2016 Syrah, Garys' Vineyard
After searching through every grape-growing area in California, it was Gary Pisoni’s vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, that we located the right combination of soil and climate that enabled us to make the wine we knew was possible. The land there is rocky but workable, and the climate, while cold, is just warm enough to ripen the fruit from their heirloom vines. Gary’s vines spend much of the growing season in bone-chilling fog, but these inhospitable conditions bring out the best in the grapes, and provide the basis for our traditional Rhône winemaking.
We dump the hand-harvested grapes into open-top fermenters with 100% of the stems intact. The stems provide a variety of benefits to the wine, but these positives would easily be offset by bitterness if the stems were broken, so we are careful to keep the stems intact and undamaged during fermentation. The best way to do that was invented several hundred years ago in France, and is called pigeage, or foot crushing. We typically walk on the skins for 30 minutes or so twice daily for the duration of fermentation, which is normally 30 days. The 2016 Garys’ Vineyard Syrah was harvested wholecluster, fermented in open top stainless steel tanks for 30 days, blanketed with dry ice for another week for extended maceration, then drained and pressed. The new wine was racked to 60-gallon French oak barrels where it aged on the lees for a year before bottling, without fining or filtration.