Telling a Story in a Glass: The Clambake from Ripe Life Wines

Dining Lifestyle

Established in 2013, Ripe Life Wines has been dedicated to providing the highest quality wine to consumers at an affordable price point. This single-vineyard winery produces a wine called “The Clambake”  which is available in two varietalsUnoaked Chardonnay and Limited Edition Rosé—sourcing grapes from Mendocino County and Lodi Valley in California.  In addition to these two acid-driven and refreshing wines, they are currently working on expanding to champagne and red Grenache in the near future. 

It all started when the founder, Mary McAuley, attended an annual clambake she had with a group of friends. After being disappointed in the wine that was selected and recognizing that it’s hard to find good wine at the Jersey Shore, she set off to make her own wine she could serve at the clambake for next year. 

According to McAuley, the process of opening a winery was not an easy one. After attending the Institute for Culinary Education and the French Culinary Institute then proceeding to earn her sommelier certification, it inspired her to go down the road into wine production. Despite not having the personal assurance that creating her own wine would work, she still had a goal in mind and wanted to pull through.

She became a co-owner of a co-op winery in California. These unique wineries have access to a network of grape growers as well as providing world-class equipment, winemaking assistance, and labor, but at an affordable price for a small producer because the cost is split between several different co-owners. 

McAuley strongly emphasizes that her wines are designated as “single vineyard” wines—meaning that they come from one specific vineyard and it isn’t a blend. This allows McAuley to really get to know the nuances of the vineyard which elevates the winemaking. What makes The Clambake different is that there are little variations in them. Big wine distributors believe that consumers want the utmost consistency in their wines causing many suppliers to blend different things to make their wines taste the same again and again even if it’s not the best. The Clambake is handled much differently as McAuley believes that consistency is not what agriculture is, which is a huge factor when making wine. “I don’t tell the grapes what to do, they tell me what to do,” said McAuley. 

As a single vineyard winery, they pay attention to every detail when producing their wine—who farms it, what the soil type is, the sustainability level of the wine, and how hard the wine is pressed. They take time with the decisions they make and don’t cut any corners so their consumers can really taste the quality and difference of their wine apart from others. 

The mission of Rip Life Winery is to tell a story of a specific place—giving The Clambake its name. When McAuley had her annual clambake with her friends, it was all about celebrating the local bounty and tasting the “terroir.” Terroir is the French term for “sense of place.” She wanted to accomplish this same concept through her wine by stating on each label where it comes from. She said, “You should know where your wine is from and relish in the nuances.”

McAuley is now looking to expand to sales outlets and tasting rooms as they recently opened one this past June 24th in Ocean Beach Marina. In addition to an upcoming one in Lovelandtown Grocery’s outdoor dining space and a few other stores in the works throughout the state!

By Lauren Musni

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