Art is science at Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery in Lower Lake, Calif. As a management strategy, Six Sigma seeks to remove errors in manufacturing in order to consistently create a high-quality product. Owner Kaj Ahlmann, a mathematical statistician, believes the Six Sigma philosophy can be applied to the Old World art of winemaking in order to handcraft each wine to be as good as the last.
However, one must not be fooled into thinking that quality is all about control. Six Sigma Ranch takes pride in maintaining the natural beauty of its 4,300-acre property. The five vineyards, affectionately named after members of the family -- Annette, Marianne, Else, Michael and Christian, who is also the winery's vice president -- occupy only 50 acres of the ranch. Each of these vineyards has been carefully integrated into the natural landscape in order to protect and encourage the natural flora and fauna. Furthermore, from grazing animals that trim grasses to using pumice from the winemaking process to make a natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer, the practice of sustainable agriculture is essential to this land.
Strikingly picturesque, the remainder of the property stands as a nature preserve through a conservation easement donated to the Golden State Land Conservancy. The Ahlmanns also promote nature conservation within their local community through youth eco-programs and camps.
Taking full advantage of all natural resources, wine is stored underground in a cave. This provides the wine a stable temperature with a natural humidity. However, not all key ingredients are found here amid the rolling hills and majestic oaks. The Ahlmanns imported two vital resources when they hired winemakers Denis Malbec of Chateau Latour and his wife, May-Britt. Together they ensure that statistical data is incorporated with individual experience in tasting and blending in order to produce world-class wines including Kaj's beloved, the rare Tempranillo.
At Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery, meticulous attention to science, tradition and ecology produces wines consistently worth enjoying -- or simply, Six Sigma.
What to Buy:
'06 Tempranillo: 100% Tempranillo, full-bodied, creamy, black fruit $42
'05 Cabernet Sauvignon: complex, rich berry, cocoa and espresso roast finish $42
'06 Cuvée Pique-Nique: Bordeaux-style blend, spice, berries, vanilla, mocha finish $21
'07 Rosé Lush: berry, fresh lemon, hibiscus finish $18
'07 Sauvignon Blanc, Michael's Vineyard: balanced, roasted hazelnut, honeysuckle, citrus, ripe fruit $28
Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery
13372 Spruce Grove Rd.
Lower Lake, CA 95457
(888) 571-1721; Fax: (707) 994.4610
Tasting Room Open 11-4:30, Weekends by Appointment
Take Hwy CA-29 N, past Middletown. Turn right onto Spruce Grove Rd.