A couple years ago, my father and I were discussing what we might plant on part of the property that has been fallow for many years. He thought that Grenache might be something to consider. Years ago, in Alexander Valley there was a fair bit of it, but it had been uprooted in favor of more sensibly economic crops. It seemed to do well then and it might be worth another look. I have enjoyed Grenache based wines mostly out of Europe and Australia as well for decades, so it was an easy sell. Plus, we make Rosé, Syrah and Zinfandel, therefore Grenache surely belonged in the house.
I began working with two different vineyards in 2011 to gain some experience with the variety in it’s red and pink forms so that we could make more informed choices when it comes to planting in the future. It has revolutionized our Rosé to say the least. As for red wine, I see a multi-varietal blend built on the foundation of a Grenache/Syrah partnership rather than a single pure varietal. There are long histories of this in other parts of the world-and with good reason. Rather than copy anyone’s formula, I am inspired by what has come before and aim to create something unique.
While I am in the very early stages of this exploration, I anticipate a red wine that spans much of the breadth and diversity of Sonoma County. It is a great opportunity to have both early and late season varieties become ripe at the same time within a reasonably short distance. This allows the powerful option of co-fermentation: a chance to commingle diverse components as they are extracted, truly stabilizing and creating something that could not otherwise be obtained. I have seen this with diverse clones of Pinot Noir and have already begun to see this with Grenache and it’s partners. As someone who has spent three-plus decades exploring single varietal wines as they express small geographic characteristics, it is quite exciting to look at this new project.