Three rugged hillside sites on west-facing slopes in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley (north of Jimtown) are certified sustainable and provide an ideal environment to produce small, flavor-packed syrah berries. These sites largely consist of crumbly sandstone and shale over deep veins of volcanic rock, forcing roots to dig deep. This cuvee is predominantly from the low-yielding Syrah “ETAV-470” selection (origin: Rhone Valley) which thrives in this challenging environment.
After hand-harvesting, clusters were brought to winery for hand-sorting, partial de-stemming and a three day cold soak which extracted color and texture in the absence of alcohol. A few hundred pounds of Viognier skins were added to the ferment to enhance aromatics and color. The tank was warmed up, fermentation jump started on its own via “prevailing” yeasts and went dry twenty-two days later, with daily punchdowns to extract texture and color. Syrah loves oxygen so it was racked vigorously and often. Barrel maturation was nine months in mostly mature French oak barrels as we wanted the Syrah varietal purity and these sites to be highlighted.
The 2020 growing season brought us a warm, dry winter with little frost. March gave us buckets of welcome rain and by then vineyards were pruned and leafing out. Summer had typical chilly mornings and warm, sunny days and below average precipitation. Harvest was on September 23 and 25, luckily just two days before the devastating Glass Fire damaged parts of Napa Valley.