar. “But the real surprise came when Bernard Bardou, a well known wine personality in the Languedoc region, put a bottle of the 2009 Comunicano Wine Company wine we had gifted him into a blind tasting near Montpellier in 2012,” says Abramson. “There, the Double AA Cuvee came in first, besting wines from Ogier, Chapoutier, Gaillard and others; that accidental do-over wine, became a wine with a story.”
Fast forward to 2017 and Abramson is still producing blends. Blends that have never been commercially sold until now. “The only way anyone has ever had one, is to have one with me,” says Abramson. That’s changing this year, as Abramson and his brand, the Comunicano Wine Company, are getting ready to release the first commercial production. “My wines are so loved by friends, that a Los Angeles restaurant owner asked to be the exclusive retail outlet for the 2016 Comunicano S5 OTT wine,” Abramson explains.
And that’s how, even without any infrastructure of his own, a determined winemaker can still make a mark in the industry.