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Petite Sirah

We have made two other wines from this vineyard and the same 2020 vintage, most recently the Mourvedre six months ago, and the Vermentino last year, both of which we are out of!


As a reminder, this is a really unique vineyard in Lake County about 10 miles from ours, but with very different soils. The vineyard is planted in a half-circle curving amphitheater starting at 2,100’ and funneling straight into Clear Lake at 1,300’. It is super steep, slippery, and uniquely made of weird volcanic tuff and gravel that the volcano pushed up and then sloughed off thousands of years ago, very different from the red rocky soil that Red Hills is known for. This looks like the pale fine rock interior interior of a mountain, which it is.


The quick 2020 recap: Covid, fires, electrical outages. Tractors sliding down the mountain and also starting fires. 100+ degrees every day, labor shortage, no sleep. The morning we picked these grapes I was driving through Napa at 4am and saw the beginning of the Glass Fire as a fire-nado funneled embers into the sky, dancing across the valley at the St. Helena crossroad. I pulled the car over to watch for a minute but was too sleepy to remember to take pictures, and the fire crews were already swarming. It was a relentlessly out-of-body year, and Lake County was fireless while surrounding counties burned, just adding to the surreal flavor of the year.


But, what about Petite Sirah, also known as Durif? It is a little very complicated. The grape is a crossing of Syrah and Peloursin from the late 1800’s in France (it never caught on there) with the volume turned to 11. It makes inky, super dark and tannin-filled wines for the big-red drinkers. The bunches are like a tightly closed fist that can’t take any rain, and the winemaking is usually a race between soaring alcohol levels (16% is not uncommon) as we wait for the seriously chunky tannin to smooth out. In the process it can produce very weighty wine that needs acid and eagerly take up oak to provide some spice and sweetness to what is often a rigid monolith of earthy, one-dimensional flavor. There used to be tons of it in Napa, windy Livermore, and it is often interplanted with Zin in Sonoma County. Fresh and layered are not usual adjectives here; think brawn, thick, dense, and the like. Steak wine, BBQ meats, cigars and the like.


That said, we did it our way by keeping it varietally pure and clean. The alcohol is in check, and a bit of third-year barrel spice just kisses the blackberry, plum and black cherry fruit. The tannin is there, and that dense monolith of Petite Sirah-ness is front and center, but a little early oxygen exposure helped to round out the chalky tannin and polish the edges a bit, while still having some of the jammy and rustic character that the grape is famous for – one foot in tradition and one in Lake County!


Petite Sirah


12 bottle discount = 25%

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