Winemaker Abe Schoener started his Scholium Project label after he took a sabbatical from teaching Greek philosophy. Like any professor of ancient languages and arts might do, he spent his time away from the classroom learning winemaking techniques in Napa.
Naming his newfound passion (and eventual day job) for the Greek word for scholarship, Abe says that he thinks of the Scholium Project as “a modest project undertaken for the sake of learning, understanding, and study.”
For the sake of learning, and in attempting to understand and study, Abe consistently tries different methods and techniques in his winemaking.
“I’ve always been suspicious of what everyone else is doing,” he says.
Going against conventional wisdom, he located one of his vineyards at the bottom of a river delta, he ferments with skins and stems, crushes with human feet, uses puncheons instead of barrique barrels, and mixes atypical varieties.
The result is a completely unique portfolio, one incomparable to any other California label, one that evolves from year to year, creating a cult following for the wines’ unique ephemerality, their complexity, and their ability to pair with food.
Abe’s pet vineyard, Lost Slough, is a former swamp located 20 feet below sea level in the Sacramento River Delta.
“You would never guess by looking at the vineyard specs on paper that you could grow good grapes there,” Abe says. “But there is a concatenation of these things that shouldn’t be good but they have all worked out together.”
This year, Abe lost access to the vineyard and did not harvest from it for the 2016 vintage.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that man cannot step twice into the same stream. We’re keeping this in mind.